I’ve been pretty busy over the last couple weeks of this summer 2010 and unfortunately have not kept my word on updating the old blog with my happenings or general nonsense. A lot has gone on, and I’ve found myself inspired by a lot of the things I have seen lately… So here is the first bit of news and inspiration for you…

Two weekends ago I headed out to Coeur d’ Alene to support my housemate and friend, Steve Anderson, as well as a couple of other friends that were crazy enough to put themselves through the insanity that is an IronMan. I knew that an IronMan was the marathon of triathlon, it was very difficult to do, physically and emotionally demanding and for many people the most difficult thing they would ever do. But I didn’t know the details. So, as if reading my mind, while waiting for the race to start on a crisp, clear Sunday morning, the announcer on the lake shore told a story of how it all began… In case you don’t know the story, apparently this is how it goes.

There was a debate that happened one night on the Island Oahu in Hawaii in 1977, about which athletes were the fittest. I’m pretty sure the men involved in the debate were drinking rather heavily on this particular night, as they argued back and forth about whether the ultimate athlete  was a swimmer, a cyclist, or a runner. As they continued to drink and argue they came to an agreement, (now we all know that when drunk individuals come to an agreement it’s either going to make no sense at all, or it is going to be completely and utterly stupid! I can think of one such drinking episode that happened last year, which has now led one of my best friends attempting to raft the Amazon River from Source to Sea on a handmade boat! Insane, yes, read about his story here ). The inebriated gentelmen finally decided that the debate would be settled through a race combining the three existing long-distance competitions already on the island: the Waikiki Roughwater Swim (2.4 mi./3.86 km), the Around-Oahu Bike Race (115 mi./185.07 km; originally a two-day event) and the Honolulu Marathon (26.219 mi./42.195 km). “Whoever finishes first, we’ll call him the Iron Man,” they said. On February 18, 1978, fifteen men started the race, twelve completed it… and the madness began. There are now 24 different Ironman races that take place each year in various locations around the world as well as an Ironman World Championship that takes place in Hawaii each year.

At 7am exactly, after telling the story and wishing everyone good luck, the announcer fired his pistol and Steve along with 2697 other Ironmen-to-be,  hit lake Coeur d’ Alene with some serious vengeance. I’m not kidding when I say it looked rough! *Note to self, if I am ever looking to do an Ironman, take swimming lessons, plus lessons in karate, boxing, and street fighting… This has to get ugly.

The Start

After watching a number of athletes get through the swim we headed out onto the bike course ready to cheer, ready to become IronFans. For those of

The IronFan Van

you not “in the know” The IronFan (whose activties actually begin the night before the race, check out how here) is no ordinary individual. They don’t sit in their comfy chairs on the side of the road, clapping their hands when they deem it necessary as they sip on their beverage of choice, no no, if you are going to be an IronFan I was told, you go in it to win it. And in it to win it we were! Loaded up in the IronFan van was a giant Public Address System with some loud ass speakers, a generator to run the system, I-pods with play lists  full of motivational, dance-your-ass-off to tunes, and a bunch of lunatics ready to show the athletes some love.

Everyone in the IronFan van had already done this all before, so they knew what was up and how to get down. We drove out to a spot on the course from which we could see the riders 4 times as they completed two 56 mile loops that made up part of the course. We set up the speakers, plugged in the microphone and I-pod, took off some clothing and got down to some dancing and cheering. The athletes were digging our vibe, there were so many smiles across their faces as they zoomed by!

Smile and Wave Boys, Smile and Wave

Once we had seen a large number of riders come through on their second loop, we packed up and headed out and set up on the run course. I enjoyed the run course a lot more as the athletes weren’t flying by us at a high speed and so we were able to give a little more encouragement, high five a couple and share a conversation or two. All of the athletes had their names on their bibs so you could call them by their names as they were running by which made it a lot more direct and personal. My goal as an IronFan on the run course was to get as many of the guys and girls that were walking to pick up their pace and start running again. I think there were probably 10 walkers that started running after passing our station, it was awesome!

I have to say that despite leaving home at 5.30am and only getting back at midnight, my day as an IronFan was probably one of the greatest days I’ve had this year. I have so much respect and admiration for those athletes – who by the way, came by in a large array of shapes, sizes and ages. I was inspired by their attitudes, their persistence, their determination and physical strength. I am continuously amazed at what the human body can accomplish when you set yourself a goal and go after it with all your might. What an incredible day.

Carla and I on the Run Course
The IronFan’s With Steve after his finish

Congratulations and Thank you IronMen.