Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Aunt Jen Rocks

Buckle your seat belts, this is going to be one long post. We went to Madison, Wisconsin this past weekend to watch Andy's sister Jen compete in the Ironman
The race started at the crack of dawn.  We were out the door of our hotel by 5:30am.  The athletes were in the water by 6:45... there were about 2800 competitors in the water for the mass start.  The swim is 2.4 miles in Lake Monona.  It is a grueling swim in open water.
Jen is wearing a black wetsuit and hot pink cap.  See her?
The racers exit the water and there are volunteers there to help strip their wetsuits.
The spectators are a lively bunch.  This kid was dressed as Waldo.  He had a sign that said, "Here I am, Dad."  We also saw a prom queen, an angel, wizards... and lots of crazies.

Jen battled through the lake, finishing the swim portion in 1:38:25.
Once Jen made the transition from swim to bike... 
(below, she is in the turquoise and black jersey with white sleeves, no shoes)

we were off to get the cars and make our way out to the bike course.
We found a couple of good spots along the bike course, so we got to see Jen a few times.
And it looked like she was having a great time!
 So were we.
 The kids found something to do no matter where we were... like playing in the dirt.  Fun.

Watching the athletes is so inspiring.  They train so hard.  Their passion is obvious. 
These guys were amazing.  
We also saw a rider miss the turn and fly into a ditch.  Luckily there was a lot of tall grass to break his fall.  And he was fine.  Embarrassed probably, but fine.

 Jen came by again.  Still smiling.
 Joyce outfitted us all with matching t-shirts that said "Team Jen."  And she brought cowbells.  And crafts to do and snacks to eat.

 Lucas and Ruby, the card sharks...
 I felt a little bike envy.  There are so many incredibly nice bikes in this race.  These bikes make a completely different sound.  The bikers just fly effortlessly up the hills. 
(I love my bike.  I do. But I did imagine myself with a fancy setup flying through the course. It would be so much fun!)
 And here she comes again. Goodness gracious... still smiling.
 We ate by the roadside.
Jen completed the 112 mile bike ride portion in 7:23:28. And then she started the marathon. 
We found a good spot to watch.
 Anne and Barb supplied us with thunder sticks.
 This looks like it must have been so much fun for Jen.
 The course looped around downtown Madison, and we moved several times so we could see Jen.
 It got dark.  This is a long race.  We cheered and cheered.
 Finally, we found a spot by the finish chute.
 Jen is still smiling triumphantly! Woohoo!
 And here she is on the Jumbotron...
 Finished in 14:38:47 officially.

Jen was pretty excited about the whole thing.  We were too.
 Though, the little ones lost their enthusiasm, and fell asleep.
 Here we are: Team Jen!  (Plus, there are four sleeping kids that aren't very visible in this picture.)
It was a long day for us... but we hadn't been training for endurance spectating.  We (the grown ups) were stiff and sore the next day from, um, sitting and standing all day.  Lame.  

Congratulations Jen on completing the Ironman!  You are amazing and inspiring!