Not many things in this world actually live up to the hype. For me, Ironman Florida EXCEEDED what I was expecting. I've raced in 20 different triathlons this year, a marathon, a half marathon, three 10Ks and a few 5Ks. I've done both large and small events and I must say that NOTHING compared to the organization and the professionalism of this race. It was truly amazing, start to finish, and I'm glad I got to be a small part of it.
I got a little choked up as I heard Mike Reilly announce, "At the end of the day today you will all be Ironman" moments before the cannon boomed and the swarms of 2000 swimmers entered the Gulf of Mexico to start their 140.6 mile journey. I also got choked up when I saw the last 100 yards to the finish line. WOW! I've seen that scene in my mind, it seems like thousands of times, when I train. Seeing it in person was amazing to say the least. I want that! I will have that!
I volunteered at a penalty tent earlier in the day for a few hours but my first real "hands-on" experience volunteering was as a 'catcher' at the finish line from 6 - 10PM. The drama that was unfolding as these guys were crossing the finish line was unlike anything I have ever seen in my life. I was truly honored to be the first person to interact with the athletes as they crossed over. The majority of them were first time Ironmen. They genuinely appreciated my presence, and most importantly, my shoulder after such a long grueling day as I guided them to get their much deserved medal, finishers t-shirt and finishers hat.
I'm enjoying my last couple weeks of my 'offseason' doing very light training just to keep up my fitness level. I have a half-marathon that I will do next month but I'm not going for a PR. Just gonna do it as a long run that I'm paying for. I want to do more right now but my tri-coach insists that I just chill for the next couple weeks after the racing season I did this year. Training for my first half-Ironman race, the New Orleans Ironman 70.3 starts on the 17th.
This has been a helluva year, one of the greatest years of my life, and I'm glad I got to share it with you guys as it played out. I've got my fingers crossed for Kona and I'm officially registered to race next year in Florida. I'll be proud to call myself an Ironman at least once over by this time next year. :)