Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ironman: A Spectator Sport

Let it be known up front that I have a huge bias towards my children. They are the best behaved, sweetest, kindest children I know...with maybe the occassional exception of a naughty Nohea. Watching the Ironman event with three children 6 and under is a fete in itself. Not thinking I could take a double stroller on the plane, we brought a small umbrella stroller, which is harder to push than a double stroller with no place to nap for smallish adults called kids. Plus, with my double-stroller, I can even manage to shove a third child on the front. Like my parents before, I have learned that if something "says" it fits two kids, surely three or even four can fit. I found once we were boarding the plane that double-strollers were allowed as I enviously watched other Ironman families checking their double-strollers at the gate. Good to know for future endeavors.

I think this post is best told with pictures. The day before the Ironman, they have a 1-mile run for kids. The kids get a shirt AND a medal that says, "Ironman Kids." It's pretty cool. We encouraged the girls to do it. Here the girls are stretching before the race.


Llia was all about it. After the go, Lilia took off running and we never saw her again until after the finish line. Lissy whined for the first half mile about being tired. After she drank some water at the aid station, she started running as if she was perfectly able to run a marathon. She ran all the way to the finish.

Here are the girls showing off their bling.


Kulani left early from our hotel room the morning of the race. I really wanted to see him come in from the swim, so I awoke the girls at 7 a.m. I made the decision to start the morning right by getting the girls some breakfast at the complimentary continental breakfast.
We dashed to the Ironman event. I made it there about an hour 20 into the race. If Kulani had a good day, that's the time I figured he'd make it out of the swim. We watched as swimmer after swimmer made it out of the water, but we couldn't see Kulani. We stayed there for two hours. When I saw the oldest competitor (76-years-young) exit the drink, I knew I had either missed Kulani or he was pulled out of the water. I called my brother B.J. to notify me via the Ironman tracker online whether Kulani made it out. While I awaited his call, the girls played at the Tempe Beach Park.
After we saw Kulani make his first turn-around on the bike, we took a lunch break at a local subway shop up Mills Avenue in Tempe. A couple of the girls started to show signs of tiredness.



We went back to the van for a quick nap, and then watched Kulani make the second loop. Then we found an ice cream shop up Mills Avenue again.


We walked back to Tempe Beach Park with our hotel room pillows and blanket. After watching Kulani come in from the bike and to the run transition, we took a break in the park on our blanket. After walking up and down everywhere that day, sitting on a blanket and eating some snacks we bought at the Ironman Cafe felt awesome. Lilia put it best: "This is heaven!"
Lilia's feet were dirty and stinky from walking that day. She was wearing flip-flops.

Here's Lissy passed out after smelling Lilia's feet.
A lady stopped to take our picture. I thought that was pretty sweet. She thought I needed a picture of me and my girls to remember this day.


After we saw Kulani on the second lap of the run and the sun was down, I placed the girls in the mini-van and we drove around finding Kulani at various places on the run. They slept the whole time. About 10:30 p.m. I woke the girls for the last time to make it to the finish line to cheer Kulani to the finish. In trooper fashion, they accompanied me on the night's last and best adventure. No whining, no crying. Nohea insisted that I hold her, but that was it.


The girls also endured six trips to the port-a-potties. By the end of the night, those port-a-potties were quite disgusting. Our small hardships that day were nothing compared to the pain and suffering Kulani paid money to endure. The experience for all of us was priceless.