Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ultraman Canada Crewing Day 1

An Ultraman is a 3 day ultra endurance event. Day 1 the athletes swim 6.2 miles, and bike 90 miles. Day 2 is 170 miles on the bike, and Day 3 is a 52.4 mile run. Way back before our first half irons in 2008, Ingrid found out about Ultraman and thought she might want to do it someday. At the time none of us realized that Ultraman is completely different than any of the triathlons we were used to. Ultraman doesn't have aid stations and lots of volunteers to support the athletes, instead each athlete brings a crew to support them. Ingrid asked her mom, Ramona and Jeff and I to crew for her.

There was tons of planning and preparing, which for the most part worked out well, of course there were a few things that changed and some things we couldn't figure out until we were thre, but all the pre planning definitely made it easier. Ingrid is very detail oriented (come on, she's an engineer!) and I can be pretty detail oriented too. Ingrid had everything planned out and printed in a race plan, and I had further clarified many of the little details (down to 1/8 of an inch thick layer of peanut butter on the pb&j sandwiches :) ), so there wasn't much guesswork.

Day 1Swim start, nothing like the triathlons we're used to! Only 29 athletes and other than athlete's crews, not much of a crowd.They did have an announcer, Steve King, who was at the start and finish each day and at a few points on the course. He did an awesome job, his British accent didn't hurt either, made us feel like Phil & Paul were announcing at Ultraman!
Ingrid and Ramona pre-race

I was excited and nervous for Ingrid's swim, I knew she could do it, but I also knew this would be her longest swim ever! Jeff and I didn't really need to do anything for the swim, Ramona was kayaking and we just had to go to transition and set up her stuff before she finished swimming. Swim start

We drove to a few points on the road where we could see the swimmers across the lake (really we could only see the kayakers, they were really far away), and watched for Ramona's yellow and white kayak and red shirt. Ingrid was doing great! We got to transition and even though there were only 29 athletes, there were way more than 30 cars parked, so we had to park pretty far from the transition area, no big deal, we had plenty of time. We got her transition are set up and watched some of the other athletes finish the swim. Joni Moore of Salado TX wore Jack & Adams gear all weekend and made us feel right at home!

We borrowed binoculars from another crew and watched Ingrid swim strongly around the last buoy (there were only 2 buoys on the entire 6.2 mile course!). I was so excited for her!! I had watched other crews practically carry their athletes out of the water and into the transition area, so I grabbed a towel and expected to really help Ingrid into transition. She finished and gave me a great big hug, then ran over to her mom getting out of the kayak and gave her a big hug too! She was super happy and didn't seem tired at all! She even said "I think I prefer swimming 10K to running 10K!" Most of the athletes took their time in transition, at least 10-15 minutes, but Ingrid was ready to GO! She hurried through transition and didn't really need anything from me. She took off on the bike looking great!
Ingrid finishing her longest swim ever!

We planned to leapfrog Ingrid every 10K, even though we knew she probably wouldn't need anything at most of the stops, we stopped to see her, cheer for her, and give her anything she might unexpectedly need. We had a lot of fun, even though, really, we were just driving a little way and stopping and waiting over and over. We didn't see any other athletes or crews, everyone got really spread out on the swim. But we did see lots of other riders out on the course, most of them training for Ironman Canada. It got a little stressful when Ingrid would fly by and yell out something, it was hard to hear, but between the 3 of us, we usually got it figured out.

On Ritcher Pass (the longest climb of day 1), Ingrid passed us and yelled out "how long to the top of the climb?" I wasn't expecting that question (I'm not sure why not, who doesn't want to know how far to the end of climb??), but I had just been looking at the elevation maps, so I yelled back "just under 5 miles" Ingrid gave me a dirty look as she rode by- uh oh! We got back in the car and I confirmed with Jeff and Ramona, yep, looks like at least 4 if not 5 miles to the top of the climb...about a mile later we were descending! Sometimes elevation profiles make me want to scream! Ingrid had driven that part of the route the day before, so I'm sure she knew it was no where near 5 miles to the top when she asked me, hence the dirty look!Ingrid climbing Ritcher Pass, before asking me how far to the top
The view from Ritcher Pass

With about 20 miles to go, an official (there were only 2 for the entire event) stopped at our car and told us "you need to encourage her and get her moving or she may not make the cut off time" I said ok. But then I told Jeff, she has 20 miles to go and almost 3 hours until the cut off, she doesn't need to hurry at all! When Ingrid rode by she seemed upset and yelled about having to speed up or she'd miss the cut off, so I yelled after her "don't listen to him! You only have to go 7 mph to make it!!" There was lots of talk in the car about "how dare he stress Ingrid out unnecessarily!" and finally we decided maybe he'd looked at his watch wrong or something and we should give him a break, we didn't want to bring any bad karma our way.

Ingrid finished looking happy and strong! I had expected her to be really tired and want to go home right after finishing each day, but that wasn't the case at all. She was happy and wanted to chat with everyone at the finish, it was super cool to see her feeling so good at the finish! I felt bad when I finally suggested we needed to get going since we still had to eat dinner and get ready for day 2. We got back to the house and I realized I was EXHAUSTED! Why?? I hadn't done anything all day except get in and out of the car about 30 times (and used my triathlon math skills to their fullest)! I wasn't dehydrated, but I realized I had barely eaten anything all day- oops, that was a stupid mistake! So I made sure to pack more quick and easy to eat food in the crew food cooler for day 2. About 10pm I knew that I wouldn't be getting much sleep, I still had to finish some of Ingrid's day 2 food, pack my stuff for the overnight in Princeton, and make a poster or 2 to entertain Ingrid for the LONG day 2 ride. I think I got to bed about 11 and I'm pretty sure I was asleep before my head hit the pillow!


Shayla said...

Nice work, Heather! Sounds like a lot of work, but fun, too!

Lindsay and James Cotter said...

wow, so impressed and gorgeous course. I bet it was worth it!