Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ultraman Canada Crewing Day 3!

Day 3 was a cold morning, about 40 degrees. Ingrid was excited, but a little nervous. The start line was in the middle of nowhere! Literally, we drove down a country road and the only way we knew where to stop was this start banner in the middle of the road!
Ingrid looked great at the start and the scenery was gorgeous! Unfortunately, it seemed like a few of the other athletes were really feeling the last 2 days. In the first few miles we saw most of the athletes and cheered for everyone, but quickly they spread out and we started to only see those close to Ingrid.

The plan was to stop, get out of the van and cheer, support, hand off drinks, etc. every mile and then to wait long enough that we passed Ingrid (and usually rolled down the window to cheer) shortly after the 1/2 mile, so we'd pretty much see her every half mile. This meant we had to estimate her pace, which changed based on uphills, downhills, etc. So it was a little challenging at times. Didn't help that we were stopping on miles and the van odometer read in kilometers. Jeff used my Garmin to mark the miles, which worked for awhile.
Ingrid had an awesome first 13 miles!
Running with Ingrid just for a minute to see how she was feeling and what she needed.

Between miles 15 & 20 there was a little country store, it was the only business on the entire 52 mile route, so of course all the crew and many athletes took advantage of it. Unfortunately the 2 little old ladies working there were NOT prepared (in their defense, I'm guessing they normally see about 10 customers a day, and they had more than 30 of us, all in a hurry, in about 2 hours, I'm sure they were very overwhelmed). Jeff and Ramona went into the store while I ran back to let Ingrid know where we were and that we hadn't abandoned her to run up a big hill alone (which meant I ran up the big hill with her). We got to the store and Ingrid continued on, while I went inside, on my way in Jeff said "don't even bother!" We had just over 4 minutes til we had to take off to catch Ingrid at the next half mile, so I didn't have time to ask him what happened. I ran in, found the blue gatorade Ingrid wanted and got in line, there was just one couple in front of me, so I had plenty of time.

The couple in front of me was ordering breakfast, but they were talking in slow motion t..w..o...e..g.g..s...s.c..r.a..m..b.l..e.d, and the lady behind the counter was writing in even slower motion so they had to repeat what they said at least twice, and they each ordered about 7 different things! This was taking FOREVER! They were about halfway through their order when Ramona got in line behind me, obviously we decided to pay together to save time, we had less than 2 minutes til we needed to go catch Ingrid now! Finally it was our turn! The lady had to find a price sheet and look up the price of Ramona's brownie, then she asked if she wanted her muffin warmed up..."yes..actually no, we don't have time for that" then she walked to the back to get the other lady to scan our gatorade, she scanned the gatorade in super slow motion, it didn't take, she scanned it again, and again, and finally it took, but we had 2 bottles of gatorade, so she had to go through that process again. At this point Ramona and I were quietly freaking out, looking at each other with wider and wider eyes. We had definitely missed the half mile time and we'd be lucky not to miss the mile stop! "your total is $6.97" Ramona handed her a 10 and I said, "you can just give us the $3 don't worry about the pennies" The lady stopped counting out our change, gave me a not so nice look and said "PATIENCE!" wow!! If you know me at all, you know I have no patience in the best of circumstances, but I held my tongue and waited while she counted out $3 and 3 pennies. We ran outside, jumped in the van and took off. Of course, Jeff said "I told you..." apparently he had a coffee incident and told one of the ladies "so I guess if you wait your turn in line here, you don't get helped?" Yikes! We caught Ingrid just before the mile mark and a little later we were sharing Ramona's brownie and Jeff said "I'd like to be mad at those little old ladies, but they really know how to make a brownie!"

Around mile 23 was the only rest stop of the race. A friend of the race director owns a cabin on the course, so every year he and his family set up a rest stop. They had watermelon, trail mix, M&Ms, drinks, etc and they were super nice. Ingrid was in a hurry to get to the 1st marathon point, so she didn't stop, but I got some watermelon and stuff for later. Aside from the athlete's crews, they were the only spectators on the course.

Ingrid had a great first marathon and looked and felt strong. Everyone had said the second marathon was harder than the first, but according to the elevation profile, the second marathon had a lot of downhill and not much uphill, but in reality the second marathon included climbing up mountains! and it was mostly on dirt/gravel road.
Ingrid climbing up the mountain

We had lots of things to keep Ingrid from getting bored or discouraged.
tic marks on the van for each mile completed (which became a little difficult after we doubled back on the course and our mileage was off!)
the Ultraman Spirit Stick, not as fancy as the Ironman Cozumel Spirit Stick, but considering what we had to work with, I think we did ok :) Ingrid was excited to see a Spirit Stick, even if it was an actual stick decorated with junk from the van and stuff we found in the woods!
There was a BIG hill coming up, so Ramona made me dosey doe and sing "she'll be comin' round the mountain" WAY out of my comfort zone! But I'll do anything for Ingrid, and she loved it so it was ok (and how is it that Jeff got a picture of that, but couldn't get a good shot of Ingrid running up the big mountains??). Having to dosey doe at the post race awards banquet in front of everyone was a little less ok...but I'm over it now and the picture is pretty funny, so I guess maybe even that was worth it.
The "Coach Tracy Live Easy" look. Ingrid loved the Coach Tracy look so much that she asked to wear the hat & boa for the finish!
the second marathon was beautiful, but it was tough!
lots of hills and some really long steep mountains! Jeff tried to get pictures of Ingrid on the longest steepest hills, but it never really worked.
Ingrid got to pass quite a few other athletes on the run.
I was supposed to be Ingrid's pacer, originally I told her I could run up to 15 miles with her, but I got really sick just before Ultraman and I wasn't sure I could do more than 6 or 8. Ingrid was very careful about only letting me run when she really needed me, which meant I ran mostly uphills! Near the end, Ingrid let me run some downhills too :) She really didn't need me to pace her much at all, I have no idea how far I ran, but definitely less than 6 miles. I think she really only needed me when she was "almost done" around mile 40 but still had 12 miles to run. We (the crew) felt it too, "only 12 miles to go!" but then I'd think, 12 miles is still a long way to run! We got closer to the finish and the gravel turned to pavement and we got pretty steady downhills for the last few miles (that's when I got to run a few downhills too). We were all so excited! About a mile before the finish, the crews split from the athletes, we parked, got Ingrid's finish stuff ready and met her outside the finish chute. At Ultraman, the crew runs across the finish line with the athlete! Pretty cool considering I didn't actually do the race!
Ramona, Ingrid, me, and Jeff crossing the Ultraman finish line! Congratulations Ingrid! You even made Ultraman look easy!
Ultraman Ingrid enjoying her post race coconut cream pie!

Crewing for Ingrid's Ultraman was a very cool experience. It was a lot of work (in and out of the car a few hundred times, testing the limits of my triathlon math, hardly any sleep, trying to anticipate Ingrid's needs, etc), but it was so, so much fun! I don't know how she did it, but Ingrid stayed happy and positive pretty much the entire race. I expected to have some really low moments, I expected to see Ingrid get upset, or even angry, but none of that happened. Instead, she constantly reminded us how lucky we were to be together in such a beautiful place, she thanked us for doing a great job (even when we messed up), and she even encouraged other athletes and thanked other crews. I guess all of that is what makes Ingrid Ultra Awesome! Thanks for such an amazing experience Ingrid!


shubbe said...

Yay! I loved reading this! I now know how hard it is to crew for a 30 hour race, so I can't even imagine a 3 day race! You guys are awesome for being there for her and getting her through it, so all she had to do was swimbikerun. (And of course she's amazing for doing it!)

Thanks for sharing, Heather!

Richard said...

Ultraman sounds like such a fantastic experience. I really enjoyed reading all about it.