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sherpa report | ironman florida

My Ironman Florida sherpa duties started early: Hauling three tri bikes + two road bikes cross country to Panama City Beach.


Two days, 1,300 miles and 19.5 hours later, we arrived at the beach house, ready to relax. After a delicious dinner of fresh royal red shrimp, I picked up Nick at the airport. A couple hours of catching up and talking race logistics later, we hit the hay for a good nights sleep.

Bright and early Thursday morning, Nick and I joined teammates D2, Kyle and Rob for a morning swim in the Gulf of Mexico. Since I don’t have a wetsuit (yet), I watched their gear on the white sand beach and tried to keep an eye on them in the four-foot swells. Not gonna lie, while I love swimming in salt water, I was glad not to this morning; the waves were massive, the water was cold and it just looked daunting. About 15 minutes after they started swimming, I nearly had a heart attack when I only saw three guys instead of four. Frantically, I scanned the water for the second lime green swim cap. Ten seconds later and much to my relief, I finally spotted him on the far left; the current had pushed him a bit off-course. Whew! Gulf waves stole Nick’s shiny new goggles, too.

morning gulf swim.

After bacon + eggs brunch at Waffle House, everyone’s first-ever visit…

waffle house!

…we hit the race expo so the boys could check-in and snag some swag. Holy energy! Fit athletes everywhere, sweet IM gear, a Mirinda Carfrae sighting (still kicking myself I didn’t get a picture with her!) and some tasty hydration samples. One of the coolest things: An m-dot made of every participating triathlete’s name.

there’s nick! #anythingispossible

post packet pick-up on the beach.

kyle was really excited for 140.6!

so was nick.

I scored some sweet Newton tri shorts and tested them out during a fast 24-mile afternoon ride with Nick, Kyle and Sam. What a ride! I missed my Madone, but didn’t realize just how much. It felt good to be back in the saddle in the sunshine!

afternoon spin.

Friday was pretty low-key and relaxing. Nick and I ran a quick 2.5 miles in the morning (dang it, I’m out of decent running shape again!), organized all his gear (triathlon requires a LOT… eight bags!) and ate a pretty tasty homemade dinner (chicken, broccoli, tomatoes and butternut squash sauce). We crawled into bed a bit before 10p to rest up for the 4a alarm.

I swear my head had *just* hit my pillow when the alarm went off. Still half asleep, I brewed two double shots and kept Nick company during his PB toast pre-race breakfast.

espresso love.

Our pre-race plan was to meet near T1 so I could get Nick’s backpack filled with post-race gear (flip-flops, clean dry clothes, iPhone). Our #deterMiNICK crew – mom Mary, sister Amanda + husband James and friend Sonia – left for race start just before 6a. We had just parked when my phone rang: Nick was wondering where we were. I ran the half-mile to T1, grabbed his backpack and posed for a quick pic. After a hug and kiss, he raced off to the beach.

ready to race!

I met the crew shortly after, and we made our way through the sea of people to find a good spot near the water to watch the start. So many wetsuit clad triathletes – 2,800! – in lime green and hot pink swim caps! I searched for Nick and teammates with no luck, but turns out, he wasn’t too far away. After the race, I spotted him in a photo I took; he was just 25 feet away!

beach start.

swim start (photo courtesy of amanda).

birds (photo courtesy of amanda).

A two-lap swim for safety reasons (1.2 miles in, triathletes had to exit the gulf and run over a timing mat on the beach), Sonia and I found a front row spot near where triathletes re-entered the water. Other spectators had the same idea and our wading quickly turned into knee-deep salty waves and splashes waist high; my clothes were soaked (thank goodness we packed dry clothes)! We even saw teammate Sam smiling and ready to take on lap two.

sam always smiling 🙂

me and sonia.


part of the crew.

mid swim.

As soon as we got word from Amanda that Nick had exited the water – she was on paparazzi duty on that side of the course – Sonia and I made a mad dash for bike out. There were too many people lined up yet so we found a spot and cheered like crazy when Nick cruised by (adjusting his Garmin). We stuck around until we saw our Performance Power teammates head out for the 112-mile ride (and then went to Waffle House for brunch, obviously).

nick on the bike out.

go, rob!

After brunch, we made a pit stop at the car to recharge our iPhones before making our way back to the bike in. Five hours goes by pretty quickly when you’re not going all out on the bike! Mary, Amanda and James positioned on one side, while Sonia and I scored a sweet spot right at bike dismount next to some super nice triathletes from Atlanta. They were volunteering to get first dibs on 2013 race registration (as were nearly all the other volunteers).

Anyway, I couldn’t believe how many triathletes didn’t see the line marking the bike dismount. Nearly everyone flew by it despite volunteers yelling to dismount. Nick’s dismount to T2 was actually pretty graceful – he didn’t even look tired after his 5:10 bike!

bike dismount.


Right after snapping pics, I raced around to the other side of the bike in to cheer for Nick on the run out. I made it over just in time to see him turn the first corner. With a huge smile on his face, he looked awesome, strong and ready for 26.2. I even got a high-five as he ran by!

lookin’ strong at run start.

A spectator-friendly two-loop run, we saw all of our P2 teammates twice – right at the start and again halfway through. Everyone looked strong and happy to be racing. While we waiting for everyone to come back around on the second loop, Sonia and I made a quick run to a nearby convenience store to refill our water and get a few snacks… spectating and cheering in the Florida sunshine is hard work! 😉

solid stride, D2!

team kyle 😉

more paparazzi.

By the time Nick came back around at 13.1 – after running the first half at about eight-minute per mile pace – the heat had crept up to the low 80s, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Not ideal when there’s zero shade for almost the entire 26.2, and immediately, I could tell he was tired and hurting. Pretty sure he had 10 sponges shoved down the back of his tri top and another tucked in his visor… perfect way to keep cool!

I walked with him for about a quarter-mile, encouraging him to power through. Just 13.1 miles to go! You got this! Right before he took off again, he handed me half a homemade frosted sugar cookie running buddy Hadley gave him and half deliriously told me to save it for him at the finish 🙂 (OK… I had a teeny bite… holy yum. She sure makes some tasty cookies!)

the second 13.1 was tough.

you got this, baby!

We cheered on the course for a bit longer after Nick went by and then made our way to the finish. So, so awesome to watch these dedicated triathletes cross the finish line, many emotional and all radiating happiness and pure joy. I even welled up as they finished. It’s tough not to when you know just how much dedication, determination and sacrifice goes into the months and months of training leading up to just one day.

Thanks to the IronTrac app, we had a pretty good idea of when Nick would be rounding the final corner down the chute. I made my way under the blue Ironman arch, ready to snap a few pictures and made some small talk with the official photographer sitting on the other side of the fence. He showed me a few of his shots… impressive finisher photos!

After a lull in finishers – about a two-minute break – we finally spotted Nick. Happiness beamed – beamed – from his face. And, as he ran closer, soaked in sweat and sponges still tucked down the back of his jersey and visor, he broke into a huge smile, gave some high-fives and kicked it across the finish line.



finishing strong with high-fives from former P2ers!

you are an ironman!

I raced through the crowd the finishers’ area and gave him huge hug… and, got all sweaty and salty 🙂

post-race hugs.

recovery (notice the sponges).

so proud.

What a day! I’m inspired, motivated, in awe, proud and cannot wait – CANNOT WAIT! – for Ironman Canada on August 25, 2013!

BIG congratulations to every rock star Ironman and Iron{wo}man who raced IMFL!

18 Comments Post a comment
  1. That is awesome! i loved reading the recap and seeing all your pictures. I would be so proud. I love that you got on the course to encourage him! Congrats to Nick and good luck with our upcoming race!

    November 15, 2012
    • Thank you! It was such a fun day, and I’m SO proud of him 🙂

      November 19, 2012
  2. John #

    Congrats to him! That’s one heck of an accomplishment! IMC should be a breeze! 🙂

    November 15, 2012
    • He says thank you! I’m counting down the days to IMCA!

      November 19, 2012
  3. Sharlene Klegstad #

    Such a fun post to read! I was cheering for Nick as I was reading!

    November 16, 2012
  4. This is so super. I just love the photo of you encouraging nick and walking with him. Awe. So proud of both of you! We must get together and talk P2…..

    November 16, 2012
    • It’s fun to spectate IN the race 🙂 YES! Let’s get together and talk P2!

      November 19, 2012
  5. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. So inspiring and impressive! Also loved all the photos. 🙂 I hope you’re making albums to have in-hand to look at for years to come!

    November 16, 2012
    • Ooo… good idea! For as much as I love photo albums, I hadn’t thought to make one. Thanks, Sis!

      November 19, 2012
  6. Such a great post. I love the pictures of you cheering him on, SO sweet. It takes quite the crew!

    November 16, 2012
    • And, it takes a LOT of gear! Thanks, Emily!

      November 19, 2012
  7. This makes me giddy.

    I have a friend who is contemplating signing up for an Ironman. I would love to connect him ( Nick) with your nick.

    “Post Race hug” picture is my fav.

    Keep on keeping on you two! have a great pre-thanksgiving weekend.

    November 16, 2012
    • They definitely should connect. Nick would be happy to answer any questions.

      Hope you had a fab weekend, friend, and an even better thanksgiving week!

      November 19, 2012
  8. WOW! What an amazing experience! (For both you AND Nick 🙂

    November 16, 2012
    • It sure was! I highly recommend volunteering or spectating a 140.6… so inspiring 🙂

      November 19, 2012
  9. What a great recap! And a HUGE congrats to Nick!! So inspirational!!

    November 18, 2012

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