Monday, July 25, 2011

IMLP It's a Long One and You May Want Your Kleenex Handy

Just as some of you said it is great for Emily to have a mom who gets it when she does things like IMLP it is great for me to have bloggers who get what I am talking about.  My Facebook status said: Emily is an Ironman! So proud of my amazing daughter!   My cousin who is a sweet sweet person commented:  what did your daughter do for you to be proud...let us know....  

So here is my Parent/Spectator Report for my blog friends who will get it.

First off - I am exhausted. Some of it is from not sleeping well the 3 nights I was there but I truly think some of it is from a very emotional day.  I didn't have to work today and I did not bike or run although I had time.  I just had a lazy me day.  Poor Emily had to work as did my husband and son and the Rocketship! I feel guilty.

IMLP was a day full of ups and downs. Mostly ups but yes the downs were there. I am still teary at so many different things. I am sure I am going to skip all over the place as I write this. I'm going to try to separate out the start/swim/bike/run/finish and hope I put all I want to say.  If you ever have a chance to go see  someone in an Ironman DO IT!  It was amazing.  

Early Morning

Getting marked

Team Halnon is ready for the day!
Everyone was up early and we got to the race seamlessly by around 5:30.  Emily got marked and then went to take care of her special needs bags.  We saw her brother right away but it took awhile to find her dad.  My phone chose this day to basically die but the cell service was lousy - even with lots of bars - and my husband doesn't text.  But all worked out.  We found each other and had time to do some team bonding before the start.
Look at that expression. Does this girl not
know what she is going to do today?

J sending out the first of many tweets


Almost time - still that same expression!

Our two great kids!

The Swim
I had heard more about the swim start than anything else and you know what? I don't know where Emily started. There were many people up front near the flags.  There were people way back near the shore.  And there was a large group over on the side. From listening to Em talk with some of her friends earlier I think she may have been on the side.
Heading into the swim

Still excited!  This is the first of many pictures
I took where Em is on the side.  I decided 
it was more important for Emily to hear and see
us cheering than for me to get good pictures.

Before the start

She was off and we had some time to wait. She estimated 35 - 40 minutes a loop.  Jameson went and got in the water to take some pics as she crossed the dock and took off on her second loop.  I had a great time talking to a couple women I was sitting near. One woman's boyfriend was doing this for his 11th time and was trying to qualify for Kona.  The woman on my other side's husband  was 57 was doing it for his first time.  There was definitely a spirit of camaraderie all day amongst the spectators, not just the athletes.  Em was out in 35 minutes and off for her second loop.  We headed to find a spot to see her transition to the bike.  Jameson stood on a bank to tell us when she was coming so we could yell and cheer for her and get make a poor attempt to get pictures.
She's off to the far right. I think even with my lousy 
photography you can see she is still smiling.  She did an
awesome job on the swim.  It was a long transition to get to
the bikes.

The Bike

Being the awesome spectators we were being we now made it over the the bike transition.  We did catch her coming down the hill out of transition but it was crowded there. I didn't think she saw/heard us but she did.

She is on the far left blue top.  All day we kept thinking 
about what she was wearing.  Always thought the women
wearing hot pink would be her on the bike.

Now the support team had some serious wait time as Em headed off to ride her first loop.  Estimate from 3:15 - 3:45.  
First order of business - breakfast and coffee.  I had had none of either!  Talk about putting my children first!  We hit a buffet, nothing special.  Then wasted time, tried to nap - little or no success.  
This is what one Iron Parent did during the first bike loop.

I drank more coffee and read.  Then we headed back in plenty of time to see her go by.  J was again up high trying to tell us when she  would be coming. We saw lots of major eating as the bikers went by us here.  We saw one woman drop her whole sandwich and hoped that didn't mess up her whole nutritional plan!
Here she comes, I think it took her around 3:30.

Then of course what to do during the second bike loop?  Too wired to accomplish anything.  Too tired to be productive.  Spent some time drinking more coffee - iced as it was rather hot.  Looked for a place to veg out with no success.  Ate Ben and Jerry's ice cream with no discount for being a Vermonter.  Then we headed back to our same spot but on the opposite side of the road. We scoped it out to make sure we could get to the transition to see her leave for the run.  After the swim earlier we had to make a long walk - a very long walk -a very long hilly walk to get to the other side as there was no crossing the race course anywhere.  We learned our lesson for the day. Plan ahead.  
The second bike loop is when my worrying started.  Many of you also follow Em and know she was very sick the week before last. This was in the back of my mind all day.  She didn't come and didn't come and didn't come.  The guys next to us who were cheering someone Em's age had their biker come 15 min. later than expected and it was hot. That relieved my worrying a little but not for long.   But once Emily came we found out she had had a flat and that was what slowed her down.  Her total bike time was 7:42 which was really in the ballpark.

The Run

Run transition looks great - yeah look again
in the picture corner.  She had changed her clothes - surprised

Running is Emily's strongest area. We knew she might be tired but we thought we knew when she would be coming back. We took a break and had some water and found spots to just sit and veg.  We regrouped after a bit, may have gotten something to eat.  Things are beginning to run together.  The run course was a loop so we started looking for Em after 1 hour and 30 minutes figuring we would be very safe.  I think she had started on the run at 3:37.  So 5:00 came and went.  No worries yet or not too many.  But another half hour went by.  I am not sure how much longer went by but it seemed to be forever.  Emily was running much slower than usual. 
After a long wait Emily approaches us. At first
she looks fine but she isn't.

 Finally finally we saw her coming but she told us she was having major GI issues and was obviously upset.  She said she would finish if she had to walk the whole thing when the mother in me said she might not be able to. I didn't want her in the hospital hooked up to an IV bag or any of the many scenarios running though my head. She took off and then we all shared our distress over how she must be feeling.  The guy next to us smiled at me very sympathetically also having seen  Em's anguish.  In what seemed like a surprisingly short time she was going back out for her second loop. 
She looked better but said nothing as she 
went by.


So now we needed to wait again.  My stomach was in knots but she had just looked good so I was hoping against hope that her problems were over.  At this point we started really concentrating on cheering on the runners that were behind her, the ones just heading out for their second loop (although there were many runners still to come in from their first loop.)  The names on bibs really helped when it came to cheering. Jameson was great at being a support to people who really needed it.  By this time we were seeing a lot of the same people.  We saw runners in slings that must have gotten hurt on the bike - do the whole marathon!  We saw people walking oh so awkwardly and painfully - do the whole marathon!  People are amazing with their grit and determination.  The "I have a goal and I am going to meet it attitude."  These athletes were Ironmen!  

Again Emily doesn't come. I get to the point where I can't distract myself by cheering for others. Where is she?  I walk down the road we are cheering on until I get to the corner and go around it. I stay there for a bit and do some more cheering but always looking down the road  for my daughter.  She's not coming. So I go down this road (a very steep hill everyone is struggling on - there are very few people running at all) to the next corner.  No Emily.  I decide I am walking this whole !@#$%^ course until I see my daughter and know she is okay.  I desperately need to use the bathroom though. I am about to describe Emily to a volunteer so they can tell me if she goes by while I am in the Portalet when she comes - running - around the corner.  I can't tell you how I felt.  There is my girl, she is smiling and okay.  I start screaming.  I jump in beside her - need to pee completely forgotten - and run with her.  She tells me to slow down - Emily telling me to slow down is a once in a lifetime experience believe me!  I jabber away and then think maybe she is finding it annoying. I am just so happy to see her and be with her and know she is okay!  She tells me it is fine and even talks with me. She informs me she is okay but is going to walk up the hill.  Then she asks me if I am wearing my running shoes. Well, no but........who cares?
We continue and finally round that !@#$%% corner we had been staring at forever.  I am sure the Rocketship, her brother and father are as thrilled to see her as I was.  Her father runs down and joins us.  When we reach the others I tell Em I am leaving her to go to the finish but her father continues with her.  

The next part is the best of this entire long post! Imagine uplifting music here.

We  get as close as we can to the finish.  We know she wants to be under 14 hours and it is very possible she will be.  But once again we are waiting and getting nervous. But the people presently coming in were ahead of her. I could have stood there all night cheering for all of them.  I cannot imagine how they were feeling as I was feeling so darn excited for them. Their own individual feelings must have been unreal.

Then................there ............she ..................finish................chute!

Here she comes! We are going crazy!!

She had done it! She was under 14 hours.  Mike Riley would soon be announcing:" Emily Halnon You are an Ironman!"  

We still needed to get to her over at the finish and believe me we did!

There were so many other stories of the day.  When I went back along the course to get Emily a pizza there was a guy barely moving surrounded by 10 of his friends encouraging him every step of the way.  There were people still heading out for their second loop in the dark.  No one was just saying they couldn't do it. I continued to be amazed and touched by all these athletes.  If you ever get a chance to support a friend at an Ironman I highly recommend it.  On so many levels yesterday was just a fantastic day.  

Here is a section of an article. I am crying as I read these. It was so amazing. This says what I was feeling very well.

As she spoke, Trudy Mammina stood in the sunshine along the Ironman bike route on Parkside Drive watching for David, Nicole or Trudy's brother Joseph Bencivenga, who was also competing in his first Ironman.
That's how most Ironman spectators spend the day, hoping to catch a glimpse of their loved ones on the race course, the bike and marathon legs of which pass twice through the village. Spectators stand shoulder to shoulder along the barricades, ringing cow bells and holding up signs, eyeing each approaching cyclist or runner closely to see if it's their husband, wife, mom, dad or friend.
When that familiar face turns the corner, it's the beginning of a brief, exciting and emotional exchange between the competitor and his or her family and friends.
"It brings tears to my eyes, happy tears," said Sonja Paradise, of Huntington, Long Island, as she stood with her daughters in front of the Olympic Center, scanning the passing cyclists for her husband, four-time Ironman Michael Paradise. "You want to see them, make sure they're OK, and that they have a smile on their face. That's what's most important."

As each one ran or biked by, Therese Wells described it as "an exciting moment, but also a relief."
"We want to know that they're doing OK," she said.
Just up Main Street, about a dozen supporters of first-time Ironman Dan Fay of Shamong, N.J. had just seen him on the course for the second time. His father, Bob Fay, said it was worth the wait.
"We had ten seconds, if that," Fay said. "But it was exciting. We held our signs up. We cheered him on and he saw us. It doesn't get any better than that. It's phenomenal."
Many of you follow Emily at Sweats Once A Day and will see her report when she gets it up. It will be quite different from mine and I am anxious to read it myself as there is so much I don't know about the race.  After the race she and the Rocketship headed back to DC and we headed to Vermont.  I told her I would call her but I don't want to call too soon. She must be so exhausted and emotionally high and spent all at the same time. Everyone but me had to work today, I don't know how!  She will have some great photos up too. I don't know when she will get her report up but I do know Emily is one amazing woman!


Jenn said...

OK-yep I cried reading this...and I read EVERY word of it. I can only IMAGINE the pride I would feel if that were my child.... The finish chute. Seriously, what an experience to witness that!!! I can almost hear you going crazy! What a fantastic report. Thankyou for sharing this. Love the picture of the two of you together after the finish. You really are the mother I want to be! What a great great family you have!

Lindsay said...

Soo awesome! Congrats to Emily!! I loved how she was concerned about YOUR shoes so late in the run, and the pre-race excitement on her face is contagious! Glad you and the family had a successful spectator-time.

LookingUpAgain said...

Your recap was great! I cried, just like you predicted :) She is so blessed to have a mom like you waiting for her and cheering her on.

Jamie said...

Brought tears to my eyes... Amazing!

justme said...


Lisa @ Eat.Pray.Run. said...

I'm a pretty new follower and I've never left a comment before. I also started following Emily's blog about a month ago, so I'm coming in on the tail end of this whole thing. But, I've been absolutely riveted by her account of everything leading up to this amazing race. Until now, I didn't even realize that you were her mom!! This race report, from the viewpoint of a family member who was looking on as she competed in this, was incredible. I could feel the excitement--it must have been overwhelming. I am so excited for Emily--what an awesome achievement!! Can't wait to see her race report, and I loved yours!

Kate Geisen said...

You weren't kidding about the Kleenex. Your whole post is so touching and amazing. I can't even imagine how proud you all are and what a fantastic experience it was to support Emily.

Alisa said...

Wow, there are no words, yes, I have kleenex and yes, I am using it!

I wonder if this is how my parents feel when they spectate for me? Sometimes I wish they blogged.

You are an amazing supportive mom!

Richelle said...

Emily is so blessed to have you and the rest of your family supporting her. Congratulations to her and congrats to all of you for being awesome spectators!

Paul said...

OMG. What a day. I feel like a Mom myself!

What an awesome day for you all!

I look forward now to seeing how it was for Emily!

What a great event!


Hubby doesn't text?! WTF? RTFM, dude. ;)

Fran said...

What a great report. I loved reading it so much. I'm so impressed by Emily doing this!

You guys are one great family, so supportive of each other, I love that.

Fantastic report Andrea

PS: I do follow Darlene.

Char said...

You are an incredible family. Congratulations to Emily - amazing!! And I felt every bit of your anxiety when you were waiting for her on the run. Rest up. Heaven knows what she's got in store for you next.

Amy said...

Wow - awesome. Felt like I was there with you reading this. A huge congratulations to Emily!

Jennifer said...

Congrats to Emily and your whole family!

Laura said...

Geez...I don't even know you guys IRL but I got all weepy. You are such an amazing family and mucho congrats to Emily and you guys for supporting her. I am heading to watch our coach to IronMan Arizona and am excited!

Michael said...

That is so AWESOME!!! Congrats to Emily! It'a such an amazing accomplishment. I can't even comprehend the Ironman, seriously, can't comprehend doing it. I love this post and how much emotion you have. I also love how you went searching for her and then ran with her. You are a great Mom, I bet she was so happy to see you!!

Darlene said...

Yes. I cried reading this - so proud of her!

Kandi said...

What an incredible experience all around! So excited for Emily and so glad that you and the rest of her support team got to experience it all with her. It sounds like it was a very emotional day. I can't believe Emily went to work yesterday!

Christy Ashley said...

You are one incredible Sweaty Mama! I was tracking Emily all day and was so so so proud of her and this was a fantastic report! Em's lucky to have an amazing mom like you! I know how my mom felt during my first marathon when she was afraid to pee so she didn't miss me! And I can tell you, as I'm sure Emily did, you jumping in with her was probably what drove her to finish! You're an AMAZING mom and I know that from Emily talking my ears off about you as well as from this report! Congratulations, you're an IRONMAMA! =)

Anne said...

Made me tear up for sure...what a touching report of an amazing woman! Wow! An Ironman! Unbelievable! What a wonderful experience you had!

Unknown said...

so incredibly awesome. loved reading about your spectating experience. congrats again to Emily!

Christi said...

That is so inspiring. Thanks so much for sharing your experience. Please extend my congratulations to our Ironman daughter!

BabyWeightMyFatAss said...

Yes I cried reading your recount. As a mother I get it. As a daughter I get it more. You've inspired your daughter to be the best that she can be. You should be very proud!

Teamarcia said...

Ok I'm fanning tears away and failing. thank you so much for this, it was awesome to read. As a mother I can just imagine how you felt, the worry for your daughter. And the faith in her ability and determination. And of course the PRIDE!!! An experience of a freaking lifetime for sure. You and the rest of the crew are such a fabulous support system for Emily. She is amazing and so are all of you!

Karen said...

I didn't need the kleenex until you went back to look for her on the run. You got the tears going with that one... What a great experience for you and your family not to mention a truly amazing daughter you have! (side note, love your cousin's comment... it is easy to forget not everyone lives in a world where you automatically know what an ironman is or what that 140.6 sticker on the car window means.)

Pat said...

Wow! An awesome recap from a mother's/spectator's view point! I had tears in my eyes reading it. Congratulations to Emily.

April said...

Amazing! You are right I needed the kleenex! What an amazing daughter you have and she is so blessed to have such a loving and supportive family!

Katie said...

so much emotion in this post, wow!!!! what a great spectating recap - like everyone else, i can't wait to read hers!

Marlene said...

You've got that right! I can only imagine what it was like to be there and witness your daughter achieve such an enormous victory. I have goosebumps like crazy!!! Can't wait for Emily's report!! Thanks for sharing your side.

Suzy said...

Congrats to the whole family!! I know lots were thankful for J's tweets. Congrats to Emily. And yes...tears were involved reading this. I can't imagine waiting like you did when she didn't come and didn't come during the run.

Tricia said...

Lovely recap -- that is just awesome. What a great family you guys are.

Ana-Maria RunTriLive said...

I felt the anxiety you must have felt waiting for Emily at various spots! As a mom, I get that so well! So proud of Emily and what a great family you have!

A Prelude To... said...

Emily is simply SUPER and AMAZING!! What a great race! You've got to just be so incredibly proud!

I just finished reading The Blessings of the Animals this weekend flying to SoCal. It might have been the complimentary wine I was drinking on my flight, but I kept tearing up and having to wipe away tears while I made my seatmate uncomfortable :D

That horse had my heart!!!!

Pahla said...

Thank you for warning me about the kleenex, I cried through this whole post!! SOOO proud of your amazing daughter!
IronHubs and I are only half joking when we say that spectating is more exhausting than racing. It's physically and emotionally draining to watch somebody you love put themselves out there like that, even at shorter distances, but especially at an Ironman. Congrats, Mama!

amy said...

I absolutely love this post! While I'm not a mom and have never spectated an Ironman, I know the feelings you write about. If I can't be racing, I want to be spectating. Like everyone, I can't wait to read Emily's recap too. We all tracked her from DC (from everywhere, probably) all day. PS - we met the guy who owns the pizza place at the Key West Tri last year. Making all of those pizzas for the IMLP finishers seemed like the highlight of his year.

Cinthia said...

Yep, I also got a bit weepy-eyed reading this. Love how supportive your whole family is; that is so awesome and special. More awesome and special is that Emily is now an Ironman!!
(For some reason, I got very, very hungry reading this post.)

Julie said...

Emily is such an amazing athlete!! Holy cow! What a great race report! You must be so proud of her for her wonderful accomplishment! I love the pictures:)

Kate Geisen said...

I ended up not putting my mom story on the blog bc it didn't really fit with what I wanted to tell, but the short version is that she called me as I was walking back from awards to ask where we all were. I told here I was leaving my race and told her where everyone else was. "Oh, you had a race?" she asked, "Well, when is N going to be home?"

"No, mom, the question is "How did you do?"

" did you do?"

It just struck me as funny/ironic in contrast to your excitement and interest in your kids' racing.

RunningWhit said...

Congrats to Emily and all of you for spectating and supporting her! Your race report was great and very touching.

Chris K said...

Wow, just wow. I have not read any of the other comments. I was freaking on the edge of my seat reading this. Great R.R. Man, Emily is teeny-tiny. What a total stud. Huge congrats to her.

Of course I can relate. There are fewer joys in life than witnessing your child have fun and nothing worse than watching your child suffer.

You are an awesome Mom.

Anonymous said...

Oh this was beautiful! I stay in tune with Emily's blog and was cheering for her from Ohio that day! I just love that you wrote the report from your own perspective. It really brought tears to my eyes. Being a marathoner, I know how wonderful and neccessary it is to have family and friends by your side on race day. This just warms my heart! You must be so proud!

Beth said...

wow, I came here from Emily's report. Her report was totally inspiring, but yours made me cry! What an emotional day for the entire family. She is so lucky to have a family and support system like you!! Congrats on being an IronMama :)

Jen Feeny said...

What a fantastic spectator recap! I am in tears and I only wish I had a mom like you! You are just as amazing as your daughter is!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your spectator report. Emily is an amazing woman, and you are an amazing mom! She is lucky to have such a strong support system. And, oh yeah, I'm totally crying at the love and emotion from both of your recaps and that awesome article in your report.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'm crying a little bit. My parents have hinted about what it's like to watch me race, but reading it here gives me a new appreciation. I'm going to watch a friend tackle IMAZ this year, so I will definitely take all your advice to heart. Congratulations--to Emily and you! You guys made it ;)

Anonymous said...

Emily's post and yours have both brought me to tears. I have followed her blog for some time. I was so excited to be volunteering at IMLP (I have friends competing and signing up for next year). It was incredible to see those amazing people crossing the finish line of their lives. I felt honored to share in that moment. I saw Emily when she crossed the line and congratulated her on the amazing accomplishment. She's an incredible young woman and you and your family are an incredible support team! Congrats on a race well supported and run!

Anonymous said...

That apple didn't fall far from the tree! Amazing, both of you!

Giorgio said...

Beautiful and detailed reporto! The second photo shows a great pink group :) Nice family!
You can be proud of your amazing daughter!

Molly said...

I just read Emilys report and yours, wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. Amazing and so inspiring!

Rachel said...

Wow, what an event. You definitely competed in an emotional Ironman that day! What an amazing woman, Emily is. I wish I could have met her before leaving VT. Maybe you two should come out for a girls visit in Bozeman. I'll have to find some hardcore race for the IronWoman!

MCM Mama said...

She is amazing! You must be so proud. And it's awesome that you all were able to be there for her.

Ellen said...

I am a follower of emily's blog and came over to read this when she linked it. I cried though most of your report. Your whole family is lucky to have each other and I am sure she gets her grit and determination from you.

Emz said...


I loved this.
What a wonderful support crew she had.
You raised one IW- incredible woman.

Tina @GottaRunNow said...

Wow, what an accomplishment! This was a fun read!

Unknown said...

I can only imagine what this felt like, truly a once in a lifetime experience on so many levels!
Thanks for some fun, morning excitement!!

Jill said...

Wow!!! I am in awe of her amazing accomplishment - and what an amazing mother you are!! Congratulations to Emily, so very happy for her!!!! :)