Monday, November 5, 2012

Ironman Florida

I spent a packed three days in Panama City Beach this weekend with our daughter and boyfriend while they ran Ironman Florida 2012. Friday afternoon the temptation to take a nap was huge, but I resisted, choosing to get to bed early and sleep since rising time for race day was 4 a.m.  After dropping Jeanetta and John off to get ready, Cliff, Gail (or Gee, John's mom) and I parked the car and made our way to the beach. This was John's third Ironman. Jeanetta has done several half Ironman races, but this was her first full.

 They found us on the beach just before the start at 7 a.m. At the mass start, three thousand athletes rushed through the timing arch and into the water.

It was complete craziness! It looked like a massive school of human fish. Bodies packed together so tightly, you could have walked across them on the water. The water was rough, making it hard to see the course. We watched the rescue team bring several people ashore on stretchers attached to seadoos.

Once they transitioned out of the water, we were able to see both of them heading out on the bikes. Then it was time for a breakfast break and a few hours of rest at the condo. The bike ride took them right past our condo, so we stood on the sidewalk cheering riders on their way to the finish until we saw John go past. We jumped in the car and headed back to the race area hoping we would see John early on the run, but he was already past us.

We caught him (on the right) at about mile 12 of the run. 

Then we rushed back over to catch Jeanetta coming in on the bike. Here's where we got separated. Gee went back to the car because we forgot John's keys. He was planning to load the bikes after he finished. I was rushing forward so I wouldn't miss Jeanetta coming in. Cliff was searching for a trash can to dump our garbage. In a crowd of about 30,000, a blue shirt just doesn't stand out! We never found each other again until the end of the race. 

I watched her come in, then raced back to the other side of the transition area to see her leave on the run. She stopped coming out and gave me a hug. Jeanetta told us later that she saw all three of us and we probably weren't more than 10 yards apart.

At one point we had to cross the bike path. It was like playing a game of chicken. There were crossing volunteers. I would have had heart failure if that had been my job. Bikes coming down the road at 20 miles an hour, a short space in the oncoming traffic, a mad dash by handfuls of spectators going both directions across the road! Someone shouted, "Run like a bandit!"

Once Jeanetta was out on the run, it was time to watch for John to come in for his finish. I found a nice spot on the rail just before the stretch to the finish line. The bleachers at the grandstand were crowded, noisy, and hard. I was happy to be at a spot where I could see the runners coming in. He finished with a great time, but pushing himself in the heat of the day took a toll on his body. He crossed the finish line and headed straight to the medical tent with cramping and dehydration. Fortunately there were still hours left before Jeanetta came and and Gee was able to take him back to the condo where he could soak in the tub and recover a bit before coming back to the grandstands for Jeanetta's finish. 

After he finished, I waited around for a while thinking I might find Cliff or Gee, but no such luck. So I headed back to the car and to wait and see Jeanetta at the turn around midway through the run. Cliff had done the same thing and we finally stumbled on each other again. At the midpoint, Jeanetta was still looking happy. 

We went and found some dinner. Cliff watched some of the LSU/Alabama football game. He had a wager going with our son on the game. Loser buys dinner. We connected with Gee by phone and agreed to meet them at the grandstand to watch Jeanetta come in. During the last half of the run, she started slowing down. Cliff went to find her and was able to run the last bit with her before the finish.

I'm not too good with a camera when I'm trying to see what's going on, too! I pressed stop too soon, but I did catch a bit of her finish. 

 So proud of my sweet ironman woman!

Swim - 2.4 miles. Finish times. John - 1:19:45 Jeanetta - 1:24:26
Bike - 110 miles. Finish times. John - 5:05:12  Jeanetta - 7:45:12
Run - 26.2 miles.  Finish times. John - 3:51:00  Jeanetta - 6:38:01

Overall finish.
 John - 10:28:16
 Jeanetta - 15:59:50

We finally got to bed around 1 a.m. What a day!


  1. Thanks for sharing Doraine! Congrats to Jeanetta and John!

    1. Thanks for stopping by. I hope all is well in your busy life these days.

  2. Doraine, this post PULSES! You gotta write an Iron(wo)man poem! Congratulations to John and Jeanetta. What an amazing accomplishment. xo

    1. It hadn't occurred to me, but now you have me thinking! Thanks, Irene.