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Steven saves the day

running field photography

“Steven!” We shouted from the starting corral. There was 3 minutes until the start cannon would go off and two IronMan employees were huddled comparing pieces of paper, neither looked up. “STEVEN!” This time, we got his eyes, “remember us? Pregnant lady? 47 weeks?”

A big smile burst onto his mustachioed face, “oh hey! Good luck girls!”

We didn’t blame him for not looking the first time, his name wasn’t actually Steven after all.

The day before the four of us had been walking the course, from the swim start, to the swim exit, down the run to transition, then out the bike exit. We had major confusion over the swim exit to the transition area as it seemed to roll right through the huge white event tents that housed IronMan Village. This is the area full of merch that suckers (like me) can buy (for way too much) as mementos to remember the race or as last minute scrambles to aid in completing the race (as I did). (There was a whole swim kerfuffle as the water was too warm to be wetsuit legal.)

I was with my three friends who were doing the relay. We were arguing over how the run could possibly go through these tents when an IronMan employee walked by, overheard our debate, set down his Coke can, and offered to answer any questions we might have. Boy did we make him regret that offer! It was incredibly helpful to get an insider’s perspective. One of my friends, 6 months pregnant (doing the swim portion of the relay) asked if he could give her an extra finisher medal for her baby. He bent down to look at her athlete wristband, presumably to get her bib number and look for her at the end with the extra medal.

“Fortyyyy….forty seven…?” He trailed off.

Except her wristband, on her wrist, was resting on her pregnant stomach, so it looked like he was trying to gauge how many weeks pregnant she was. Never one to miss an opportunity to create a socially awkward situation, I pounced.

“Forty seven weeks!!!! That’s not even possible!! What are you trying to say, man?”

My friend quickly jumped in, “yeah! Don’t you think I feel pregnant enough, now you gotta give me a due date like that! Didn’t you ever learn not to guess how pregnant a lady is?”

He turned so bright red under his bushy mustache. It was amazing. We quickly set him at ease, thanked him for his time and I asked his name so I could put in a good word for how patient and kind he’d been.

“Ummm,” he looked off over the water, “my name is…Steven.”

“Thanks Steven, you’ve been great and-” my friends said.

I quickly cut them off, “you totally just made that up!”

He looked bashful, “yeah okay, it’s not Steven.”

*pause*

“Well?” I nudged.

“Fine, okay, it’s Hunter. Don’t get me in trouble over the pregnant thing!”

We reassured him and set on our way.

You can imagine our delight when we saw him at the start. Although I suspect he was hoping never to see us again! We also spotted him emptying trash bins after the race and while my legs were too sore to stand and walk over to him, my other friend did and gave him a big hug and thanked him again. We watched their exchange and when she came back to our group she proudly held up an extra finisher’s medal! Steven had delivered.

“I gave him a hug and he asked if I was part of the group with the pregnant lady, then he pulled this out of his pocket!” She declared triumphantly. We were ecstatic!

There’s so many things I deeply love about triathlon. The community it builds is top of the list. I’ve had a lot of experiences like this at races, people going above and beyond, helping each other even when it doesn’t seem worth it. The last IronMan race I competed in a woman had forgotten her goggles and realized it AT THE START LINE. The lady in line next to her ran all the way back to bag drop to get her extra pair and give it to a complete stranger.

My performance in the race was as good as I could have hoped. There was a strong current on the swim which slowed everyone down, but I got out of the water feeling fast and that’s all that matters! The bike course was so flat and in a shocking twist that wasn’t as easy as I thought. It meant there was no coasting down hills, no sitting up out of the aero bars, no opportunities to stretch. I pushed constant hard power but I made my goal and came in under 2.5 hours with the 10th fastest bike split of all females. The run fell apart for me a bit. I’m still happy with my overall pace of 8:20 something, although it wasn’t what I targeted. I felt very sick and every time I sipped water it made my stomach cramp. Diagnosing my symptoms afterwards with my friends (a pharmacist and ER nurse) I realized I was very sodium depleted and I lose more salt in my sweat than is typical. Dialing in my salt intake during my next race will help that run hold together better.

Overall I was the 25th female and achieved 4th in my age group! The podium for IronMan events goes through 5th place so I walked away with a nice plaque and some great memories. Thank you to everyone for cheering me on and tracking me. I love the support and it holds me accountable during hard moments of the race. I have more stories from the weekend but I’ll save them for another time.

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