Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ironman from the other side

Race Day had finally come.

After months of getting excited crossing of each day as it passes on a count down calendar that has been pinned up on Andy’s wardrobe since August, I am looking forward to ripping this down when we get home!

The alarm went at 3:00am, a new early morning start record of us and Andy for the first time ever, turned off the alarm (no snooze) and got straight out of bed. He had already been up and had a piece of toast before I had even considered getting out of bed! By the time I got up Andy was already on face book, updating his status and starting to feel the nerves. We got ready with our fellow Ironman roomies and all piled in the car and made the trip to the IM transition.

I was starting to feel Andy’s nerves but as usual I was more nervous than he was and admittedly probably not the best to be around as he was in better shape than me!

I watched him in transition as he set up the bike etc making his final checks and I could see he was getting pumped. A quick chat with Nick Baldwin (No. 1 competition for the day) and Andy was out of there.
One last nervous wee stop before heading to the swim start where Andy prepared for the race. A soaking in zinc before the wetty went on. At this stage I was taking a few photos and realised Andy was in ‘the zone’.  Usually I have a very happy Andy before any race but as I played back the photos and looked through the lens there was not even a crack of a smile. Game face was on.

A quick good luck all round from the squad and my family before I walked with Andy to the swim start. A bit of a panic as we made our way over, trying to find Andy’s family. Eventually and just in the nick of time we found them, right before entering the start at the beach.

I think this is when it all hit Andy. Months of training and commitment and dedication all falls to this day and it was about to start in a matter of minutes. I will admit there where a few tears, and not just from me, as Andy left us and made his way to the beach to position himself for the swim start.

I made my away along the jetty and as it is every year, what an amazing sight to see a mass of athletes all start and make their way along the beautiful Busselton jetty.  I made my way ¾ up the jetty hoping to spot Andy. Little did I know Andy has spotted me and was waving as he was swimming!
I met up with Johan and the families as we made our way to the swim exit… and waited. I was not waiting for long but as always when you are following someone who is competitively racing it is a nervous wait. The first age group swimmer exited the water and the count was on. Then there was the first in Andy’s age group, where I counted 4 before not long at all I could see Andy’s stroke, his distinctive goggles and the No. 81. After some screaming and cheering by the 9 of us I sprinted to the bike exit. Before I knew it Andy was out of the transition tent and off onto the bike.  This was the start of what I thought would be some 4.45 where Andy would kick butt.

It felt like a long wait waiting for Andy to return from his first lap. No one was around I sat in the eclipse tent and waited. The pros then came in fast and I felt nervous. I knew Andy would not be too far away. When you are the partner of some one training for an Ironman I think you know more than anyone else what they are capable of. I know the long hours, the time, dedication and commitment Andy has for this sport and particularly for this race. I knew he had been training well and most of all, as most people know the bike is Andy’s leg and I knew today was his day.             

As the first of the age group riders came though I was so excited so see Andy at the back of this pack. He had chased them down from the swim deficit and caught them in the first lap. By the time he turned around just a few 100m’s up the road he was at the front and hunting the few remaining leaders down. I got a wave and smile and at this stage let out a few tears of excitement and sheer joy for Andy. I then became a little arrogant, almost skiting about how well Andy was racing! After all he had almost chased the lead group down in the first lap and was motoring. Friends were all talking of how Andy better not blow it, exhaust himself or leave nothing for the run but I knew Andy was smarter than this and would leave plenty in the tank for the run. We had update msg's from friends reporting Andy’s all over IM Live. It was just awesome. The second lap went fast and before I knew it I was looking through the binoculars (yep – that’s what dads are great for) and could see Andy and Nick coming, not to mention the heat coming off the road. Flying past once again and looking even better than the previous lap I knew Andy was giving it his all.

A quick lunch stop and I was off to position myself at the bike exit and start of the run. Andy flew around the corner and dismounted his bike. I would not have liked to have been on the receiving end of that! 2mins later and he was onto the run (after nearly taking out Timo Bracht).

Andy looked good as he ran out of transition and as usual the family exploded! The run has always been Andy’s weakest leg but he has put a lot of effort in this during his training. It was great to hear Andy’s coach say ‘Andy looks like a runner now’.  At this stage Nick Baldwin was only 1.30 up the road. I ran along side Andy until he turned up the road where I eagerly awaited his return. Still so close to Nick. The second lap came and Andy had closed the time on Nick. Andy still looked strong and I thought “yes, I might be having a trip to Hawaii!” Again I ran along side Andy and saw him at every point I could. The support for Andy was amazing on the run course with everyone left right and center yelling his name.

I was rude and ignored Nick as he ran past as I did not want any little bit of support to give him any advantage. I now, after meeting him in the recovery tent feel rude and apologise as he is a lovely person and it must have been tough racing with no support/family out there. I will admit I did support Nick on the last lap as he did begin to extend his lead-time on Andy!

The day never felt long and I can say I did not miss a second of racing! As Andy left for the last 7km I ran to the finish line to get my spot. I was delighted to find it wasn’t packed as Andy was a top age grouper finishing and everyone was still out supporting on the run course! I waited and waited for what seemed like forever! And then the athletes started to come. I counted the age groupers. Nick came around the corner and I gave him a lot of support.  Around 10mins and only a hand full of people later I could see Andy coming down the finishing chute. Again the family exploded as he crossed the finish line. I raced to the other side to see Andy. He was stuffed but he looked good.

At this stage I'm sure he was planning his next IM but for now the focus is on the 70.3 distance for the 2012 season.

9.21.01. An awesome result for Andy’s first Ironman which I know he had the confidence going into this race he would come close to this time.

I know there were perhaps some people who doubted Andy’s capability and questioned what time he would do but he owned this day and deserves every bit of credit for his result. After all coming second to the second best in the world is an achievement any one should be proud of.
(Nick finished 2nd at the Ironman World Champs in Hawaii this year).

Andy Tyack, you are and IRONMAN

Lisa Luckin x

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