Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Inspiration is defined as the stimulation of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity!

What inspires you to act?  What inspires any of us to do anything, that we do?  To wake up before dawn to go for a run or ride.  To jump in the pool long before the sun comes up, and do lap after lap.  To wrap our various joints and extremities up in neoprene or compression bandages to ease the pain of running or riding. To plunge our bodies into tubs of ice after a long hard workout.  

IRONMAN Florida, Panama City, FL    Saturday November 3, 2012
Jamie Takes the Top Bunk

Being at a race for me is difficult.  I'm sure many of you know the feeling, but this one was tough.  I had planned on being here and racing this one last year, but life can get in the way at times.  We got there, Friday afternoon and met up with most of our friends who were racing.  Talk about ENERGY!  Everyone was wired.  We shared hugs and photos, checked out the expo, and then attended the volunteer's meeting.  After getting our assignments, we walked back to our room.  Actually a condo.  There were five of us staying in a one bedroom condo.  Laura cooked an awesome pasta dinner, and I broke open a bottle of wine.  Rick was racing, so no wine for him.  Its was an early bedtime for all of us.  Brad, took the couch, and Jamie and I were in the hallway bunk beds.  We felt like little kids, knowing we had to get up early but it was difficult falling asleep.

4:30 am comes quickly, especially when you mean to set the alarm for 5:30 am.  Ooops, well, no one really wanted to sleep anyway.  That wasn't my fault.  I downed a protein drink, followed by coffee, and Laura's awesome pumpkin bread.  Hey, I wasn't racing.  As we headed to the elevator I could barely contain myself.  Walking the half mile to the start area we were practically speed walking.  We got our  volunteer t-shirts and reported in.  Our captains told us to come back after the swim start to get ready for Transition One.  So we went to the beach.  Did I mention the energy? My heart was going a mile a minute, and I wasn't getting in the water.  So many swim caps, so many wet suits.  I saw Carola, who I could tell was more than ready to go.  It was hard to find everyone in the mass of people.  We did find Anne and Marai, both were anxious but ready.  Anxious may be an understatement.  I gave Anne a hug, and I don't think she wanted to let go.  I grabbed her shoulders, looked right in her eyes and reassured her that she was going to do great!  The swim start is violent, and terrifying, its raw energy and emotion.  Its an awesome spectacle.

Transition is frenetic, call it, organized chaos.  You can feel the athletes emotions, partly relieved they survived the swim, and now trying to stay calm as they embark on 112 mile ride.  But they are also trying to hurry and get out as fast as they can.

Jamie & Yvonne Von Vlerken
Rinny Carfrae
As a spectator, you breathe a bit.... but the excitement is still there.  After a bit of rest, we head back to find a spot to see our friends hit transition two.  We are screaming and clapping for all the athletes, and get totally crazed when we see one of our crew.   We watch the last of our friends come in off the bike.  The professional woman are finishing, we listen to Yvonne Von Vlerken interviewed, then I see my heart throb, Mirinda "Rinny" Carfrae coming in to the finish shoot!  I yell and scream for her, she gives me a high-five, I still haven't washed that hand.  (OK I have, but needless to say I was excited)

The sun is going down, and now the hard part.  All of our friends are out on the marathon course.  We head out along the course to give some moral support and cheer on everyone.  We try to track everyone on the live website.  We get a good idea of where everyone is on the course.  After some more high-fives and hugs, we head to the finish area, where the A-Train has a tent.  Laying on the grass for a few minutes I actually feel guilty.  We don't dare say it, but we are tired from volunteering and spectating.  Our friends are out on the course, THEY are tired!

The finish shoot and finish line are where dreams come true.  All sorts of emotions now.  Watching people come to the line, is amazing.  You see people running, limping, crying.  I see a couple hit the shoot together, running to the line they are holding hands and as they cross together, he wraps his arms around her and they kiss.  Others are barely making it, with obvious pain in their faces.

The lovely yellow volunteer shirts come in very handy now.  We get behind the finish line hoping to catch our friends coming in.  I see Kat coming in, she has had an amazing race.  I grab a medal, put it around her neck and my arms around her holding her up.  She's exhausted, emotional and completely spent.  It took her about 5 minutes before she even realized it was me.  I had promised her I would find her at the finish line.  I also was able to catch Jan, and Summer as they came across the line.  As all of our friends come across the line, its very emotional.  We have trained with everyone, and seeing them come across the line is just awesome.

Sunday morning, we lined up with 1400 others and registered for IRONMAN FL 2013.  It was very emotional being a volunteer, and being with our A-Train family members.  As the next 50 weeks unfold, there will be plenty more emotions.

There will be a lot of blood, sweat and tears!