This Runner's Trials

The scariest race of my life

No, I am not going to recap this day again.

And I'm not referring to my next race, an 8k turkey trot on Thanksgiving. While my lack of speedwork is relatively frightening, I’m not scared of those 5 miles.

The scariest race of my life is taking place this weekend. And I’m not even racing.

My husband is competing in his first full Ironman this Saturday- the Beach2Battleship Ironman in Wilmington, NC.

Whenever I tell people this I get responses like so:

  • Ohmygosh, that’s so cool.
  • You must be so proud of him.
  • You’re so lucky to have a spouse who is into racing like you.
  • That’s insane.

I completely concur with all of these thoughts. I try to tell the person that I agree with them, but I’m not sure I’ve ever done a convincing job.

The truth is, whenever the Ironman is brought up, I get a sinking feeling in my stomach, my heart races, and I just pray for the day to be over. Sometimes, I wish the race wasn’t happening at all.

My husband has two main goals in life: to complete a full Ironman and to become a father. And since we all know how awesome my reproductive organs are, I’m not about to deny him his chance at completing 140.6 miles via swim, bike, run.

I know I sound like a horrible wife. The most important person in the world to me is about to compete in his dream race and I can barely muster enthusiasm.

I worry he'll drown, get in a bike accident, or won’t stop if he doesn’t feel well. All of these things could happen. But there's a much greater chance of him finishing the race grimacing with a smile on his face.

I know this. But I am still petrified for Saturday. Basically because racing 140.6 miles seems completely idiotic to me. Not only is it something I could never imagine doing, it’s something I have zero desire to do. I just don't know why anyone would want to put themselves through that.

Then there's the fear of the unknown. Hubby has only ever done half this distance before. I'm sure anyone who has gone from a half to a full marathon understands my uneasiness. Doubling the distance of your sport is not easy. Especially when you have 3 sports.

But I need to remember this race is not about me and my fears. He’s officially trained for 16 weeks to get here. He’s unofficially trained for 9 years since he started triathloning. I need to trust his training.

I hope my pre-race nerves disappear as soon as the race starts on Saturday. I really want to be the best spectator and photographer I can be. You know, for those whole 5 minutes of the 12 hour race that I actually get to see him...

When he crosses that finish line, one thing is for sure: we will both be beyond happy. Him filled with pride, and me with relief ;) Kidding. Of course I will be super proud of him.

Have you ever had a bad case of pre-race jitters when you weren't racing? Has anyone done an Ironman or aspire to do one? Any advice for how to make it through the day on Saturday? I'm bringing my furry companion, a book, lots of food, and my running shoes.

Comments (20) Trackbacks (1)
  1. Dang- I lost my comment :)

    I think once you see your husband safe and sound for the first time you’ll feel better, and your heart will explode with excitement. The only other tips I have are to maximise your spectator time as much as possible, and if you know anyone else racing to see what updates you can get from them.

    Good luck to your husband (and you)!

  2. I wish him good luck! I’ll say a prayer he and all the other competitors finish safely. Glad he’s following a dream

  3. Well, think about it this way…most people think that running marathons is idiotic and dangerous and will make you have a heart attack and/or ruin your knees…but to you, it’s definitely not that big of a deal, because you know better and train properly. It’s all about perspective!

    Good luck to your H!

  4. People say “never say never” but with 99.9% certainty, I can say that I will never complete and Ironman. I do think it is completely incredible, though! Your husband has prepared and it ready for this challenge.

    If you’re anything like me (and I think you are ;)) this event is most nerve-wracking for you because it is completely outside your control. When he is safely in your arms at the finish, those feelings will be replaced with such pride!

    I’m pretty sure my entire family felt the way you do when I ran my marathon. When I saw them at the finish, they looked sooo relieved!

  5. He will conquer that Ironman! I hope you have a blast watching him.

  6. wow i totally understand why you are nervous!! never had a family member do an ironman, but a family friend attempted a couple times, and always came back with interesting stories (i’ll leave it at that) :)
    i bet your husband will totally rock it! he’s obviously trained hard and really wants it — and hopefully he will only do this once, for your sake!

  7. Your hubby is prepared. He’s gonna do great. :-) And have an AWESOME feat under his belt when it’s over.

  8. my husband gets the exact same feelings whenever i’m running any distance. sweats, heart rate, sweats, the works. before grand rapids he was a wreck. i actually felt really bad for him the night before…he didn’t sleep much because he was so nervous.

    i bet that when you see him you’ll be relieved…but OH SO proud. cause through all the worries and emotions and everything you’re right there with him.

  9. I so don’t blame you. I would be FLIPPING out with worry. I kind of am! Good thing I am not there, I would NOT be very helpful!
    Def. try to distract yourself. I am sure he will be awesome!

    and no. I have absolutely no desire with any fiber of my being to do that. ever.

  10. I’ve never had to deal with this situation and I doubt I ever will since my husband just ran his first 10K in August and I don’t see him doing much more, but I do think I know where you’re coming from. Just the thought of this worries me. It’s intense. Good luck to him and to you! I’ll send good thoughts your way!

  11. Wow, good luck to your husband! The whole Ironman thing is beyond my comprehension, but I admire anyone who at least tries to complete one. I’ve spectated and cheered for my husband through many races, basketball and football games and I always joke that I’ll be waiting on the sidelines with 911 on speed dial. It’s way more nerve wracking to be the one waiting, for sure.

    Best wishes to you both!

  12. just want to let you know that I’m commenting on your blog as a Pepto Bismol disolves on my tounge…I’m getting ready to go run my long run. Thought you would appreciate that ;)

    I think the hardest part of managing the stress related to someone elses races is seeing them off at the start line. My sister and I will often run the same races, but she is much faster than I am and takes her “time” more seriously than I do. I know how important finishing well is to her so I always am more nervous for her than I am for myself. I always just remember that I feel about 75% better after the start. When I know she is well into her first mile, my blood pressure returns to normal.

    I think managing your stress Saturday morning is going to be crucial! Take deep breaths, give lots of hugs, and smile…even though you may not feel like it! You know, smiling does something for the brain…it helps to convince it that it is not in “danger”!

    If worst comes to worse…grab a mimosa!

    Best of luck to the hubs!

  13. Awww, I know you’re nervous for him, but Jeff has done a ton to prepare and I think he’s going to do great. Just be there for him and try to have fun!

  14. You’re not a bad wife for being nervous! I would get some friends to meet up with you to calm your nerves, and maybe a water bottle of wine ;)

  15. I can completely understand the pre-race jitters when you’re not the one racing! A few years ago, my fiance was trying to qualify for the Men’s Olympic Trials in the marathon out in Chicago. It was the very last day to qualify and it was about 100 degrees outside…I was so nervous, watching the start nearly brought me to tears!! When you’re living with someone who is going through the motions of training it’s hard not to be emotional about it. I’m sure he’ll do well- best of luck to you both!!

  16. I completely understand what you’re feeling! My husband did a 100 mile mountain bike race last year and I was terrified almost the whole time he was out there. I knew he trained for it, and knew he could do it. But all of the “what ifs” got to me.
    I was worried he’d get impaled by a tree, or fall and break a limb, or pass out from dehydration/hunger out there and we’d never find him…I worried when I’d be waiting at a SAG & he didn’t get there when all of the other riders did…I worried when other riders quit early & he kept going well after the sun went down.
    Like you, I definitely wasn’t doubting his abilities, but was just worried about what could possibly go wrong.
    In the end though, he finished without any problems & crossed the finish line after more than 12 hours out there with a smile on his face – followed immediately by a grimace because he was SO tired and hungry!
    Hope your husband has a GREAT Iron Man & that you’re able to relax and enjoy the time with your fur ball while he’s out there!

  17. That last picture of you with Jeff is so good! I’m glad you have your furbaby with you to keep you distracted so you don’t worry to death. I can’t even imagine how many tragic scenarios your mind can create in 10+ hours! Have fun. :)

  18. I do not think you sound like a bad wife — in fact, I think it’s quite the opposite!! I would also be super nervous in your situation. But you said it — he’s been training for this moment for a long time. And you just have to trust that training. I’m sure it means a lot to him that you are there to support him (nerves and all) and I am thinking about you both today! Hope the race is going well and that he is feeling strong! And as anxious as you are now, I’m sure it’ll all be worth it the moment he crosses that finish line and fulfills a life-long dream!

  19. I totally understand where you are coming from and go through the same anxiety. My husband has done five Ironman’s and a ton of half irons. The pressure you feel stinks, especially when you watch your loved one train for a long time and it all comes down to race day. The money is in the bank with his training and I am sure he will rock the race. Can’t wait to hear how it goes, and I am sure he can’t wait to cross the finish line and hear “You are an ironman!”

  20. Oh my goodness I think I would CRY when he crossed the finish line! Way to go, Jeff!! That’s completely incredible! Good luck to him today! I hope everything goes very smooth! :0)

Leave a comment