Tips for IronMates

By Tonya Wallach

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If you have a spouse competing in the Ironman Triathlon this weekend in Madison, then you are part of an elite group.  You are an IronMate.  Congratulations, you have been there for your future Ironman as they have trained, strained and complained their way to the start line in Madison. 

While it is "their" day, you are a big part of getting your athlete there, offering support, 5000 calorie meals, a shoulder to cry on and an occasional kick in the butt.
 
I am an IronMate.  I was there for my boyfriend when he did his first triathlon and waited for 16 hours for my husband (same guy) as he crossed the finish line in Lake Placid.   It's an emotional trip for both the athlete and IronMate. 

With Ironman Wisconsin around the corner, I thought I'd usurp my husband's blog to share tips on how to make it through the last few days of your IronMate experience (yes they do sell t-shirts).  If you're headed up to participate this weekend, be sure to copy and paste this link and send it to your spouse or significant other, AKA your IronMate.  

Dear IronMate -
OK.  The time is near.  While your IronMan-To-Be trained diligently these past few years, you've spent a lot of time, well, alone, anticipating the time when s/he crosses the finish line.  Well, that time is near.  To make your story a good one, follow these tips!    

Pre-Race:  

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1.    Get creative.  The basics to prepare are signs and t-shirts.  Not only will your Ironman feel supported, s/he'll be able to see you prominently along the route, make it loud, make it colorful, make it fun.    
2.    If you have children, plan for childcare.  The more the merrier to entertain, feed and find a good place for naps during a ten to 18 hour day. Sun block, water, toilet paper, a deck of cards all a necessity.  Pack healthy snacks for a long day.  We found out the hard way that a box of Ho Ho's are a no, no!
3.    Maps and schedules.  Ask your Ironman to anticipate approximate swim, run and bike times so you know when to be.  Map the route and show your Ironman where you'll be.
 
The Race:
1.    Expect the unexpected.  That schedule you anticipated may get blown out the window when if there's a complication, nothing goes according to plan, so get to a spot early and expect to wait, if they are fast cool, good for you, if they are having a hard day, seeing you will mean a lot.
2.    Make sure you have a camera and know how to use it.  The pictures they sell are great, but your Ironman is going to want more, so make sure the batteries are fresh and the auto focus is on.

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3.    Employ your best Rocky voice.  You'll need it when your mate passes by you haggard and worn.  As if your life depended on it, scream "Finish this, you can do it, we are proud of you."  Even if they are a Kona qualifier, they want to hear you cheer, make it loud!
4. Bring Chalk.  Colored chalk is a good way to keep your kids occupied and a great way to surprise your Ironman as they are running.  Make it big and bold, everyone likes to see their name in "lights."
The After Math:

1. Smile pretty.  Any pictures of your Ironman are likely to be in prominent places....think house, computer, facebook...for years to come.  
2.  
 Blow the budget.  You only get one shot to get t-shirts, sweatshirts,
and hats with the Ironman race and year on it that say "Finisher."  Let
your Ironman blow the budget to purchase as much paraphernalia as
possible.  S/he'll wear all of it, holes and all, for eternity.
3. Hold off on the Honey Do Lists for at least 72 hours.  You have given a lot and put up with a lot and as much as you want to say something like, "Now you can paint the house, I want to have a baby, go to grad. school, or do my own Ironman." 
Wait, let them cherish this moment, it may be the only time they get to
cross that line 140.6 miles away.  By Wednesday, you can hit them up.

When
they finally fall asleep, give them a kiss, tell them you are proud,
and smile knowing you are part of a team that made a special dream come
true.

Editors Note- Tonya Wallach is a recovering
Ironmate and available for Ironmate counseling.  What she doesn't know
is we are doing it all again!!!! Kona 2012 Baby!

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