The Musings of an Iron Sherpa…

OK, last year I wrote a huge, “musings…” but this year you’ll be glad to know I don’t have 20,000 words in me! There may be some bad language…

The Roth adventure began last year when I knew full well that David would enter another iron-distance race, despite saying originally that he was only doing one! Training went reasonably well for him (besides the broken metatarsal!) and before we knew it we were off to Germany.

I have to confess to feeling apprehensive – after such an awesome debut performance last year, I could sense that D was feeling pressure regarding what his finishing time would be this year. I don’t think this in intentional from anyone but it must make it tough. I was also feeling apprehensive about how I would be able to support him as the Roth course takes a different form to Ironman Switzerland in that it has split transitions. If I was a more confident cyclist, I would have taken my mountain bike and ridden around, as lots of people did, but I am not, so I couldn’t. If I had known what the day would bring, I would have done bike training myself!

Race morning dawned, cooler than it had promised and once more I was stood watching people prepare for the off. There is the most bizarre atmosphere in transition – it’s full of anticipation, yet calm and eerily quiet, especially in the half-light. You can see athletes lending each other things like pumps and goggles, not talking, just “being there”, some going off for quiet time, some with friends and family.

David did his prep, I took a few things back to the car, chatted to a few pirates and pirate supporters. Before I knew it, he was half in his wetsuit and it was about 30 minutes before the start. We decided it would be good for him to be away from people, to go and get himself ready. It’s hard, all those months of training for one day. There was no way I wanted him not to be in the right place in his head. As he left me, I was suddenly terrified. I haven’t been like that before, I have been nervous for him but this felt different. Little did I know that perhaps I felt like that because my day was not going to go according to plan! When he went off into transition to get ready for the start of his wave, I must confess to shedding a tear. Never done pre-race crying either. Oh dear.

I went and hovered around a bit, tried to get by the canal for a few photos, another trip to the car to drop off more of David’s kit, then I was back to transition. I heard David’s swim wave start and gave a little cheer and went to wait. His race times are detailed in his blog so I won’t go into that, suffice to say I was so pleased when I saw him come out of the water faster than we expected. I screamed at him in T1, but he didn’t hear me. Shouted at a lot more Pirates too, mixed bag of swimming fortunes I would say. Also did a bit of tweeting to update the Home Support Crew with how the Pirates were getting on.

After all Pirates were off on the bike, I headed off with Gill and Rick to the Solarer Berg and literally as we arrived I saw the back of David go through. I screamed and shouted and almost wondered if he heard as there was a little turn of his head. Apparently he hadn’t heard. We found a comfy spot and made camp, ready for the shouting. I have to say it was difficult for the 3 of us to be heard, some Pirates heard the shouts, some didn’t. I tried to get photos but they are not my best work and I knew at the time I would be disappointed. I was getting text message alerts about David’s progress on the bike, which showed he was going well.

The first Pirate we saw on their second lap was Melli who was looking really strong. I knew David should be fairly soon behind and I had received the 153km text alert. We waited, and waited, and waited. Terrible thoughts were going through my head. Had he come off? Where was he? Tried to keep myself under control, difficult to be honest. Still no sign of him. Started to see other Pirates. Oh feck. Where was he? My heart was beating like mad. Suddenly my phone bleeped, another text message: “David Rowe is out on the run”. What. The. Feck. How did we miss him? It’s not like Pirate kit is subtle is it. I was gutted I hadn’t been able to cheer him. I was worried he would notice I wasn’t around – of course in sensible mode I know that wouldn’t be on his mind, the race was on his mind – but I was being irrational!

Shortly afterwards, things started to go a little awry. Not for David, for one of our other Pirates. I shall not detail it here, suffice to say all is well but it’s bloody scary being the wife of someone when all is going, shall we say, not to plan. We needed to get to T2, or the finish, to check out what was going on. It was a nightmare. We ended up going about 35 km to go 6! I was worrying for our Pirate, and his wife and (at the back of my mind as I knew D was OK from the text alerts) I was worrying that I hadn’t seen David. I just wanted to cheer him on.

We got to the finish and found out all was well with our Pirate (thank goodness for that!!) and by that point I was weighing up whether I could get out on the run course and back to the finish. To be honest, I was panicking that if I went out, I wouldn’t get back. I know it’s ridiculous. I was not at my most rational by this point in the day. I decided I was going to find a spot and stick to it and await David’s arrival.

I had about an hour to wait, I busied myself cheering people in. I was getting the text alerts still, he was running so well! I was starting to get excited, trying to work out possible finish times. Soon enough, I saw a flash of yellow! I was absolutely screaming my head off as he looked so focused, I was worried he wouldn’t even see me there if I didn’t. After what seemed an age, he locked eyes with me. We had seen each other! Finally! After the whole bloody day! I watched him run under the gantry and almost immediately I got my text alert with his finish time. 10:10:58. Wow! I believe my tweet was something like, “David is fucking awesome”. He is.

This time he appeared out of the finishers area really quickly. I saw him, ran over and gave him a massive hug. It was the kind of hug that you don’t want to end and then once again the tears flowed. It did of course end and before we knew it, it was the finish party :)

I am so proud of him. I really am. He is so motivated and determined and strong of mind. Once David sets his mind to something, you know he will give it his all. To say I am proud doesn’t seem enough – it’s a massive understatement. He knows how I feel though. I am also so proud of our Pirates, they demonstrate the very same qualities. They are seriously tough to be out there for more than half a day. It’s an honour to be standing on that finish line cheering them on. Joy and pain, all in one day, who could ask for more?

Posted in Sharon, Triathlon
4 comments on “The Musings of an Iron Sherpa…
  1. Kirsty says:

    Great report – it can be so stressful being the support team, but so important. You must have been so happy to see each other at the finish!

  2. Aitch says:

    Sharon you are a super-duper supporter!

    Great report xxx

  3. Tom Williams says:

    A great report from a great supporter… it’s much harder than racing you know… ;)

    T x

  4. Jess says:

    I know exactly how you feel – the first year Pete did GUCR, I cried with fear and relief after sorting him out at every checkpoint – nearly 42 hours of not letting him see that I was upset in case it bothered him! Luckily the next year it was only 36 hours, so there was much less crying! :-D

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