Race weekend

Yesterday was the inaugural Black Bear Half-Iron Triathlon in the lovely Beltzville State Park which is situated in the Poconos. For you city people, that means it is roughly 90 miles from EVERYTHING.

We packed up the truck and the kid Saturday morning and headed west. The drive there took a bit longer than we had anticipated because Google Maps gave us crappy directions. I thought that was strictly a Mapquest thing, but no – Google Maps omitted the very important part where we were supposed to get on the PA Turnpike. Since we are modern people, we do not have road maps or anything in the car with us these days. We went about 20 miles past the Turnpike before we thought “hmm. I think we’re missing something.”

We found the park with no trouble after that, and Freddie got all checked in and stuff. The pre-race meeting happened and just in time, too. The super-hot, humid day was rapidly turning into a thunderstorm. We headed out of the park just as the rain hit.

Since Freddie would rather chew off his own head than let me drive, I am the principal navigator in our house. He has a degree in Geography and insists he’s good with directions, but he is also A Man, which means actually getting the directions is sort of the problem. He loves to print out maps and stuff, but his innate sense of direction is sometimes a little… off.

I, on the other hand, have a fairly good sense of direction even if I have an aversion to printing out sixteen maps and fourteen sets of directions. This is why, when we left the park to go find our hotel, we drove 20 miles in the wrong direction. I cannot read. Where the directions say “Turn RIGHT” I say “Turn LEFT!” And, of course, I am never, ever wrong, so I should never, ever be questioned. We turned left. As we drove and the road we were looking to turn on never materialized, I thought I would consult the directions again just to make sure.


We turned around.

Eventually, we found our hotel. We checked in and decided to go to the Damon’s that was right there for dinner. Jillian loves restaurants because there are so many people to smile at and look at! So many people to be impressed with her roaring! She roared and smiled and stared at the giant-screen TVs while we ate. At one point, she reached over to my plate with her impossibly long arms (sorry, kid) and grabbed my steak knife. I never knew my reflexes were so fast!

After dinner, I bathed the baby and wiped peas off of me. Jillian went down fighting into the pack & play and I went out in search of a supermarket so we didn’t have to try to find bagels in the Ass End of Pennsylvania at 5 AM the next morning.

Our very very VERY long day started at 4AM with an exceptionally chirpy wake-up call. I hate wake-up calls. Too damn cheerful. Once that phone rang, Jillian was awake which means I had to be as well.

We packed the truck up once again and headed down the mountain to the park. While Freddie was unloading his bike and stuff, I loaded up the stroller with The Jillian and enough gear to open a preschool for the day. I tend to overpack when travelling with the baby and let’s just be glad I did because we had a very long day.

By 6:30, Freddie was all settled and ready to go. We wandered down to the beach and chatted with other athletes and their families. Everyone checks out everyone else’s strollers in a situation like this and we were one of about six Ironman strollers that I saw. That stroller is the reason why we had Jillian in the first place, after all!

Our friend Ginny showed up to hang out with us and to cheer Freddie on. We cheered as he took off on the swim and when he came out of the water, then we went to find a shady spot to park ourselves for the day.

Good thing Ginny was there because if she hadn’t been, I don’t know how I would ever have been able to go to the bathroom. I supposed I could have loaded up the stroller and parked it outside while I went pee as fast as possible, but that would have been a pain in my ass. So it was nice to be able to leave Jillian where she was while I navigated the restrooms in the park.

We saw lots of other babies and lots of dogs, including one huge bulldog who came over, plopped himself down on the blanket next to Jillian and proceeded to lick all of her toys. Most of the other babies we saw were acting all normal – sleeping and everything. Not MY baby, oh no. If there are things to look at and shout at, well, that’s Jillian’s purpose in life. Naptime came and went and came and went and she was still going strong. Eventually, The Whining started, so I knew she was really, really tired. She never whines! She only shouts REALLY LOUD. I put her up on my shoulder and she fell asleep almost instantly. I carefully dumped her into the stroller and she slept for about a half-hour.

She’d been up for about seven hours at this point, which might be a new record for all of us.

We were trying to gauge how long this thing was going to take, but since this race was completely new, nobody had any kind of average time. We knew that the bike course was kind of crazy with the hills, so I figured about five to five-and-a-half hours and then we’d see Freddie. The first guy came in at 4:32, then the second guy five minutes later. The third guy finished about a half-hour after that, so those first two finishers are obviously robots.

5 hours came and went. 5:30 hours came and went. We were around 6 hours and counting when people really started coming through the finish line in significant numbers. Around 6 and a half hours, I saw Freddie come around the bend. I scooped Jillian up and handed her over so he could cross the finish line with her.

She was completely unamused by this turn of events and I kind of don’t blame her. After a 1.2 mile swim, 56 miles of bike, and 13.1 miles running, her Daddy wasn’t exactly smelling fresh and clean. He got across the finish line and handed her back to me.

With the most impeccable timing EVER, the rain started right as Freddie finished the race. We loaded up the stroller with the toys and blankets and water bottles and other junk and headed to the car. Freddie rolled up with his bike and stuff which we manhandled into the back of the truck along with the baby.

I drove a tired and sunburnt baby, a tired and exhausted Daddy and myself home. We had a pretty good day. Jillian was just the most fantastic baby ever. As long as she has something to chew on and people to shout at, she’s the happiest baby in town. I hope she can stand it for Lake Placid next month because that’s a FULL Ironman and will take about 11 hours. Yikes.

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