IMFL Day 3: Anna's Ironman Day

November 4, 2014

Saturday morning was the day Anna has been looking forward to all year- Ironman day. I will let my sister recap her own race at her blog (and share the link when she does!) but this is race day coming from a spectator's view.

We got up early on Saturday morning and the weather was completley different from the past couple of days that we enjoyed. It was freaking freezing! 45 degrees, strong winds. We bundled up in multiple layers.

My parents, sister, and I ran over to the race start afraid of being late when we heard a man say "the swim part was cancelled." We thought he was joking because he laughed afterwards so we kept jogging down to the beach. More and more people were talking about the swim cancelled and then we realized it wasn't a joke. We made our way through the crowd down to the beach to where Anna was standing with her husband. The wind was strong and created rip currents. One man jumped into the ocean but he didn't make it very far with the current being too strong and not being able to make it past the breakers. It was disappointing for Anna and I know it was disappointing for others as well.

The race officials said they would wait an hour and continue with the bike and run portions. So, we waited. After an hour it was time for Anna and her group to mount and start the 112 mile bike ride. My dad had the Ironman tracker app downloaded and a race map printed off so we could calculate when we could see her during the race. We ran all over Panama in hopes to catch her at different points of the race which is the best way to support someone in my opinion!

 waiting for Anna's group to start

Once she was off, he calculated about 3 hours before we could meet her at mile 40 of the bike. We went back to the condo, ate breakfast and warmed up, took a quick nap, then jumped in the car to drive to mile 40 of the race. 

Crazy story time. My family and I planned ahead and parked our rental car in a Walmart parking lot since they closed off our condo's driveway. We woke up a bit late from our morning nap and had to run half a mile to get to the car. There was a lot of traffic. After about fifteen or so minutes we found more traffic where cars were stopped by police on the road so biker's could make their way along the race route. We followed what other people were doing, parked our car along the road, ran some more, and literally a few seconds later Liz screams, "there's Anna!" Perfect timing! If one thing went differently we would have missed her.

"WOO! Go Anna!!!"

After that we had another three hours to wait for her to come back from the bike. During this time we ran back to the condo, ate lunch and grabbed more layers as it was really cold. My dad continued to track her and we left an hour early so that we would have plenty of time to see her come in. We didn't want to miss anything. 

She finished the bike still smiling, made her way into transition, and got changed for the run. Now it was time for her to run a marathon. After biking 112 miles. Completely normal. 

The race course was out and back. As we were waiting and cheering for others I realized I forgot her jacket, pants and protein bar that she asked for at the end of the marathon soooo we had to run back to the condo (told you we were there a hundred times) to grab it. I'm pretty sure we ran close to ten miles all together on Saturday.

Apparently they had a ton of people cheering and shouting at the areas closest to the finish line but when it got to the back end there was no one cheering. When she got to the 13.1 halfway point, my dad asked if she needed us to go to the later miles to help support her which she said "yes, if you can." So, we ran over a mile back to the car and made our way to the back end of the marathon. 

We got to the back end and it was sad. It was dark, cold and no one was cheering. People needed some enthusiasm. As we waited for Anna, Liz and I decided to play music and dance and sing for all the runner's. We played all sorts of music. We changed the words to Taylor Swift's Shake It Off song. One part I made up was "you look good in spanks, that's what people say, mmmhmm." It was fun cheering for them and a lot of them started laughing and thanking us. You're welcome runners!

We saw Anna approaching and cheered for her. This part of the out and back course was perfect for spectators (aka pretty much only my family) in that we could see her multiple times as she passed the road twice, then we crossed the street and saw her twice. That's kind of confusing for those who have no idea what the course looks like so I'll put it in a simple way: we got to see Anna four times during the later miles, more than we thought we would.

She was doing great! Smiling all along the way. A lot of people were walking but she kept her pace and kept running. Honestly, a marathon is hard in itself so I have no idea how she was able to bike 112 miles before.

As she passed us the fourth and final time that we would see her, it was time for us to head back to the finish. She only had 4 miles left. Less than an hour later, Anna was finishing the marathon. I was screaming "You did it Anna you did it!" One last high five down the finisher's chute.

A little over 14 hours later, she completed the course. I am so proud of my sister! She has been my role model for years. I look up to her as she chases after her goals which makes me even more inspired to chase mine. With the horrible race conditions of wind and cold temperatures, everyone competing that day should not even doubt they finished an Ironman and earned their Ironman titles.

You go Anna. YOU ARE... AN IRONMAN.


  1. Huge congrats to your sister! And, so awesome you were there to support her… it's so important to have family there all day cheering you on. Seeing mine when I'm out on the course is such a boost! Did spectating put the IM bug in your ear, too?! ;)

    1. Yes! There is something about pushing yourself to the point of pain getting that title of Ironman. I want to join in on the fun eventually! ;)


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