The Iron-Sherpa

By Shelley D.
October 29, 2008 on 5:50 pm | In Random Musings | 1 Comment

Every athlete who has been fortunate enough to cross the finish line of an Ironman event and heard the magical phrase, “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!”, understands the importance of having a supportive spouse, family, or friend.  This individual has been there for their Ironman each and every step of the way by offering the understanding, support, and everything else in between.  Much like the Sherpas of the Himalayas, without the Iron-Sherpa many Ironman athletes would never have made it.

The following is the basic job description of the modern day Iron-Sherpa.  (yes, all of these stories are true!)

1.  The Iron-Sherpa must be willing to give up her (or his) bike to their Iron-athlete.  In the event that the Iron-athlete suffers a mechanical breakdown on a training ride, the Iron-Sherpa will be willing to sit on the side of the road, waiting for a ride, while the Iron-athlete gets to take the Iron-Sherpa’s bike so the exact training ride can be completed.

2.  The Iron-Sherpa must be willing to wake up at 4 A.M. and prepare for a full 19-hour day frantically chasing their Iron-athlete around the racecourse.  In the likely event that you missed your chance to see your Iron-athlete at the scheduled turn at mile 45.7 of the bike course, you must be able to quickly come up with plan B and drive 83.9 miles, navigating multiple closed streets, in an effort to catch a 3 second glimpse of your Iron-athlete at mile 94 of the bike and then pray that you have time to get to T2 in an effort to get another 5 second glimpse.

3.  The Iron-Sherpa will forgo any calls of personal duty, such as meals, bathrooms, etc. in an effort to frantically find a wetsuit, the morning of the race, for his or her Iron-athlete who happened to find a fist size hole in their wetsuit at 10:00 P.M. the night before the race.  (Yes, the Iron-Sherpa did manage to find one!)

4.  The Iron-Sherpa may not forgo additional family responsibilities and must also figure out how to cater to the needs of their children.  This includes dealing with the fact that the ketchup at McDonalds in New Zealand does not taste like the ketchup in the U.S., which naturally results in tears.  This is in addition to the fact that …..it is hot……the kids have to poop……..they are hungry…….when can we go home?….etc.

5.  The Iron-Sherpa must be willing to prepare all pre-race meals in the last few days leading up to the Ironman.  This will ensure that their Iron-athlete gets plenty of opportunities to rest, sleep, hydrate, and visualize the upcoming event.  (i.e, nap)

6.  The Iron-Sherpa  must also be able to manage dozens of phone calls, from family and friends, who must know the exact condition of the Iron-athlete and why they took so long to finish the bike.

7.  The Iron-Sherpa  must patiently try to understand the reasoning behind spending countless dollars on a helmet, wheels, aero bottles, etc. to save mere seconds in a 14-hour event.

8.  The Iron-Sherpa  must be able to juggle the kids’ soccer, piano, dance, homework, etc. in an effort to give the Iron-athlete time to train for the Ironman.

9.  The Iron-Sherpa must be a psychologist, massage therapist, sag wagon driver, training partner, and any other profession that may be needed to support the Iron-athlete.

10.  The Iron-Sherpa must be able to explain to the Iron-athlete why they were unable to navigate their way through thousands of spectators during the swim in time to take a video of their Iron-athlete exiting the water.

If you have ever had to experience any of the above  or any other duties related to the successful completion of an Ironman by your Iron-athlete, congratulations because “YOU ARE  AN IRON-SHERPA!!!”

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