IronMan 70.3 St. George Utah 2017

When Lamoni had the goal to complete a triathlon, he thought, “Why not an Ironman?” We consider ourselves lucky to live just 6 hours from St. George, Utah where a famous IronMan 70.3 is held annually. He signed up and the training started. (But that’s another post, and you’ll find it here.) First off, let me give a huge thanks to our friends, the Winslow Family who let us crash at their house for the race. They are amazing friends and some of the best people I know.

The day before the big race: We were able to wander around the IronMan village and Lamoni did his registration. Lamoni was contacted by a St. George news station and they wanted to do a story about him and Sidney Smith, the other amputee from Vernal who was also doing the IronMan. Here is their coverage:

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IronMan Village

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The kids got to make signs at one of the booths.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Race Day!!!!!! —
—— We were awake by 4am to get going. My parents had come to support Lamoni and help me with the kids too. After a breakfast of EGGS (I told you… it was a staple for his diet) we headed out for a long day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a fun short video of the starting race crowd. It was energized and had a great feeling of being there. So much fun!

We got my parents and the kids situated in a spot to watch the beginning of the race. I went with Lamoni down to the waters edge so I could help him and take his leg as he was entering the water. The atmosphere was so amazing! I could feel the energy and excitement from the racers and the crowd. Lamoni and Sidney were able to start with the Women’s Pro heat — which was right after the Men’s Pro heat. This meant that they both got to wear fluorescent pink swim caps. Pretty awesome guys! Here is some footage of just before Lamoni went in the water:

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As Lamoni entered the water I ran up to be with my parents and kids to watch the race begin. It was an open-water start which meant the racers started out in the water. Here is the start of the heat the guys were in:

I got to wear one of these sweet wristbands…
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This meant that I was able to get close to the athletes (well, MY athlete) to be able to help him with what he needed during the transitions. He only needed me right after the swim as he came out of the water, but I was grateful to be able to help.

Then he headed on to the 56 mile bike ride. We decided to wait for Lamoni at the bike/run transition point. We saw him at the very last minute coming in on his bike so we were ready to cheer him on as he changed his foot, put on his running gear, and headed out for the 13.1 mile run. We were excited to see that Sidney was right there with Lamoni as they started out on the run. Yay!

I figured that if he kept his average pace for the run, he would be done in about 2 hours. We went and waited by the finish line. I will tell you, it was HOT! St. George, Utah is HOT in the summer! My parents stayed with the kids in the shade of a tree and I was able to squeeze myself in a pretty good spot along the finish route. I spotted Lamoni coming around and hurried to video him passing me by and running the last few yards of the IronMan 70.3 race. (Sorry the video looks blurry/dirty. The lens of the camera on my phone was probably wiped with my sunscreen-sweaty finger. I had no idea the last few videos were this bad of quality and I’m a little bummed. Oh well.)

Here he is finishing the race! Hooray!

It was pretty emotional for the both of us when he crossed that finish line. Months of training and very hard work went into this race. This is one of the many situations that Lamoni wanted to show his children, and anyone else who happened to witness, that ANYTHING is possible. Do not let any labels or limitations stop you from accomplishing your goals.

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Man I love this guy!

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Lamoni went and cooled off a little after the race.

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We’re so proud of him.

Lamoni was able to watch Sidney cross the finish line! Go Sidney!

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3 guys from Vernal, UT. Sidney, AJ, and Lamoni

Here are some of the professional pictures that were taken on the course.

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A big thanks to the Challenged Athletes Foundation and Fit-well Prosthetics for their help and support to make this happen.

*** As I write this post, it has been 4 months since the race…. Lamoni is planning on at least one IronMan for next year. Woo!

 

Training for the Half IronMan

Training for the Half IronMan

When Lamoni signed up for the half IronMan he immediately turned to me from the computer and said, “Well, I signed up… I guess I better take swimming lessons now eh?”

I once heard Lamoni describe his training for the IronMan by saying,

“Sometimes you just gotta jump off the cliff and grow your wings on the way down.”

And he did. just. that.

Lamoni decided to follow the training plan from the Iron Cowboy. This was an intensive program that helped him to stay on track with training for a swim, bike, and run. He was training anywhere from 1-4 hours a day, 6 days a week. I jokingly called it his second job.

I was in charge of his nutrition. I tried my best to keep him fed with the right kind of foods. That was sometimes a challenge just for the variety reasons. Lamoni will eat whatever I put in front of him. He doesn’t care what’s for dinner, he will just eat. This put a lot of pressure on me. How do I feed and fuel a Triathlete? I researched fuel vs food and quickly found out the difference between the two and what was important. Sometimes it doesn’t matter if they are eating the same thing 3 times a week – if it fuels them sufficiently, that’s what matters.  We live in a small town and my grocery options are limited. There is no Whole Foods (or anything remotely similar) for 3 hours. I just gotta hope Walmart and Smiths carry the organic nut butter that some recipe calls for (and gosh-a-mighty bless Amazon Prime!). I found some great recipes, but he was getting tired of the same two dishes of beans and sweet potatoes. Haha! It was also challenging to keep him full and satisfied. He consumed A LOT of calories every day. He was always eating. He said he felt like a teenager again, always hungry and always eating. I tried to have some protein-packed snacks on hand everyday so he could just grab and go. His favorite go-to…. homemade granola bars, tortilla wrap with {coconut/peanut butter, bananas, honey, and sea salt,} and eggs, eggs, eggs!

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A few years ago we heard about the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF). They are a wonderful organization that helps out athletes with varying needs. Through grants, they are able to supply athletes with anything from training costs, to prosthetics, wheelchairs, and sometimes even travel fees. I had talked to Lamoni about applying for a grant, but he had always shrugged it off. (He HATES asking for help.) But this year he knew he had the goal to run the IronMan and he finally listened to his wife (Me!) and applied, asking for a running foot. Actually, I remember him waiting until the LAST day in December to apply, even down to the last few hours until we submitted the application. Whew! Lamoni is very hard to budge sometimes.

We were supposed to find out in April if we received a grant or not. Lamoni got a call about mid-March saying they were going to grant him a running foot! He was so excited! They sent it to Lamoni’s prosthetic place — Fitwell Prosthetics in Salt Lake City — and they worked on fitting it to one of Lamoni’s sockets. They got quite creative and inventive because that type of foot was a little too long for Lamoni. They tried out a new system to keep the foot on and it worked for the running foot. Yay! Now he could feel a little better about the running part of training.

CAF sent Lamoni some sweet racing gear to wear. Here is Lamoni trying out the biking clothes before he went on a bike ride. (Side note about his bike… he got this bike about 4 weeks before the IronMan race on a second-hand website. There is only so much a stationary bike at the Rec Center can do for triathlon training. Ha!)

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Lamoni found a few guys here in Vernal who were also doing the St. George Half-IronMan. He trained a few times with them. Sydney is on the Left and AJ is on the right. Sydney is actually a double amputee who is a true inspiration. He’s a great guy! They’re both great guys – AJ had done the IronMan last year in St. George and had valuable tips and support for Lamoni. It’s awesome that he found these two guys.IMG_4151

When training in Vernal, Utah in January-April sometimes, well – lots of times, you get to run in the snow!

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Lamoni started using the Strava app when he went out on his runs or bike rides. I liked this because I could track him throughout his ride. He would bike miles and miles up the canyon and I would worry that he’d be hit by a car or chased and eaten by a bear (yes, I’m a worry-wife).

Here are some fun pictures from his Strava app runs.

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Bike

Lamoni’s hardest sport for the IronMan was the swimming. He took lessons at the Rec Center and tried to improve as much as he could. Here is a video the swim instructor took of Lamoni so he could watch it back and improve his technique. I thought I would post it here just because….

 

About two weeks before the race we packed the kids up and took a mini-vacation down to St. George so Lamoni could scout out the course. He swam in the reservoir and learned for himself (friends had warned him) that swimming in open water is VERY different than Rec Center swimming. It’s hard! He had our older two kids in a kayak follow him to help keep him on course (and catch his breath too). I’m glad we were able to try out St. George before the race so Lamoni could ease some jitters about the swim and the bike course. The St. George bike course is supposed to be the hardest Half-IronMan course there is. Gasp!

Training has been hard, but good. Time for the race!!

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So, that’s why they call it “The Beast!”

Lamoni had so much fun doing the Spartan Sprint in Colorado that he “thirsted for more!” His buddies invited him to join their team to race the Spartan Beast in Utah the following month. He accepted their invitation and was stoked to do it again!
The Spartan Beast is 12-14 miles long with many more obstacles. “No problem!” thought Lamoni.
So we planned to spend the day in Midway Utah for the Spartan Beast. I invited my Mom to come with us to help me with the kids, due to the fact that I was 6 months pregnant. We signed up our two oldest children to participate in the Spartan Kids race.
We arrived in the morning and got checked in. The kids were excited that they got their own Spartan shirts to wear for their race. We found space under a shade tent and “made camp.”
Of course we had to do the traditional “before” pictures.

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Lamoni starts to warm up and get ready.

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Soon it was time for Lamoni’s group to start. He got set in line and my Mom, the kids and I tried to find a good spot to watch them start the race.

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And there he went! I was so excited for him. I also had a sense of nervousness for him not knowing what obstacles lay ahead, and when I would see him along the race course again. I knew it was a very long race and I had the backpack of tools in case he needed to fix anything on his foot.

We made our way back to the shade tent and relaxed while we watched all the amazing people and racers that are at these events. I love the atmosphere!

A few hours went by and we decided to head to the next spot along the spectator course where we could meet up with the racers. While we were waiting I received a phone call from an unknown number so I ignored it. (Come on, who else does this too? Yea I don’t think I’m alone in this.) “Huh, strange,” I thought. Just after that I got a text message from that same number saying, “broke my foot.” That was it! Nothing else! So, I had to put my detective brain to work. Was this a wrong number? If not, who would be texting me to tell me that they broke their foot? Could it be Lamoni? I know he didn’t take his phone with him for the race. Could he have borrowed somebody’s phone to send me this message? With Lamoni, a statement like “broke my foot” doesn’t necessarily mean broken bones. See? Well then I started to worry about him. I texted back, but received no answer. I even called the number, but again no answer. Well crap! Darn Lamoni and his cave-man texting tendencies! “Hi,” “OK,” “ugh,” “broke my foot.” More words! More details please! Perhaps this is a universal man-texting problem.

Anyway, after a while I found some of Lamoni’s teammates and they stopped to tell me that Lamoni had broken his foot very early on in the race but he was coming along slowly. *Sigh* Okay, thankfully some answers. But where was he? How far behind was he? I thought about getting somebody in charge and asking them to get into one of their little golf carts and head along the course to find him. But I knew Lamoni, and I knew that he wouldn’t ask for a ride unless it was really bad. He would endure. He has a very strong will. So we just waited. Then I spotted him!

The perseverance in this man astounds me. What an example to his children to never give up on anything. He tells them, “Always move forward.” For example: when the race started and Lamoni and his team were running the course, they came to a little dip in the road. This was only about 0.5 miles into the race. The dip in the road wasn’t big at all, in fact you could’ve easily ran right through it. But Lamoni did a little leap over the dip (just for fun, because he was feeling energetic) and when he landed (on his prosthetic leg) he heard a “snap!” Uh Oh! Bad news! He had broken the spring of his foot right in half! Impossible! (or so he thought. . .)

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Lamoni was worried that too much weight on the prosthetic wasn’t good now that the spring was essentially gone. So he didn’t run too hard on it. He found some “crutches” on the side of the course by using tree branches. He told me that he often traded up branches for “betta ones.” He’d be running along and see a better branch so he would toss one, and grab the new one. He continued like this and pressed forward until he knew he would eventually see me along the spectator course. He knew that I was carrying the backpack with tools and extra parts. He knew if he could get to me he could fix his foot.

So, here he is, just 0.5 miles into the race and he breaks his foot. It might have been easier to backtrack that half-mile and find me so he could fix his foot. But not Lamoni, no – Never look back. Always Move Forward! He pressed on for another FOUR miles until the course caught up with the spectator track. Four miles!!! On a busted foot! I tell you, he is my hero!

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When I spotted him coming down that hill I was so proud. I was amazed that a) his foot actually broke, and b) he was still trudging along with a smile on his face. Lamoni later told me that when he was coming down that hill and he spotted me and heard us cheering for him he almost got emotional. He was so relieved that we were there so he could stop and fix his foot.

He plopped down and began to take apart his foot and replace the spring with another.

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Then he was set! Good as new! Just a few massive blisters on his hands from those sticks he used for crutches. Onward Ho!

It was then time for my two oldest kids to participate in the Spartan Kids race. So we headed over to that area. They had a blast and can’t wait to do another one day.

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After that fun messy adventure, we went back to the shade tent and waited for an hour or so. It’s so hard to gauge when the racers come around the spectator course again. I wish they had trackers in them like the Hunger Games and we could see where they are in the “arena”. That would be awesome! Just an idea. *wink*

When I thought it was about time for Lamoni to show again on the course I headed up there. I waited for a while and recognized some people who were in his start group. I waited a bit more and contemplated asking a volunteer at one of the obstacles if he had seen a very handsome amputee come through yet, but I didn’t ask. (Looking back, I really should have.) I finally saw a lady who was on Lamoni’s team and I stopped her as she ran through. I asked her if she had seen Lamoni and she waved her hand and almost laughed “Oh yea sweetie – he passed me a long time ago! He’s way ahead of me now.” Well bummer. I missed him. I thanked her and walked back to the shade tent to my mother and children. I felt really bad that I had missed him. I hoped he was okay, I hoped he didn’t need anything from the backpack, and I felt bad that I missed some opportunities to film him on those obstacles. Big bummer, but oh well.

Now for a little hindsight shall we? I later learned that Lamoni had indeed passed that teammate, but he also suffered another setback with his prosthetic leg and had to step off the course to fix it for a while. She must have passed him without knowing because when I was waiting for him at those obstacles, he had not arrived there yet. Oh how I wish I would’ve known this. He could have possibly used something in the “magic backpack” to fix his foot again but I wasn’t there to help him. The pin system in his prosthetic that keeps his foot attached to his liner/sock had failed. It essentially stopped holding the prosthetic foot to his liner. (If he had been wearing a knee sleeve it would have been better, but the sleeve was in the backpack, Argh!) So every time he stepped, the foot would not rise with his leg, it would just fall over. He tried everything he could get his hands on to jimmy-rig the foot. He tried a plastic bag and he even tried some old yucky duct tape he found on the side of the course. But nothing was keeping his leg on. Many racers stopped to try and help but it was a tricky situation. There was even a nice volunteer at the water station who spent a good amount of time trying different things to keep the leg on. Finally a generous racer stopped and offered his belt to Lamoni. Lamoni denied and told him that he probably should keep his belt on. But the racer said, “No man, really – I really don’t need this belt, but I felt impressed this morning to wear it during the race, so here you go. Take it.” And with that Lamoni was able to use the belt to keep his leg from falling off while he ran the race. He continued like this for approximately 8 miles of running and 15+ obstacles until the end of the race. I’ll say it again, He’s my hero! He’s a keeper for sure.

When talking to Lamoni about this race he mentioned that the monkey bars were pretty rough to get through. Because of the tree branches he used as crutches early on in the race, he had formed massive blisters all along the insides of his hands. These blisters were irritated throughout the race because of the various obstacles and when he was messing with trying to hold his leg on while running. So when he got to the monkey bars (which were towards the end of the race) they were awful to endure on those blisters. Lamoni then said, (to my astonishment) “But I didn’t want to do the burpees required for skipping or failing the obstacle, so I pushed through the pain to get through the monkey bars.”

So after another few hours I headed to the end of the course to hopefully see Lamoni soon. I had thought Lamoni was a few hours ahead of what he really was so I sat at the barbed wire roll obstacle for about 2-3 hours waiting for him. I’m just glad that I had a chair to sit in and an umbrella to keep the hot sun off of me. At least it was entertaining watching all the racers roll down the hill.

I finally spotted him! Yay!

 

Almost finished – just the wall climb and the fire jump. Yes!

Aaaannnnd he did it! He finished! I am so proud of him. Love this guy!

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Lamoni will tell you (and show you) to always move forward. Always push forward when you are given trials. Life can be crappy, but life can be wonderful. Enjoy the adventure!

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