felt bros conquer IRONMAN texas

I know, this is way overdue. It's just that an accomplishment of such high caliber deserves the utmost recognition. And although we all agree I am an exceptionally dynamic writer {no lie- I just spelled "writer" wrong...twice. Why do I always think that word has 2 t's?}, I just don't feel this blog is a worthy avenue to record the experience that was the Ironman. With that being said, here it goes...

January marked the beginning of Ironman training for the Felt Brothers {aka Dad and Tate}. One year prior, they set their sights on what would be a lofty, but obtainable goal. The word "obtainable" when describing this goal in particular was at times questioned...mostly by my mother-in-law and me. The reason being, I knew it wasn't obtainable for everyone, only the few. It is estimated that half of one percent {so for all of you mathematicians out there that equals .5%} of the population will complete a marathon in their lifetime. That is just running. I can only imagine how few will finish an Ironman. Spoiler alert: Tate and Dad would be counted in that few.

Training consisted of 4 long months. January to May. They endured early morning work-outs, long bike rides, hot mid-day runs, and enough Goo for a lifetime. Goo is the calorie-filled-stuff they eat on their bike rides. {I use the word "eat" loosely. It mostly just slides down their throat much like, well, goo.} As training came to an end and the race neared, they had swam a total of 112 miles, cycled 3,542 miles and ran 1,032 miles each. Ready or not, it was here. Not only were Tate and Dad about to experience their first ever IM, but so was the great state of Texas!

6:45 AM They enter the water. As we scan the green swim caps bobbing in the water, we hear the "dad whistle." I don't know if your dad has his own brand of whistle, but my dad sure does. Lynley and I can be anywhere, hear this whistle and look up for Dad. I've even been backpacking with my friends...in Europe...where my dad is clearly not. I'll hear this whistle and my eyes instinctively go searching for him. It's great. Anyway, back to the race- we hear THE whistle and look out, spotting our triathletes right away. They are bobbing in the water by a lifeguard in an orange kayak. There are also scuba diver lifeguards and lifeguards in a helicopter labeled LIFE PATROL. I try to erase those words from my mind the minute I accidentally read them. We wave and take pictures of our little green dots on the water, anxious for the race to begin. With the start time drawing near, the announcer encourages the triathletes to "get in the water NOW." Then he makes a proclamation, bringing me chills, "Today, you will become Ironmen!" Everyone cheers.

7:00 AM The gun blasts and they're off! 2,000 men and women begin moving forward in the same general direction with the same goal: to finish. I feel restless knowing some of these people won't see the finish line. Some swimmers are gracefully gliding through the water, while others are frantically kicking and slapping their way through the first few yards of the 2.4 mile swim. It is an inspiring moment to say the least. There are two 70 yr. old men, an amputee and three blind participants in today's race. We watch our guys for a few seconds, then lose them in the chaos. It's hard to take my eyes off the captivating sight, but the Barrett/Nicholson Support Crew must press onward. We have to beat all the other support crews to the Swim Finish to claim our prime spectating spots before the guys get out of the water.


8:19 AM The announcer makes known "JOSEPH NICHOLSON FROM FAIRVIEW, TEXAS" is out of the water. Dad is finishing the swim, getting his wetsuit peeled off by the volunteers and high-fiving me as he runs to the transition area. Tate follows him out of the water. {Whhew, we are 2 for 2 on the first leg.} We cheer like crazy as they make their way through the swim exit. Lookin' good #764 and #2460!

8:35ish AM They grab their helmets, bike shoes and gear to make their way out of the transition area. They enter the Bike Start like cattle in a chute. People are running while mounting their bikes, shoes already clipped in pedals, white sunscreen streaked across their face. 112 long miles to ride. This ride will take 6 hours 22 minutes. Enough time to drive from Dallas to Kansas.

Sometime after 3:00 PM Dad and Tate finish the bike route. They go through the transition area and begin their "cool down" {aka Marathon}. That's right, the last leg of the Ironman is a 26.2 mile run. Dad previously ran a marathon a year or so ago, but this would be the farthest Tate has ever run. The Barrett/Nicholson Support Crew positioned ourselves at different points along the run so the guys could be cheered for twice. We were easy to spot in our neon orange shirts. That and we were pretty loud.

As runners pass, we read their names off of their race numbers yelling things like, "Keep it up David!" "Good job Sarah" and "Way to go Mike uh, Milko, what does that say? Miko!" And for those names we just can't make out, things such as "Looking good yellow socks" and "Keep it up green shoelaces" are yelled. People love us. It is an 8 mile loop that is run 3 times. So on the first lap we are getting some weird looks, but by the second lap people are turing their race numbers around so we can see their names, and by the THIRD and final lap, people are actually thanking us and bidding us farewell. This is great!

The highlight is seeing yellow jersey and lime green sunglasses {aka Dad and Tate} round the corner, heading our direction. We all rise to our feet, cheering our loudest and giving the most heart-felt high-fives in the history of high-fives. They are the Justin Biebers of our IM. We even have posters! However, I don't think there are many inspirational posters with Bible verses at Bieber concerts. By the third lap they still look good. Tate hands off his sweaty belt and sunglasses to us and then we make our way to the finish line.

9:03 PM  The crowd cheers as we witness weary and enthusiastic participants alike take their last and most significant steps across the finish line. Some are close to collapsing as they wobble over the line and fall into wheelchairs, some roll across the line in memory of a friend, while others get a sudden burst of energy and gallop in on an imaginary horse. As we are watching people cross, U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name" begins to play. I tell Tye, "they are going to finish to this song. I just know it." After a few minutes that seemed like hours, Tate and Dad enter the chute!  They only have a few yards left until they cross that line to finish. So many things begin to run through my mind: this is an experience of a lifetime, how brave, it was only 2 years ago Dad beat cancer, thank you Lord, I can't see over this lady's head, I'm married to a rockstar, they are about to accomplish something so amazingly--HERE THEY COME!

9:04 PM They run past us, oblivious to the millionth high-five we are so eagerly trying to give them {understandable} and cross the finish line! We hear the announcer say, "TATE BARRETT YOU ARE AN IRONMAN FOR LIFE." This is the same announcer that announces the Ironman World Championships in Kona, so for him to announce that you are an IM is a pretty big deal. They did it! A wave of relief sweeps over me. Tye and I exchange teary glances, not having to verbalize how proud we are, and we all make a bee-line to congratulate the newest Ironmen. It has been 14 hours and 5 minutes since they began the race. 14 hours and 5 minutes of constant moving. 14 hours and 5 minutes of exhaustion. I see Tate and get the smelliest, sweatiest, best hug of my life.

They are now part of the very few, the Ironmen. It's an exclusive group, and rightly so. But now, ahhh...{deep breath}, it is over...or at least for this year. The taste of success must be sweet, because the next morning they woke up saying "I think we can beat our time" and began planning for next year's race.