Ironman Texas Volunteer Recap

23 May

On Friday, I headed to Houston with Christina and Jesse to volunteer at Ironman Texas.  I was a spectator at the Ironman European Championships in Frankfurt, Germany last year , and jumped at the chance to be in that incredible environment again.

I had an idea what I was in for, and any time you can just get out of town is a nice break.

Of course I did a little packing of food, because I try to be prepared so that I can eat as normally as possible, even when on the road.

I was only going to be gone for 24 hours, but I have a tendency to over prepare. My goal was to keep everything simple.  I did not want to be worried about keeping anything cool until will got there. 

I pre mixed all the dry ingredients for overnight oats to be placed in the fridge of our hotel room (the very fridge which ended up not working, so my oats hung out in an ice bath bucket over night). I also made some trail mix, and pre measured some roasted pumpkin seeds and edamame. And, made some whole wheat crackers the night before we left.  Fruit was a must!  We did not have a single banana… bummer (but, I snagged one from the LAME hotel breakfast in the morning). 

I packed a few bars too, just in case, and some almond butter and PB2 (the powder in the tiny container). Carrots travel well, so I cut up two carrots into sticks.

Once I spent all that time mentally and physically preparing food, packing clothes was a breeze! I was not working out on Friday and knew I would be sitting for hours in the car, so to be a bit active I turned on an episode of House (which I tend to get addicted to and could sit and watch for hours).  I would watch it until a commercial came on, then I would pause it and run upstairs to pack for a while.  After about 10 minutes I would run back downstairs and watch until the next commercial.  (I LOATHE COMMERCIALS!)

When all was said and done, this was the damage.  That sure looks like a lot of luggage for one night!

I was supposed to run 3.5 miles Saturday, and I brought my running gear… just in case. I also fit my whole pillow in that suit case. The little back pack has books and magazines to read on the ride down.  I am blessed that I do not get car sick, so i like to stay entertained! Heaven forbid I just sit back and enjoy the ride. The cooler has all my food and the brown bag is my purse.  So, I think that I really did not bring that much. 

That was until Christina picked me up and took me to their house where we loaded the car.

You see that tiny black bag at the front of the photo?  That would be EVERYTHING Jesse packed.

The pink bag is Christina’s.  All of a sudden it sure did look like I was packing for a week in comparison.  (Mind you, I have used that same suitcase for an entire week.)I said goodbye to my bike on the way out the door.  She is living with Chris and Jesse until I can buy a tire pump of my own. And, the riding by their house is much better. She is a pretty girl, don’t you think?

We made our way to Houston, really to Conroe.  You can read my post along the way here.

Our hotel was pretty much awful!  The guy at the desk was dishonest, telling my brother-in-law that they did not have any non-smoking rooms.  When Christina went inside, he magically had not one BUT TWO rooms open up.

Like I said, the fridge did not work.  In the middle of the night, Christina may have turned the heat on and so we all woke up very warm, but I slept about as well as I ever do in a hotel (not too well).

I woke up with that same nervous feeling I get when I am watching Jesse race.  The only person i knew that was racing was the guy i bought my bike from, and I had only met him once. I tend to get nervous easily.

We made our way out to Bike Aid Station 8 (80 miles into the 112 mile bike ride), at the corner of nowhere and nowhere. We were about 30 minutes early, but it turned out to be a really good thing.  Many of the other volunteers were late because they had to deal with the traffic of the road closures for the race.  And, in typical Danielle style, I like to be early… just in case.

Around 9am, our truck arrived, and we walked the 1/3 mile from our designated parking place to our aid station. For the next hour, we unloaded the truck, set up tents and tables, and set up.

We also had to take the caps off of HUNDREDS of bottles of Power Bar Perform (an electrolyte drink), snip off the plastic ring with garden sheers, and then screw on a sports top.  Christina and I were snippers, and were prepared to have some very sore forearms the next day.

You never know what volunteer shirts will look like.  These shirts were made by K Swiss and are super soft and light.  It was a little odd that they were green and red, but I like that on the back they read, “Iron Team” instead of volunteer.

This was clearly at the beginning of the day, because at the end we were a mess!

From 1:45-3:45 we stood a the first station the riders road by with empty bottles being thrown down beside us.  I am really excited to announce that I was not hit by any of the bottles.  Jesse predicted that I would be hit by at least one bottle, but I wasn’t!

The riders came around a corner, threw down empty bottles (often spraying themselves with the last of their water before chunking the bottle).  Then they would get supplies from one of the volunteers, all while riding by.

It was our job to hand them what they were calling out for as we announced what we had in our hand.  So, I said “Perform” about a million times throughout the day.

Often the would urgently say, “Water, water?”

They would ride by us retrieving Perform, water, bananas, and Power Bars, PowerBar gels.  There was also a medic tent and a porta-potty station.

It took me a while to work up the nerve to hand anyone a bottle.  They were riding by SO FAST at first.  But, after the pros went by and the age groupers started coming to an end they were riding more at my speed.

The key was to hold the bottle steady on your palm with your arm extended.  I became a pro at this very fast.  Sometimes it did not work out so well and the bottle would just go flying out of my hand toward the ground.

(By the way, the strawberry flavor was much better.  The riders were actually asking for it.  So, if Power Bar is reading this, send more red next time and less lemon-lime.  From what I hear you need to discontinue the mango altogether.)

In case you were wondering what you do with the sleeves you have cut off of your shirt, you make a t-shirt sleeve mullet.

It was a super long day but so much fun!  I loved watching the riders go by with a smile of their face… though not all of them did this. Some people were just having a great time. Others, not so much.

I will definitely volunteer again!  In a tiny way, I played a part in those people having what they needed to cross that finish line after a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mi bike, and a 26.2 mi run.

Congratulations to all the new Ironmen!

One Response to “Ironman Texas Volunteer Recap”


  1. Breathing Through It « weightsandmeasures - May 25, 2011

    […] I packed a PowerBar (free from Ironman Texas) and my running […]

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