Wednesday, August 28, 2013

She's an Ironman!!

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If you've been around the blog for awhile, you may feel like you know Courtney personally... Not only is she my best friend of 'umpteen years, but we have always been training buddies. This past year I was not able to train with her for the first time in our entire friendship because as you know, I was "training my brain." Thankfully, she was able to train with some pretty awesome people that you will meet in the pictures below. But this past weekend, she breezed through one of the longest and hardest physical challenges an athlete can undergo with such poise and a huge smile on her face!

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The setting for the race was in and along the Ohio River and downtown Louisville, Kentucky. It was a beautiful sunny day and definitely warm, but no hotter than what she has been training in.

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Ricky and Kristen were her fellow teammates and she says she couldn't have done it without their motivation and accountability throughout the whole journey. 

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Clay, Court's parents and youngest sister as well as me and my mom were a part of the fan club cheering them on and we were so excited to be able to see her before she took off on the swim. There was around 3,000 athletes competing so it was a zoo!

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I'm not gonna pretend that there were not any bittersweet tears shed on my part that we would not be racing together... Let's just say my heart was swimming, cycling and running on that course all day long.

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We took a gazillion photos and were updating friends, family and social media all the day long... Court, Kristan and Ricky had a huge support group tracking them online!

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First, they jumped off the dock and swam 2.4 miles up this channel and then down the Ohio River. 

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After the swim, we got to see her begin the 112 mile bike ride. I think she loved seeing us on the course as much as we loved seeing her! 

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The picture below is worth a thousand words. There were times during the race we would take off running as fast as we could to catch her one last time. Let's just say, the spectators were sore the next day too... ha!

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But it was worth all of the huffin' and puffin' to see her excited to see us! Also, my mom is the woman behind the camera in almost all of these photos. Most of my photos are blurry from trying to cheer and hold the camera still... this wasn't Mom's first rodeo, she could be a professional race photographer with all of the experience she has gained over the years!

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After 112 miles of rolling Kentucky hills, {Court can dominate some hills by the way} she was ready to start the marathon... and smiling all the way!

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Her and Kristan were able to hang with each other throughout most of the race and we were SO thankful they had each other!

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I was able to find her and run with her for mile 14 and it was SO good to hear about how she was feeling and get the details of the swim and bike.

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I got so excited to be running with her that at one point, she was like, "Jill, you can slow down." Ha!

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She was able to jog the entire marathon and only walk through the aid stations where she would eat little bites and sip coke, gatorade and water. Other than her knee trying to give her a hard time on mile 24 she felt great... relatively speaking of course.

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To me, the funniest part of the day was that on a whim, Clay asked a homeless man if he could rent his bike for the day and give it back later that night. He was then able to ride the whole run course and meet up with Courtney at several different checkpoints. I guess to that you can say, where there's a will there's a way!

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And let me just say that there is nothing quite like the finish line of an Ironman. The crowds, cheers, loud music, bright lights and exhausted but ecstatic athletes finishing one of the hardest endurance races in the world... It is a one of a kind experience for a spectator, and Court said it was a surreal experience as an athlete.

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Watching her run towards the finish line was emotional and hearing the words of the announcer, "Courtney Calhoun from Fairhope, Alabama YOU are an IRONMAN!!" was music to all of our ears!

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Her official finishing time was 13 hours and 13 minutes.

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She was exhausted, relieved and so excited to be FINISHED!! A few minutes afterwards, I could tell her glucose bottomed out, naturally of course, and we ran to get her a coke and a chicken taco from Chipotle, the closest place available. She said it tasted like "a million bucks!" Just a few minutes later she was all smiles again.

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We just camped out behind the finish line rehashing the race and later celebrated at the Hard Rock to cheer on other finishers.

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I am literally still BEAMING with pride and joy for not only Courtney, but for Kristan and Ricky and all of the other finishers of the race. Just hearing the distance of the race sounds tough, but actually watching these athletes dig deep and complete the race is so inspiring.

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However, these girls make it look easy. Courtney said to me the other night that she literally tried to savor and enjoy every mile of the race and did not want it to be over. She said it just went by way too fast. Who would ever think that 140.6 miles of swimming, cycling and running could be so fun? They are living poof that proper training and preparation, a positive attitude and of course, natural athletic ability is the secret to enjoying a race that grueling. I don't know about you but I'm inspired!!


  1. She's amazing!! I can't wait to see her again and hug her :) And you missed your calling as a writer!!

  2. Great story Jill. Thanks for being there. Rickie



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