After his first, rather disoriented call from the medical tent, George called me back about 45 minutes later sounding much improved. I went to the medical tent to help him carry his stuff back to the hotel, then went to the transition area to pick up his bike. The crowds were huge, especially since I had to pass the exit for the finish line, and there were people celebrating and people not celebrating. This is the bittersweet part of Ironman. When you finish, you feel bad for the non-finishers. When you don't finish, well, you just want to go home.
George had a good day until a few miles into the marathon. The swim worked out perfectly for him: he only got kicked hard once in the jaw. The first 56 miles of the bike were "fun" and the rest solid. No worries. He started the marathon with a few 9:40 miles and felt like it would all work out.
Then, not so much. By mile 15, he knew things were bad. Really bad. He was dizzy and disoriented, so he sat down. When he would stand up, his vision would gray at the edges. When he approached the medical staff, one of them said, "You realize if we touch you, it's a DQ?" His fingers and toes were tingling and he said, "Yeah." He knew when to stop.
The medical staff at an Ironman are top notch. These people take outstanding care of the athletes. Students are assigned to see that no athlete is left alone, ever. The nurses, doctors, and medical technologists are attentive, knowledgeable, and friendly. I was amazed at how quickly George was back on his feet, and he sang the medical staff's praises over a burger at the Cooper Tavern.
I'm proud of George for going so far. I'm even prouder of him for realizing he needed to stop before he hurt himself. And now, we are both going to bed. It's been a long day full of accomplishment, and we have a long drive tomorrow.