By JUDI TABLER
Special to the Tribune
MUNCIE, Ind. — Marcy Wagner did it — just in case you wanted to know.
Wagner, a Fort Larned USD 495 middle school teacher and coach, finished her first Ironman 70.3 competition in Muncie, Ind. Saturday.
Marcy and her sister, Melissa, traveled with their husbands to Muncie and competed a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride and a half marathon — a tremendous challenge to the women.
They did it.
They own the medals to prove it.
Marcy remarked that the day could not have been more beautiful.
The 1.2-mile swim was the first event in open water. Once in the water, and rounding a turn at a buoy, Marcy slowed down for a moment.
“It was difficult to see where you were going, and I was doing the breast stroke, just to get my bearings”
The swimmer behind her, hollered at her, “Don’t slow down!”
“Ha. I almost gave up then and there,” she said. “I don’t like to be yelled at!”
But the swim proved to be easier than she expected. Once she was out of the water, she headed for her bicycle.
After all, the ride would only be 56 miles. And her confidence was solid.
“I was biking about 24 miles per hour, thinking that’s pretty good, and riders were zooming by me,” she said. “It is a humbling experience seeing such speed, with much older riders zipping by.
Marcy explained that the ages of the riders were written on the backs of their calf, and it was easy to catch their ages as they flew past her.
There were curves on the route where she could get a glimpse of her sister just a shade behind.
“These Ironman participants are amazing. It’s humbling, but also very motivating to be in a competition with these people,” she said.
There were over 2,000 competing in the triathlon, and more than 1,700 volunteers, so everything had to work like clockwork.
Marcy and her husband Gary had driven the bike route the day before. She noticed a big red barn at about the 50-mile mark. She remembered it. And during the bike race, she was encouraged when she spied the barn.
Ahhh. Only six more miles to go.
Upon completion of the bike event, she shook off her numb feet, straightened up her bent back, remarked how her bottom hurt from the seat, and prepared for the final leg — the 13.1-mile run.
She took some refreshments, went to the restroom, and off she went.
This is Marcy’s event. It’s her baby. So she knew now that she was in the last stretch, and felt confident.
Her sister was not far behind.
She believes that spectators are crucial to finishing.
Some held garden hoses and spoke loudly to the runners that if they wanted to be sprayed to run to the side. Marcy took advantage.
She said the fans help the spirit of the run.
Marcy finished the race with a time of 6 hours 13 minutes, 13 seconds. The allotted time was 8 hours and 30 minutes. She finished 27th out of 59 in her age group — quite an accomplishment.
At the finish line, the runners quickly turn their attention to runners still competing.
“Way to go! Just a little ways. Keep up! You are doing fine!”
Those words of encouragement gave the runners the needed burst of energy as smiles erupt.
One finisher suffered a severe cramp in his thigh and fell almost to a crawl.
Gary, Marcy’s husband, shouted — “Hang in there. You can do it. You only have a little ways to go!”
The man lit up.
“Yes! Just around the corner up ahead, you will see the finish line. Keep going,” Gary shouted.
The color returned to the man’s face. He stood, and hobbled and dragged his leg, but made it!
All I can add is that I cannot imagine that. The human spirit is amazing.
As for Marcy, she’s still on Cloud 9.
And I do not blame her one bit.