Ultraman Florida 2015 - Part Two / by Ally Willix

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I think that running a half marathon is extremely daunting. A marathon? Maybe after years of training. Running a marathon right after swimming and biking?! Crazy! What about running TWO marathons back to back after spending the previous two days swimming and biking over two hundred miles combined…

The last leg of the Ultraman race was the most memorable. On the run the crew was present for almost every mile of the race, unlike the previous two days. We were constantly exchanging waters, giving wet towels, and doing whatever needed to be done to help our Dad/husband/brother get across the finish line. We also took turns pacing and I got to run/walk with him! I am not a runner. Not in the slightest. I really like the idea of running, but I usually find excuses not to do it. But I ran/walked 7 miles that day. I've never ran/walked that much in one day in my life! It wasn't consecutive of course or I probably would just now be able to walk again, but it still gave me a lot of confidence that maybe I could be a runner if I worked hard at it. After watching this race I keep feeling like this idea of being runner may finally turn into a reality...

There were so many amazing moments that happened during the run and I tried to include images of my favorite moments in this post.  Many friends put together voice memos of encouragement telling Bob how much he had positively influenced and changed their lives for the better. As those memos were played I captured a lot of smiles and tears. Every time he heard a friend's voice he began to run faster. If you were one of those friends, know that you helped fuel this run.  

There are two pictures below that I think need a explanation to understand. The first is of a finisher laying on the ground just across the finish line and the clock reads 12:00:00. He finished the run with 9 seconds on the clock!!! It was EPIC. The second is all of the athletes clumped together for their group picture cheering, "Bob, Bob, Bob!" as he walked over to join them. Everyone who participates, crews in, or volunteers for this race is like family and this was the perfect picture of it. 

You'll notice that I don't have any pictures of his finish in this post. That's because I didn't take any of the finish; I got to run across the finish line with him. All of us crossed together and it was an incredible moment :) 

I didn't share any photographs from the awards banquet that took place the following evening, but that night was one of the most inspiring parts of the whole race. All of the athletes are invited to attend and share their stories of the race and what led them to the start line of Ultraman. I could write pages on all of the speeches that spoke to me and made me tear up. But there was one speech in particular that stuck with me. This is a paraphrase of what he said: "When I was a kid I didn't do things that scared me. It was after college that I started to do things I might fail at and that's when I started living." Now that I'm out of school I've realized how formulated my education was. As long as I did x, y, and z I would get good grades and those good grades would get me into a good college and then I would do it over again until I graduated and those good grades would get me a good job. Accomplishing x, y, and z was certainly difficult but it wasn't scary - it was calculated. I knew how hard I needed to work to not fail and I did it. Now in my job as a professional wedding photographer I'm doing something that is not formulated and I could definitely fail. But I want to live a full life, which means I need to really put myself out there and try the things that scare me. I think failing will make me feel more alive than just coasting by. Almost every finisher of this race talked about how scared they were to do the race beforehand. But they finished and felt alive during every minute of it. 

It was an honor to be a part of this race and I'm proud to be your new daughter Bob Willix!