Rather than going into the details training weeks 26 & 27, which at this point was well over a month ago, and because the training was pretty low with nothing interesting to report, let’s just get to the race recap!
After spending many hours packing (I kid you not, I think I spent four hours packing…going over lists, checking, rechecking…adding a few things), JMR and I were finally on the road by 4:30p on Thursday. Along the way we ran into a horrible thunderstorm that forced us to pull over due to limited visibility. As we were pulled over, and the car was slightly rocking from the wind, the skies decided to bring us some hail as well. Oh poor Lola, that cannot be good for her. Eventually the skies cleared up and we were back on our way. Other than running into so fog around 9p, the rest of the ride was pretty uneventful and we finally got to our hotel around 11:45p. Phew. We were tired.
Unfortunately once we settled in and went to bed, I was wide awake. I tossed and turned and had the same kind of crappy sleep that I did Saturday night at WIBA. I had horrible dreams, one was race related and weird. I dreamt that I had a pretty good swim and bike, and was on the run course, but part of the course had you go into buildings and solve math problems before you could exit the building and continue running. As I was nearing the end of the race, I ran by a childhood friend who had a sticker on and asked where mine was. I was confused and asked ‘what sticker?’. She said that after you solve the final problem you needed to take a sticker. Without the sticker, I would be disqualified. My heart sank knowing after going this far in the race, it was all over. I woke up after that part, but that dumb dream left a knot in my stomach. Note: I have really vivid dreams, in color and everything.
Friday I was up around 8a, and we headed to athlete check-in. There was a semi-long line, but it moved fast and by 9:30 I was checking in. This check-in is huuuge compared to Louisville. It goes through three levels of the convention center. The first level you get the waivers you need to sign. The second lower level you sign the forms and get weighed (if you end up in the medical tent, they need to know how much water you have lost or if you have gained (which is really bad)), and the third lower level you get your packet, wristband and gear bags. Then I went back up three levels to the merchandise area where you got your backback and of course spent $$ on all things Ironman. I’m not going to lie, knowing I’m not doing an IM next year, I splurged a little more than I did at IMLOU. I bought a t-shirt and long-sleeved shirt with the athletes names on it, and a bike jersey. Still not terrible, I saw people with arms full of clothes. Good grief.
Next I attended the athlete briefing, nothing new learned there that wasn’t in the athlete guide, but I did have one question: if the special needs bike station had porta-potties. This year because the weather will be cooler than it was at IMLOU, instead of carrying 3hrs of Infinit powder in my tri kit and mixing at an aid station halfway, I was considering having a pre-mixed bottle at special needs (around mile 55) and also a bottle of water, so I could just skip the next aid station and not have to worry about mixing a new bottle (it got kind of messy at IMLOU). However, the caveat was there had to be a porta potty there as well otherwise I’d still have to stop twice which wouldn’t be worth the time saved on the pre-mixed bottle. Turns out it did have porta-potties. Hooray!
The rest of Friday was pretty low-key. I had considered swimming that afternoon, but I was getting worn down from getting little to no sleep the night before and took a nap instead. JMR and I grabbed dinner at a restaurant/pub nearby the hotel, The Great Dane, which was pretty darn good (and good beer too! Yes, I will have a few beers the week before Ironman….carb loading?). We stopped by another pub on our way home to sample another local beer and then we were in bed by 10p. I slept like a rock that night.
Saturday I was up early (7a) to do my pre-race brick. I rode from the hotel to the lake shore path and got in around 20 minutes on the bike, dropped it back off at the hotel and then ran for 15 minutes. Something weird happened in the last five minutes…my hamstring, above my right knee was realllly tight. Ugh. Once I got back to the room I spent 30 minutes foam rolling my legs, hoping to work out the twinge I was feeling. After foam rolling it actually felt worse. Oh lordy. I texted my coach and busied myself with getting my gear bags ready. Fortunately because I spent 4 or however many hours packing, everything for each bag was in a ziploc baggie (except helmet, bike and run shoes) so I think it took me 15 minutes total. And that was me being paranoid and taking a picture of everything on top of the bag, before I put it in the bag, so I could calm my nerves later knowing I had packed whatever item I was fretting about at the moment.
Once I was confident I was done packing my bags, JMR and I headed back to the convention center to drop off Lola and my gear bags. I walked the .5 miles or however long it was to get to my bike rack (I knew it was going to be a long transition). Racked Lola, took a picture, decided to move my chain to the small ring, and then I went to drop off my bags.
IMWI has an odd transition, rather than being in a tent, it’s in a convention center. So my Bike bag went into convention room A (I might be wrong with the letters), and my Run bag went into convention room D. Weird. The change ‘tent’ was really Convention room B. I had a feeling my transition times were going to be slow with all of this running from room to room. After getting ready to head back out of the convention center, I saw a sign for massages. The pre-race panic in me had the mentality ‘whatever it takes to get my leg better!’ screaming at me, so I stopped by the table, told the lady about my leg, and she said a massage should at least help loosen it. So, I signed up for a massage at 2p.
After dropping off Lola and checking in my bags, we grabbed lunch at The Great Dane (hey, it was good and close, why not?), and then I went back to the convention center for my massage. The lady was very nice, and we chit chatted about the race. She did notice that my entire right leg was tight, whereas my left was pretty normal/lose. Nice. She also found the exact spot that was bugging me and tried to loosen the muscle, which she did. Hooray! After the 30 minutes (she just worked on my legs), I felt relieved that I really was ready to go for the race. I headed back to the hotel, took an hour nap and then prepped my special needs bags.
My friend Trish was coming to cheer me on and she arrived around 4p. We hung out in our room, chatted in the room for a while and then decided around 5p to head to dinner, my special oh-so-not-fancy pre-race dinner of Outback Steakhouse (or Longhorn…or Texas Roadhouse…as long as it has steak AND sweet potatoes, I’m good). I opted to get the filet, even though it was on the pricier side because I had filet the night before IMLOU and the race went well. I didn’t want to change anything up now! As usual I had my pre-race beer as well 🙂 We made it back to the hotel around 8, and after messing with my gear for the morning (I wanted to lay everything out so I didn’t forget anything), and watching some HGTV house renovation show, JMR finally made me turn off the tv at 9:30p. Surprisingly, I slept. I did wake up a couple of times (11p, 2a), but I was able to fall back asleep pretty easily. Soon 4:15a arrived, and I was up. I ate my breakfast, wrapped my special needs waterbottles in foil (to keep them cool), put a crap ton of sunscreen on, and by 5a we were headed to transition.
Now, I have to say, I had a few meltdowns the week leading up to the race, but once we arrived, I was nervous but not freaking out (JMR may disagree, but I honestly thought I was handling things better than I did at IMLOU). I had decided I just wasn’t going to think about the race, so then I wouldn’t stress about it. Even Trish noticed how calm and laid back I seemed at dinner Saturday night. Well. Anxiety showed up big time Sunday morning. I could hardly eat my breakfast I was so nervous/sick. Walking to transition I almost wanted to cry. Somehow this seemed like a bigger feat than I initially thought. Yes, I finished IMLOU, but it’s a different course, a downstream swim, easier hills. Ugh. I really didn’t feel ready or like I was actually going to be doing an Ironman that day.
Regardless, I tried to go through the motions and droppped off my special needs bags, headed to my bike to pump my tires and set up my nutrition. I also checked my run and bike bags to take one last peek to make sure everything was in there. Then I walked to the front of the convention center where JMR was waiting. My brain was screaming ‘I don’t want to do this!’. I managed to distract myself by getting my lower half into my wetsuit, which took some time.
Soon my friend Trish showed up and I felt a little better. After chatting for a bit, I realized that my tri top felt tight. Granted, I hadn’t raced in this one before, it was just a smaller size of the one the raced in last year, which honestly, was baggy, and therefore not aero at all. However, I decided to have a mini freak out as to how it might be really annoying during the run and ride up and turn into a belly shirt (I had only run around in it in my living room…I know..I know…nothing new on race day), which resulted in JMR being a hero and heading back to the hotel to retrive the bigger top. After five minutes I asked Trish to just text JMR and tell him to come back, it would be fine. She said he responded that he got the top and was headed back. Woah. He was back in a little over 10 minutes. He ran the whole way. Wow, my hero 🙂
Next Trish helped squeeze the rest of me into my wetsuit, and soon it was 6:30a and time for me to head down to the water.
Once it was time for me to separate and head down to the water, I got teary eyed and said I didn’t want to go, but JMR said, ‘You’ve done this before, you know you can do this’…easier said than done. But off I waddled to the back of the line to get into the water. Well, perhaps waiting until the last-minute to get into the water was a bad idea. Once I finally got in, 30 seconds later, the cannon went of. Oh #$%#! What have I gotten myself into.