Friday, October 17, 2014

And Then Came the Bike...Part 3 of The Incredible Journey

(I am sitting blogging at an Oceanside coffee shop, watching the people who obviously have no sense surfing the big waves during the "Tropical Storm" conditions we are suppose to be having. This is the only sign of a hurricane 220 miles south of the Island. It was raining now the sun looks like it's about to come out..geez all that worry for this?)

The Bike:

Wow the bike took me on an unexpected ride that challenged me physically and mentally. Not in a way I actually ever thought of quitting, but man it was difficult! I will admits near the end I wondered if I would make the cutoff, something I have never been worried about before. I am embarrassed to say I didn't even remember what the bike cutoff was, but knew the hours were passing..too many hours passing for my comfort level. In the end, I made it in time but not without fighting the wind for much of the ride..

It started out coming out of the chute and straight up Palani Dr., probably a 2 block 8% grade hill. That'll wake your legs up! There is a 4-5 mile section around Kona in the beginning which is nice, I got to see spectators and part of the family!!

They took a couple of pics of me as I rode up. At this point I was feeling pretty strong..I was so happy to see my "Team Wess" crew, kids and all:

I was riding Arero, down in the bars for much of the first 20 miles or so. The Queen K is a great road surface, the whole road was closed for the race so smooth sailing from a long bike ride perspective. The only bummer, and this was a big bummer 7 hours later, was that they did not allow spectators on the bike course. Let me tell you, riding almost 8 hours in mostly solitude is very challenging! I did however, have one ray of sunshine. They allowed folks that were staying in the resorts on the Northwest Coast to go out to the Queen K to cheer folks on. My wonderful sister in law (H's sister) and brother in law (her husband), two of my favorite supporters were staying outside such a resort. I looked for them by the first Aid Station and didn't see them. They had the awesome Team Wess T-shirts on. My SIL told me she was screaming and could have reached out and touched me she was so close! I must've had my eye on the water station because I never saw her going out. The water stations came up frequently, thank goodness. I would grab one water and pour it over my cooling sleeves, then one water to pour into my bottle. I would have to stop to add the electrolyte tabs because they wouldn't go through aero bottle top. I did manage to do it a couple of times on the bike but once the wind came, forget it. That wasn't such a good plan..

The bike to Hawi to the turnaround

The bike to Hawi to the turnaround
The bike up to Hawi to turnaround..

The wind, ah the about mile 25 (aproximately) there started to be wind. I had biked out of Kona with a tailwind/side wind of sorts-it wasn't an issue. So it was windy already but this was a crazy, swirling headwind. Ok, I am in Kona doing the World Ironman Championships and this is why it is considered one of the hardest courses in the world! I carried on, drinking, eating and fighting the wind. I looked at bikes in front of me and they looked like they were struggling also so this somehow made me feel better. Some harsh side winds took me and pushed me across the lane of the road. I started riding on the far right shoulder so if I got pushed sideways again into the other lane, I wouldn't hit anyone. It was crazy..that's all I can say. I was soooooo grateful I had done the Acoma Century ride. We had crosswinds on that ride and headwinds, granted not as harsh as this, but I remembered that feeling of having your wheels pushed out under you and fighting to stay upright. When the wind decided to be against me, I was barely moving on an already sort of rolling course. Nothing I coudn't have rocked had the wind been down. The first real gust of side/headwind, I yelled Bring it!!! Don't know why it was kind of like you can't break me, no matter what you do Madame Pele, I can handle it! So I used that kind of Bring It attitude the rest of the ride up to Hawi. There is about a 6 mile climb up to the turnaround that is a bit steeper and longer than the other hills. Before I got there the Pros started coming back. They were flying, which gave me hope that I would have a tailwind on the way back. I said a little prayer to that affect. I had to stay out of my aerobars much of those 40 or so miles up to Hawi. I saw a woman flat on the ground, race officials around her. I deduced she had been blown off her bike (total of 8 athletes got blown off their bikes in the race)...I tried to remember all my tricks to riding in wind. Keep knees together, use core to center, just plain hang on! I wasn't particularly tired, which is a good thing. This meant I had trained right. It was super hot but the wind was a good distraction from that! Someone told me the gusts were 50 MPH. I don't know, all I remembered was my coach saying it will be windy but nothing as bad a Geelong (70.3-race from hell wind). Uh, Coach you are awesome but this wind is worse. Alot worse it seemed at the time. I tried to look around and enjoy the view. We were climbing along the shore and the sight of the ocean and lava rocks was stunning! I couldn't look for long because I never knew when a gust might hit along with the headwind so I held on tight, literally to my bike. At one point I realized my arms were so tight they were getting sore..My neck was killing me. I tried to stretch but very hard to move around when you are trying to "stay center". I honestly thought my neck would be a mess the next day..I think I didn't go over 11 MPH for 25 miles...wicked conditions..

Climbing up Pilani
Fighting the wind on the Queen K

Finally, finally I got to the turnaround. The time it took me to get there was LONG and I anticipated flying back with a tailwind, where I would make up for the slow-ass time it took me to get there. The volunteers and spectators in Hawi were so great. Mostly local people, these folks are donating their time and their community for me! I thanked as many volunteers as I could when I remembered to do so. The only annoying moments at Aid Stations was when they didn't open the water bottle. Pretty difficult to do on a bike..Mostly I was smiling because I knew about the downhill coming. Turned around-wheeeee!!! Maximum speed 35 MPH.. The wind was now mostly at our backs, sometimes a sidewind but I didn't care. I tried to fly down the hils as much as I could.

Then, a couple things happened. I couldn't find my last 2 electrolyte pills, thought I left them at Special Need at the turnaround (actually found them later in my bike jersey-geez). I thought well, I can either switch to water, knowing I had a couple hours to go? Or: drink the nasty ass Perform which is like Gator Aid only worse and tastes like crap.. I chose the latter. The temp was in the 90s probably more out on the lava rocks and I knew people get in trouble in Kona because of heat/sweat/electrolyte loss. I was super paranoid about this. Had continued to consume Shotz Gels and 2bars, one with protein. The only thing missing was the electrolyte tabs for the last 1.5 hours.

I still wasn't tired physically, just mentally tired of being on the course. In the wind. I checked my tires a couple of times (they weren't low or flat). I finally had to give in that these were the conditions so suck it up or you better work b#*%ch! (Daughter Allison showed me this-made me laugh soooo hard!). I thought of these random things on my odessey bike ride.

Oh, you've got to be kidding me, then the wind decided to switch and we had a direct headwind for the last 30 miles. I just went with it. This was the race of my life, I wasn't breaking any speed records, NBC wasn't chasing me for the IM Kona TV special-so might as well enjoy! I kept leap frogging with two other women in my AG on the way back. They were super serious. I tried to say a few words in passing just being light. One woman said how much this sucked and I said But we are at KONA! She said oh yea, I guess there's that. Then my goal got really small. Beat this grumpy woman on the bike. Every time I would pass her, she would pass me. Well, I guess it is a race, even at 10

My feet all of a sudden felt like they were on fire! Not just one but both. I loosened my new larger sized Tri shoes. Nope..not working. So I stopped and took my socks off. Ahhh, that's better! It bothered me one more time. I needed to stop and take my shoes off to move my feet around. My stomach started to get a little funky at the end of the bike. I pee'ed twice on the bike so knew I was hydrated.

Then I saw my sister and brother in law!!! In the shirts and everything. I yelled Hi guys! but it was brief. Just knowing there was someone in a 25 mile radius around me that knew me was a relief. I worried a little about making the cutoff, I thought it was 5:00. I learned later was 5:30. I picked up a little speed passing the Energy Lab because there were all the runners running in and out. They were 17-23 miles into the marathon. My heart kinda sank for one second. I was about an hour past the time I thought I could do the bike. Oh well, I am in Kona! Finally, were headed toward the turn into town and I passed those two women in my AG and never looked back! I knew they would probably kick my ass on the run. Who cares? I had met my brief yet shining goal on the bike. The wind died down in town then it was just HOT!

This was the bike course and my data:

According to my Garmin I rode thise 112 miles in 7:41.
Official bike time: 7:56. I stopped a total of 15 minutes..
It's all good. I was done with the bike!!! In plenty of time..relief flowed over me. I handed my bike and helmet to the volunteer and said bye-bye Cervelo, probably won't see you again for a long while! I started jogging in transition, I think I took off my bike shoes, if not I should have. The transition run felt like a good 5k to me but I'm sure it wasn't that far. One good thing about being in the back of the pack is I had the changing tent all to myself pretty much along with 2 people helping me. There were even Porta potties in the changing tent. How cool is that! Part of me wanted to ignore the urge to go, time wise but what the hell why be uncomfortable? The bathrooms were clean. In fact all the portable toilets I stopped at (and there were many on the run) were pretty clean. I guess the World Championships provide royal treatment porta potties too!

I started to feel this kind of joy, even though the bike was really difficult and I was is hard to explain. I continued to feel this amazing joy through most of the run also. Joy about being where I was, joy that my hard work was finally paying off after 10 years. Joy that I was healthy enough to do this. Joy that my family and friends were there. I finally felt like I was good enough to be a competitive athlete, something I have fought since childhood...
After what seemed like forever like this blog entry probably is, I was out on the run!!!

Transition time: a very leisurely 10:03.






Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Swim-Part 2 of The Incredible Journey

The swim:

I placed myself to the left of the crowd out by the Perform Buoy. The course bouys looked very far to the right but as they went further out to the ocean they veered left, potentially giving me a straighter shot.The cannon went off and I started swimming. The first thing I noticed was that everyone could...well...swim! It seemed I was placed pretty well in the group I was attached to as I got pulled along with 400 other women around the first part of the course. I actually for the first time that I remember, was able to draft off faster swimmers in front of me for much of the first half of the swim. It was amazing! I had my Speedsuit on, (Hawaii waters wetsuits not allowed-water is too warm per rules). I felt really fast though and settled into a good pace for me. My swim watch battery was dying right before the swim so I gave it to H and had to trust my gut on swim speed. As I turned my arms over and over, I thought ok, this isn't bad and I am in IM KONA! I felt so grateful for all the swims I had done in Melbourne earlier in the year because the swells I was feeling as we headed out to the turnaround seemed to get larger. I couldn't tell if I was swimming with the current or against. It didn't matter because I was pretty comfortable. It really seemed like the swim to the turnaround was forever..then I remembered..oh yea this is what an Ironman swim feels like! I got kicked a couple of times, once in the face but the lack of all the male swimmer made the whole thing so much more enjoyable (sorry boys didn't miss getting run over, kicked and elbows that were much larger than mine in my face), I thought of H and the fam and wondered what they were doing. I was grateful for all the swimming lap after lap I had done over these past 11 months. My mask was good this time. I had the USA logo on my mask and it was cool. The only real issue I had was hunger. Before the swim, I realized I was getting super hungry. I had forgotten to bring a gel down to the water. After asking a couple of official people if they had any gels to no avail, I started looking on the ground for gel packets that may have been dropped-nothing. So the whole swim I had this gnawing hungry pain..just suck it up and don't think about! That's what I told myself. It was hard to ingore at times. Stoopid rooky mistake!

Finally I saw the big boat and knew we were close to the turnaround. I swam around the boat, which was rather large and hard to miss! Also the course was lined with kayaks and paddle boards so it was very difficult to get off course at any time during the long swim. This was nice, since I guess at some places it would have been easy to be pulled off course by the tide. I started swimming back and couldn't figure out if I had the current with me or against as I bobbed up and down with the swell of the current. It was trying to pull me to the right I think. Afterwards, folks said definitely we were swimming against the current on the way back. The land still looked VERY far away, geez am I ever going to finish? However, it was still fun, I was still swimming in Kona IM. I wasn't tired, however was ready to get out as I finally saw the cell tower I was trying to sight. I started running into some of the men who were slower swimmers. They had started 10 minutes before us. Only these guys were not so great swimmers. Swimming backstroke, breaststroke, sometimes four abreast. This got a little frustrating as I tried to swim around them. I know this slowed me down, I could feel it. Finally I was looking up and seeing the dock at Kona and said YES, I am here!! I was a little unsteady getting up the stairs, someone helped me eventually get upright. I pulled my speedsuit off and on to Transition 1 I went!

Was bound and determined to smile out of the swim. My swim pics always look so awful!

Swim Time: 1:31:15- Slow for me in an Ironman swim....really slow but my friend Ted reminded me that a wetsuit can increase your speed in the swim by 10 minutes..but all those other ladies didn't have wetsuits either! My swim time was the only thing I was really disappointed time wise in the race..:/ especially since I thought I was going so fast!

T-1: As I passed through the showers to rinse myself off, I asked someone what time it was, I think they said 9:24. Whaaa? I knew I had not swam 2 hrs and 24 min. So was confused but oh well, I was out and getting on the bike! T-1 went smoothly. They handed me my bag, I had my own personal assistant who helped spread my things out nicely and I was able to don all my bike gear on without issues. Yay!! I decided to run to my bike in my socks, someone said people were slipping with their bike shoes. It actually was a tip that was given to me by my bike check in guy the day before, good tip-thanks! Got to my bike and many of bikes were gone around me. Dang! It meant I didn't swim as fast as I thought.l.oh well..I was still in Kona Ironman..

T-1 time: 7:38

I will stop here for now. There is a Hurricane/Tropical Storm heading towards the Big Island for tomorrow and Saturday. I have an upper respiratory infection brewing. Not exactly how I envisioned the rest of the vacation going but going with the flow. Some of the fam are leaving early because of storm. We did however get a boat dolphin tour today with the the whole clan. Everyone got to snorkel and on the way back we followed about a dozen dolphins for awhile. The kids (big and little) were thrilled.

And to add, on the Dolphin Tour, we were on the boat for about 15 minutes. We were all the way out from land following the Coast. The Captain says this is the turnaround for the IM Swim. I was amazed and turned to my son-in-law and said how the heck did I swim that? Ha!



Monday, October 13, 2014

The Incredible Journey..Part One


I don't even know where to start. What do you say about a day where everything was super challenging but exhilarating and joyful at the same time? What do you say about a trip that took me into complete loneliness on the Island of Madam Pele, who chose to rise up with her firey side on Saturday to challenge me on the bike?

The week before the race was excitement building. Friends from Australia, my coach, my whole family all 15 of them arrived, only to bring my energy up for the big day. I spent the night in a hotel room near the race start for 3 nights, to get myself centered and calm before race day. The "dated" facilities were less than desirable, toilet overflowing with sewage several times, ants in the bathroom, and I was a little afraid to sleep on the bed to be honest. But it served its purpose having me near the transition area for bike checkin and race morning so the ants could be overlooked for a couple of nights.

H and I went to the Pre Race Banquet and heard what sounded a little too corporate for me. It also was LONG! The entertainment (Hawaiin Dancers and Drummers)were amazing! We enjoyed the company of friends but I was antsy, hasn't seen the kids much, so we left early,

I checked my bike into transition on Friday. I was met with a personal escort, who took me to help me rack my bike and walk through transition getting my T-1 and T-2 bags ready for RaceDay. I felt a little like royalty! It was organized and seamless:

I was impressed. It was lovely to unload some of my stuff, the weight on my shoulders felt somewhat lighter! I tried to relax the rest of Friday. It was difficult. My hubby and daughters helped me get settled, my nerves were running a bit high. I had met with Coach Michael one last time prerace to talk about my "race plan". Then after my youngest Allison told me Mom, breathe God in, breathe Debi out (good advice for crazed pre-race Iron Mom-thanks honey!) they said goodbye and I was on my own for a bit. Since I had time to myself I went to a local eatery and ordered a sandwich and n/a beer, people watched and ocean gazed for a while. I went the Expo and wandered a bit. It felt good to do my own thing for a few hours. I tried to drink all the Electrolyte drinks I could shovel in, preload planning for the hot sweaty day ahead.
Eventually I made my way back down to the "Sugar Shack", where the whole family is staying in our big home away from home. My son-in-law, an excellent cook made me a huge pasta and chicken Italian dinner. It was delicious and so good to see my kids and Grandkids the eve of the race. The little ones knew they were going to see "Grandma race" the next day but not sure they knew exactly the long day of excitement they were in for on Saturday. But get'n love from grandkids is the best medicine for a case of prerace jitters! My sister in law and her husband flew all the way from New Jersey to see me race. I was humbled and honored and it was so great to see them!! They joined us for the prerace dinner also. Every single person had a blue "Team Wess" T-Shirt on during race day. It made it easy to see my crew. Special cowbells were made with "SWTrigal" on them. Thanks Allison!!
Becca, an older daughter offered to come stay with me to help prepare for the short night, early morning ahead. Hubby stayed in another room, he wanted to sleep later than my 3:00 wake up call. I had a good night sleep there on Thursday night, after the pre race Banquet. Friday night, not so much sleep. We went to bed about 9:30, I was wide awake at 1:00 AM. All fear of "oversleeping" was banished! Wandering down to the hotel lobby, I managed to make some instant coffee and start trying to preload much needed calories for the day ahead. It is really hard to get in the several hundred calories prerace but I managed a bagel and a half, along with a banana, hoping it would be stored up in me like a squirrel hiding nuts for the winter..

This is me eating bagel while Becca playing "Eye of the Tiger" and others inspirational prerace music..
Becca was an awesome Sherpa!! So was my dear hubby. I felt all the love he sent off with me that day..
At 4:15 we started to head down to transistion. I got body marked as I was ushered into to the "athlete only" tent, then went out to meet the family again. All these kids and grandkids had showed up by then. I wasn't sure with the early hour whether that was possible but was soooo happy to see them!
This is part of my Crew. They all had matching TShirts on that said "Team Wess" I felt so loved and supported...
I also had my T.E.A.M from Australia, the one I have been a part of since last year before IMs Melbourne. I felt better just seeing Michael and he giving me encouragement. He is an awesome athlete himself so I wished him luck too.

These are my coaches (My main man is Michael on right end)
These are all some of my favorite people in the World! So glad to be a part of their journey. The support I have gotten from my Melbourne folks since January is incredible!
I got kisses and hugs from everybody and off we went to get in line for the swim. The men went first but not before a beautiful Hawaiin prayer was said to send special energy. This is Lauren, Jody and I waiting for the swim to start. Lauren WON the women's swim. No, I mean she really was FIRST PLACE out of the water. Quite a future ahead of that little gal!
The drums were beating, the cannon went off for the men. I guess I didn't feel nervous at all. All the swimming I did in Australia truly prepared me for the ocean waters of Hawaii..I had no butterflies, nothing, just joy! We lined up in the water about 50 yards into the deep and treaded water. I took a moment and looked at all the spectators, heard the cheers, just took it all in. I got tears in my eyes. I thought I wanna remembered this moment forever! The cannon went off without a countdown and we were off! I was beginning the Kona Ironman Worlds Championships-wow I never thought I would be saying that, in my wildest dreams!






Thursday, October 9, 2014

TWO More Days!

I simply lost my last start to a blog post. Oh well, wasn't meant to be? It is Thursday and I will just highlight the journey in the present.

All checked in for the race. It was a quick easy process and soooo exciting! My friend Ted and I were one of the first ones in. I felt chills! Afterwards, they shuffle you into the "Ironman Souvenir Store". A good marketing strategy for sure suckers (like me). Yes, I bought stuff-of course! A new Kona WC bike kit amount other things walked out the door with me. I was overwhelmed! We will go back for "Finishers" stuff after the race. I did get my awesome Ironman Kona coffee cup. It is already my favorite.

Have ridden on the "Queen K" 3 times now and once in a car. I only went a few miles out on my bike. We rode the whole route in the car. There is a 6 mile climb up into Hawi, which is the turnaround. Didn't seem too bad in the car! Ha! Yesterday, I met up with my Coach and the other two coaches that are here to race Kona as part of the Aussie T.E.A.M. Michael, my coach rode with me the 32 miles, giving me pointers, feedback and info about the course. He told me I would be a strong contender on the bike in my AG. My heart swelled a little more and confidence grew..uh, you talkin' about me?? What? Little self doubt voices got smaller. I have gotten stronger on the bike this year so logically I know this could be true..all I have to do is believe!

Went to the Expo yesterday, had my Cervelo checked out (yes it finally got here Sunday-that's another story!). All is well. We found a bike store that had my Bike Garmin TT holder. I forgot mine at home and this one is nicer.. Bike-check!

I ran around a little too much yesterday in the heat. Ahhh, the heat..more about that later..the Expo is outside. I saw Chrissie Wellington speaking briefly. I have seen a couple of Pros. No Apolo Ohno yet, there is still time! I felt a bit lost, overwhelmed and hot at the venue. H and I finally met up and I called it a day, knowing all the sun I had gotten yesterday could not be good..

We did however have a wonderful lunch with my Aussie teammate/Coach Jody, who couldn't be nicer. Jody, her husband, H and I enjoyed a beautiful time chatting over brunch overlooking Ali'i Drive. Jody was so kind to us in Australia, I consider her a good friend and sister in crime! She is also a KICK Ass athlete, look for her on the podium..

We also have sincerely enjoyed the company of Ted and Lori, old friends from way back in Triathlon. Ted was one of the first Triathlon teachers I met in Santa Fe back in 2001. He and I have both been trying to get to Kona for years. This year we made it!! He is as exited as I am-we are both like little kids in a candy store...dinners, meals with Ted and Lori have been priceless, not to mention to have home people here is simply amazing and supportive..go Ted!! He and I marched in the "Parade of Nations" on Tuesday. The contingent from the U.S. was slim, so many countries represented well so although I didn't get to "see" the Parade, H said it was awesome. I waved and yelled to the crowd. Again, overwhelming, chills-all of it!

H and I went to the "IronGents" dinner Monday night. Athletes "over 60" were invited with their spouses. The speakers were the over 80 y.o. competitors. There are FIVE over 80 competitors this year in Kona. That is simply amazing!! The original two of the only seven "Gents" from the 1980's are here. When we saw the 100 or so people in the room, I was simply amazed. It was mentioned that it has gone from 7 "over 60's" in the 1980's to probably 200 athletes over 60 this year. I am stunned by this info and proud of all us old Geezers!! Training for Ironman keeps us young, it really does! The human body can be pushed more than we think physically and in this pushing, there lies longevity IMHO. We went around the room and gave our "tips" for racing Ironman. It was light, informative, funny...I really felt like I do belong in this elite "older crowd" and am proud of it!

Our kids and Grandkids start arriving today. I am so excited for this as we open our little suite in the house to the big rest of the house to accomodate the expanding crowd. I have my only little cheering section of 16 here to support me. H's sister, my dear sister in law and her husband-some of my favorite family members, flew all the way from New Jersey to watch me race. It was an oddesey for them to get here, with missed flights, divergence to Hilo airport but we had dinner with them last night and they are such troupers, I am so glad they are here..I am humbled by all the support coming with me on this dream journey to the IM World Championships!

The ocean is amazing to swim in. I can see the bottom, fish, coral and all. I keep smiling underwater as I swim. No wetsuits allows so I wear my Skinsuit, which covers my Tri Gear and all is well swimming in the vast ocean. I can't wait for the swim. I feel strong and swimming is my best leg of the race, the most comfortable anyway for me...the swim start Saturday should be amazing. Apparently hundreds of spectators are there along with Hawaiin drums and a huge cannon to start the race. The Pros go off first, then men, then women. My wave starts at 7:00. So GLAD I won't be run over by a bunch of male athletes on the swim!! It's an efficient change from the "Mass start" in my opinion..

The bike will be hilly a bit, nothing I can't handle. I take it a bit slower up the hills, try to push over the tops, scream on the downhill hopefully. The climb up to Hawi is not particularly steep, just long and arduous. The wind can be super bad on the bike..crosswinds, headwinds, tailwinds-you get what you get. There is ZERO shade on the bike or run...Zero except maybe a couple of the first 10 miles of the run where there are a couple of trees on the side of the road, but no breeze there.

The run has a few rollers, there is Lava Rock everywhere on the Queen K, where the middle 10 miles of the run is. The infamous "Energy Lab", known for its incredible heat because of Lava, heat solar reflectors in the Energy Plant makes the heat feel like even more of oven than it already is. For the Pros and fast age groupers this may be quite challenging but I am thinking by the time I get to the Energy Lab the sun will be setting or it will be dark so maybe not so hot then? Who knows?..

Ok, the HEAT. Now I have no worries about the hills, the distance and the wind. But the HEAT and humidity scare me a little. I can go outside and think "oh it's not that hot". Then about 15 minutes later I come back inside and I am drenched in sweat. This is without feeling particularly hot, add the sun and the heat of an already hot day (it's been in the 80's) and it can be brutal. My Coach assures me that I will probably not feel so hot on the bike (hydrate, hydrate, hydrate and pour cold water on me each aid station). The inevitable wind will help. The run though, that's what separates the men from the boys. For myself, I will continue my run 4min/walk 1 minute method on the run and do my best to keep from overheating. I think I know my body well enough not to kill myself on the bike (lesson learned in Western Australia 5 years ago). Then the run will be what it is and I will stick to my plan..

How do I feel right now? Overwhelmed with all the well wishes on FB, the texts, the phone calls, I am so GRATEFUL for the support! People who don't even know me that well are wishing me good luck. I must close my eyes and try and absorb all the energy flowing my way right now. I will do my best to picture each and everyone of these folks in my head on the long lonely bits of the bike and run. I am full of gratitude. I can't even put it into words..This race is not even so much a race as a culmination of a 12 year Journey in Triathlon. I will no doubt learn something on Saturday about myself, I will learn many things! My goal is to enjoy the day, the experience and keep reminding myself I am in Kona in the Ironman World Championships! I will smile, stick to my plan and hydrate. The rest is up to the day and me keeping my head in the game. All in all it really is a long training day and my goal is to not take myself so seriously this IM. I am in the best shape ever for IM so the rest will take care of itself..I worked hard to get here and deserve it by golly!!

I am jittery nervous (normal Taper nervousness) this AM. I am suppose to be relaxing and have a massage later-yes!! My sweet husband, who I couldn't have done any of this without his support has gone to the bank, store, going to the Expo to pick up last minute items for me so I can sit here and "relax" while trying to put my thoughts down here and to pack up for the race. The ultimate Sherpa!!

So sorry if this is all a bit jumbled, that is how my brain is working right now. I stare at the ocean from our porch and think Wow in 2 days, I will be swimming biking and running out there..oh and crossing the Finish Line with a smile,on my face!!

Don't think I will have time to blog before the, race prep, last minute stuff..see you on the other side!!


Friday, October 3, 2014

One Week 'til Race Day!

This is it..after a little over 6 months, thousands of yards of swimming, biking hundreds of miles and running on all terrain and more miles than I can count-we are in the plane to Phoenix, where we catch our connection to Kona. We arrive at 2:00-ish Kona time, gaining 4 hours along the way. It should be an interesting adjustment jet lag wise.

Last week:

I have been waking up every morning at 3:30 AM, averaging 5 hours of sleep a night this week. As a result, I have been utterly stressed out, tired and cranky. It took me days to pack, this includes packing and repacking several times in order to have the weight just right and the perfect clothing choices. This makes me irrationally temporarily, it really it does. I told H this AM if I could pay someone to pack for me and organize my s#%*t before a trip, I would. On more than one occasion I thought I am seriously getting to old for this! The moment we got on the plane, I felt my body finally after a week, relax...I am thoroughly exhausted, I could sleep for days before the race. I won't because there will be so much to do, to see in Ironman Paradise. So many things to buy! The Ironman Store will be so happy to see me coming, I am planning on buying all the IM Kona momentos I can. My suitcase weighed 51.4 lbs, the agent said to make sure to take something out before coming home, and that she would let me go this time..Ha! Of course she didn't know I was headed to race souvenir heaven so getting back underweight will be a challenge.


We arrived in Kona Thursday night without any glitches..I am always happy to see my suitcase rolling on the luggage carousel. Whew! We got to our new home away from home the "Sugar Shack", a 4 Suite HUGE house complete with kitchens in each space and hanging out places galore. We are staying in part of the house until the whole fam arrives on Thursday/Friday-all 12 of them and we take over the whole house! My sister in law and her hubby arrive Monday, although they are not staying here. I have my own little cheering section and Crew! I feel so lucky and amazingly loved and overwhelms me..

We even a little pool where we can take a dip anytime when the day gets hot, and yes indeed it does get a little toastie and humid during parts of the day! We are right across the street from the ocean and have full access to the daily beautiful sunsets of Hawaii. So awesome..

I went for a swim yesterday off the Kona Pier, where the race start is. The ocean is warm, no wetsuits allowed but I have my skin suit, which is allowable in warm water during the race. Sometimes the lack of wearing a wetsuit during the 2.4 mile swim freaks folks out because of the lack of buoyancy but I love it, especially in the ocean where Mother Nature offers her own buoyant security with the salt water. I swam about 20 minutes. The water was so clear I could see fishies at the bottom of the ocean. Some have seen dolphins while doing training swims, I could handle that! I could have swam forever but saw my Aussie Coach at the beginning of the swim and he said just swim a bit to get my body use to the water. I woke up at 3:00 AM yesterday, the time change has not caught up with me yet obviously! I wake up at all kinds of odd times anyway at home so was thinking it could be a challenge for a few days here. I managed to sleep til 5:00 AM this morning (Saturday) Yee-haw!
My Iron brained, jet lagged head managed to mess up the day I was to meet my Aussie T.E.A.M. for dinner last night. I thought it was tonight so I started getting messages last night at 7:30 like "where are you?" I realized totally mortified, that I had caused our team to wait for us because of my error. We were already practically falling over asleep so I apologized profusely and went to bed thinking man am I a dope or what? geez..TEAM coaches told me no worries, not to stress.
After my amazing sleep in, I checked my email. Lo and behold I read that my bike was held up by "conditions out of our control" and I would not get my bike here until Monday or Tuesday instead of today. I used Tri Bike Transport to ship my bike, thinking it would be easier. With the awful problems I had last time I flew with my bike to Australia last Spring my thinking was that it would be less risky. Needless to say, I was PISSED! I called the TBT rep immediately, she knows me by name as I had been in touch with her repeatedly before I shipped my bike 3 weeks ago now (talking about my Tri Bike, I have been training at home since then on my road bike). She understood my frustration and called the guy in charge here. Long story short, I get a loaner bike today at 1:00 to use until my bike gets here..sometime in the next few days...Acccchhhhh! I mean, come on people, this is the biggest race of any athlete's life?? This delay is affecting many athletes so they will have a bunch of pissed off people on their hands today I would bet!
Oh well, expect the unexpected during an Ironman. I guess that includes before the race too! I saw my friend from Santa Fe-Ted on my run this AM. I almost started crying like a baby as I told him what had happened. A little sensitive aren't I?! Between standing up my friends last night and finding out my Cervelo is stuck somewhere in Honolulu I feel fragile and insecure...all part of the stress of the deal I suppose. I messaged my Coach and told him what happened. He of course is calm, reassures me all the training is done, and not to stress..Gotta love my Coach who has calmed me down many times during this journey!
I went for a run this AM around 6:30. This helped...all the extra oxygen makes me feel like a rock star. The short run yesterday afternoon and hour run this morning went really well. I didn't feel hot so much but was drenched in sweat both times afterwards. I am drinking tons of water and electrolytes to counteract the sweating..
My amazing hubby made me a nice breakfast when I got back and listened to me whine..OK, time to move on and go with the flow, roll with the punches. Hopefully all the drama is behind me and won't have to happen during the race next Saturday .

That's a week from today!! Holy cow, I am really gonna do this-Bring it!