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!!