Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Pre-Race IMLOU Report

WTC requires all athlete's to check in by 5 pm on Friday. Heck, I wasn't going to miss an opportunity to get down to Louisville and check out 4th Street a little early. Who am I to question?

Once I got my kids off to school, I picked up Kathy and then drove down to Springfield to pick up Cheryl. Somehow our drive seemed to take forever even though we were all chatting it up about the race and hopes/dreams for the weekend. We didn't get to Louisville until 4 pm Eastern which was definitely later than I hoped, but in the end it worked out great.

Luckily, we ran into Scott & Gene as they were leaving the hotel. Being the gentlemen that they are, they helped us unload our van and then brought my Dolce and Cheryl's Cervelo up to our rooms for us. It certainly helped out quite a bit since we still had plenty of stuff in our hands even though the valet was bringing up most of our stuff. As soon as the rest of our luggage arrived, we went over to the expo and checked in.

Awesome back packs we received from WTC
A little thrill of adrenaline coursed through me as we picked up our athlete's bands and back packs. After 9 months of preparation, we were in the final countdown to the biggest day of our lives.

We came back to the room to sort out some of our gear. I decided to chill and do and what I do best: FACEBOOK. I noticed Aaron had put a post out on the T3 Louisville Spectator Board asking if anyone was going out for dinner and so I put on my social coordinator hat and tried to get as many T3 people as possible together for dinner.

I failed in some ways. The boys staying across the river: Chris, James, Pat, Ed & Joe, ate dinner without us. Grrr. At Hooter's of all places. Oh well. As I explained to Chris, I was here to not only experience IMLOU, but Louisville as well. Or at least 4th Street. If they wanted to stare at their gear all night in their hotel, they could just go right ahead and do that. I was going to enjoy a free evening especially knowing I had no big workouts the next day.

4th Street. A beautiful view late at night!
We coordinated schedules with Aaron, Cassie, Gene, Scott & Kathy. We decided to walk to 4th Street and find a restaurant which wasn't crowded and enjoy a nice dinner. We settled on Gordon & Biersch. I had the grilled mahi with pineapple avocado salsa....and a glass of wine....or maybe two. Heck, I didn't have any worries. Friday was a day of rest.

Everyone discussed what they wanted to do on Friday. Scott wanted to do a swim & bike ride, but he hadn't received an email confirming that his bike was in Louisville yet. He was a little frustrated waiting for his bike knowing he had a lot to do yet to get it ready. I think that was the very moment when I went. UH OH. I washed my swim suit after the open water swim Wednesday night back home and had it hanging to dry in my closet....and it was still there. Quick text to Jeff. PLEASE BRING MY SUIT!!!! We decided to touch base in the morning and see about doing a quick group ride, maybe even get the boys to meet us as well. Aaron shared some of experiences from IMLOU last year. As we were eating, Ed stopped by. He happened to be in the same restaurant eating with his family who surprised him by coming down early. Don't take this wrong, but that surprise would not have gone well with me. I wanted a couple of days where I could do what I needed to do, when I needed to do it without worrying about anyone else but Cheryl & I.

As we were walking out of G&B, I thought everyone was pretty settled on heading back to their respective hotels and hunkering down for the night. I thought about what I had told Chris and asked if anyone wanted to go get a drink. I just wanted to be a part of the 4th Street atmosphere a little longer. knowing that as each day passed we were going to get more and more serious about this Ironman thing. I wasn't ready for serious. 
Cheryl drew her line alright
And that's where Cheryl made her mistake. She declared that she has to draw a line. She's all in or nothing. Scott seemed to find that hilarious and so "drawing the line" became our theme for the night. 

Now keep in mind Cheryl is my niece. She was born during my freshman year of high school. Believe it or not, we've NEVER had a drink together. It's just not something we normally do. Whenever we are together, we are normally training or preparing for a race. Or at a family function and while my family doesn't object to having a beverage, it's just not a part of my routine. So, this was an opportunity for me to kick back with one of my best friends. Whoop whoop! Look out!

Gene, Scott, Aaron, Cheryl, me, Kathy & Cassie at Sully's
The night air was incredible. We sat on the outdoor patio at Sully's and enjoyed an evening with our T3 friends. Everyone was pretty relaxed and having a good time. Our waitress, Rachel, introduced herself. We learned she was going to be a lifeguard during the swim portion and then helping athlete's on the transition bus late race night. It was interesting talking to her and hearing her perspective on the race.
I think Cheryl was telling me about drawing the line.
I'm not really sure. Everything was hilarious at that point. 

I asked Scott to take a picture of Cheryl & I which turned out to be an epic fail.  Laughter was the call of the night and I couldn't seem to get serious enough to take a decent picture.
I think this was my Flirty Girl move. I don't know. 
BUT I did want everyone to see that we were IRONMAN Wannabees. Yes, see the awesome wristband?

We are athletes. See???
Finally a somewhat decent shot. Words cannot express how happy I was to go through this whole Ironman process with Cheryl. She's such an incredible person. I have so many great memories tied to her, her sisters and her mom (my own sister). Life is full of strange twists and turns and when Cheryl's dad died, it had a MAJOR impact on my life, but that's for another blog post.

I look like I'm worried ?!?! What the heck. 
After watching Cheryl flirt with the bar back for a while, we finally DREW the LINE and called it a night.

Friday morning we woke up, ate some of the egg muffins I packed for the weekend and decided we wanted to test our bikes to make sure nothing had happened while transporting them to Louisville. As usual, Cheryl let me lead on our 20 mile bike ride. We rode from the Galt House down River Road and did a simple out and back. Cadence sensor is working great. No problems with brakes rubbing tires. We were good to go.

My kids did not appreciate my sense of color. 
The rest of the day was wide open. We had lunch at Panera and walked through the expo where I bought a pair of compression socks from the hunky Australian salesman. No really, I didn't buy the socks because he had a nice accent. I just like bright colors and I needed the compression socks. Really. Friday afternoon I left Cheryl in the room to take a nap and went down to the 3rd floor lounge to hydrate. I met another first time Ironman wannabe who was waiting for his wife to finish her appointment at the Galt House spa. Oh boy, that sounded dreamy to me right then.

Friday night was the athlete's dinner. T3 took up 4 tables as most of us tried to sit together. FINALLY! I didn't fail as the social coordinator. Part of the evening was extremely interesting....and then part of it was awfully boring. The most interesting and terrifying part? The lady who did IMLOU in 2010 and fell apart at mile 20 of the marathon. SERIOUSLY??? I would belly crawl the last 6.2 miles if I had to. I can't imagine the heart break of getting that far and not accomplishing my goals. Cheryl & I talked about her the entire weekend.

After the athlete's dinner, we walked down the riverfront for team pictures. Gene's son, Nick, had a press pass and wanted to get some good shots before and during IMLOU. 21 athletes lined up on the walls along the Great Lawn and the Ohio River. After pictures, I decided to go across the river to the Indiana side and have a beer with my friend, Glen, who had just gotten into town on Friday. Cheryl, however, decided she needed to go back to the hotel and prepare her transition bags. She wanted to make sure she had everything before Jeff and her mom left for Louisville in the morning. So I wound up in Indiana...at Hooter's of course...with 8 guys. Some of the best 8 guys I know. Each one of them had been my support at one time or another and I was glad to spend some time with them not in a lake, not on a bike and not sweating like a day laborer.

T1 Junk
On Saturday, WTC arranged for an open swim. Any athlete could come down to the swim start and test out the water. Because I was waiting for Jeff to bring my suit, I decided not to go. Anything I wore would still be wet when I had to turn in my transition bags so I decided I would be fine. Maybe I should have. Maybe then I would have realized we had a lot more to swim once we got past Towhead Island, but maybe not. Oh well.

Saturday morning Cheryl & I check and re-checked and re-checked again our transition bags. Paranoia about forgetting something set in.

T2 - a lot simpler for sure
I even prepared my Special Needs bags which we didn't have to drop off until Sunday morning. Most people probably put important stuff like nutrition, salt tablets, aspirin in there. Me? I put in a little treat for myself...HOT TAMALES. I knew I couldn't have too many because they would sit in my stomach like a box of rocks, but I figured it was a good excuse to have some candy. I needed sugar, right? I used Hot Tamales throughout my training - when I could hide them from my kids. I mean really... as a diabetic you only get to have pure sugar in rare moments. I was going to take advantage of it.

Saturday afternoon, we went to the Sports & Social Club with Scott, Gene and his wife, Teri. We had a nice lunch predicting who was going do what on race day. Predictions were flying about the top finishers. Sadly, my name wasn't among them. Hahaha like I care. All I wanted to do was finish and show everyone I know that if you put in the time you can do anything!
My volunteer, Bob, helped me find my rack. 
Jeff and the crew arrived around 3 pm Saturday afternoon. My sister, Dera. My niece, Tiffany (aka our personal photographer). And my 3 girls. It was good to see them and have them there to share in this experience with us. We waited until they arrived to walk down to the transition area for the bike check in. I knew Jeff would want to see it anyway. So I thought I should save myself a trip.  
At bike check-in
 I took a deep breath as I looked at all of the bikes racked and ready to roll on Sunday morning. The time was drawing near and I still felt that crazy sense of calm. I wish everyone could have felt that way. I was just living in the moment and taking it all in.

We had dinner at Ri Ra for a group of 18. Ugh. Way too big. Way too late to eat dinner. We discussed tattoos while at dinner though. Tiffany drew up some more ideas for Cheryl & I. Jury is still out on the design, but I'm pretty sure it's going on the back of my right shoulder. That way I can impress my class participants by subtly showing them their instructor is an Ironman.

Pure joy....it plays over in my head again and again. 
Bedtime came and believe it or not, I slept. I did not sit up thinking as I was afraid I would do. I simply drifted to a peaceful slumber knowing Sunday was going to be a long, trying day and I needed the rest.

The rest of the story? Well, it's old news now, but 9 months after quitting my full time job, 8 months after registering, 4 years after doing my first sprint triathlon, I became an Ironman.

Yep, it never gets old.

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