Saturday, September 09, 2006

One Day To Go

It is the day before Ironman.

I met CC at the swim start for a very short swim. She was testing out two different wetsuits to decide which one to wear for the race. I got in the water, swam for ten minutes out, and then for ten minutes back. The water was choppy on the way back and it was foggy, which made it very hard to see the buoys. On the plus side, the water felt like a nice warm bath compared to the air temperature. CC and I chatted on shore for a while after our swim. My friends CH, J, and RVH stopped by and I introduced everyone. There was a nice positive energy there and a lot of excited anticipation for tomorrow.

After the swim I went on a short run and a short bike ride. I am nervous about the weather for tomorrow and am not sure what clothes I am going to wear. I keep going back and forth about what I should pack. I don't want to overdress and have to carry things, but I don't want to freeze. I don't own the right gear to be comfortable in rain. I went to the store and bought a bike rain jacket, but am not sure if it is quite right.

CC picked me up at 2 and we went down to the Terrace to drop off our bags and our bikes. She did a run-through of both transitions with me so I know where I will have to go. That was very helpful to me, because it is complicated and doesn't seem to be explained anywhere.

I ate a bowl of plain pasta at 3pm and a personal pizza at 6pm. I wasn't that hungry, but I figured I need to eat extra. I was stuffed after the pizza, so hopefully those extra calories will come in handy tomorrow. Bedtime 7:30pm.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Two days to go


Three days until the race. I am getting more and more nervous. This is really going to happen. There is so much time to anticipate everything that could go wrong that it is making me crazy. I have some lists of tasks to do so I am trying to just do what I need to do and know that things always work themselves out on race day.

I went down to the water today to meditate this morning before returning to registration for another shift. As I was wandering by, 9-time Ironman world champion Paula Newby Fraser was giving a talk. I stopped to listen for a while. She had some great race day advice about making sure to go as hard as you go in training. She said that she sees a lot of athletes that go hard in training but hold back too much during the race. She said that on the run your legs will no doubt feel shredded but not they are not too shredded to run on so you have to just keep going. She said to push a little if you are feeling good because you are going to feel tired no matter what. I will think of this. She also said that everyone is nervous, and even she herself is usually very very nervous and sick to her stomach.

I should not have signed up to work again this morning. Last year when I was not racing, it was no problem to work twice. This year, the athletes were giving me nervous anxiety. I didn't feel like talking with them anymore and I had trouble being friendly and cheerful while explaining everything. I would have wanted a better registration experience than I could give to these people and I felt bad about not being able to provide them with that. 30 minutes in I was ready to go and I did end up leaving an hour early. CC came to my line to deal with a registration issue and I left with her to go outside and eat a sandwich and decompress.

I spent the afternoon preparing my transition bags and special needs bags. I also went to the store to get the food I want to eat before and during the race. There are so many details to remember, I am freaking out about forgetting something or not having thought of everything. My five bags are all laid out on my living room floor with their contents on top.

This evening was the race dinner and athlete meeting. CC and I met down at the Terrace so we could sit together. The meal was a complete carb-fest with pasta and sauce, bread, potatoes, salad, and cooked vegetables. No protein in sight! We talked to two guys across the table from us - one of whom had just done Ironman Germany a month ago, and one like me for whom this would be his first Ironman. The dinner program was entertaining and funny, hosted by Mike, the voice of Ironman... the guy who announces at the finish line that "You [fill in name], are an Ironman!". They played a game with the audience to see who had lost the most weight training, and it was a woman who had lost 101 lbs! They gave her a deluxe scale and she was very modest about the whole thing. They also featured the youngest and oldest male and female athletes. The ages for the women was 67 and 19, and for the men 77 and 18. The event was fun, and I have now started to wonder if maybe I should sign up for next year after all. I feel so lucky to be a part of this...

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Three days to go

Swim - 1.2 miles, lake
Bike - 20 miles

The swim course is measured off and one line of the buoys are up. I went down to the swim start today to preview the course as part of the official Gatorade sponsored morning swims. Many of the athletes have arrived. It was a cool morning with a beautiful sunrise. My friend CC was floating in the water out at the start when I got in. We talked a little about where we would place ourselves on race day in order to get a good draft. I am thinking that I will put myself towards the back of the first third. I swam a loop of the course at an easy pace and swam back to shore in 39 minutes. The water was a perfect comfortable temperature.

There is an Ironman backpack that I have had my eye on for two years and finally was able to buy today. I didn't allow myself to buy any Ironman stuff until I was actually doing the race. It has been a long wait but I know I earned every bit of that backpack :) I also got some Ironman run shorts, socks, a waterbottle, and a winter hat. It was hard not to buy the whole store. I will get a few more things when I finish and I have so much stuff now that I am now nearly in danger of not being able to go out of the house without wearing something that says Ironman.

I worked Ironman registration from 9-1 giving people their packets and explaining about their numbers, bike stickers, and gear bags. Since I was working, CC and I were allowed to go through the line first for registration as guinea pigs to test out the procedure. This was perfect because it meant that we didn't have to wait in a two hour line. As the first people through, the procedure was a little rough around the edges and some of the volunteers didn't quite know what they were doing. I enjoyed working and talking to the athletes. I was in a good mood and really excited for the race.

After my volunteer shift, I went to the bike shop and figured out my issues with putting air in my Zipp wheels. I got some CO2 to practice with and it turns out that luckily my CO2 pump works with the Zipp valves even though my normal pump does not. I practiced filling it with 100% success. So my solution to flats is now set. On race morning, I will have to find a pump to fill the tires though. That is not ideal and may create some stress, but someone there is sure to have one of the "smart pumps", as they call them, that will work. One of about 1000 anxieties down.

I went on a short ride with my race setup and stopped at my friend BH's house to borrow a rain jacket. It may or may not rain on Sunday but I want to be ready for it. Anxiety 2 of 1000, down.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

keeping calm

Bike - about 15 miles, 54 min
Run - 2 miles, 17:30

So after all my tire struggles yesterday, there were no issues during my ride this morning. At least I know I can successfully change a tire. The Ironman people are starting to arrive in Madison. They are out swimming the course and walking around. Ironman North America has arrived at the Terrace and began setting up this morning.

I am feeling more nervous and anxious today than yesterday. I am so excited to be participating this year, after several years of only seeing Ironman from the outside. My mind tells me that I am ready because I know I have done the training. I have visualized the race about a million times in my head, but has reality sunk in that I am actually going to do this? That's what I am not sure of. I am worried about the unknowns of how my nutrition and pacing strategy will work, and I am worried about the fact that there is a chance of rain. I am still worried about getting a flat.

I feel lucky to be so well supported by all my friends who are coming to see me and I feel lucky that I am able to compete in something so amazing. With volunteering, preparing myself to race, and going to Ironman-related events, the next four days are going to be intense 24-7 Ironman. I know what my last preparations are, so I just need to do them... calmly and relentlessly like my mantra from training says. This is the final stretch.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

tire anxiety

Swim - 1.2 miles, 36 min
Run - 5 miles, 41:30

Both of these were solid efforts. At this point, everything I do is just to keep my body feeling sharp. Nothing too taxing or long. It was a beautiful morning. I am putting off my gear preparations and special needs bags making until Friday because I don't want to spend the entire week stressed about it.

The Zipp 606 valve stems are giving me some trouble because they aren't the standard shape and don't fit my air pump very well. I got some extenders and those are even harder to deal with, so I am back to the originals. I practiced changing two tires and punctured a tube while attempting to put the air pump on one of the valves. What I really need to do is practice with the C02 cartridges that I will have with me on race day. This all makes me nervous. I am praying that I do not get a flat.

Monday, September 04, 2006


Bike - 24 miles, 90 minutes

The weather forecast for Ironman day says rain and high of 65. So much for my heat acclimation. Now it's time for cold and wet acclimation. I went biking in the rain this morning to see what it would be like. It wasn't too bad, but I feel like I need to be more cautious at high speeds and my brakes aren't as quick. I wore my nylon rain jacket (not aero, and not completely waterproof) to keep some of the water off. If it truly is going to rain for the race, I would like to get a waterproof jacket that fits closely. The rain came down on and off and I began to get a little cold. 90 minutes in the rain was fine, but 13 is another story. I have been through so much, that I kind of feel like one more adversity doesn't matter. On the other hand, a sunny day would make the whole thing just that much more pleasant. It is too soon to know for sure what will happen so I can't get too worried. As long as the swim is not cancelled for lightening, I feel like I can deal with whatever comes up.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

short all three

Swim - 1.2 miles, one lap of the IM course, easy - 40 min
Bike - 32 miles, 2:10 - Monona Terrace to Verona and back, easy out and harder back
Run - 4 miles, 36 min - on IM run course, solid effort

These distances felt short today - by the time I got warmed up in each sport it was time to go to the next one. I stayed completely on the course for this workout and practiced visualizations. For the bike it took me about 15 miles for my legs to start feeling warmed up. I need to go easy at first anyway so I made myself do this for practice. The run was the typical dead legs for the first mile and then feeling fine after that.

Now that my body is getting rested, somehow I feel like it is be getting harder to push. When everything hurt anyway, it felt the same to go hard or easy. Now my body is back to "normal" and going hard is hard again.