All Mixed Up

The past few days were supposed to be chill.  I arrived early, intent to relax, acclimate at my own pace, and enjoy the moment.

Truth is, I don't know how or why the time has passed by so fast.  I'm practically exhausted.  I took a two-hour nap today and it wasn't enough. I haven't trained that much either -- swam on Wednesday and a light bike ride.  Swam and ran for a combined total of 40 minutes yesterday.  Biked easy for an hour today and ran a half-mile after.  But it's everything in between that can sap your energy.  Registration.  Bike Transport pick-up.  Expo.  Shopping.

Combine that with every athlete looking like a cover model for Lava Magazine, and suddenly my nerves have kicked in.  It's not whether I belong here -- I know I most certainly do.  It's more will I embarrass myself compared to these beautiful specimens all wearing the best compression gear and sporting the hottest bikes?  Everyone just looks so damn fast!  Have I trained enough?  Will those niggling injuries in my calf and Achilles hold up?  Am I eating enough?  Am I eating right?  Will the cold water of Coeur d'Alene Lake devour me?

Questions, questions, questions.

And for answers, all I have is the knowledge I've been through this before.  I've been through rain.  I've overcome wind.  Cramps.  Illness.  GI issues.  Pain.

I can do this.

It's just that sometimes, we're all human.  Especially when we're not competing for a Kona slot and everyone around us seems like they are.  It can eat at your confidence just a bit.  That's where I'm at right now.  Perhaps it's the danger of hanging out with the team near the race site.  Everything is so visible.  There's no escaping it.  The M-Dot is everywhere.  Almost to the point where I'm sick of seeing it.

So how am I coping?  Believe it or not, I'm reading my old blog posts. I'm seeing the same nerves two days before the race from last year.  Though I will admit that the excitement level going through this the second time is far less.  I'm nowhere near as giddy.  I wouldn't say I'm grim either, just filled with a strange mixed-up feeling that's part anxiety, part exhaustion, and part pride.

It's time to start focusing more on the pride part.  I have to remember all the solo workouts I've done this year.  How this year has been harder than last year due to a tougher work-life schedule.  But yet I'm still here.  And ready.  I know I'm ready.

I'm especially ready on the mental side, despite my confessions above.  See, my second Ironman has a huge advantage over the first -- Coeur d'Alene is absolutely beautiful!  We drove the course today and every mile is filled with little postcard memories that will make this the most beautiful place I've ever ridden (ahead of Malibu in Pacific Coast Highway).  And the run course is the most beautiful I've ever encountered too.

How is this an advantage?  Last year, I slogged -- and I mean SLOGGED -- through session after session in desolate, smelly, windy, barren Fillmore.  And I raced in windy, desolate, plain-looking Tempe and the surrounding areas.  I didn't realize how numb my mind had become to the pleasure of being on a bike ride or a run. Here, in gorgeous Idaho, I realize how well Ironman Arizona prepared me for IM CDA.

In Arizona, there's nothing to distract you from pain and suffering -- unless you count the In N' Out burger on the run course!

So no matter what happens beginning 7 a.m. on Sunday, I know this much: I will be at the starting line.  Next to the pretty people and tbe frigid water and pretty scenery.  And I will be ready to race.  I will be nervous.  Everyone around me will be nervous.  But, thanks to Chrissie Wellington, Sam Warriner, Andy Potts, Chris McCormack, Mirinda Carfrae and several others, I've learned a lot about how to meet the race head-on. With my head screwed on straight.  Acknowledging and respecting what's in front of me but never fearing it.  Storing positive memories in my memory banks, accessing them the way Macca does, like computer file folders.  I will call on several folders for 12 hours.

One of those folders is you, Mr. and Ms. Reader.  I know you're out there.  I know you're cheering for me too.  I won't let you down.  I'm racing for all of us -- Kona qualifiers or folks like me just happy to call ourselves Ironmen and Ironwomen.  We are age-groupers, but we are not average in any way.  We are IRONMEN and IRONWOMEN.

That is what we are.  That is what we're made of.  And that is what I'm about to become again on Sunday.

2 days and counting.