Gear Bag Prep Walk-Through & A Tear-Jerker

I believe this will be the last blog post I'll make before the race tomorrow morning. The gear bags are packed.  Below is a video of what's in them:

This morning, I made what I consider to be the smartest choice in my time here so far.  I skipped the final Fortius team 7 a.m. swim.  I slept instead, and didn't make the team breakfast either.  It's not that I don't want to hang out with my teammates.  I love them!  I can't wait to race with them tomorrow and celebrate after.  It's just that I needed some "me" time and space -- alone -- to focus the way I typically do before a race. It's just that time in my preparation to get quiet, think about the plans I've made, the journey to getting this point, and simply shutting out as many other distractions as possible.

This led to a very special moment during my own breakfast this morning, at a small restaurant called Shari's next to the Amertiel Inn where I'm staying.  It was a little after 8:15 a.m., and the restaurant was quiet.  I sat alone at the counter, and the waitresses were near their station chatting about how much they love Ironman.  Then, they looked over at me and saw I was smiling.  One woman, Tara, asked me for my race number and told me she was going to make a sign to cheer for me the next day.  It's her family's tradition to support athletes whom she either knows or who visit the restaurant in the days preceding the race.  I was ecstatic -- I needed some motherly TLC and excitement and that's what I got. I just never expected it to be in a restaurant diner.

Tara went on to tell me a story why she loves Ironman so much.  She and her daughter watched an older man in his 70s struggle to finish last year.  They were two blocks from the line and the man's legs were buckling.  He looked weak and disoriented.  Tara's daughter started to cry and asked her mom what they could do to help -- it was clear this person wasn't going to make it two blocks.  Tara had an idea.  She told her daughter to go to the other side of the sidewalk chute.  Then, Tara went to the other.  They both started talking to the man from the chute, asking him if he saw the amazing bird in the sky they were trying to find.  He said he hadn't.  Then, Tara and the daughter started describing the bird in detail while walking ever so slowly towards the finish line.  The man was asking about the bird while walking slowly, making progress.

Finally, Tara and daughter stopped.  The man stopped.  He was exasperated.  "Why are we stopping?" he asked, exasperated.

Tara said, and she had a tear in her eye in the restaurant when she did: "This next part is only for you to walk."

He had made it to the finish line, thanks to the help of a concerned resident and her daughter.

THAT is awesome.  I believe I was meant to meet this person today.  She was put in my life for a reason.  She reminded me how special Ironman is to so many people, what I love about it so much.  The people.

I can't wait to see her tomorrow.

Less than one day to go.  It's time.