There's a shopping cart from the underground parking garage occupying my condo's living room. It's got one bag filled with oatmeal, powders (Perpetuem is my preferred race day fuel), bananas, anti-cramp pills (Sport Legs), gels, Gu chomps and water. Another bag contains my running shoes, hat, anti-blister powder, sun block, extra socks, emergency gels, fuel belt and bottles. That gets checked in at Windsor High School the day before the race and I won't see it until T2. A third bag contains my wetsuit, and the fourth bag has my tri backpack with all the race day goodies. Yep, I think I'm good to go.
But that's not all! We still have roller suitcases for both Stephanie and me. I'm honestly not sure if everything will fit in the car. We'll have to do some creative packing tomorrow when we head out at 7 a.m. (Cue 6:15 a.m. wakeup call!) Fortunately, Stephanie is very good at that. The packing, not the wake-up call. (What a trooper though for taking a day off from work to get up at 6! Yes, I owe her one, if not many.)
My race countdown clock is officially on. I can feel the excitement building, and the tapering seems to be doing its job. I feel mentally like I'm building towards a huge crescendo. My body is peaking. My mind is peaking. My energy is peaking. And I'm just along for the ride.
Speaking of along for the ride, one of my college fraternity buddies, Rusty, is joining me to cheer me on this weekend. He's also checking out the Vineman course for his full Ironman coming up on July 31. I haven't seen Rusty since Lord knows when, but his kindness in driving three hours to get a hotel room for the night and help me celebrate this milestone means a lot. It's hard to remember the "sacred bonds" of fraternity life from 15 years ago. What seemed so important and "epic" back then is more or less trivial now in the scheme of things. Or so I had grown accustomed to feeling. Rusty, without saying a word, has reminded me that brothers remain that way in heart and action throughout life. I'm almost as excited to reunite with him as I am fired up to compete in this event.
It is now almost 11 p.m. The clock is ticking. I'm winding down for the night. Some stretching, then sleep. Then, the long drive to Napa Valley. And a weekend of memories that will hopefully last a lifetime.
There will be more Half Ironman events. And hopefully more Ironman events. But there will only be one FIRST Half-Ironman. And I am ready for it.
128 days and counting.