I'm staying in a hotel about five miles away from the Ironman Arizona start and expo area. Thank goodness.
The intensity at the expo is tangible and electric. Every athlete seems to be sizing up the person next to him or her, all while smiling and wishing each other the best of luck for a strong race, and oh-by-the-way subtly asking what time they expect to finish. The competitive adrenaline flow is kicking in, and by staying just far enough away to detox from it all, I can keep my head and nerves in check.
The excitement and pressure almost feels like mercury rising on a thermometer. This morning, I was still fresh from the happy-go-lucky mentality I enjoyed over the past few days. I was almost "below normal" on the thermometer for how mellow I felt. Steph was even spooked by my chillness. But by afternoon and into tonight's "mandatory" race course talk (aka "waste of time!"), I can tell I'm starting to head into the "race" mode I'm normally used to before big events. Because right now, the weight of the moment is starting to feel just a little bigger.
To try and stay loose, I'm just going to bed early tonight. One more night of relaxation before tomorrow, when the final 24 hours of preparation begin. I have plenty to do still: practice swim in the morning, pack all my special needs bags, affix stickers to the bike, and deliver it to the transition area. It can wait just a bit longer though.
Bob and I are also planning to drive the course once more to confirm race day strategy. Of course, there's a new wrinkle to that strategy: WEATHER. It's now supposed to rain (40%) chance, along with the potential for up to 20 mph winds.
Hey "Tri Asshole," this race ain't lookin' so easy now, is it?
Actually, I hope it rains. Bring it, I say! I'm like Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump, howling at the heavens to toss whatever nastiness she can muster to see if it will stop me. NO WAY. And ya know what? What more drama could be added to an already dramatic event than throwing in Mother Nature's temper to spice things up? Besides, I have a plan for how to handle whatever comes my way. If it rains, I just need to watch the painted portions of the road to avoid slippage and not take corners too hard. If it's super windy, I'll increase my cadence, lower my time expectations, and try to keep my heart-rate in check for the run. If it's both, well, I'll have quite a story to tell for years to come, though I think that part is already pretty much in hand.
No matter how I (over)analyze it, it's all about not panicking and realizing that in some way or another, I've been here before.
Even though I haven't quite. The spectacle of an Ironman is all its own in the world of triathlon. The only way I can describe it so far is what I'd imagine it must feel like to be a college football player in a major bowl game. Ironman itself, like the Rose Bowl, is much bigger than me or one participant. It is pageantry and a celebration wrapped around a sporting event. But I am a part of it. I'm playing in the big game this time. I'm not watching from the sidelines or at home on the couch.
We are now inside of 36 hours to race day. Game day.
My next blog post is my last before the race.
I'm starting to lock in. It is time. Time to start thinking about putting on the pads, grabbing the helmet, and taking the field. Under the big spotlight, amidst what's going to be a massive crowd in the thousands.
I can't friggin' wait. It's my time. My moment.
1 day and counting. ONE DAY.