as it becomes a reality

so after a year of thinking, planning, training, crying, smiling, eating, biking, swimming, running, weight training, meditating, and visualizing – it’s here. my life was all aiming for july 22nd the day i was to depart on the big adventure to lake placid. and yesterday was july 22nd. so i woke up early and went out to ride 40 easy miles. and i did as such and somehow in a ride that was easy and without a watch i rode faster than i had ridden in a long time. and it was nice. i finished my last few things that needed to get packed and…. waited. we weren’t leaving until 11:30 so i could pick up my pre-race meal of nancy chang’s after eating and getting a meal to go we were off.

s had taken care of the entertainment for the road trip by downloading “serial”. i was pretty engrossed in the podcast so the ride went by quickly without much fanfare. as we approached lake placid and turned onto 73 my heart quickened a bit. it was exciting to arrive in keene and begin to tell s about the course a little bit. as we drove up the giant hill that i would descend my excitement was building. we arrived in town and checked in to our hotel. we brought everything upstairs and unpacked a bit. we went to the grocery store (a regular old hannaford) to pick up a few staples. we returned to the hotel and i organized a bit more and then i ate and went to bed.

i woke up refreshed and went out to a short 4 mile run. the town was asleep and the sun was rising. there was a crisp in the air and it was refreshing to run. i ran around the lake twice and watched and smelled as the town began to wake up. i felt wonderful as i came upstairs. i made breakfast in the room and took a shower.

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after a bit s and i went over to the green goddess and the scape cafe. i wanted to ensure that i ate enough so i was starting early. i got a delicious breakfast sandwich and a juice and had some KOMBUCHA ON TAP. now that makes me excited!! they had kombucha.on.tap. it was incredible and delicious.

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we returned again to the hotel and i began to get a little nervous about going to check in. i was planning on going for 10:00 and staying for the athlete briefing. i was struggling with leaving the hotel room but i knew couldn’t or shouldn’t wait any longer. i headed down alone and began to get a little emotional. i swallowed the emotion and focused on breathing. as i entered the conference center and was directed upstairs i was glad i had chosen to go early today rather than wait. there weren’t a ton of people there and i was already feeling overwhelmed. i got into the first line to get my paperwork. the explained the different sheets and that i needed to read them and make sure that my emergency contact wasn’t racing. duh. of course. then. i headed to the scale. yes. the scale. i was prepared for this and somehow as i looked back at the volunteers who were manning the scales i was relieved to see that they were all overweight. i know that sounds horrible and totally messed up. but when you’re struggling with seeing your weight and you know you need to eat for the next few days and you imagine some hot chiseled human weighing you you begin to feel a bit bad about yourself and the reverse is true. so i got weighed and they wrote it down and then i had to go sign a bunch of paperwork saying i wouldn’t sue anyone and i was choosing to do this dangerous thing. so i signed away. ha. then you have to turn the paperwork in. then you head over to get your packet. the dude went over all the stickers and the cap (pink!) and then attached a bracelet to my wrist. this bracelet is basically the ironman club for the weekend. it allows me into the transition area and all the volunteers are nicer. it also allows me to quickly sum up folks i see on the streets if they are racing or they aren’t (or they haven’t checked in yet).

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the pictures don’t look very confusing or overwhelming and it wasn’t. i wish there were more signs to help me understand during the process but honestly it probably would’ve been a waste because it is sort of a blur.

the last thing that happens after getting the bracelet is you go get your gear bags (more on this later) some fliers and your timing chip. then they send you to the oval to get your backpack. i was a bit confused by this. i didn’t really understand why they didn’t have everything together. then i headed down to the oval (which is basically the “hub” for the race – it houses transition, tents, medical and the finish line)

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so i headed into the oval and couldn’t really figure out where to get my backpack. then it dawned on me – it’s in the merchandise tent. of course. ironman is the best marketing – they know how to get you and your money. so i headed in and trying hard not fill my arms with everything i could see in my size. i also knew i wouldn’t wear too much stuff anyways. so i decided to only get things that i could *only* get here – nothing that has the m-dot alone, nothing that has a cute saying – only ironman lake placid things. so i bought a few things and got my backpack. which is huge and sweet.

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after i got everything into that backpack and left the tent i made my way quickly back to the room. i was feeling good and not overwhelmed or nervous and i wanted that feeling to stay. s was surprised that i was back and i couldn’t figure that out until he looked at the itinerary (yes i have an itinerary) and asked how the athlete briefing went. i was like oh duh i forgot. ugh. i knew i would need to head back down the hill to listen to that today. i relaxed a bit and then we headed out to lunch. we went to the good bite for lunch (amazing of course) and took pictures with the snow in front of the hockey rink.

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then i headed back to the hotel to relax and get my bags ready. i knew i could wait till tomorrow or even saturday morning but i really wanted to make sure i had everything and get all the “stuff” done so i could sleep well the next few nights.

so the deal is… you get a bunch of bags: a morning clothes bag, a bike bag, a bike special needs bag, a run bag and a run special needs bag. instead of having a traditional transition area you have these bags plus the special needs bags. so you have to load everything you think you’ll need into these bags and you may or may not have access to the other bags when you are in transition. i had already separated all my stuff and bought enough tiny vaselines and tiny chapsticks to get me through this race but i still wanted to recheck. i also wanted to make sure that everything fit into the bags. i was a bit nervous because i felt like i had packed everything.

IMG_8310so i laid out my bags and started unloading and checking and laying out my stuff. i put the fuel into the bottles and put those into a pile to add water to these on saturday night. i unwrapped the gummies i might use and put them into a baggie. i stuffed my fuel into my bento box for my bike. i stuffed my fuel and bandaids and glide into my fuel belt. and then i wrote my number onto each bag. i put my shoes into bags. i am positive that nothing will get wet due to my obsessive ziplock bagging of everything and i’m positive that no one will say that i didn’t pack enough fuel. for whatever weight i have lost through the training i’m literally putting it all on with my fuel and water bottles. but hey i’m not bonking anywhere. good nutrition and fueling is the strategy to keep my moving.

so here is what it looked like before bagging:

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the last pile is the stuff that i need to fill and bring in the morning of the race. and amazingly everything fit into the bags! i added a few inspirational things to my run bags to help with morale at that point in the race. pam gave me a great postcard that’ll be both helpful and funny in the moment during the last 13.1 miles because pam hates to run. 🙂

so after all that, s came with me to the athlete briefing. we went down and listened for about 35 minutes to all the ins and outs of the race. most of the stuff i knew from the athlete guide (yes i’ve read it a few times) and from being here last year and riding the course. i actually felt pretty great about the cut off times and the race overall sitting there. and we were sitting mere yards from the finish line. it was pretty awesome.

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after a wonderful day which ended up not being stressful or overwhelming at all s and i had a lovely dinner and returned back to the hotel.

my goal is to write a blog post everyday i’m here except sunday and monday. this is both to keep some folks in the loop and for myself to document this culmination of this journey because i have very little memory lately! so i hope you enjoy the thoroughness!

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