IMAZ prelude

Ahhhh IMAZ. It was my focus for the last 12 months and finally, the big day is over! I’ve put off writing the recap because life has just consumed me upon return. That and I wanted a few days to sort out my feelings and wrap my head around what just happened :) It’s gonna be a long one, grab some popcorn.

So Thursday night, Norm and I flew in to Phoenix after work. After minor delays and a really slow rental car experience, we finally got to our hotel at about 1:30am. Only to be told that they were full and the room that was supposed to be ours was essentially out of order. They gave us some nearby hotel options and asked us to go there instead.

What?

It was pretty upsetting to say the least, but it was late and I knew I wasn’t in the right state of mind so I begrudgingly took one of the options nearby and headed over so we could get some sleep. Not the way I envisioned starting out this weekend, but you gotta roll with the punches! I told myself this is just the first trial of many in the upcoming days. It’s not what happens to you but how you handle it that matters.

Friday morning I woke up feeling a little better but I had a full day ahead of me. My original plan was to get to the expo at 9am when it opened but with the late night fiasco it was wiser to just get my sleep and go a little later. It definitely helped to go early though, here’s how I attacked the check in process:

  • Stop by Tri Bike Transport to get Rue, have her pedals put on
  • Drop her off at Race Day Wheel; good thing this was #2, the wait was 3 hours!!
  • Get CO2 cartridges next door at the bike shop (couldn’t fly with them)
  • Asked Norm to stand in the athlete check in line (already a mile long)
  • At the same time, pillage the store and get all my IMAZ goodies :D

This worked out pretty well. I was worried they’d run out of sizes for me so I was anxious to go buy all the things. Too bad there was a long line there as well, but it moved faster than the athlete check in line. I got my things, rejoined Norm and still had to wait some more.

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Almost there!

Got my wristband (which I’m still wearing a week later), my race packet, backpack, and a bike multitool. Nifty!

The original plan was to take Rue out for a spin and do my t-run but since we had a few hours to kill, we went to get some lunch. I ended up taking Norm to the street I grew up on, which was about 15 minutes from the race site. As I mentioned in my IMAZ volunteer recap last year, one of the main reasons I chose Arizona as my first Ironman race is because this city marks a pivotal point in my early life, when my parents first moved to the United States and my future was transformed forever. I figured it was fitting that the magic should occur again here.

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Prepare for the invasion!!

So in the afternoon we returned to get Rue. I had already packed my bag with my cycling and running gear that morning and was anxious to get on the road. Too bad in my haste to get ready in the dark, I packed two left feet for my toe socks. Totally didn’t even think that would be an issue >”<

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Turned one inside out and saved the day.

First shake out ride was 40 minutes and felt way too fun. The area was flat, the day was clear with a slight breeze and perfect temperatures. I loved the Zipp 404s that I rented and was ready to rock this course. Later during my transition run, I passed the hotel I was supposed to stay at and thought “eh, what the heck”. I went inside and talked to the supervisor, described our fiasco last night and told her I wanted to understand what happened now that my brain is functioning. After a brief discussion, she managed to move us back to the original hotel for the rest of our stay and comped us one night. Sweet!

I rushed back to tell Norm since it was getting dark fast and I had to ride my bike the 4 blocks over. I burst in the door and told him “Pack everything up, we’re leaving!!”. Poor guy was so confused. Finally everything was back the way it should have been, and the stress started to subside. Next task was figuring out all my gear bags!

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This is the first time I prepped so much stuff for T2 but as I’ll learn later, I forgot the most important thing.

On Saturday morning, despite wanting to sleep in till noon I dragged Norm back to the expo for the practice swim. This year they only allowed us to test out the waters during one 2-hour block on Saturday. Coach told me to swim for about 20 minutes or so, which was exactly what I needed to do one loop of the 400m buoy line they set up.

The good:

  • Water temperature was PERFECT! Almost bordering on the warm side even for this thin skinned creature.
  • The water didn’t smell or taste bad, despite its appearance

The bad:

  • Extremely low visibility. I couldn’t see past my elbow
  • Murky color was definitely off putting
  • The stair entry! We have 5 sets of stairs for 3000 athletes?? What is this floating start business?!

I had a mild moment of panic shortly after I entered the water, but it was mostly because I’m swimming in a completely unfamiliar body of water. Kayakers bobbed about, keeping a watchful eye as we flailed around, but I had to flip over on my back and let the fight or flight response subside. It was a really good thing I did the practice swim, because it let me all the anxiety out before race day.

I came out of the water happy, knowing I had a good chance of keeping my sh*t together on race day. Then I was out for a 20 minute bike and 20 minute run. Maybe I was being too sensitive, but on the bike I noticed this creaking sound and my heart sank. Did I manage to crack my bike on the way here? Is it the wheels? Do I have to withdraw from the race because I don’t have a functioning bike?? I left my coach a frantic voicemail and brought Rue back to the wheel shop as soon as I could and asked them to inspect it in case they over-tightened something. The gentleman at Race Day Wheels was super patient, despite knowing I was most likely over reacting to a non-issue. He gave my bike a once over, which was great because the line for the bike tech next door was now a mile long. He said mechanically everything is fine, it might just be a loose pedal, or insufficient grease somewhere. Off I went back to Tri Bike Transport because they had put my pedals back on the day before, and begged the people there to double check the pedals again. I was such a nutcase. They were also super awesome and tightened the pedals, took her for a test ride where they reported the creaking was gone, and even helped me do some other minor fixes that had been bothering me forever.

Thank you, Race Day Wheels and Tri Bike Transport!! You guys are so awesome!

Finally pleased with my equipment, it was time to drop off Rue and my transition bags.

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Crisis averted. Time to calm down and get some calories in. I didn’t know Ike’s expanded outside of San Francisco, but we found one in Tempe and tried their ASU special.

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Refueling like a champ.

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Next up was a tour of the bike course. Maybe it’s cuz I grew up here but I find the desert to be really beautiful. I remember thinking the bike course felt so long even as we were cruising at 65 mph….and this was only 1 lap of it!! But it definitely helped calm my nerve to see just what I was up against.

Finally we had our “early bird dinner”…which ended up taking forever…Note to self: stop seeking out pasta restaurants the night before a big race in a small town. Everyone will be there and no one will get to eat till 2 hours later. And then it was off to bed by 8pm.

Here goes nothing.

 

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