That’s how I’ve always thought about night before each of my previous Ironman events. Bags all checked, bike set and gone, and now all fed with only an hour or two before a long, restless sleep. That is the night before Ironman.
But this, for me, seems to be no longer.
I’m not sure if it’s because this is my third go at the Iron distance, or maybe because I’ve now race early and often over the last few years, many of which have been big races (for me). I’m guessing it’s the latter.
When you do some really big races, such as Ironman, often enough, where say you have two A-races spread throughout your season, coupled with having been there before in a similar race, you come to learn that worry is something you will do — it’s a given. Will I survive the thrash ‘n splash of the mass swim start? Am I strong enough on the bike to pull off an “easy” bike split in a still respectible time? Will I be able to run? Will I come close on my hydration, and will I eat enough but not too much?
These are things I, along with every other athlete getting ready to do this race, are worried about. And these are things I’m worried about. But to be honest, I am not *worrying* about them. I wonder about them, but they do not occupy my thoughts much as they had in my earlier go’s at this distance.
It’s a good place to be.
So although usually this time, two hours before slumber, should be the calm before the storm, it is only calm. If there is ever a worrying thought, it is the mass swim start, but even that, and even if I seed myself wrong and get thrashed, I know I will survive, I know I will punch on, and I know I will climb out of the water and get onto the bike. This wasn’t so in my previous two.
The Calm Before the Show!
Today was a very busy day, perhaps too busy, but in all, it was filled with a few surprises, much friendship, and many gatherings.
After my last writing, I finished packing my gear bags and dropped them off and checked my bike in. Flow in transition was a bit confusing, but I got the maze of my anticipated travels down just right. Or right enough.
Once my I was done with transition detail, I was out of there, heading off by myself for a nice quiet lunch. I went back to that hole in the wall deli, ordered lunch to go, and zipped down the block to a park beside a small lake, where I found a nice park bench to enjoy lunch. Down by the water were a collection of summer kids trying to catch sun fish. Meanwhile a local neighbor pushed her canoe into the water for a gentle paddle.
After lunch I came back to the hotel room and, before long, headed back out to meet a bunch of mates from my local triathlon club (Trifury) down by the Olympic Oval. We chatted, snapped a few photos, and shared many laughs. They even had club shirts made up with participants names. So we posed for another photo. Nearly an hour and a half later, I scooted out of there. My intention was to hook up with them for dinner, but since I had been on my feet for so long, and since I was completely chatted out, I decided to head back to the hotel and find something for dinner nearby. I was regretting the decision until later…
Meanwhile, when I had a good cell — cell phone service sucks up here — I called Tithers to wish her well, another mate, and the Ironmate. Sucks for me because every time I talk with the Ironmate, we lose connect, like, within the first 10 seconds. Haven’t spoken to her yet in any one single complete sentence. Either way, I know the cat, who had surgury the other day, is doing well; I know she loves me; and I know her family is already getting on her nerves; and I know she misses me. I also know that she only misses me becuase of the family and the nerves. But hey, she misses me. It’s all good.
I miss her too, moreso since I know she will not be here. I was originally planning on not wearing my wedding band during the race because, well, I can’t swim with it or I’d lose it. But I’ve decided to slip the ring in the morning into my Bento box. Then I can slip it on my finger once I climb out of the water and get onto the bike. And then she’ll be with my throughout the entire race. I’ll like that by the time I hit the run. And of course I will also have my Make It Happen! wristband. Then again, I don’t go anywhere with out it. It reminds me to pull up my big boy diaper when the going gets tough, and to keep moving, keep plugging, because the only one who will get me to my dreams and goals is… me.
Finally back at the hotel, I decided to walk up the road a quarter of a mile to check out these two Italian restaurants. The first was packed, with a waiting line outside, and no bar to shimmy in on. The second was a old but very cute little two story house converted into a tiny restaurant. As I walked up, a set of eyes sitting at a table on the deck of the house trained on me, then another set of eyes, both from a couple.
“Are you Thor?” I shook my head, yes. “I’m Beth, and this is Matt!”
I couldn’t believe it. They stopped in to the little shack for dinner, too. By chance. There we were. All three of us, having dinner together, swapping stories, sharing in new laughs, and earning the respect of new friends. Very friendly. Conversation was easy and extremely free flowing.
An hour and a half later, I made my way back to the hotel, where I am now, in…
The Calm Before… Ironman!
We will sleep tight here in Lake Placid tonight. I wish for you, where ever you are, to do the same. And send strong thoughts, because my friends, I for one will lean on them. Hard. I will be smart in all disciplines, but as many of you know, the run is never easy. It always hurts. And it always tests like no other. You, of all people, know how appreciative of your support I am. And I will lean on it yet one more time.