Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Weather in Tempe is supposed to be predictable right?  They boast 333 days of sunshine a year so you'd think that Ironman Arizona would have a great chance of falling on one of those 333 days, right?  I had been watching the weather forecast all week and it was holding steady at cloudy and 70 degrees for race day.  Perfect!  But as Sunday drew nearer, the forecast was getting worse-er.  As of Friday, there was a very good chance of rain and high temperatures only around 65.  Uh-oh.  The topper was a water temperature of 61 degrees.  Hmmmm, I wasn't prepared for this!!

But, I had a back-up plan.  Michael and Charlotte were flying in on Saturday so I called them up Friday night and had them bring a few extra items of clothing that I might need.  Except there was fog in Denver.  And their flight was delayed.  And delayed.  And I had to have my bags checked in by 3:00.    Ironman handed me something to potentially freak out about but PIC and I decided that these weren't problems that a bit of cash-ola couldn't solve.  So a couple of trips were made to purchase rain gear, cartridges, a neoprene hat, Yankx, and wah-lah, problems solved! No worries!  
At check-in.  I've always wanted to be a bag lady!
The fam finally arrived at 5:30 Saturday night (they were supposed to arrive at 10:30am) and we had a great time having dinner with our wonderful support crew.  Then it was off to bed!  I fell asleep right away but was up and at 'em at 3:30!  

And then the nerves set in.  A day that was one year in the making was finally here.  Ironman day!  I got up, drank some coffee, stretched, changed clothes, looked out and saw the moon and thought the weather would be just fine!  I headed up to PIC's room about 4:30 to eat some breakfast - my standard mix1 and Justin's almond butter sammy.  The food went down great but I was a bit of a mess.....I was really teary.  I was filled with every emotion - excited, nervous, scared, happy, scared, nervous.  The training, the preparation, the hours, it all boils down to this day.  Will I execute my strategy?  Will I nail my nutrition?  Will I be able to run?  Will it rain?  Will I flat?  Will I get sick?  Will I poop myself?  Will I finish?  Will I enter the pain cave?  How far in will I go?  
Yep, the nerves.
With all of these questions racing around in my head, we headed down to transition.  Thank goodness Sonja was with me, with 3 Ironmans under her belt she was my resident expert and I didn't want to leave her side.  But that's just how it is with us.  We know each other, we get each other, and we were both nervous in the morning.  Me: What do we do first?  Son: We hand in our special needs bags.  OK!  Done.  Now what?  Let's do our first round in the porta-potty lines.  OK!  Now what?  Time to get body marked.  Done.  And now?  Load our nutrition and bottles on the bikes and pump the tires.  Check.  Oops.....first novice Ironman mistake, I forgot to put my bottles into my bike special needs bag.  And so we walked back and the wonderful volunteer dug through all the bags to find mine.  Back to the porta-potty line. 
Transition area at 6am
And then it was 6:30.  30 minutes to go-time.  It was time for me to let go of my nervousness.  It was time to relax and smile and believe in myself and the day.  If it rains?  Ok, not much I can do about that.  If I flat?  Again, out of my control.  But I do have control over my attitude and outlook and it was time to soak it all in.  I'd heard a line a few days only do your first Ironman once....and as obvious as that is, it is so true.  I was here to do an Ironman!  My first!  Something I have wanted to do for years!  Let's go!!!  I wanted to treasure the moment so I could always take it out of my basket of memories, polish it off and say - that was an awesome day.

Everyone kept asking me before I left, what are your goals?  Kona?  I know I didn't give people the answers that they wanted to hear and I was intentionally vague about my goals.  They were just for me and a few others. Sure, I'd love to qualify for Kona, but we all know that a first-timer qualifying for Kona is a lot to ask for.  And, with my foot issues, the run was a huge question mark.  The longest run I had done before Sunday was 90 minutes the week before.  90 minutes!!!  But my main goal was to cross the finish line.  Kona was a secondary goal.  I also had a time goal in mind.  And I didn't want to be on the course when the chicken broth came out. And I wanted it to still be light.  But I really just wanted to finish.  

Next post.....the swim!


Nicole said...

Wow Michelle! I didn't know this was your first Ironman! It was great being there to cheer for you! Congratulations!!!

Jennifer said...

Michelle! I didn't know when I talked to you in the airport you got 3rd in your AG and a Kona slot! Congrats! Can't wait for the rest of your race report...

Unknown said...

Can't wait to hear your story!! Especialy how your run went, since I'm in a similar running situation...