Wow, as usual, what a crazy ride it's been. It's Tuesday, and I can't believe that it's already over. That the race is now behind us instead of up there, somewhere around the bend. That I don't have a plan to follow or workout to complete. Which I guess is both refreshing, but just a little sad, too. Anywho, I think I'll indulge myself in a multi-part race report, so please bear with me. I want to try and remember all of it. We'll start with the build-up.
Cath and I dropped off the dogs at the boarding place and were on the road by 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, and made record time up to Madison - something like 2:10 from Chicago. It was a beautiful drive and, despite the undercurrent of nerves, it felt great to be going back to such a great city. We arrived and checked into our room about 12:30 p.m., and set out for some lunch. The weather was spectacular - nothing but clear, sunny skies. Took a nice walk down State Street - which we'd spend quite a bit of time on come Sunday - and had a nice (long) meal at a little Lebanese place. Decided to push off registration until Friday, and instead opted for an afternoon nap. Dinner was had at the Great Dane Brew Pub, where it very, Very, VERY difficult to avoid indulging in their great selection of in-house beers. They looked delicious. But, being a tad concerned about hydration issues, I stuck to Ginger Ale,and we ended up going to bed pretty early.
Friday we hit the Expo and checked in as soon as they opened at 10:00 a.m. We hoped to avoid the long lines, and were pretty successful, escaping just around noon. Cath got some ART done on her hips and hamstring while I watched former IM champion Greg Welch interview some of the pros who would be competing. I also had a little work done on my hips and hammies, which felt great - wonderfully loose. So nice to have that available, and totally free! Afterwards, we picked up sandwiches and waited for Drew and Ross (who would be volunteering on Sunday) to arrive, as well as Danielle and her Husband, John, who were coming in from Minneapolis. After everyone got registered, we got together for dinner at a Mexican place on State Street (where there was just a little drinking involved - but it was Mexican food, it's mandatory, right?!). It was another incredible evening, weather-wise, and, after a leisurely walk around the Capitol, we retired to the hotel for some dessert, hot tea, and more good conversation.
Brief aside: Apart from the race itself, and exceeding our personal goals, this weekend - and Ironman, generally - was all about connecting with great people. So many times during this experience I was reminded just how great this sport is - how it brings different people together, how supportive they can be, and how great the energy is that surrounds the whole thing. Cath and I both noted that, despite the nerves and stress, we laughed so much this past weekend, and were greeted with such kindness, it was almost overwhelming. Coming from a big city, where so many people think that "Fuck you!" is an acceptable greeting, it was a wonderful refresher that there are genuinely nice people out there.
Anywho, on Saturday, I decided to brave the thick algae and dead bodies (sadly, a fisherman drowned early in the week in the lake that we'd be swimming in and had yet to be found by race day) and head down to the Gatorade swim. Luckily, the water wasn't as bad as I had feared, and was crazy warm. There's something about a warm-water swim that's really comforting, and I was super glad that I checked it out. I just did an easy 20 minutes, checked out the site lines, and headed back to meet everyone for breakfast. We then made our way back to the Expo for a bit before getting our stuff together. Putting together your transition bags and special needs bags really brings the magnitude of the event into focus for me - double checking, triple checking, quadruple checking to make sure everything's in there....pfft. It was then that the nerves really started to kick in - the 'Holy, shit, we're doing an Ironman tomorrow!' moment. Yikes. I get a nervous belly just thinking about it again!
Dropped off the bags and bikes, which always takes way longer than you'd expect, and we (finally) sat down for lunch (again, at the Great Dane - highly recommended, btw) at around 2:15 pm. I knew the anxiety had started take over at that point because I was agitated that we were eating lunch so late, which would mean that dinner would be pushed later, and I don't like eating late before a race...blah, blah, blah. Hopefully, my friends didn't/don't think I was too much of an ass, and it was just the pre-race jitters doing their thing. Regardless, we then retreated for a little naptime before gathering again for dinner. Because of the size of our party, we decided to just take advantage of the pasta buffet in the hotel and avoid a long wait somewhere outside, which meant that we were done eating by 7:30 pm. The food was pretty blah, but, by that time, everyone's thoughts were more focused on raceday than the quality of the cuisine. Again, we capped off the night with some hot tea and dessert and wished each other good luck on getting some measure of sleep.
Next up...the swim.
Ironman Wisconsin 2016: My Ticket to Kona
9 months ago