Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ironman Eve!

Day 145 – Ironman Eve

Saturday, November 26

This is it. One more day until the Ironman! I can’t believe it’s almost here. Our goals today were simple: sleep, eat, pack, rack, relax, sleep.

No wake up calls today. The plan was to sleep in, though it wasn’t long before the breakfast buffet was beckoning us from the rock hard bed in the freezing cold room.*

(*I realize I have been a tad critical of our accommodations so I wanted to take a moment to note the following: Despite its shortcomings, Iberostar Cozumel was a great value for the price. Enough said.)

After breakfast, we took our bikes for one last spin—a short, 15-minute ride to keep the blood flowing and to verify that our bikes were race-ready.

Our next task was packing our race gear into five separate bags (The required “naked” transition area five-bag system was all new to me!):

Gray: Morning clothes bag. This bag was for stashing any extra clothes/shoes you’d be wearing on race morning and for items you may need after the race. (Though, it was not clear that you would not have access to this bag until leaving the recovery area, which you were not permitted to re-enter after leaving.)

Blue: T1/Bike Bag. This bag was for everything you’d need for the bike—helmet, shoes, sunglasses, watch, sunscreen, etc.—and where you’d leave goggles and caps after the swim.

Green: Bike Special Needs Bag. This bag was for anything you think you’d need during the bike ride. I packed three extra bottles of Infinit, extra nutrition (dried pineapple, gels, Lara bar, and mini Snickers—which had turned to liquid by the time I retrieved them), Vaseline and Advil (which I forgot to take). These bags you never see again so you can’t put anything in it that you want to get back.

Red: T2/Run Bag. In this bag went my visor, extra socks, running shoes, more sunscreen, my Fuel Belt, Lara Bar, gels, water and an extra bottle of Infinit.

Yellow: Run Special Needs Bag. Like the Green bag, this was for any extra items you might need while on the run course but would not miss if you never saw again.

Clearly, a lot of planning was required and the packing process took the better part of the morning, despite having made lists and “packed” all the necessary items into our suitcases at home.

The packing process is somewhat meditative as it is also a time for visualizing the race, step by step. Forgetting something, say running shoes or a bike helmet, would result in a very bad day.

Speaking of running shoes, we also ran an easy 1.5-mile, limb-loosening out and back before stashing our shoes in the Red bag.

After packing the bags and checking them twice, it was time for a late lunch before catching our shuttle to Chankanaab Park for bike racking. To control traffic flow on racking day, all athletes were assigned a 30 minute window for racking. Ours was from 3:00-3:30. We stopped at mechanical services to have my handlebars re-taped and then began the hunt for our racking location in the gigantic transition area. We ended up with a pretty prime spot on the main drag not far from the changing tents.

Once our bikes and Red bags were secure, we headed to the beach to hang our Blue bags in our assigned spots and got our race numbers inked on our arms and legs. (Supposedly to decrease the number of people needing body marking on race morning, but my numbers were all smudged by the next day and needed a re-do anyway.)

We took one last walk through the swim and transition area—from the pier to the beach, through the bag racks, the changing tents and then over to our bikes—before cabbing it back to our hotel for dinner and, we hoped, a good night’s rest. (Ha!)

Despite requesting a 3:30 AM wake up call, Matt set his small watch alarm and it was lights out at 9 PM.

Ironman Cozumel . . . Tomorrow!

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