The morning after


The next morning I woke up at 7 after five hours of sleep so deep it felt like unconsciousness. My legs felt like someone had beaten them with a pipe and my stomach still didn’t feel great, but a lot better than yesterday. I had an Ensure, because I wasn’t sure how the stomach would do with real food. Erin was also up and we were the only ones who were, which was funny. We lazed around on the couch, comparing which random muscles hurt and waited for the rest of the house to wake up.

Eventually, the rest of the house woke up and the day’s activities were discussed. I still had to pick up my bike and transition bags, as it was too late to do last night. I also had a hankering for eggs, which meant a trip to the store. So, T & I headed into town. It was absolutely hilarious to see all of the racers shuffling around in their finisher shirts. There was a honking huge line to sign up for next year (suckers!) which was pretty amazing to see. After we finished all of our errands, we headed back to our home base.

M & J were heading home that day, so they were busy packing up while T made breakfast. But first, M had presents for Erin & I. For me, she’d had this t-shirt custom-made:


It just suits me, don’t you think? And for Erin, she had prints of these awesome pictures she’d taken of Erin’s house and cats during our visit to Prosser. (You can see the images on M’s blog here and here.) After a nice breakfast and saying farewell to M & J, I went back to bed for a little nap. Erin & David were originally thinking of leaving today also, but they ended up staying another day. When I got up from my nap, we celebrated with a little sparkling wine:


Erin was hankering for a cheeseburger, so we made plans to meet up with D at a brewpub not too far from the house, later that evening. D had invited a few other Slowtwitch friends along, so there ended up being a nice group of us:


The food was meh, but it was a fun evening and nice to get to chat with some tri peeps. Afterward, we went through the A&W drive-thru for the rootbeer float I was hankering for. On the way there, I saw this hilarious sign:


Thanks for the laugh, Taco Time – you’re awesoem! πŸ˜‰

IMC RR – part four: on the run


Just in case anyone is wondering, after a long swim followed by a long bike ride pretty much the last thing one generally feels like doing is running a marathon. My first thought in fact when I stepped out onto the run course was “Holy $hit, I have to do what now?” I decided to just walk for a little bit to get my legs warmed up. My stomach wasn’t feeling great, so I just decided to ease into the whole marathon thing.

The course is initially a little confusing to those of us in a slightly befuddled state, as you go out of the transition area and then towards the finish line with the folks that are about to finish and then it does a 90 degree turn away from the finish line, you do this out and back for approx 1/2 – 3/4 of a mile and then the folks who are about to finish continue across the line and the rest of us poor bastards head out for the rest of the run. (Believe me, it’s pretty obvious who’s who! ;-D)

A lady from Houston came up next to me during the out and back and told me she was running one minute/walking one minute if I’d like to join her. I figured that would be as good a motivation to get moving as anything so I did. My stomach was very side-stitchy and crampy, but I could tough out the one-minute intervals and it felt less lame than just walking. Eventually, though she was running a bit faster than was comfortable for me and I was finding her chatter a bit annoying, so I let her get ahead of me.

I continued my run/walk intervals on my own timing and just tried not to think about the length of the run left ahead of me. I stupidly tried the cola they had on the course, which was not a good idea and my fuel belt kept bumping on my stomach and making me very unhappy. Finally, I took the fuel belt off and held it in my hand as I ran/walked. I knew that T, M & J were going to be on the course around the four mile mark and I was looking forward to seeing them and getting rid of my fuel belt.

Before I knew it, I saw them up ahead. I was not feeling great and was trying to put a brave face on, but they all know me well enough to see through that. I dropped my fuel belt on the ground in front of T (you aren’t supposed to hand things to people, so we were going with the “hey, if they’re scavengers and pick up my garbage, then I can’t do anything about that… ” They clearly wanted me to start running and were the perfect amount of annoying to get me to do so – threatening terrible music up ahead to get through and ringing cowbells at me. M made some remark that made me give her the finger (sorry Mom!) but I did start running – which made them cheer wildly.


And just like that, I was off…


As you can see from the picture above, the air was hazy with smoke from area wildfires. It was also fairly humid. But I wasn’t bothered by the smoke (growing up in Southern California has it’s benefits) and the run course goes next to a lake for much of it, so even the humidity wasn’t too bad. I was finding a nice pace with run 4 minutes/walk 1 intervals and the mile markers were starting to tick by. I saw Andrea coming back as I was going out and she looked great. I also saw my friend Jess outside the campground where we’d stayed last year. Seeing their smiling faces kept me going, (not to mention theΒ  course official who told me I needed to be at the run turnaround by 9:00.)

Then a little ways up the road, I heard a very familiar, very loud cowbell and came upon Erin’s boyfriend David and her friend Tiffany in their jeep parked along the lake. They looked like this, only at dusk and along a lake:


David rang the crazy loud cowbell for me most enthusiastically and I could hear it for quite some time after I passed him. It was growing steadily darker as I got closer to the turnaround point and I was looking forward to picking up my headlamp and keeping an eye out for Erin. Race personnel were handing out glowsticks and I saw Erin as she was getting hers. I called her name and she came over to give me a hug. We were both feeling pretty rough, but hanging in there.

As darkness fell, I made it to the run turnaround. I saw my cheering squad, told them I’d be right back (ha ha!) and picked up my special needs bag. I’d grabbed the bag and stopped in a porta-potty, so I missed the place where I was supposed to drop it off. I figured I’d just give it to T, so I kept going. Here’s me emerging out of the darkness:


This is what I was smiling at:


With the addition of M, who walked along side me for a little while being encouraging. I was not feeling good at all, so it was nice to have some friendly faces around. But I had to finish this race, so I had to start running again and leave them behind. I tried to find run/walk intervals that I could sustain, and did pretty well for a little while. The headlamp was a godsend, as I’d run with it all winter, following the little spot of light ahead of me on the ground was comforting and it allowed me to keep running.

Somewhere around the 18 mile mark, my stomach started really not feeling well. I stopped by the side of the road and threw up in the darkness. I’d taken a chance and tried the pepsi at the aid station, so I figured it hadn’t set well. I was hoping that my stomach would start to feel better, since I’d heard that sometimes happened. Since it was my stomach that had been holding me back more than my legs, I’d be able to run much more comfortably if it eased up.

Alas, that was not to be and my running intervals got shorter and the walking intervals got longer. By now, I was back in town and it was nice to be amongst the street lights and civilization again. I was wishing I could run more, but my body was just not having it. I’d try to run short intervals and my stomach would shut that idea right down. I still had five or so miles to go and I was feeling pretty miserable. And to make matters worse, I looked ahead to see these shady customers on a street corner (you’ll have to imagine M with them snapping pictures for the full visual):


It’s really hard to see your friends when you are feeling like crap and know that you still have what still feels like a long way to go (even if it’s only four miles) You want to see your friends when you’re running and feeling awesome so you can give them a thumbs up or a jaunty wave as you sprint by. Not stagger past like some sort of zombie and hope you don’t barf on them. I tried to put on a good face, but they weren’t fooled at all. (I can’t imagine anyone would have been, even if they had just met me.) I handed off my headlamp to T, since I didn’t need it any more.

I know it was hard on them to see me like that and I could see the worry in their expressions. Not making matters any better was the state of the folks around me. There was a woman that I’d passed who was walking bent sideways at a nearly 90-degree angle, holding her side in obvious pain. She apparently collapsed onto the curb as she passed T, M & J and they signaled the ambulance that had been following behind her. All of this happened behind me, so I didn’t actually see it but it added to the general sense of how intense and crazy this event is at the back of the pack.

I tried to run/walk between the light posts – run to one light post, walk to the next. There were sporadic groups of spectators sitting on the street and cheering. As I passed two guys, I suddenly realized I was about to throw up again. I tried to make it as far from the two guys as possible because I didn’t think they deserved that. This time my body was clearly trying to get rid of every bit of liquid, which needless to say is a little scary when you still have three miles left to walk. (Oh, and to the spectator who told me I was “almost done.” and “Good job” WHILE I was barfing – F-you!) Plus, now when I’d try to run I’d get a sharp pain in my side that felt like my rib was stabbing me in the kidney. So, I tried to walk as fast as I could and get this thing over with.

After what felt like an eternity (and getting way too close to midnight for my comfort) I rounded the final corner toward the finish line. My cheering squad was there and were so great. T came alongside me and encouraged my poor miserable self as I staggered along:


By now, I just wanted to be done and stop moving. But as I got to the end of the street and made the left turn away from the finish line that I’d made at the start of this adventure, it looked like forever. That jaunty half mile out and back looked like five miles, at least. Plus, you could hear the announcer talking about how we only had 20 minutes until midnight and they wanted to cheer as many folks in as they could. It seemed impossible that I’d make it all that way, even though intellectually I knew it wasn’t that far.

I could see a pair of racers ahead of me and as I trudged along, I willed them to get to the turnaround. Finally, misery and the desire to be finished drove me to try running again. I’d make it about five steps before the rib stabbing and general stomach distress would force me to return to walking. But repeating that a few times helped me get to the turnaround quicker and pass the people ahead of me.

Before I knew it, I was at the big arch that entered the finishing chute. I was hoping it wasn’t too far to the line, but beyond that I didn’t give too much thought about it. But as I crossed through that arch, the world completely changed – from dark to light, quiet to noisy and solitary to overwhelmingly crowded. There were floodlights and grandstands that were overflowing with people who were cheering as loud as they could. People were reaching out to high-five me and I listed to the left side of the chute to oblige them. (Unfortunately, all of my friends and well-wishers were on the right hand side. Boo!) M got a photo of me in the chute that gives some idea of the vibe:


Finally, I crossed the line and finished the race. They apparently had a big screen so people in the stands could see and M got a few pictures of me on the big screen:



After I crossed the line, someone put a medal around my neck (which proceeded to bang against my stomach) and a volunteer rushed out to help me. She helped me get my t-shirt and some water:


I couldn’t believe I was finally done:


And then I got to give T a big hug:


And regaled them with some story or another:


(I can’t believe I had enough energy for that.) I went over to where you got your picture taken and then joined my cheering squad for a little sit-down on the grass. My gang had my after race bag and were eagerly trying to anticipate what I’d need/want. The first order of business was to change out of my running shoes for the ugly but comfortable Crocs:


I was overwhelmed with the enormity of what I’d been through and how much tougher it was than I’d been expecting:


And then a little friend came over to congratulate me:


After a little rest, I felt like I could walk the few blocks to the car. Unfortunately, I made it about ten steps before I needed to sit down again (all right, maybe lay down.) So T stayed with me while M&J went to bring the car in closer. I felt like I was on the downward slide of a really bad night of drinking – my stomach was a mess, my head was spinning and everything was sort of incomprehensible. But I made it home without any unpleasant incidents in M’s car.

Erin was still up and recovering on the couch when we got home, so she and I compared race notes while I sipped some ginger ale and had a few boiled potatoes. Everyone was exhausted, so one by one they went off to bed. T sat with me while I took an Epsom Salt bath and had some more ginger ale and then it was off to bed for us. Ironman day was over at last.

IMC RR – Part 3: the bike leg


After my fabulous swim, I was feeling awesome about my race. They have volunteers to help you get your wetsuit off, which I have never had at a race before, so I was a bit unclear of how to do it. Luckily, they were way better at it and directed me to lay down (which is hard when you’ve just gotten up from swimming) and had my wetsuit off before I knew it. I grabbed my bag and headed into the tent. A bored-looking teenager wandered by, dumped out my bag and wandered off. Another volunteer asked me if I wanted help, but I felt like I was doing okay so I said no. Then a third, more proactive volunteer started helping me (this is how I was last year, so I just let her.) She got me into my jersey, my shoes & socks and had everything all organized. I drank my ensure and ate a banana, then hit the sunblock and the porta-potties before I grabbed my bike and headed out.

Riding down Main street was incredible. There were tons of people cheering and I felt great. I couldn’t believe I was actually doing this race, it felt surreal. The first 40 miles of the bike are mostly downhill and have a tailwind. I was told over and over that you need to take it easy on this section and not go too hard, so I tried to do just that and not mind the folks passing me. I figured I’d either pass them back later or they were faster than me. Over and over, all that ran through my head was “Holy crap, you’re doing an f-ing Ironman!” I think that was because it felt so much like just another training ride.

Before I knew it, I could see the Husky gas station with it’s giant Canadian flag that signals the turn onto the first big climb: Richter Pass. Richter is a 6-mile climb, that’s not really steep, but it is long and you still have a fair amount of bike course left to go, so you need to take it easy. There were a ton of people up spectating and cheering up there, so it was pretty cool. I was trying find an easy pace, but in order to keep the cadence that felt good, I had to pass some of the slower folks (Since not that long ago, I would have been one of the folks walking her bike up Richter – this was a major milestone in my training) I actually passed a fair number of people, which was awesome. The crowds loved my Curious George bike jersey and were generally such a hoot. Before I knew it, I’d reached the top of the climb and was able to enjoy the awesome descent.

The next section had what the course description calls rollers, but those of us who actually have to ride it call hills. (Do the people that write course descriptions even know what a roller is? If there isn’t enough momentum from the downhill to go most of the way up the next hill, it’s not a roller. Get it?) It was ridiculously beautiful with bucolic farmland, orchards, etc. I tried to look at the scenery as I chugged up the hills and did my usual math-impaired projections of finishing time based on current pace. When you really suck at math, it can take a surprisingly long time to do this and it keeps me occupied: (Okay, if I’m going 15 miles an hour and I have to ride 112 miles, I’ll be done in 4 hours, no wait… okay 112 divided by 7, carry the one… ) and you get the idea of how long stretches of time would go by.

The section of the course that I’d heard was one of the hardest was the out-and-back section and boy were they not kidding. It’s very mentally tough to go the “wrong way” when you’ve been riding toward town, not to mention seeing all of the people who are ahead of you, headed in the “right direction.” But this was the section where the bike special needs bags were and I was very much looking forward to getting my cold bottle of sports drink. It was a more convoluted section than the usual out-and-back that I’ve encountered before – you sort of went in a big square, but I got to see Erin, who was looking strong and the special needs was closer than I was expecting, which was awesome.

Cheered by my ice-cold drink and pita chips, I finished out the out-and-back and was on my way. I was starting to see some really rough folks out there, so no matter how bad I was feeling, I was doing great compared to them! There was one last big climb at Yellow Lake and I wasn’t sure where it started. I’d heard there was a long false flat leading up to it, but with the headwind we had, everything felt like a false-flat. Finally, we started climbing and I figured this had to be it. There was a rest area that we’d seen on our reconnaissance drive that T had told me they were going to be at, so I was very excited to see them. But when I got to the rest area they weren’t there which was really hard. I tried to tell myself that it was okay and that they might have gotten stuck in traffic or had some other issue and that I was going to be fine, etc.

I put my head down and kept climbing. As advertised, the climb wasn’t bad except for the fact that it was coming after 90 miles of riding. I was tired of being on my bike and ready to hit the downhill part when I heard some familiar voices. I came around the corner and there they were, my own personal cheering section:


They’d made all of these funny signs for me which definitely made me laugh:




M was taking tons of photos of me, so here’s a basic sampling – my approach:


Getting closer:


And I’m outta there…


Now, I had about 20-25 miles left to ride. There was a nice long section of downhill, but there was also a pretty considerable headwind, so it wasn’t as fast as it would have been otherwise. I was definitely tired of being on the bike and ready to be done. I tried to go as fast as possible on the descents and keep relaxed. The last three miles heading into town was the hardest part. The headwind was bad, seeing all of the people already on the run course made me feel like I was further behind than I was and it was just generally tough.

I made it into the transition area and a volunteer grabbed my bike, I grabbed my second bag and headed into the change tent. I’d planned to totally change my clothes and I’d packed a wet washcloth in a baggie, which after sitting in the sun all day was warm and awesome. A nice volunteer helped me and chatted with me as I changed. Finally, it was time to hit the road for the final part of the day – the marathon.

IMC RR – part two: the swim


M took these pictures of the swim course being set up, while we were in the changing tent. I thought they were too cool not to share:




It looks so serene and tranquil. You’d never guess all of the turmoil and nervous energy going on from the thousands of athletes and spectators who are filling the beach. Last year, I got nervous just watching people walk through the arch down to the beach, but this year I was actually less nervous – even though I was the one walking through the arch down to the beach. Erin & I scanned the crowd looking for familiar faces. She saw her boyfriend David and friend Tiffany first, so we went over to say hello. I really wanted to see T, M & J so I kept walking down to see if I could spot them. Luckily, they’d staked out good spots in the front, so I could see them. I regaled them with tales of my bike issues while M snapped pictures of me:


Erin & I posed for more flattering photos:




And tried to look tough…


But ultimately failed:


Then it was time to stop fooling around and focus on the swim. One last look back before we headed out to join the pack:



Here we are, in the middle of the shot – waving at the camera:


We picked a spot toward the middle, which turned out to be perfect. We listened to the Canadian national anthem and then the horn sounded and we were off.



My plan was to hang back and start at the back, because I didn’t want to be swum over or in the middle of a crowd that would freak me out. I wanted a nice calm swim with lots of open water. Apparently, I stood there for an excruciatingly long time according to M & T – but I felt calm as I waited to start. Finally, I started swimming.



I had been told that there’d be this huge draft effect from the 2600 or so swimmers ahead of me, but I was amazed at how strong that draft was. I was swimming easily and felt like I had a current pulling me along. I got to the first buoy pretty quickly and had very little craziness to contend with. There was the occasional breaststroker or zig-zagger, but for the most part I had clear water and felt great. I chose a route that was about 3-4 feet from the buoy line and just put my head down and swam. Every now and again, I could see a column of bubbles from one of the scuba divers in the lake below (for safety, in case someone has an issue) which was startling at first. The course is a large rectangle and they’d parked boats at the two corners, so you’d swim around boats full of people, which was sort of funny.

The buoys flew by and before I knew it, I could see the finishing arch and hear the race announcer. I swam until my fingers started to brush the bottom before I stood up. By now, they’d opened the beach to spectators, so I saw M & T right away. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face:


I obliged M with a Tiger Woods style fist pump:


And then it was on to transition:


IMC Race Report – part one: pre-race craziness


Since I have a lot to say about this race and tons of pictures courtesy of my fabulous crew, I’m breaking it up into installments. Kind of like a soap opera, only instead of amnesia and sleeping around, there’s lots and lots of exercising. πŸ˜‰

I woke up just before my 4:00 am alarm and turned if off. I went to bed super early and tossed and turned for a while before falling asleep somewhere around 11. I actually slept pretty well, all things considered. I had written a list of last minute things to do as far as race prep so I wouldn’t forget anything, but even still I found myself bouncing between items – starting to do one thing and then realizing I should be doing something entirely different. The butterflies in my stomach felt like birds. I forced myself to drink two Ensures and eat a banana. Erin’s friend Tiffany had come down the night before and was french-braiding Erin’s hair. It was good to have something calming to sit down and watch and it helped me focus:


There are two “special needs” bags that you can pack for Ironman racing, one for the bike leg and one for the run. I’d packed a few ‘in case of emergency items’ (spare bike tube, first aid stuff), plus a little lunch cooler with an icepack and a bottle of frozen sports drink in my bike one and then some after dark stuff (headlamp, long sleeved shirt, etc.) in my run bag. I gathered up those bags plus an Ensure/banana combo to put in my first transition bag and we were off to the races. So, so nervous…

The car was quiet as we drove through the dark streets to the race start. Streets were already closed off so we had to do a sort of round-about route. Eventually, we hit the part where we were a few blocks away and traffic was backing up as people were looking for parking. T & I decided to get out and walk while M found a parking spot.


Doesn’t the look on my face say it all?

There were tons of athletes and spectators walking toward the start, so we just followed the herd. Soon we came to the fence that separated the athletes from the spectators and I had to say good-bye to T. It felt a lot like the first day of college where you have to say good-bye to your parents and try to play it cool, but inside you really want to start crying and say “Don’t leave me!” But I tried to be a big girl and joined the giant body-marking scrum. After watching me have my arms and legs thoroughly emblazoned with permanent marker, T walked along with me (on the other side of the fence) as I dropped off my bags and headed toward transition. I gave him one final hug when the fence ended and he wished me luck.

I headed into the transition area to do my last minute bike stuff (fill bottles/pump up tires, etc.) Erin & I had planned to meet up at the bike rack, since we were right near each other and managed to find each other without too much trouble. I filled my bottles and pumped up the front tire without incident, but when I went to fill the back tire, the little valve that lets you put air in the tire broke off and fell on the floor. (F#CK!) At first, I just stared at it and then I asked Erin what she thought I should do/if that was a bad thing. She was of the sensible opinion that it probably wasn’t a good thing and recommended I have the bike repair folks look at it.

So, I took the wheel off, grabbed the spare tube and a multi-tool (No, I don’t know why) out of my bike bag and headed over. I could feel tears coming on, but managed to hold them at bay while I waited for one of the bike shop workers to be free. Finally, I saw a woman finish up the wheel she was working on so I asked if she could help me. As I started explaining what had happened, the tears started rolling and looking at her calm, expressionless face made me feel like a total idiot. Finally, she asked me if there were other things I needed to do, to which I nodded and then she took the wheel from me and told me that she’d take care of it and I could come back and pick it up. So, I wiped away my tears and thanked her profusely while I went off to finish up my last preparations.

I checked back in with Erin at the bike rack, where we also ran into another friend of ours from training camp/Team Xantusia – Andrea (a.k.a. AndyPants) who was at the next rack over. Erin had her camera with her, so we asked a random guy in our transition area to take a picture:

race morning

Finally, I went back over to grab my wheel, thanked the nice lady again and put it on my bike. I was a little worried I’d do something stupid in putting it back on, but I tested it fourteen times to make sure it was in gear and the brake was adjusted, etc. and it seemed good to go. I had Erin double check it and we headed over to the change tent. Once there, we sat down to start changing into wetsuits and right next to us was a girl we’d volunteered with last year – it was great to see her and say hello. We chit-chatted, compared notes and reminisced about last year’s experiences in the changing tent. Soon, it was time to start heading toward the beach in the hopes of seeing our support peeps before all of the craziness started.

Are you ready for this?


If there’s a question I’ve been asked more than any of the obvious ones (“Are you crazy?” “What’s wrong with you?” and so on… ) it’s “Are you ready?” And it’s a tricky question to answer honestly. I mean, obviously I think I am, otherwise I wouldn’t be here but I don’t really know whether I am or not. Nor will I know until I cross that finish line. The askers of this question are always well-meaning and quite unaware of the conversation they’ve just kick-started in my brain.

Logical part of brain: “You’ve trained hard. You’ve done long races before. You’ll be fine.”
Emotional part of brain: “What if it wasn’t enough? What if it’s just too hard”
and so forth…

This question was much on my mind this morning as I packed all of my many bags and began the logistical preparation for tomorrow’s big event. Ironman is all about bags (well, also lines and $$$, but there are lots of bags!) I started by laying all of my bags out on the bed:


I’d made numerous packing lists, so it was just a matter of making sure everything ended up in the right bag. M & T came in periodically to check on me and take photos:


T was in charge of the bike checkout ticket and found a nice safe place to put it:


The boys took a nap on the couch while we finished packing up:


Finally, it was time to go drop off all of my bags and bike at the transition area. (Gulp.) Here I am, bags in hand – as ready as I’ll ever be:


T put my bike sticker on:


And we were off! Only athletes were allowed into the transition area, so I had to leave my support team behind while a volunteer hurried up to grab my bags:


She was very nice, and walked me to my spot on the bike rack and then showed me where to put each of my transition bags. I thanked her for her help and took a few moments to take some pictures around the transition area. In this sea of bags, how will I ever find mine?


Oh wait, here it is:


Here’s my bike row:


And here’s my bike on the rack, waiting patiently for it’s big day:


Swim buoys – next time I see them, they’ll be in the lake and I’ll be swimming by them.


All of the Swim to Bike bags:


I also wandered into the change tent. Last year, I was a volunteer here and this year I’ll get to see this through the eyes of a participant. Since I wouldn’t have a chance to take a picture tomorrow, I decided to snap a shot now:


As I was heading out, I ran into Erin so I walked with her as she dropped her stuff off and we took a few more photos:



Finally, we were all checked in and we could return to our peeps behind the fences. We ran into our volunteer captain from last year, which was great. M snapped this awesome shot of us leaving, we look so hardcore!


After all that, we had a few last minute supplies to pick up. First, we’d been told we had to try some Timbits, so we stopped at Tim Hortons. So, Tasha – this is for you:


Pretty tasty, I must say! Then we hit Walmart to grab some sign-making supplies and a few other things. T found this giant container of Epsom Salts for my post-race bath. I was pretty psyched:


After that it was time to head home and rest as best we could for the big day ahead. Erin & I chilled on the couch while J & M did battle with the evil kitchen to prepare our pre-race meal. M snapped this great picture that really nails the anxiety levels:


Dinner was awesome – J & M really outdid themselves with some delicious chicken, sweet potatoes and green beans. (YUM!) Soon it was time to go to bed, even though I was reasonably sure I wasn’t going to be able to sleep. After I went to “sleep” the preparations began for the next day. They wouldn’t let me in to see, but I could hear lots of giggling, which is never a good sign (get it?)


Tomorrow is the moment of truth. We’ll see if I’m ready…

Fore, eh?


After dinner, we thought it would be fun to go play some miniature golf in town. Here’s M, waiting patiently for us to get in the car:


The family fun center had a nautical theme:



Despite some crazy woman who had about 14 kids with her, who was extremely (and confusingly) rude and tried to cut in front of us on the course, we had a great time. M took some photos of all of the exciting putt-putt action. Here’s yours truly hydrating and sizing up the course:


Gotta love the footwear, right? And here’s me doing some iron-golfing:


da boyz:


And here’s the bad-ass golfing crew:


It was a nice diversion amongst all of the race day preparations. Many thanks to T & M for suggesting it.

Testing the waters


We got up early to hit the lake for a swim. All in all there were four of us – myself, Erin:


T & M:


There were tons of folks out swimming and with good reason, the lake was awesome.


The lake is crazy shallow for a long ways out – basically up until the buoy line in this picture:


That made it really nice for M & T, since you could basically stop and stand up whenever you got tired/freaked out. The water was also clear and not too cold. We swam for about half an hour and then changed out of our swim stuff. I snapped this cute pic of M:


and she countered with this cute one of Erin & I:


She made a joke that we looked like we were about to make out, which sparked the interest of the two male triathletes sitting on a bench next to us and prompted this silly shot:


We walked over to the expo to see if we could score some free Crocs and on the way I snapped this shot of a local landmark, a.k.a. the Peach:


The line for Crocs was way too long:


So we wandered around the much-less crowded expo, where I captured some of the more amusing folks we came across. Fancy tri bike, check. Plastic pirate sword, check:


And my favorite shot of the day, the king of the preening, self-important jerkwads that make me sad to share a sport:


Dude, seriously. Even in a sport where people walk around in compression socks, you look ridiculous. We headed back to the house for some breakfast. On the menu were T’s awesome blueberry pancakes and some bacon (no, not Canadian bacon… or is it?)


We’d been making jokes that the kitchen was evil – the oven would alternately burn or undercook things. Utensils would try to cut you and the griddle was no exception – part of it was too hot and part not hot enough. But we managed to get a decent breakfast out of it anyway.

After breakfast, we headed out for a short bike ride. In homage to our friend at the expo, we snapped this group portrait:


And then this one:


We rode part of the run course, which runs along Lake Skaha, the big lake on the other side of Penticton from the one we’ll be swimming in on Sunday. As we headed out, I felt awesome – super strong and fast. At first, I thought it was the effects of the taper but then I realized it was the huge tailwind that was pushing us along. We decided to turn around a bit early, knowing that we’d have to ride back into a headwind. It wasn’t fun, but we made it back home safe and sound.

We lounged around the house for a while, took naps and rested. Later in the afternoon, T, David and I drove the bike course. It was really helpful to see the hills in person and get a sense for how to pace myself. The climbs looked manageable and it’s a beautiful course. I was actually excited to get to ride it.

It begins!


Today was the first day of registration and even though I knew it was stupid to go early on the first day, I just couldn’t help myself. We headed down to the expo and were greeted by the site of this ginourmous line:



Yes, it’s the registration line. We decided to be in denial for a little while and see if it got shorter while we wandered around the expo. It was pretty good, lots of fancy tri-toys. We wandered into the branded merchandise tent to see all of the crazy crap you can buy with the Ironman logo on it. (It’s quite mind-boggling!) I did get to try on a fancy aero-helmet:


I think it really suits me, don’t you? Erin was still in line waiting to buy some stuff, so we decided to join the crazy registration line and get it over with. M, T & J were nice enough to hold a place in line for me, while I wandered over to the Gatorade tent to harass one of my tri friends D. She was joined by some other folks from my triathlon forum, so I got to meet them in person, which was cool.

After way too long in line, we made it into the tent. T went to stand in line in the merchandise tent for me, while M came along with me in her official capacity as my personal photographer. She documented the whole registration process, including me waiting for them to find my packet:



Me signing my life away:


Erin and I getting weighed in:


And my favorite volunteer of the day, Mabel-who was awesome:


Finally, the registration process was complete:


I hustled over to buy my race reward (IM Canada bike jersey) before the selection got too picked over (on Erin’s suggestion.) T was about 6 people away from the front of the line, so the timing worked out great. Finally, it was time to bid farewell to the Ironman craziness and head back to the house for some relaxing and an easy run in the neighborhood.

I had one last bit of bike upkeep I wanted to do, change out the bar tape on my aerobars. T was nice enough to help me out:



It came out looking very snazzy:


After a nice easy 30 minute run/shower/change, we headed into town to meet up with some more tri-peeps at a pretty little Greek place named Theos:




I had only met one of the folks we dined with before, but it was a great group of people and we had a wonderful time. The restaurant was more crowded than usual, so I’m guessing their service was a bit out of sorts (at least that’s what I’m choosing to believe) but with the exception of some overdone chicken, the food was good and the company was fabulous. I had a great time and it was a wonderful way to close out our first day in town.

The Canadian adventure begins…


Today marks the start of the Ironman Canada experience. T & I caravaned up with M & J, starting the trip off with breakfast at Besalu. Then it was off to Penticton, via the northeast corner of Washington. The scenery was gorgeous, we had new car CD’s to listen to and of course we were on vacation. T & I haven’t had a shared day off in weeks, so it was nice to look forward to having numerous days to spend together, even if they are going to be mostly spent doing race preparations and tapering.

M took some great shots of the trip:





The only part of our drive that was note-worthy was our brief detainment at the Canadian border. Apparently, our general unsavoryness is not just apparent to friends and family but also the Canadian border patrol. πŸ˜‰ It turned out to be no big deal, they took our passports, did a brief background check and we were on our way.

Then we finished our drive into Penticton, settled into the rental house that we were sharing with Erin and David. The house looks like it’s going to work out great and the owners are quite nice. We had an awesome dinner: grilled flank steak, roasted potatoes with blue cheese and salad. (thanks for cooking Erin!) Afterwards, we went to the local ice cream joint – Tickleberries for some ridiculously huge kid’s sized ice cream cones. (I am really going to miss Ironman training for the ability to eat pretty much anything I want.) All in all, a very good start to the weekend!