2 Days and Counting

Posted by on July 22, 2011 in Training

Well, the adventure continues.  We are a short two days away from an incredible Ironman experience.  I’m exceptionally relaxed and not stressed in the slightest.  Some of my teammates have conveyed the same sense of calm, but to them, it’s rather disconcerting and they believe that they SHOULD feel nervous and anxious.  I continue to profess that having nerves is unnecessary, and that my sense of calm isn’t solely because I’ve done this IM thing twice; it’s because I’ve put this into perspective, that in the scheme of life, this is our hobby and something we’re doing for “fun” (although most people would look at us cross-eyed for defining an Ironman as fun!).  Think of all the people who are suffering in the world.  Just yesterday, the UN declared that southern Somalia was officially facing a famine.  People are walking hundreds of kilometers to get basic drinking water, and I have a right to complain that I’m nervous about how many energy gels I should take with me and consume while riding my bicycle?  Gimme a break; we are all so incredibly fortunate to be able to do this stuff, not simply because we have the money to spend on it, but because we live in a country where drinking water is everywhere, where freedom allows us to go for a fun run, etc.  As philosophical as this sounds, it is for me a method to put this into perspective, and it develops a greater appreciation for what we’re all doing.  Most importantly, it takes the edge off.  I really don’t care what happens on Sunday.  To be a part of it is honor enough; to finish is a greater honor; to finish in a competitive time is the greatest honor and achievement; and to not finish is just a tad bit unfortunate, but it will neither define me nor hang over me.

Okay, stepping off the soapbox, more about this trip.  Yesterday evening, we were supposed to enter into this night run that was a relay of sorts.  I never really got the full picture of how it was to be organized, but it became a moot point as Graziano (aka Grazi, my Terrier teammate and closest partner on this adventure) and I searched but never found the rest of our Terrier compadres.  Turns out that Coach Robert overslept and no one else seemed compelled to show up.  So Grazi and I went to the registration area, picked up our swag bags, shopped a bit, and headed back.  In the evening, most of us went to an apple wine restaurant (can’t remember the name) and feast on wurst, ribs, ham, meats, etc.  Not wanting to break from my m.o., I of course had a wine spritzer!  Okay, I had three.  🙂  After dinner, we had the obligatory and well-earned ice cream dessert, then walked home.  I was fairly wired when I got back to my hotel, so I took a short walking tour around a few blocks and got some snacks for the room.  Once back in the room, I turned on the Tour de France, played on the computer, and generally tried to wind down.  Didn’t get to bed until 1:30 a.m. but slept like a rock, which is par for the course.

This morning, the plan was to meet by the central transition area, then head to the swim location which was about a 20 minute taxi ride away.  We found a super nice taxi driver with a Mercedes van that seated 7 people plus him; perfect!  He even offered to wait for an hour until we were done.  I tell ya, these Germans are so hospitable.  The water temps were colder than expected; maybe in the 70 degree range, but with our wetsuits on, we bobbed like corks in the water.  We swam out a bit and swam back, maybe about 20 minutes worth of effort, and tried to figure out how the course was to be laid out.  From what I can gather, there is a rectangle that we’ll swim around to the left, then we’ll exit the water, then re-enter and swim a different rectangle. Each one is 1.2 miles (1.9 km) in distance.  Upon exiting the water, we’ll run uphill in some sand and get to the swim-to-bike transition area (what we call T1).  There, we’ll get changed into our cycling gear which we will have packed into pre-marked bags (marked by each athlete’s race number) and leave on our bikes as we head into Frankfurt (about 12km).  We’ll then ride two loops of the bike course and then find our way to the bike-to-run transition (T2) which is in a different area than T1.  There, we’ll change into our running gear (again, via pre-marked and prepared bags) and do four loops of the marathon run course.  Doing the math, that essentially translates into a 6.55 mile loop x 4.

As Grazi and I collected our stuff and completed registration last night, we viewed the finish line area.  It is awesome.  I wish that I could take photos and upload them here, but Verizon is reporting problems with its 3G network in Germany thus preventing me from uploading the photos I’ve already taken.  In any event, what makes the finish line special, at least to me, is that it’s in an open area surrounded by somewhat traditional-looking buildings.  It should be noted that Frankfurt appears to be particularly modern architecturally (who am I, Art Vandelay?!).  These buildings by the finish line will make for a tremendous background.  The surface is cobblestone and stones and we saw big grandstands being erected along with gates and fences defining the final path to that glorious finish line.  Seeing this whole area and imagining what it’s going to feel like in two days made me giggle with excitement.  This is going to be so amazing and I can’t wait!

Back to the swim, we took our Mercedes van taxi from the swim area to a lunch spot in central Frankfurt, ate like royalty, and split up to do errands.  I took the lead of Gunnar, my German teammate who grew up not too far from here, and we got to walk through several old-town areas which I definitely appreciated.  I kinda feel like I haven’t really taken advantage of the culture and the fact that this is my first trip to Germany.  But, I also couldn’t wait to get back to my hotel room and chill out.  That seems to be my m.o. these past few days:  spending alone time in my hotel room mostly horizontal.

Tonight, we’ll meet up for the pre-race athlete’s briefing, then head to the pre-race pasta dinner.  Tonight, I’ll likely splurge for some ice cream, then head back to the hotel room to do a whole lot more of nothing.  If it’s a successful night, I’ll accomplish nothing more than completing a crossword puzzle or two.  They say that the Friday night before an Ironman is the most important night in terms of sleep since no athlete will sleep well on Saturday night.  So, I expect to be a lazy sloth-like creature tonight and tomorrow.  God knows that I have a ridiculous day ahead of me on Sunday.

Oh, and for the record, every second of this experience sucks a bit because Roya’s not here.  I mean, it’s all great by virtue of the Ironman experience, but I’d be lying if I said that I’m fully at peace.  I won’t be settled emotionally until Tuesday morning when we meet in Venice.  Sure, crossing the finish line will be an amazing thrill that will be hard to articulate to anyone, but I will be robbed of the full extreme of happy emotions because she’ll be in California.  Such is life.  Guess that means that I’ll have to over-hug Grazi’s wife!  With any luck, it’ll be before he finishes so that I don’t get beat up.

P.S.  In later posts, I’ll describe my teammates a bit more.  Can’t wait to tell everyone about Lucy.  She might be one of my favorite people and is definitely someone I want everyone I know to meet.  More to follow…

Write a Comment on 2 Days and Counting


Follow comments by subscribing to the 2 Days and Counting Comments RSS feed.


Read more posts by