One more day (plus some photos)

Posted by on July 23, 2011 in Training

It’s hard to believe that the big day is almost here.  By this time tomorrow, I hope to be on my second run loop.  I’ve been saying all along that I don’t have any specific time goals, and the truth remains that I have low expectations.  Maybe a better way to say that is that I’m being conservative with how I’m estimating my times in each leg.  I’ve found that historically, I’m easily disappointed by failures to reach lofty goals and similarly, easily buoyed by having exceeded conservative goals.  I’m shooting for conservativism tomorrow, but below are some realistic goals where I may have erred on the said of aggressive:

  • If I am able to complete the swim and get through the first transition in 1:30, it will be a resounding success.
  • If I am able to complete the bike course in 6:30, it will be another resounding success.  Failing one of these, but still achieving a cumulative time of 8:00 heading onto the run will equally be a resounding success.
  • On the run, if I can run the first loop in an hour, success.  If I can run the second loop in 1:05, another success.  If I can run the third loop in 1:15, yet another success.  If I can run the final loop in 1:10 (which would equate to a 4:30 marathon time), I will giggle like a little schoolboy.
  • In the ultimate measure, if I can cross that finish line in less than 15 hours (the time limit is 15 hours), success.  If I can beat 14:25 (my time at Ironman Brazil in 2008), it’ll be a personal record (a “PR”) at the Ironman distance.  If I can get a finish time that starts with 13:something, it’ll be huge!  If I can get a finish time that starts with 12:something, are you kidding me?  Fuhgeddaboutit; it would be a dream-come-true and I will forever carry tremendous pride with me.

Again, as I’ve said, I will not be racing according to the clock.  I will be taking my time, racing the right race which is measured by feeling, not by specific metrics.  My time will be my time, whether it is 12:30 or 14:59:59.  Both will be successes and I have no ego going into this.  I know that the Ironman is much bigger than me, so I am humbled and honored to even be a part of it.

Anyway, a bit about today.  Woke up late, like at 9:15, showered and went down to breakfast, ate with Grazi and his wife and daughter, then agreed to meet in the lobby again at 1 pm to head over to the Ironman village.  There, the plan was to take the shuttle bus to the swim area (about 12 km away).  While surveying the Ironman village area, specifically our bike-to-run transition (aka T2), I ran into an old friend from NYC named Israel Rodriguez, and his friend Edgar, both from Guatemala.  Israel is another impressive athlete with this Ironman marking #6 for him.  Just three weeks ago, he ran the Guatemala Marathon which he described as being very hilly, through impoverished villages, with huge potholes, etc.  In a terrible twist of bad luck for this event, the airlines lost his bike, so he was forced to rent a bike and the only one he could get was a road bike.  It has no aerobars and isn’t perfectly suited to his frame, but it’s better than nothing.  I feel so bad for him, but he is the kind of guy with indomitable spirit and positivity.  He’ll undoubtedly have a stellar race tomorrow.

The bus ride to the swim start was slow, and just getting onto the bus required a good 45 minute wait on line.  Once at the swim area, we waited on yet another line.  Here’s a picture of Grazi on line, smiling as usual:

Here is a pic of Israel (on the left in blue) and his friend Edgar:

Here’s a pic of the head referee whom I mentioned yesterday.  This dude’s calves were huge!

Here are a couple of pics of the swim-to-bike transition area (aka T1).  All of the bikes are “racked” on individually-numbered bike racks.  Because of the forecast for rain, the race organizers provided plastic bike covers for each bike.  We also had a choice to store our transition bags (containing clothing, shoes, nutrition, etc.) next to the bike or on bag racks to the side of the T1 area.  I chose the latter.

Here’s my bike on the rack and in the pic below that, the bikes of the top pros.  Faris Al-Sultan, a German who won the Hawaii World Championship in 2005, will race with bib #1.  At the time this pic was taken, there were no bikes next to bib #4, 5, or 6.  I was tempted to play some games and pretend I was a pro, but since I’m already in the Kona race this year, why not let someone else give it a try.

Here are maps of the swim, bike, and run course.

Here’s a pic of the swim area.  We’ll be swimming a 2.1 km loop on the left, exiting the water, going through an inflatable arch and over timing mats, then swim a different 1.7 km second loop on the right.  What this picture shows is the swim exit where athletes will run up a sandy hill (it’s rumored to be covered by rugs) and on to T1.

I’m headed to have dinner with Grazi and his family in a half hour, then hopefully be back into my hotel room by 8 pm.  With any luck, I’ll be tired enough to fall asleep easily though reality probably dictates that I won’t sleep much at all.  I plan on getting up at 3:30 a.m., then head down to the lobby to meet Grazi at 4:30 a.m.  From there, we’ll head to the shuttle buses and arrive at the swim area around 5:30 a.m.  There, we’ll make last minute preparations to our bikes, ensure that all of our transition gear is perfectly ready, then get on our wetsuits and head to the water to warm up.

I’ll try to post again tomorrow morning, but no guarantees on that.  If not, thanks go to Roya, my parents, my teammates and coaches, my colleagues, and every single friend who’s given me a shout-out in person, on Facebook, via e-mail, via telephone, and telepathically.  You know who you are and do know that I will be doing a roll-call in my head while I’m out on the course.  Tomorrow evening, you will cross that finish line with me.

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