Sunday, October 25, 2009

Not just another day in paradise ~ part 1

We arrived in Kona about a week prior to the big day. My Mom, my Grandma, and my Aunt all arrived from Illinois a couple of hours before we did. The week is kind of a blur of activity, non-activity, and an active attempt to stay out of the hub of energy as much as possible. I did some short swims, some short rides, some short runs. I picked up my race wheels and arranged to have my bike shipped home. We did a bit of sight seeing. I ate, drank water and Gatorade (in retrospect, probably not enough of either), experienced the heat of Kona, previewed the course.

The sight of so many super-fit, super-serious athletes was pretty intimidating. I started to have the sense that I didn't belong, I was some kind of impostor. I tried to tell myself that while I may not have qualified, I got an invitation to participate, I paid my money and I had just as much right to be here. Not everyone can be front of the pack. It did make me realize tho just how different this event would be from Vineman. It was going to be very lonely out there. These were the best of the best, and there would be precious few folks back where I'd be spending my day.

On Wednesday I hit the expo, registration and the 'official' merchandise shop. I warned Jeff that I was going to buy everything the shop had and while I didn't quite do that.....yeaaaaah.....this was going to be an expensive trip. Registration was the first time I experienced the amazing volunteers this race has. Already everyone was so nice and extremely helpful. Instead of treating me like a 'lowly lottery winner' they seemed even more excited for me when they found out I was one of the lucky 150. Registration was quick and before I knew it I'd been weighed in (coach Liz was right....I was about 5 pounds heavier than I thought I'd be), filled out a medical and emergency contact form, received my race packet, and had my chip activated. Now I just needed to sort out my gear and food into the appropriate bags and check everything in.

On Thursday Jeff, Aunt Pat and I checked out the underpants run. No I wasn't wearing underpants...well, I mean I WAS wearing under pants, but they were under my pants.....err know what I mean. We donated some cash for a good cause and got souvenir t-shirts, a visor, some compression socks and watched the run get under way. Later in the day I made sure to get my bags ready for check-in on Friday. Special needs bike and run, bike gear bag and run gear bag. I included anything and everything I thought I might want, even extras of shorts and tops just in case. Better to have it and not need it then to need it and not have it, I figured.

Friday was a swim with Liz and Tina. Liz watched us swim a bit and after a couple quick suggestions for me, I proceeded to draft her for the rest of the swim. Well....I had to rest up for the next day....that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Then I met Liz at Lava Java for a discussion about what to expect during the event. Based on my times from Vineman, when things did not go as well as planned, we figured I could walk the marathon and still make it (cue foreshadowing music). She reassured me that I would make it across the finish line. Around 4:30 (after 'dinner') I went to drop my bike, bike gear and run gear off at transition. All the athletes are funneled through a chute where first your helmet is checked, then a line of folks tally up equipment. They count bikes, components, saddles, aero bars, wheels, etc and publish a tally of how many of what brand were represented. I'm sure I looked (and definitely felt) like the 'poor country cousin' with my road bike/clip on aeros next to all the tri-bike eye candy. But I tried to maintain my attitude of 'I'm just lucky to be here'. Evidently there were a lot of freebies handed out earlier in the day, but everyone was pretty much gone by the time I got there. So it was fairly quiet, which was okay by me. The butterflies didn't need the extra excitement. I got a sticker for my bike that says it was "checked in" or something like that and rolled up to the next stop, my escort around transition. I hear someone say 'I got the girl in pink' and look up to see Matt, T's husband, heading towards me. Nice to see a friendly face. He took me to my transition spot where we parked my bike, reminded me to let some air out of my tires (I already had) so the tubes didn't blow from the afternoon heat, explained the flow of things thru transition and took me to where my bags would be stored. And with that I was officially 'checked in'. Ruby would spend the night surrounded by greatness. I hoped some would rub off on her. Home to finish packing up and early to bed.

Next up......the big day.

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