Sunday, March 6, 2016

Ironman Recap, Part 1: Build-up

The race was supposed to be October 3rd, 2015.  I say "supposed to be" because it didn't happen.  Do you remember Hurricane Joaquin?  Yeah.  So, I was on my way to Maryland with Justin, we had stopped for the night at my parents house in Pennsylvania on Wednesday when I heard the news.  It was canceled.

Needless to say, I was upset.  I had not been looking forward to the race in the weeks leading up to it because of my achilles injury; my running had been nearly nonexistent and my cycling had been severely limited.  I had been doing lots of aquajogging and swimming in an effort to keep my general cardiovascular fitness up, but I didn't really know what to expect when I attempted to bike 112 miles and then run 26.2.  BUT, I had gotten myself psyched up to give it a go.  You have to.  You can't go in to it all doom and gloom.  So I was, at the time of the cancellation, definitely angry.  Pretty much the past year of my life had been dedicated to training for this race, and frankly, I didn't want to go through it again to get my Ironman title.  I had already put in the time.  I wanted to race.

After the cancellation there was an announcement that the race *might* be rescheduled, but they were going to wait until after the storm had passed to assess the damage to the community before committing to a rescheduled race.  Of note, no full Ironman event has ever been rescheduled before.  They usually give you vouchers for another race, or half off the following year's entry, or something like that, but they're not generally rescheduled.

Then, I had scrambling to do with housing.  I had rented a large house through AirBnB because I had several family members and friends planning on coming.  Even if the race was rescheduled, most of them would no longer be able to make it.  My best friend Michelle had paid for a flight that she never got on.  I contacted the homeowner and she said she was still willing to rent it to me if it was rescheduled, and if I decided to go.  I said I'd keep her posted.  At this point I was tempted to take a deferment option if it was offered, after the emotional let down of the race not happening and having to continue tapering an extra two weeks and the added issue of the altered training due to injury.

Justin and I decided to make the most of our time and took a mini-vacation over the weekend the race was supposed to happen.  We went to a Bed and Breakfast in Ohio, stopped in Cleveland and hung out with Michelle, made a trip to the Cuyahoga Valley Park, etc.  It was fun.    I couldn't bring myself to do any serious training that weekend.  Even if the race ended up happening in two weeks. I needed the mental break after the emotional roller coaster.


Michelle came to the BnB to hang with us too! 

#normal
Ultimately, they decided a few days later to have the race on October 17th, 2 weeks after the original date.  I had had a full week of vacation planned leading up to the October 3rd date, and had to get some shifts covered at work to be able to go at all (huge thanks to my awesome coworkers for helping me out!).  Then I searched for other racers to fill the house I had rented, but ultimately decided to give the whole house to someone else so I wouldn't be stuck with the $1800 bill.  I had "traded" a lady the whole house for her hotel room, after clearing it with the homeowner I had rented from.  It turns out the hotel was super shady/shitty based on the reviews, and not even that close to the start line, so I started looking for something else.  The city of Cambridge and the race director ended up starting up a website for locals to post accommodations for racers.  It was awesome.  Some of the options were even free.  Some people even listed their boats and RV's for people to stay in!  I ended up getting a place SUPER close to the start line (like, it was closer for me to walk to the house from transition to use the toilet than to walk to the porta potties).  Justin and I got a room with two twin beds, and my dad got a room in the same house downstairs, both with private bathrooms.  The homeowner would be staying there with us in her room for the weekend.

So, two weeks later, we headed to Maryland, again.   And I even ended up getting some running in and had an extra two weeks for my achilles to heal.  I felt much more confident the second time around.  I had visited "my" athletic trainer and learned some taping techniques that I was able to practice with that really helped a lot too.   This time, we made it all the way there.  We stopped in Pennsylvania to see my sister and her kids this time, instead of staying at my parents.  My sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew had made me this AMAZING VIDEO to wish me luck in my race. It is seriously the cutest thing ever.  You have to watch it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcoxGwlvkOE

My bags were all packed.  I decided to play it safe.  I packed rolls of tape with me on both the bike and the run.  I decided to carry a camelbak as a backpack on the run, so I could carry wardrobe changes if needed for weather, and all the food I wanted, and my taping supplies.  I didn't want to put that stuff in my special needs bag on the course, because you can only access it once.

The day before the race the weather and the water were looking cold.  I did a test swim in my sleeveless wetsuit and it was cold, but tolerable.

Sunrise test swim, the day before the race. 
I was concerned about race day though because the winds were supposed to be worse and the temps even colder.  Water temp was looking at about 60 degrees, and air temp 38-40 degrees.   I ended up shooting over to the expo and picking up some neoprene sleeves to wear with my sleeveless wetsuit.  The race would be my first time ever wearing them.  With that, I was ready.....  I went to bed early, and of course got next to no sleep.  Next up....race day, starting with the swim!




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