One day left before the big race.
It's been a long winter, spring, and summer of training, and the goal of getting here healthy and ready to roll has been a nearly all-consuming task at times. Now that race time is almost here, I find myself tussling with a mix of emotions: anticipation, apprehension, confidence, and uncertainty. But enough of being philosophical -- it's been fun getting here, and Carmel and I are having fun in Madsion. Here -- in no particular order -- are some thoughts and thanks.
Madison is an awesome town! It's beautifully situated between two lovely lakes, and dominated by an impressive state capital building. Beneath the dome, it's fun, friendly, and ridiculously eclectic. If there's a bohemian center to the Midwest, it must be in Madison.And did I mention brew pubs? Can't wait till the race is over!
I've never seen so many bikes in a city. Everybody in Madison rides a bike, it seems. There are city cruisers, mountain bikes, roadies, lots of triathletes (at least right now -- duh), and more guys doing track stands on fixies than you can shake a stick at.
If you come to Madison, stay at the Speckled Hen Inn, about 15 minutes northeast of the city. It's a lovely retreat, well-appointed, and with gracious hosts. You won't believe how tasty the breakfasts are, too! And don't forget to pet Happy, the goldendoodle.
The Ironman hype is easy to get caught up in. Madison embraces the race, and the compact downtown is swarming with M-Dot logo gear and tattoos. We went to the welcome dinner last night and even I was getting a little choked up about the whole thing. And don't ask me how much I spent on swag at the expo...
The venue is picture-perfect, and organization has been smooth as silk so far. Based on what I've seen, it's also got to be one of the most spectator-friendly races. Carmel should be able to see the swim start and swim exit, see me twice on the bike, and up to seven times on the run. They even run free shuttle buses out to the bike course.
First and foremost I need to thank Carmel for being supportive during this whole long build up. She's had to put up with losing her husband for almost entire days during the weekends, plus watching piles of sweaty gear grow by the washing machine almost every day. And when I was home she had to listen to me parse training data, race strategy, and workout plans on an endless loop. Yet she's been patient and supportive through the whole process. Love you, babe, and couldn't have done it without you! (And I promise I'm not doing one next year!)
Colin -- despite being occupied with his own big transition to UVA this summer, he's found the time to keep track of the old man's preoccupation. As a skilled soccer and basketball player, he doesn't quite understand what I see in going long distances in straight lines, but he's always been in the corner for me.
Debi Bernardes, or Coach Debi as I usually refer to her. This is my 8th season working with Debi. She took a middle of the pack runner and turned him into a guy who can step up onto the podium at triathlons (at least occasionally, on the local level, in my AG...). Truly I can say I've accomplished things I never thought I could do before. Cruella doesn't sugar-coat things, and I've been dressed down more than once over the years, but that makes a "good job" from her even more meaningful.
Val Oswald has been a great training partner this summer, especially in helping pass the time on long rides. And her swim coaching and long-course workout at Fry's Spring have helped sharpen up my swimming. Good luck at Lake Placid next year, Val!
Thanks to Brian Bartholomew for the HED3 front wheel I'll be riding tomorrow and for his advice and company on long rides. And a shout out to Paul Hoover at Blue Ridge Cyclery for an awesome bike fit -- that's going to make those 6+ hours in the saddle a little easier.
And thanks to many others who've encouraged and supported me during this whole process, whether in person or in the virtual world. Keep those "likes" coming on Facebook!