Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Lost in the wonder of Tempe

By Thursday afternoon we were loading up (Ken, my mom, Konnor, Kaylin and I).  It was the frequent markers along the way that had me giddy:  Pulling out of the driveway, getting past the Grapevine, staying the night in San Bernardino, crossing the state line into Arizona, driving through Phoenix, driving right along the transition area while on the freeway.
 "That's it!  That's where I'll be swimming!  And look, there's the transition area where all the bikes will go!" I said as I pointed out the window.  I think I put fingerprints on the window.  Woops, Ken doesn't like that.  Oh well.

Flashbacks from cruising around last year with my brother and Pat came flooding back.  It had been a full year already.  Last year I anticipated what I would be feeling this year- Butterflies?  A year of training experience behind me?  Maybe be thinner?  I didn't have butterflies, at all the entire weekend, even on race day.  I was just really, really excited!  The past year of training had taught me a lot, tried many relationships and strengthened others along the way, and made me more confident in my abilities.  Thinner?  Nope.

Our first order of business was to check-in to our hotel so we could unpack and not have to worry about the bike.  I called while we were driving to see about an early check-in, and they said our rooms were ready for us, so no problem.  Sweet!  After unloading we drove to the Ironman Headquarters.  Steve and his family were nearby, Pat and Gia were still an hour or so away.  We had to be checked-in no later than 5pm on Friday.  I got there at about 2:30.  My mom took pictures of me picking up my packet and signing the waiver, but she lost her camera.  So here are some that I took of Pat:

Step One:  Pick up and sign waiver.  It's kind of like handing your life over.

Step Two: Get your cap, stickers (for helmet, bike, bags). 

Step Three:  The application of the wristband.  I cried when I got mine on.  It just felt so... official.  And being the sentimental person that I am, I wore it for a full 8 days after the event.  I thought it might verge on sadly living in the past to keep it on much longer.

Step Four:  Picking up the rest of the packet (bags, handbook, license plate frame, etc.).  It all came in a very cool Ironman Tri Bag with the Arizona race embroidered on the top.  Very cool!

Step Five:  Exuberant Ironman-to-be!!!
I was so excited I wanted to look through everything right away. :) 

Watch out for #736...aka "Kerry Sue"!  Having my name on my bib will become very important on the bike course.

Friday night Pat and I picked up Steve from his hotel and the three of us went to the Inspirational dinner and mandatory athlete meeting.  The food was great, and being surrounded by other athletes was enjoyable.  It makes me feel more "normal" to have others who like to do the same thing!

The scenery from our dinner- Tempe Town Lake!

Back at the hotel I put my bags in order, which was easy to do since I had already done that at home.  I just had to transfer it all to the official Ironman bags.  The plan for Saturday was to go for a swim in the morning, turn in our gear, drive the course and relax all afternoon.

(The green bag was for my Morning Clothes; I put all my swim stuff in it to take on Sunday)
There was a free IronKids race for kids age 3-16, and Konnor and Kaylin wanted in on it.  It was only a mile, and they were already talking smack about who would beat who.  I was just glad to be sharing the experience with them.  My mom, brother, Ken and I would have our cow bells ready and ringing for them!
Lined up for the start- They put the older kids in front

The stampede is underway!

Konnor finishing (Orange shirt)

Kaylin finishing- She lost to Konnor, but not by too much :)

My IronKids!!!

Pat sent me a text that he woke up throwing up at 4am.  He felt like he was sick with the flu.  This is not good news.  Fortunately, Gia is a nurse and took excellent care of him.  She was giving him all sorts of things to eat, swallow, directions to sleep.   So needless to say, he didn't come to the swim with me.  Neither did Steve.  I still really wanted to do it to see what the water was like.  I was SO glad I did! 
The water was very cold, but after a few minutes it was fine.  It was incredibly murky, as I had been told it would be.  I could barely see my hand in front of me while stroking!  Coming out of the lake was a feat and a half, since the first step is about six inches under water.  You then have to heave yourself up to the rest of the ladder.  When I stepped out I was very dizzy.  I knew from previous experience that it was primarily caused by the cold water temperature.  So I decided I would wear ear plugs race day.  That was huge!

My mom stuck with me all morning.  She was so full of encouragement, wonder and excitement.  I always love being around her, but it was especially meaningful that day.  She helped keep the excitement alive and the nerves away.  After swimming we stood in line to turn in my gear.  My mom helped me hold my bags and/or bike.  She also bought me a Jamba Juice smoothie with extra antioxidants in it so I wouldn't get sick like Pat.

The Roo is dropped off.  See you in the morning, Roo!

From there I met up with Steve and his friend Sean.  We drove the bike course and got a feel for the road.  Sean was helpful in pointing out any possible hazards along the way.  They tried to figure out the grade percentage that we were climbing on the one hill.  It wasn't too bad at all- maybe a little longer than the hill on Friant, but not as steep?  This was going to be a fast ride if the winds cooperated!

When I returned to the hotel I got to see my cousin Tammy who had flown in from Utah to see me.  I also met up with my aunt and uncle who drove up from Tucson for the big day.  It was so great to be around all these people who just loved me and were excited for me!  I went to my room to make my main meal (it was about 1pm by now): Pasta (the good kind with protein and omega-3's), pesto, rotisserie chicken and bread.  I also had just a little bit of red wine to stay relaxed.  I was drinking a lot of water all day, and even gagged down a coconut water.  I know it's really good for me, it's just a tough taste to take!

The family hung out for a bit, then they were off to dinner.  I stayed back and just relaxed.  I brought the movie "Miracle" and "Chariots of Fire" to watch for inspiration.  They were great!  Throughout the afternoon I would touch base with Pat.  He was understandably upset and discouraged.  He felt very weak and wondered about being able to survive the swim.  Gia pumped him full of good things for his body, mind and spirit.  I told him he trained to be able to finish in 13 hours; He could finish within 17 (participants have to finish under 17 hours to officially count as a Finisher), and he would always regret not even starting.  Gia and I were going to drag him to the start if we had to.  I'm sure Steve would help us, too! 

Ken and my brother finally returned from their "errand" that I would see the next day.  We hung out a little more, then I went to bed by 9pm.  The alarm was set to go off at 3:45am.



  1. So bummed to hear about mom's camera. I am sure she would have had the same type of pictures you have of Pat. I am surprised you didn't post the picture of Konnor and his new girlfriend :-)

  2. I thought you guys were smoking something pretty strong when you suggested that I'd be able to pull off IMAZ after getting sick. You think I would've learned by now to trust you guys...Sheesh:)