Thursday, July 25: I am interested to see how I feel after the race, because at this point I wonder if the preparation to get to this point is almost more difficult than the race itself. What I mean is that I have been training for over a year. In that time I have been exercising six days a week and often completing between 2 and 8 hours training each day. This has meant that any of my friends that don't train with me have not seen me in more than 12 months. In addition, I have rarely had more than 7 hours of sleep each night, and on most days I am up before 5am to hit the gym. Even packing for this Ironman trip has been a huge chore. You would not believe the number of essential items I had to remember to bring with me. While it will be a long day for me on Saturday, I almost think of Ironman event itself like the process of quickly pulling off a band aid as compared to the road I have taken to get to this point.
I am trying to be at peace with whatever happens on Saturday. I feel that the calmer I am, the more that I trust my training, the better my race day experience will be. Things are falling into place. We are just now puling into the town of Windsor where we will be staying for the next two days. I have given myself enough time to actually get a full night's sleep, get to the Expo in a relaxed manner, and I also have all day tomorrow to look over the race course and actually get in a swim in the Russian River. The high on Saturday will be 80, which is perfect racing weather, especially considering it was 105 here just 4 weeks ago. All these things will help me be better prepared for the big day.
Friday, July 26: I had a decent night's sleep, and I actually feel more serene than I have felt in the last year. I won't let the fact that the competitors staying at my hotel all look more fit than I do bother me. I can only compare myself to who I was when I started this training.
Swim: Tomorrow I will be completing a 2.4 mile swim in the Russian River. At this time last year I could hardly go from one end of the pool to the other without gasping for breath. This is the area where I have grown the most this year. I know when I first decided to do Vineman, this part is what I was pretty sure might keep me from completing this race. In an Ironman, there is a time limit for each leg. That means it is possible for a person to get pulled from the race if they don't complete the swim or bike by a certain time. That was my biggest fear, but after a year of swim training I know I can complete this leg in under two hours.
This evening, Karrie, Emily, Leslie, and I went out to the Russian River start line and practiced some open water swimming with our wetsuits. I am so glad I took the time to do this. Swimming in open water is so very different from pool swimming. Not only is the water deeper, but you cannot see a thing to the right, left or below. I felt as if I was swimming with a green curtain completely around me. After a few minutes of practice I got used to the lack of visibility, and I was able to swim to one of the bridges and back. I am hoping that I can complete the swim leg of the race in under two hours.
Bike: Through the process of training for Ironman, I have realized that biking is actually my strength in triathlons. I love climbing up hills, and I spend less time squeezing my brakes on the downhills than I did in the beginning. I actually pushed my bike to almost 40 mph last weekend, and I had complete control of the bike and was not as scared as I have been in the past. The most difficult hill is called Chalk Hill, and we will encounter this challenge at both miles 50 and 100. Karrie and Leslie tell me it is the same difficulty as the road up to the Santa Rosa Plateau, so I am not too concerned. Last weekend I found this hill so much easier than in the past, and that is giving me confidence to tackle the hills in Vineman. I am thinking that I can finish the bike leg in 7-8 hours.
Run: I started out as a runner, so this was the part of the race I was least concerned about. However, for the last few weeks I have been have issues with my left IT Band (knee). It has not been terrible, but even in short miles my knee has been aching a little on the downhills. I did my training marathon in 4:51, but my best guess is that I can finish the run in less than 6 hours.
If you add all the times together, my over estimation is that I can finish it in under 16 hours. And I better reach this goal, because with my late swim time (6:45am) I really only have 16 hours and 15 minutes to complete the race or I will get a DNF (did not finish). I want to thank everyone for supporting me over the last year. If you want to follow me or my Ironman buddies, you can go to either of the links below (Karrie 673, Leslie 341, Emily 308, and Michelle 662):
Race Results 360
Results on the Vineman Website