37 years old
Sunny Southern Cali, US of A
NO AUTOGRAPHS, PLEASE.
JUST TAKE THE BUTTON...
HAVEN'T HAD CABLE SINCE THE MOVE SIX MONTHS AGO. NOW I HAVE THAT DIGITAL BOX THAT I GOT FREE WITH THE GOVERNMENT VOUCHER. I'M HOOKED ON THE FREE USN CHANNEL (NBC) THAT PLAYS OLD KONA SPECIALS FROM YEARS PAST!!!
THEN OF COURSE FOR THE HOURS I SPEND ON THE TRAINER...
MY O.G. IPOD SHUFFLE
PART 5: PUTTING THE SWIM BEHIND ME
ok, so this part is about the bike, THE LONGEST PART OF THE DAY, so consider yourself warned. does your wireless work in the bathroom?? you might wanna take the laptop in there with ya, maybe break this down into a few bathroom sessions...settle in folks, cuz y'all know how i like to be thorough....
out into the bike staging area, i run to the Powerbar banner and cut left heading for THE FUCKER. first order of business is to rip off the 2 extra gel flasks of Perpetuem and put them in the back of my jersey. for those of you who've been reading since the beginning, you'll recall that i experimented quite a bit with both sweet and savory flavors mixed into the plain flavored Perpetuem powder. i can't stand all the sweet, syrupy flavors for hours and hours, which means I CANNOT DO GELS, but alas the savory flavors that i liked the best required too much weight to ship in my bike case. i ultimately settled on two sweet flavors that i enjoyed enough and could alternate between flasks for a change in flavor from hour to hour. i brought the Mexican chocolate flavor of Abuelita that i was able to find in single serving hot chocolate powder packets. the second flavor was Chai Latte, also in powder form that i scooped into a small sandwich baggy for shipping in the bike case. it was a great mix between a Mexican hot chocolate drink and my very own Starbucks Chai Latte!! i'd also throw in some Luna Moons to mix up the flavor and consistency a bit more. if i don't, i'll get bored and quickly grow tired of getting in the much needed calories, and that would definitely spell D.I.S.A.S.T.E.R...
running with THE FUCKER now outta transition, i'm still stunned at my swim time, and i can't let it go. hands down my slowest swim EVAH. i'd been doing ocean swims since early March in all sorts of conditions, glassy, choppy, big ass surf AND strong currents. all swims indicated i could expect between a 1:15 and a 1:20 swim. this was the event i had in the bag!!! and i'm not the sort of cyclist who can make up time, rather, i JUST BARELY HOLD MY OWN, so there's no making up 18 MINUTES!!! now i'm running up to the mount line barefoot with my shoes clipped in the pedals, and there's a typical logjam of athletes all across the line and about 3 people deep. this just looks like a cluster fuck that i want no part of, so in my typical fashion, i run several yards past everyone up ahead and onto the bike course to finally mount off to the side. athlete's and spectators always look at me funny like i'm breaking a rule or something by running past them to mount. once again, remember, the mount line is only there to designate that you have to mount PAST IT. there's no rule that says you have to mount within 3 feet past it...
a'ight!!! THE FUCKER and i are now ONE. i slowly begin my pedal off to the side of the course as i put my feet into my shoes and velcro in. now it's time to keep it aero and spin at 85-90 rpm for 99% of the distance. once again, the laughter starts up. i'm smiling and laughing and just STILL CAN'T BELIEVE I'M DOING THIS!! hell, i'm gonna be here longer than most, the longest segment to my day for sure. who wants to frown that long??
the course is a two loop repeat that goes from the race village in Jurere Beach out onto the highway and towards downtown Florianopolis where we'll hit the 2 hills. at the far end of Downtown, we'll pass the one bridge that connects the island to the mainland. out on this point heading towards the south bay of the island, we'll do the crazy ass zig zag through two highway tunnels, then head back out of Downtown back towards the north bay and onto the 3rd section of the loop heading closer towards our hotel in Canasvieiras. this portion is more rural and while not the part of the course that has the 2 prominent hills, it's a long false flat that moves into an obvious gradual climb. depending on whether the wind picks up, this may be where i'll start to hurt.
down the main drag and over a few speed bumps, then a right turn out onto a small 1/4 mile section of cobblestones before we really head out onto the course. just as we're riding through the cobblestone section, a Team Disney racer comes by and recognizes my LA Tri Club top...
Team Disney guy: "GO LA TRI!!!"
me: " go Team Disney!! DO IT FOR WEDGIE!!!"
he turns around and grabs a glance at me:
TDG: "YOU KNOW WEDGIE??"
me: "who doesn't know Wedgie?? DO IT FOR WEDGIE!!!"
he chuckles and continues on past me.
ok, time to focus on my bike strategy. i've got my computer going and set to only show elapsed time, heart rate, and cadence. NO SPEED. my main focus right now is to watch my heart rate and relax enough into a spin to get it to come down after the excitement of coming outta the water and transition. nothing but water until my heart rate comes down to at least 140. this will be a sign that my stomach has calmed down and is ready to take in and digest calories. before we're off the cobblestones, a man points out that one of my bottles has just launched. wow, ok, that happened a little earlier than i expected. do i turn around a go back for it?? NO.WAY. too many peeps still coming at me on the cobblestones. again, another cluster fuck of a disaster waiting to happen if i turn around here!! i'd planned for this with extra baggies mixed with my Gatorade Endurance and Carbo Pro, and i still had plenty to get me well to the next aid station and beyond. NOPE. KEEP GOING!!!
first onto a short 2-3 mile stretch of rural road heading towards the highway. there are several of us leapfrogging around for position. i pass someone, two minutes later, they pass me, and this continues for a while, but i'm happy to let them all pass as i'm still wanting to spin easy and get my heart rate to come down. i'm careful to observe the drafting rules, as they warned that the referees would be strict. apparently IM Brasil and other foreign races are notorious for racers drafting, so if you're going for a goal like Kona, sometimes you gotta get in the game to hold your own. me though, not so much going for Kona, so i'll try to follow the rules. basically, you have to maintain a distance of 10 meters between your front wheel and the back wheel of riders in front of you. if you're gonna pass someone, you have 20 seconds to do it, and if you're being passed you have to stand down the 20 seconds and allow that person to pass you and reach the 10 meter limit before you can begin another pass. and just for good measure, all along the course, both on the rural roads AND the highway, there were several long strips of painted stripes spaced 10 meters apart. these weren't just for us to gauge our distance to other riders, but also a reference for the refs to quickly assess groups of riders and thereby penalize them with a yellow card if necessary. two yellow cards, and YOU'RE DISQUALIFIED. now i've never intentionally drafted off of someone in a race on the bike portion. i don't even like to train with others in a pace line situation. it just makes me too nervous, but here on race day, it's virtually impossible at some points to not be directly behind somebody just out of naturally being the same pace as them. did i wanna slow down to be out of their draft?? preferably not, especially when there's someone RIGHT ON MY ASS already. think they're gonna slow down behind me too?? not likely. and do i wanna speed up and try to pass this person in front of me?? can i keep up and STAY in front of them?? not likely. listen, man, i just wanna keep my spin going at 85-90 rpm and sit right where i am. this doesn't necessarily make me an intentional drafter...
now we're onto the highway towards downtown Florianopolis. we take the inside lane of the highway as traffic is open in the right lane. i'm spotting the shards of the plastic cones that have already shattered on the course. gotta watch out for these and not catch a flat, so im carefully steering THE FUCKER around the worst of it. heart rate is coming down, and i'm just about 20 minutes into the bike, so it's time to start taking in calories and continue taking them in until i'm done with the distance. i start with the Mexican chocolate flask. the full nutrition strategy is to eat and drink certain fractions of my flasks and drink bottles on the 15's and salt with one Salt Stick cap on the 30's. if it got really warm or humid or i started to cramp, i had extra salt caps and would bump up to two on the 30's. this was enough of an assignment to keep me focused for quite a while, but it was also time to start "THE SOUNDTRACK"...
THE SOUNDTRACK is a list of songs that show up in my big "workout" playlist on the ipod shuffle. in training, i NEVER listen to my ipod on the bike. it's just not safe, EVER, but i do use it quite a lot for the run as well as listen to my favorite triathlon and Portuguese related podcasts while driving or lifting weights or dreadmill running at the gym. on the bike, though, i like to keep myself focused and my cadence up by singing choruses of songs to myself over and over. thing is, there's a gamillion songs on my ipod, and when i'm on the bike, it's difficult to recall them outta thin air. so in the days before the race, i made a much shorter playlist of "The Power Songs," the tried and true songs with the choruses that just keep me going forward no matter what. i listened to it quite a bit during race week to ingrain the few songs i'd need out there into my conscious. i've changed the songs on the cassette player up top to THE SOUNDTRACK, and i'll share snippets of the verses and the choruses here and there throughout the rest of the report:
so we're gonna get this party started with a little Stevie Wonder, a little salsa/merengue/funk inspired ditty titled "Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing."
Todo 'sta bien chévere...You got that??
Everybody needs a change
A chance to check out the new
But you're the only one to see
The changes you take yourself through
Don't you worry 'bout a thing
Don't you worry 'bout a thing, mama
Cause I'll be standing on the side
When you check it out...Yeah
When you get it off...your trip
Don't you worry 'bout a thing...Yeah
Don't you worry 'bout a thing...Yeah
and sometimes i'm not just singing my soundtrack quietly inside to myself. so i'm pluggin' along, holding aero pretty strong and i hit the first hill on the course. it's not too steep or too long, but when i come down the backside, i let THE FUCKER FLY!!! the roads are still kinda sketchy, with shards of plastic cones everywhere and clumped with crack seal in spots, so i'm letting loose and watching for crap in the road about 4 feet ahead of me. imagine how insane i must look to the others around me as i'm flyin' downhill and wailing my Stevie Wonder lyrics...heading up over the second hill which is a bit longer and steeper, i look down and realize that the metallic pen marks i made to set where my bullhorns go are misaligned and now my aerobars are sloping downwards. i must've not tightened the stem enough when i put THE FUCKER together out of the case. great, this is gonna cause some back pain if i don't fix it. i get to the top and have to pull over to the right, now standing THISCLOSE to the moving traffic in the right hand lane, to pull up on the horns and realign the metallic marks. damn, i hope this holds. i don't wanna have to keep stopping for this...
the course is marked with large, yellow painted icons marking the distance every 10k and 15k or so. luckily, i learned just before the race that 112 miles converts to 180k. you'd think that the number 180 instead of 112 would mess with me mentally, but when the markers come faster and more frequently, there's also a sense of major accomplishment!!! coming into Downtown now, the yellow icon reads "2ok," but first a quick out and back towards the University. there's activity on the streets, but there's really not a whole lotta cheering crowds anywhere. occasionally, i see a few clumps of kids, and it seems as though they're cheering for us, but soon i notice their collection of water bottles and realize they're just yelling out for us to throw ours to them. screw that!! i'm keeping these suckers for souvenirs!!
heading into Downtown now and this is where the road conditions are the smoothest on the entire course, so it's really an opportunity to stay fully aero and spin with no worries. the course is now winding along the Malecón waterfront. there are droves of people all out, but i get the sense they're more so out for their Sunday stroll than to really watch and cheer for anybody in particular. still, they look on with interest. lots of boats in the bay as well. lots to be distracted and inspired by, and still we're racing right along with the Sunday traffic which can get pretty heavy on this little island!!! the police and volunteers are doing a stellar job of keeping us all safe and in line with the cars, and at every aid station, every opportunity to wave and thank them, i do so with a beaming smile.
"MUITO OBRIGADA A TODOS!!!"at the aid stations i'm simply grabbing water to mix my own baggies into as the course offered Gatorade but not the Endurance formula i trained with and relied on for much of my basic sodium. as the bottles need filling, i pull over briefly to do so, but other than that, i'm moving forward the entire time all the while still eating, drinking and salting on schedule. the course feels flat, smooth, and a little more exposed to the wind along the Malecón, so i'm inspired to change up the soundtrack a bit to reflect the hustle and bustle of of the Brasilian Sunday going on all around me. i envision if there were a music video of this moment, the camera would be stationary on a tripod and the edit would be a sped up stop and start of all the racers on bikes, the traffic and traffic lights, the locals, the boats, all reflecting the build up of excitement that's going on inside of me!!! i now move onto the Athens Georgia band, Of Montreal, and a song titled "We Were Born The Mutants Again With Leafling." the beat is a mellow but driving ambient/electro groove that nearly mimics my cadence. there's a cacophony of casio keyboard-like samples of what sound like the bell chorus that used to play at assembly at my junior high, but it's the little sing song voices in between the verses that really keep me going. the title and lyrics, though, make absolutely no sense and perfect sense all at the same time. kinda like us going for the Iron Dream ya know? one second it makes no sense and we question what we're doing out on this course, and in the next instant, the grey clouds part and we continue plodding on with more resolve than ever!!! seriously, peeps, this is the kinda shit i need to think about to keep me distracted and moving forward!!!
(thank you everyone!!)
No mere limp verse could incite
Our particles are in motion
Sometimes we're not legible
but we're the same strange animal
Let them say our love is peculiar, don't care
There's only now, no ever after
we won't let this end in disaster
You are my twin, no, I will never go there
i'm now coming up on the second distinct section of the course heading past the Hercilio Luz Bridge towards the south bay of the island and the crazy ass maze of turns through the two highway tunnels. it had been explained to me on the course tour, and they even showed a powerpoint presentation with an animation of it at the athlete's meeting , but i was still confused as to how this was all gonna go down. once again though, the course was clearly marked, the volunteers were awesome, and i was making my way through the maze without much incident. this part is kinda fun because you get to pass others coming and going from opposite directions. i take a look at people who are now on the opposite side of the road, clearly behind me on the bike, and i get a new burst of confidence. there's dudes on way slicker rides than THE FUCKER, wearing aero helmets AND sporting disc wheels, and i know they're not on their second lap yet. no matter that soon they would pass me. right now, right at this second, I'M AHEAD OF THEM. all it really meant was that perhaps they're not the strongest swimmers, maybe they even had the unlucky fortune of catching a flat early on, but i'd held them off for more than 40k. right now, right at this second, I'M AHEAD OF THEM. i stop again out on this section to remix some more of my Gatorade Endurance and Carbo Pro, and soon i'm passing the 50k mark on the road and heading back towards Downtown. i start to get distracted with the marker i'd just passed. i start looking at my watch and trying to do the math.
"ok, so i'm roughly over a quarter of the way, and it took me such and such time to get here. so that time multiplied x4, well maybe i can get the bike done in under 7 hours!!! ok, so my swim sucked ass, but now if i can do the bike in under 7 hours, that still gives me just under 6 hours to come outta t2, run the marathon and come in under my goal of between 14:00 and 14:30. still, i have no idea how my run is gonna go, but i think i can pull it off in under 6. i can't remember the last time i ran a marathon in over 6 hours, but then again, i still don't know how i'm gonna feel, and i've never run a marathon after 114.4 miles of swim and bike first..."
back in Downtown, i start to see the lead pack of men coming in the opposite direction. now i'm distracted with looking out for Oli. i wonder where he is and whether he's on pace to his goal of breaking the 10 hour mark, but it's too dangerous to take my eyes off the road for too long. STAY FOCUSED!! next, i check in with THE FUCKER. yes, you read it right, i start talking to my ride...
"FUCKER you are so friggin' awesome!!! i can't believe how smooth you're riding after all we went through to get here. thanks for all the hours of training you've given me. thanks for hanging in today. please, let's just keep going strong, k?? no flats, let's just not get any flats, not today," then the laughing starts up again..."FUCKER, WE'RE REALLY HERE, AND WE'RE REALLY DOING THIS!! WE'RE DOING IRONMAN!!!"
now through Downtown and back up over the hills toward the 3rd section of the loop. i pass the 60k mark and my mind goes back to doing more math...
"ok, so now i'm exactly a 3rd of the way there. such and such time multiplied x3 and I'M DEFINITELY ON TRACK FOR A 7 HOUR BIKE!!! but can i keep this pace?? am i gonna hurt on the next lap?? and still 6 hours, 6 hours to come outta t2, run the marathon and come in under my goal of between 14:00 and 14:30. still, i have no idea how my run is gonna go, but i think i can pull it off in under 6. i can't remember the last time i ran a marathon in over 6 hours, but then again, i still don't know how i'm gonna feel, and i've never run a marathon after 114.4 miles of swim and bike first...STOP!!!! STOP WITH THE CALCULATIONS!! STAY.IN.THE.MOMENT!!"
from here on out, i refuse to do anymore math, barely look at my watch anymore. it's time to simply focus on my cadence, my heart rate, and make sure i'm still getting those calories in as scheduled. so far i haven't missed one feeding. ok, and it's time to get back to THE SOUNDTRACK up over these hills. let's move onto another song, shall we?? next up is a friend from my past, Jill Scott from Philly, with "Golden," a nice 70's funk inspired tune that inspires and brings out the inner afro in me...
I'm takin' my own freedom
Puttin' it in my song
Singin' loud and strong
Groovin' all day long
I'm takin' my freedom
Puttin' it in my stroll
I be high-stepping ya'll
Lettin' the joy unfold
Livin' my life like it's golden
Livin' my life like it's golden
Livin' my life like it's golden
Livin' my life like it's golden
Livin' my life like it's golden, golden
I'm holdin' on to my freedom
Can't take it from me
I was born into it
It comes naturally
I'm strummin' my own freedom
Playin' the God in me
Representin' His glory
Hope He's proud of me!
i'm GOLDEN for sure now, back up over the hills and onto the last leg of the loop. it's a false flat, wind isn't too strong, but this was the one part of the course we cut short on the tour earlier in the week. i just don't know how far this false flat goes before the turnaround, nor am i recognizing any of the people coming back from the turnaround in the other direction. i have no gauge of where i'm at in the pack or when this is gonna end. it's starting to mess with me mentally...
"FOR FUCK'S SAKE, HOW FAR DOES THIS GO?? WHERE'S THE FRIGGIN' TURNAROUND? I DON'T RECOGNIZE ANY OF THESE FOOLS COMING BACK. THEY ALL LOOK FAST. I MUST HAVE MILES TO GO!!! THIS SUCKS BALLS..."
ok, the mind is definitely playing tricks on me. STAY.FOCUSED.THIS TO SHALL PASS. NO.FREAKING OUT!!! i've gotta snap outta this. need to pull a doozy outta THE SOUNDTRACK to get me through this rough spot, and i've come up with the perfect answer. this one's by The Flaming Lips, titled "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song (With All Your Power)", and it does just that. it gives me POWER...
If you could make your own money and then give it to everybody
Would you do it?
If you knew all the answers and could give it to the masses
Would you do it?
No no no no no no are you crazy?
It's a very dangerous thing to do exactly what you want
Because you cannot know yourself or what you'd really do
With all your power
With all your power
With all your power
What would you do?
along this leg, the scenery is more rural and people are out closer to the roads cheering. i get the sense that they think i'm a local Brasileira because they scream a little louder for me than they do for Mighty Whitey (he was French actually) who's just up ahead. i'll take all the local love i can get. it makes me smile again, laugh some more, and yell back..
"MUITO OBRIGADA FLORIPA!!!"
(thank you Floripa!!)
FINALLY!!! i make it to the turnaround. turns out it was only about a 2 mile out and back, but without knowing where i was going, it felt like FOREVER!! and now it's the opposite of the false flat. i take this opportunity to use gravity and mash a little back to the turnoff off the highway. now, it's only about 4k to the halfway mark and special needs. i'm careful to watch out for more orange plastic shards and the HUGE BRICK SIZE REFLECTORS in the road. back over the short cobblestone section and getting closer to transition, the crowds are thick, and people are cheering in a gamillion different languages. on my left i hear a volunteer call out my number on a megaphone. i stop and wait for my special needs bag, but he ushers me along indicating that i still need to go to the end of the block, turnaround, and my bag will be ready on the return coming back in the other direction. DOH!! SUCH EFFICENCY!!! up at the end of the turn, the crowds are going apeshit, and I.AM.A.ROCKSTAR!! they must think i'm Brasileira, i'm certain they do, and then the announcer calls out my name and says i'm from The States, but i correct him...
"MAS, HOJE, SOU BRASILEIRA!! OBRIGADA BRASIL!!!"
(but today, i'm Brasilian!!! thank you Brasil!!)
the crowd goes apeshit again. they've adopted me, and now i'm one of them!!! coming around the bend i see the volunteers holding out several special needs bags, and i've already identified mine with the pink vinyl tape. sure enough, it's another HAWTIE who's got a hold of it. i grab it from him and slowly come to a stop to survey the goodies inside. i immediately go for the potato chips and the Snickers and damn they've never tasted so good!!! he walks with me, grabbing for THE FUCKER and tells me he'll hold my ride for me if i need to use the porta potty. YESSS!! my very own bike valet!!! so i hop into the porta potty, take a quick whizzz, and reapply more chammy butter to the bike shorts. so far no chafing, no fire crotch, but i'm already sittin' on the pot, so why not reapply for good measure?? outta the porta potty now and one last scan of the bag. i grab for more baggies of drink powder but leave the ton of other Luna Moons and Sports Beans in there as i still had a ton left in the bento box that i hadn't even eaten yet.
90K DOWN. I'M HALFWAY THERE!!!
now back out onto the cobblestones for a short jaunt before heading out onto the highway again. i don't wanna launch another bottle here, so i slow down a bit and take this opportunity to check in with myself, see how i'm doin' physically..
ass chafe?? nope.
THE SASCROTCH?? holding up. nothing major.
feet?? cool and dry.
quads?? feeling it, but holding up.
hammies?? same as above.
lips?? could use some bert's beeswax back in t2.
miraculously, i'm still in good shape. could i hold up the whole way? was i gonna slow down on the second loop?? STOP IT!! STOP IT!! STAY.IN.THE.MOMENT.
heading back out for the second loop, i'm now recharged by the crowds. there's an advantage to the 2 loop format of the course, and even if i may start feeling the fatigue setting in, there's no mystery to this second time around. i know which parts are gonna suck more than others, and i know which parts i can rock on. i'm back out onto the highway now, and I SPOT OLI!!! he's flying, and by my calculations, has about 20k to go. at this point, he's well on his way to hitting his goal!!! but shit, he's almost done, and i'm JUST heading out for the second loop.
the pack is definitely thinning now, and i'm not passing anyone anymore. i wanna hit those downhills again. i need to coast a little. i also need to switch up THE SOUNDTRACK. seeing Oli has inspired me to channel a little Brit punk number from Ian Dury titled, "Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll", a sly, Cockney pub-rock anthem that's such a nod to the old me and such the antithesis of the lifestyle i've adopted to get me to today...
Sex and drugs and rock and roll
Sex and drugs and rock and roll
Sex and drugs and rock and roll
Is very good indeed
Every bit of clothing ought to make you pretty
You can cut the clothing, grey is such a pity
I should wear the clothing of Mr. Walter Mitty
See my tailor, he's called Simon, I know it's going to fit
Here's a little piece of advice
You're quite welcome it is free
Don't do nothing that is cut price
You know what that'll make you be
They will try their tricky device
Trap you with the ordinary
Get your teeth into a small slice
The cake of liberty
i've made it back over the hills and back into Downtown now, heading towards the University again. i'm now leapfrogging with a few women i've never seen before. they musta been way behind me and now they've caught up. WTF?? i must be slowing down. WTF?? i feel the sudden urge to challenge and surge past them, but i know what a stupid move that would be. along the Malecón again, and the wind has picked up a little bit. nothing too scary, but i'm definitely feeling a little more resistance. no worries. i just gotta keep my spin going, and that might require a smaller gear. i'm definitely letting these women slip ahead of me now, and it's REALLY MESSING WITH ME...
"i'm slow. i suck, and this whole thing is going south now... stop. stop. STOP.IT. you knew there were gonna be parts that sucked. so you're in one right now. it's not gonna suck forever, so JUST KEEP SPINNING!!! THIS.TOO.SHALL.PASS..."
i'm a little low now. i need some help. i need Jimmy Cliff and "You Can Get It If You Really Want." notice, i've changed up the spelling of the lyrics a bit...
You can get it if you really want
You can get it if you really want
You can get it if you really want
But you must TRI, TRI and TRI TRI and TRI,
you'll succeed at last I know it, listen
Rome was not built in a day
Opposition will come your way
But the hotter the battle you see
It's the sweeter the victory, now
You can get it if you really want - I know it
You can get it if you really want - don't I show it!!!
You can get it if you really want
so don't give up now
Jimmy Cliff is getting me through this. THE FUCKER is getting me through this. I AM GETTING ME THROUGH THIS. the two women are way up ahead and out of view now, and there's nothing i can do about it. gotta race my own race, and right now i'm not racing, I'M JUST SURVIVING. but i AM surviving, and i'm now at the crazy ass tunnels again. they give me a little protection from the wind, and i'm happy for the shelter. it's getting harder and harder to get the calories in, not because my stomach is rejecting anything, but i'm definitely sick of the Perpetuem. i switch it up to Luna Moons for a feeding, and it seems to break up the monotony a little. turning around at the first tunnel and heading towards the second tunnel, i happen upon another Team Disney racer. i recognize this guy now. i've seen him at some of the Wednesday morning ocean swims in Santa Monica and of course at Nautica Malibu where they dominate the entertainment industry challenge every year. it's Nabil, and he's here for the second year in a row, and he says the winds are nothing like last year which makes me feel a little better, but just a little, and then i feel like a total wuss. seriously peeps, I DO NOT LIKE THE WIND, not even a little breeze. i'd just assume ride straight uphill a 100 miles in the big ring only than have to head into any wind. we ride side by side for a little bit which is TOTALLY AGAINST THE RULES, but it's nice to have a conversation out loud for a second and not have to sing songs in my head. Nabil starts to move ahead and i wish him well.
"GO ON NABIL!! DO IT FOR WEDGIE!!"
he laughs and is on his way to the next tunnel turnaround. i'm not far behind him, and we wave now heading in opposite directions. i make the turnaround and head one last time in the opposite direction for home. this is it. i just gotta make it to the furthest turnaround, and then from here on out, i'm pretty much heading home!! just then i come up upon one of the women who'd passed me earlier, and she's throwing a water bottle. she's not in a designated throw away zone, nor does she notice the ref sitting on the motorcycle to the side of the road. OH SNAP. YELLOW CARD. she looks totally bewildered and tries to explain that she was throwing it to the kids, but the ref isn't buyin' it and continues to hold the yellow card in her face. now she's gotta sit and wait there 5 minutes...
"SEE YA. WOULDN'T WANNA BE YA..."
THESE REFS ARE SERIOUS AS A HEART ATTACK!! there's no way i'm throwin' those kids any of my bottles now. almost to the turnaround and i see the other woman who had passed me earlier. i was certain they were both gone for good, but i can see that she's slowing down now too. maybe not enough for me to catch her, but she's not as far ahead as i thought. see how this day can switch up on you??
"WHATEVER, BEYOTCH. I'LL CATCH YOU ON THE RUN FOR SURE."
(hey, it's healthy to have a just a LITTLE competition in your day isn't it?)
i'm at about the 50k mark of the second loop and heading for home. i'm definitely feeling the fatigue, maybe even slowing down a bit, but nothing worse than anything i've ever felt on any of my longest training rides. just gotta get back through Downtown and up over those hills ONE LAST TIME while keeping it spinning comfortably. i need a kick ass fast song right now. even if i'm not going fast in this wind, i need a song that makes me feel fast. i can't believe i haven't called on my boy PRINCE all day!!! nothing does it for me like Prince, and there's no bigger Prince fan than me out here today. i mean, i did faint at his concert and all. it's not one of his hit singles, but a kick-ass number nonetheless. the beat is super syncopated in layers of drums and hand claps that make me wanna dance across a room all crazy like James Brown. it's titled "Tamborine" and in true Prince fashion, it's straight up dirty, but it's makin' me feel like i'm flyin' even though i'm not...
Oh my God here U are
Prettiest thing in life I've ever seen
Close my eyes what's it like,
What's it like inside your tamborine?
Oh my God, there I go
Falling in love with the face in a magazine (uh oh, not again)
All alone by myself
Me and I play my tamborine
Long days, lonely nights
Long days, lonely nights
"ok, here come the hills. come on FUCKER, let's just get this done. slow and steady, i don't care. let's just get this done, k??"
heading up the hills, the traffic is building up in the right lane. car after car all the way up. they look out there windows, some blaring some spicy tunes, some of them waving their hands, an occasional gratuitous honk, but most of them looking at us like we're insane and we're slowing their whole day down. i'm starting to catch up to a group of about 6 guys now. these are grown men with names like "Rodrigo" and "Paulo" and "Gustavo" on their bibs, and i am stuck in a clump with them going up the second hill. i'm tired, i don't wanna push it or mash up this hill, but i can't get out of this clump. we're still against the bumper to bumper traffic in the right lane, so i can't see that a ref is gonna come up on us. fuck it. i'm stayin' put right behind Rodrigo and Paulo and the rest of his hombres can sit on my ass too for all i car. can they really get us for drafting going UPHILL?? almost to the top, and we're now leapfrogging with a public bus in the right lane. there's a bunch of kids sitting in the back and they go NUTS when they see me. i think that they must see this woman who's hangin' in there with all these guys and they think i'm cool. at least that's what i wanna believe. hey, it's helping. they slide the windows open and halfway hang their bodies out the side of the bus to high five me. they start chanting my name. not Rodrigo or Paulo or Gustavo. MY NAME!!!
"MO-NI-CA!!! MO-NI-CA!!! MO-NI-CA!!! MO-NI-CA!!!"
i want my camera so bad right now!! i wanna take their picture. i wanna remember each and every one of their beautiful little faces. they're just clownin' at the back of the bus, but they have no idea what they're doing for me right now. but i don't think the dudes in my pack appreciate it OR ME. on the downhill i start to fly, letting go of the brakes completely and pedaling as fast as i can until there's just nowhere to spin and i'm at about 150 rpm. i'm assuming these guys speak Portuguese, so i make sure that there's no language barrier here...
i wait to see if any of the boys will attack, and of course they do. these are LATIN MEN AFTER ALL!!!
so i just fall back into the middle of the pack. i slowly begin trying to pass one or two of them, cuz, well, as hot as Rodrigo's ass is, i'm just sick of being behind it, and i'll be damned if i get a yellow card. but the boys are relentless and insist on challenging me at every move. really? cuz from where i'm sittin', it's pretty obvious to me that we're not in the contention for any Kona slots here. are you gonna get an award for beating this one girl?? FOR BULLYING THIS ONE GIRL?? this is stupid. i'm nearly done. i'm almost there, and i still have to run a marathon after this. I.DO.NOT.WANT.TO.BLOW.UP. JUST LET ME OUTTA HERE ALREADY!!!
this definitely evokes a new song from THE SOUNDTRACK. it's all i can do not to fly off the handle and throw something or spit at these macho fucks. really, I'M.THAT.PISSED
... a little American Rock classic from Tom Petty
from a solo stint without The Heartbreakers
, but it still appears on their Greatist Hits Collection. it's titled "I Won't Back Down."
it's not even a song that originally appeared on THE SOUNDTRACK, but the beat is mellow, slow, and steady, and the lyrics will help me calm down, help me find my resolve...
Well I won't back down, no I won't back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won't back down
Gonna stand my ground, won't be turned around
And I'll keep this world from draggin' me down
Gonna stand my ground and I won't back down
Hey baby, there ain't no easy way out
Hey I will stand my ground
And I won't back down.
Well I know what's right, I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin' me around
But I'll stand my ground and I won't back down
we're just a few miles from heading into the last segment of the loop, the false flat. nobody has moved, and i'm right in the middle. suddenly i sense something, a presence, to my right. i can hear the engine of a motorcycle and it's hovering within earshot. i'm afraid to turn my head, afraid to take my eyes off the road when i'm in the middle of the pack. it's so dangerous. but a few more seconds, and the motorcycle has not passed us. it's still hovering.
i quickly look over my shoulder and right into the eyes of the ref through the dark visor of her helmet. yes, i'm pretty certain it was a female ref. i gave her a look to say, "what can i do?? these fucks won't let up!!!"
but the look back was something like "you better make a move or you're ass is mine..."
and here i was in the middle of the pack looking like the worst offender. so i stand up outta the saddle for a few good mash pedals to ramp up the speed. then i tuck into aero, hold a big gear and pedal as fast as i can to get outta the soup. i'm pedaling for dear life now, and i'm feeling it. this hurts. it feels like a night doing intervals on the trainer at home. these stupid fucks are ruining my day with this macho shit. i fiercely pedal for about 10 more seconds and then look back to see if i'm holding my own, but THERE'S NOBODY THERE!!! SWEET BABY JESUS!!! back in the distance, i can see one lone guy, but then behind him the motorcycle is stopped with the other 4 guys and they're all flailing their arms. OH SNAP. YELLOW CARD.
guess, when i took off, the rest of the pack didn't disperse enough. this makes me channel my inner Faye Dunnaway in Mommy Dearest...
"DON'T FUCK WITH ME, FELLAS!! THIS AIN'T MY FIRST TIME AT THE RODEO!!"
now up onto the false flat, and i know i have to spin easy to let my legs recover from "the showdown" but i'm good. really, i'm good. what, maybe 20 more minutes?? a half hour?? 45?? no matter. i just have to spin spin spin and stay the hell away from anymore bullies. must keep feeding. time to switch from the thick pancake batter Perpetuem to all Luna Moons now for easiest digestion. gotta keep salting. keep drinking. don't lose focus now. what song do i wanna bring it in with?? somethin' feel good. somethin' fast?? no, instead i opt for a slower tune that i like to cool down with. it's time to cool down. it's time to calm the heart rate and get ready to be upright again. this one comes by way of England and another super fav of mine, David Bowie
. it's titled "Heroes."
it's got a slow, driving 4/4 beat i remember well as one of the first easy songs i learned to play on the drums in high school. the guitars and horns are classically layered like an early 50's rock tune. it reminds of something you'd hear during the rolling credits of a killer flick, so it's perfect as the rolling credits to the end of my ride. Bowie starts off kinda low with his voice, but by the end he's screaming and wailing with everything he's got. kinda how i feel now. i'm exhausted, but not too far gone, and i'm gonna scream and wail my way to the end of this bike course with everything i have left. but it's gonna have to be a slow drivin' scream and wail...
I, I will be king
And you, you will be queen
Though nothing will drive them away
We can be Heroes, just for one day
We can be us, just for one day
I, I can remember (I remember)
Standing, by the wall (by the wall)
And the guns, shot above our heads (over our heads)
And we kissed, as though nothing could fall (nothing could fall)
And the shame, was on the other side
Oh we can beat them, for ever and ever
Then we could be Heroes, just for one day
We can be Heroes
We can be Heroes
We can be Heroes
Just for one day
We can be Heroes
coming off the highway now, and i've got enough smile left to flash a sweet shaka for the camera. that's gotta be a good sign right?? really, i think i'm good. i think i've played this smart. just about another mile now, and the hardest part is done. at least i hope it's the hardest part...
i'm coming down the main drag, past the Endurance Sports
hospitality house where all the friends and family are parked on the lawn and cheering with everything they can shake, rattle or roll. now it' just about 200 yards and up over a few speed bumps, so i start to sit up a little and take my feet outta my shoes. OH MAN THAT FEELS SO GOOD..."we did it, FUCKER, we did it...but i'm so afraid to stand up..."
PART 4: THE DAY I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR
so from here on out, there's not a whole lotta pictures to tell "THE STORY." both Oli and i were racing, and neither of us had friends or family there for support. i felt a little sad about this, but i knew i had a whole team of peeps back home and all around the blogosphere in my corner, and that felt solid. so it's a whole lotta words now with not many pics. hope you can follow along...
race eve was pretty quiet. once the bike and bags are dropped off, there's really not mush else you can obsess about. it's done. now, i just had to lay low, relax and stay off my feet. we went down to dinner in the hotel as soon as it opened. the vibe was a little more intense than previous nights, and since i really hadn't spent much time to get to know many of the people that well, i didn't want to linger long and pick up on any of the anxiety. we went back up to the room, and the last thing i had to do was mix up my Perpetuem and put it in the freezer. we watched a little mindless tv and were off to bed by 8pm. i was amazed at how i was managing to stay so calm. i wasn't necessarily tired at 8pm, but i got in bed with my copy of Going Long and reread the chapter on race day prep and strategy. as i'm starting to read, i hear some noise coming from below my hotel window, just some guys talking and later cheering, but the acoustics make it sound as if they're sitting in my room. here we go again. just my luck. it seems as though i have the misfortune on the eve of races to be plagued with noise outside wherever i'm sleeping. whether it's my annoying neighbors who decide to throw a party the night before i'm to run a marathon or the Nascar dudes next door to us at our hotel for IMAZ, it never fails. i'm always the old hag telling people to pipe down. so i'm still reading, and i get up to take a look outside my balcony. turns out it's OUR SHUTTLE DRIVERS, and they're all listening to the radio broadcast of a fútbol game from outside the window of one shuttle. mind you, these guys have been AWESOME shuttling us from here and there all week. they're totally committed to making our week run as smoothly as possible, but be damned if you try to tell some Brasilians NOT to get excited about their fútbol!!! so i opened the door to my balcony which was enough to get their attention, and they immediately apologized and quieted down. i still felt like a grandma though. lastly, before shutting off the light i reread my LIST/SCREENPLAY. i wanted to meditate on it one last time, wanted to envision a successful race with all its highs and lows as i drifted into slumber.
surprisingly, no tossing and turning. this alarmed me though. why wasn't i worried?? why wasn't i freaking out?? great, here i was freaking out about not freaking out. all week i kept questioning whether i was respecting the distance. i mean, if i wasn't freaking out, i must not be respecting the distance right?? woke up to my alarm at 3:30am. Oli greeted me in the living room with a drowsy, knowing look on his face and a huge race morning hug. we were still half asleep, still trying to get our race morning calories in and get dressed to head down for one of the first shuttles. i had notes everywhere. notes on what no to forget out of the freezer, notes on what i was to eat now for breakfast and what i was to take with me to eat a little bit later, notes on my mental notes. the last thing i told Oli as we were heading down to the shuttle was that i knew he would finish hours before me and that if he'd given it all he planned to give, he'd for sure be heading to Kona. and if by giving it all he had to give, he had nothing left to make it back to the finish line to wait for me, i totally understood. he said no, he'd be there. i left my camera on the table for him in case he had the chance to grab a pic of me going by, but again, no pressure...
there were hardly any hotel guests in the lobby as we waited for the first of the shuttles. come on people?? i know we're on island time here, but Ironman waits for nobody!!! so we made it on the first shuttle with maybe 3 other racers. the 10 minute shuttle ride WAS.QUIET. it was still pitch black as we got off and made our way to the race entry. first up was body marking, and there was Carlos volunteering, our fellow hotel guest who'd broken his wrist earlier that week while out on a training ride. he had a beaming smile on his face!!! despite all he'd gone through, despite being this close to his first Ironman and then getting injured, he was still excited for all of us. what a stand up guy!!!! body marking was the standard affair, both arms, hands, but instead of our legs being marked with our ages, it was marked with a letter code for our age group.
now off to transition where Oli and i split up to head to our rides but agreed we'd meet at the wooden walkway to the swim start by 6:00. i hadn't covered my bike with anything the night before and it was pretty wet. every time i'd dry off the seat, it'd be wet again two minutes later. i had yet more notes for all the setup i had to do. first, attach computer to bike, then bento box, then tubes and co2, then salt stick turbo boosters, 1 gel flask of Perpetuem in the flask holder on the downtube, then tape 2 extra flasks of to top tube, then aero drink bottle to aero bottles, then fill bottle, 3 other bottles in cages with most important calories in seat tube cage, and lastly, rubberband shoes to frame. just as i was getting into the tasks, Oli comes over to check in. he tells me they're letting people have access to their race bags. SUWEEET!!! i'd have a chance to make sure my helmet was there. so i head to the changing tent area. sure enough, helmet is there as promised. except once again, the well-oiled machine does not let me go backwards through the changing tent. nope. i gotta go all the way around to the front entrance. no worries, it's still pitch black out, 45 minutes 'til i need to meet up with Oli. i'm golden, i'm calm, cool and collected. what the hell is wrong with me? why aren't i freaking out yet?? back to THE FUCKER again, everything is set to go. and as scheduled, now i gotta make a trip to the porta potty. but ya know where i gotta go?? right back where i just came from. DOH!! on my way there a guy comes up to me from behind...
"excuse me, but are you the one who just wants the tattoo??"
NO FUCKING WAY. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??
i can't stop laughing. i've been spotted in Brasil. turns out it's Steve. i don't know his last name, but he's also from Team Disney and had been turned onto my blog through Wedgie's. i gotta say, no friends, no family of my own here, but what a huge compliment to come all the way to Brasil and be recognized for my blog. so Steve, if you still read this thing, you made my day, dude. SHOUT OUT TO STEVE FROM TEAM DISNEY!!! we gabbed and gabbed about Wedgie, i told him about my adventures with his teammate Ben in the Sao Paulo airport, we wished each other well, and i laughed my ass off inside to myself all the way to the shitter. got my pre-race dump handled. YESSSS!!! things are looking up. this time though, i decide to stay out of transition and go for a little warm up run, just 5 minutes down the main drag of the run course and back. traffic is now picking up and racers are filing in in droves...
back to transition and it's now time to change into the wetsuit and pack the dry clothes for drop off. i'm looking around for Oli and now i'm confused. was he coming back to my rack in transition or were we still meeting at the wooden walkway?? i thought i could just look around and find him easily, but no luck. suddenly, i'm at a loss. would i find him again before the gun went off or was this it?? oh well, couldn't worry about it now. i change into the wetsuit, put all my dry clothes in the designated bag for drop off, and grab the last of my FRS, the caffeinated Clif Bloks i'd eat just 10 minutes before go time and my Hammer Gel to tuck in my wetsuit leg for the halfway exit out of the swim. as i'm walking out of the changing tent, Oli appears and we make our way to the swim beach. we wanted to get in the water beforehand and try to read the current, but as we head in, they start calling the athletes to begin entering the swim corral. really?? we still have 30 minutes don't we?? we weren't really in long enough to feel for the current, but it felt like it was pulling opposite of how it'd been pulling all week. now we had to rush back around through the spectators to get into the corral and back to the left where we wanted to be staged. you could tell everyone had the same idea as we were all clustered to one side of a huge corral. i had been on the fence about where to start. COACH gave me a few options, and i ultimately decided to start to the front but to the far right. i felt strong enough to hold my own and take a straight line left to the buoy rather than be in front and center or in the thick of it all from the middle of the pack. what was definitely never in the cards for me was to wait at the back. i'm a strong enough swimmer, i don't get freaked by crowds and pushing and shoving, but i didn't wanna be at the front and center where it really gets gnarls. Oli had the same strategy, so we lined up together. he starts to get a little more intense now, starts sizing up the competition around us. the boys are definitely starting to get rowdy. i swear if any of them gets rough, i'm going straight for a blow to the nuts!!! 5 minutes until go time now and the crowd is getting riled up. there's a banner strip separating us from the pros who are lined up onn the other side with just a 10 yard heard start. not a very great advantage i'd say, but i guess with a pack of only 1253 participants, it's not as much of an issue. i see our Endurance Sports Travel host, Ken Glah, helping to accommodate the few athletes with disabilities including our fellow hotel guest, Amy, who's got one amputated leg. there are few other guides/volunteers helping a local Brasilian athlete who appears to be paralyzed from the waste down. it's these athletes who truly inspire me!! we really are lucky to be here and about to do this!! 1 minute to gun time now and still i'm relatively calm. i really just wanna get on with it now!!! i take one final look at Oli and he gives me the biggest hug. we'd been inseparable up until the gun, and it made all the difference for me with any anxiety i may have had. and for this i will be eternally grateful..
"well, honey. this is it!!! by tonight you'll be an Ironman!!!"
the gun goes off, and it's a frenzy into the water. i look over and see Oli stumble a bit as though he misstepped, but he's now well on his way up ahead of me into the water. heading into the soup, there was no surf to contend with, so it was a series of dolphin dives right into full swim mode. my heart rate was definitely racing just as it is at the start of any race. i'm definitely in the thick of the crowd, but everyone seems to be pretty civil, no more shoving and pushing than a typical race. i start to look for a draft and i think i've found one. now it was time to get focused on my form points.
- entry is wide
- hands go steep and deep
- hips are rotating with every entry
- shoulder above elbow, elbow above wrist, wrist above hand
- keep breaths straight to the side. don't let them turn you on your back
- long distance per stroke
- sight often and adjust for current
- continue to look for draft opportunities
- only swim as fast as your form stays good
all of a sudden, i'm chuckling to myself, and next minute I'M STRAIGHT UP LAUGHING HYSTERICALLY.
holy shit. I'M SWIMMING IN AN IRONMAN RIGHT NOW!!! I'M REALLY HERE!!!
i can't stop smiling, then chuckling and then laughing. this has never happened to me in a race or any other training situation, but i'm gonna roll with it. i'm right on the feet of one guy, but i think i can find someone faster, so i try to get around him. i keep doing this from one person to the next, all the while still laughing and trying to stay focused on my form points. still though, i'm not feeling the crazy claustrophobic feeling that everyone describes with Ironman. for me, no matter what the size of the crowd, i never get the sense of any great mass of people except for the people immediately around me, and they all seemed to be pretty tame. others would later describe this swim as brutal and vicious with tales of being tugged on, shoved and kicked but nope, not here. i struggled more with my fear of the jellyfish. i could feel a few through my hands here and there, but i just kept telling myself that they weren't the stinging kind. still i wasn't seeing any huge swarms of them with my goggles in the water, so that was good.
the swim course was shaped like an "M" where we swam up to the right side to the first point of the M. then we'd swim back in diagonally to shore, exit the water, run about 50 yards on the sand and then back into the water to swim the second portion of the M. the second portion was slightly shorter than the first, so my strategy was to go out slower for the first portion, assess my pace on shore, and then pick it up for the shorter portion. there at the first point sat the biggest buoy that kinda resembled a huge, orange traffic cone. on shore the day before, it appeared as tall as a two story building for sure, and the race directors swore that these would be impossible to miss from the water, but sighting them was still kinda difficult. i guess what was missing were intermediate buoys to help keep us on course. still, i sighted often and felt on course. up to the first point of the M and now over to the left a few hundred yards to a smaller intermediate buoy where we turned left and cut diagonal sighting off of a huge Powerbar hot air balloon that stood on shore. again, no intermediate buoys and the hot air balloon didn't seem as easy to sight as it appeared on land. by this point the pack was thinning out, and it was harder to find the next draft option, so i just sat on one person's feet all the way in. still feeling strong, still feeling comfortable, still swimming with good form, so no complaints. coming closer to shore, i began to hear the announcer and crowds of spectators cheering. i skipped up outta the water and looked down at my watch to assess where i was at.
44 MINUTES AND SOME CHANGE.
this was slower than i expected even considering that the first portion was longer than the second. i stopped to grab the Hammer Gel outta the leg of my wetsuit, suck as much of it down and wash it down with the water they had on shore. just then, outta nowhere, i hear a manic loud voice yelling at me. it was Ken Glah himself, running up to the barricade and nearly knocking it over, face all crazed and voice already sounding horse...
Ken Glah, race director and owner of Endurance Sports, in charge of over 500 racers and family members traveling from all over the world. i met him briefly for a minute in our hotel lobby, maybe had a two minute conversation with him, and somehow in the midst of all the race frenzy, all that neoprene, he ran up to cheer for me. ME!!! i can't tell you what a boost it was. i definitely felt a jumpstart to the second, shorter leg of the swim. i dolphined back in with a new energy. no more laughing now, there was work to be done. back to focusing on my form points and trying to sight on the buoy ahead, WAY AHEAD.
about halfway to the next buoy, people began to scatter in all directions on the course. some were still holding a straight line to the buoy, while others were drifting far right across my path, and i fell somewhere in the middle. i kept trying to concentrate on swimming hard left but to no avail. i could tell i was drifting further and further right of the buoy, yet still there were droves and droves of swimmers further right than me. by the time i came upon the distance off shore where i should be turning at the buoy, i was a good 200 yards to the right of it.
now turning left and trying to get back in the pack, i was swimming straight into the current. if you couldn't keep up with it, you just drifted further and further off course. i was giving it everything i had and barely making my way any closer...
FOR FUCK SAKE!! WHO KEEPS MOVING THE FRIGGIN' BUOY???!!!
it was surreal really as there was no other indication of how strong the current was. it was eerily flat, no chop, no wind even, just a killer current from below. i wasn't panicked so much as just pissed off that this was what my swim was coming to. here i was in the one event that was a no brainer, and I WAS CHOKING. now came the last left turn before heading to shore, and i was faced with a critical decision. i was still looking for a draft to get back in, but by now EVERYONE was drifting so far off course and now heading back towards the halfway Powerbar balloon!! should i follow the crowd and catch a draft but be WAY OFF COURSE or should i keep heading forward on my own in the right direction towards the swim exit?? you'd think you'd know what the obvious answer was, but this current was STUPID STRONG. in the end, i couldn't bring myself to knowingly follow the majority crowd heading in the wrong direction, so i continued towards the swim exit but now felt TOTALLY alone out there. occasionally, i'd sight around or even take a breath and look behind me. i could spot the handful of people who'd made the same decision i did. i mean THE FEW people, like 10 people. you could feel the sense of uncertainty in our decision. WE WERE ALONE OUT THERE, but i just kept on going, kept trying to focus on my form points and putting everything in my catch to move that water under me, everything in my catch to get just a few yards closer to shore. as we got closer the lifeguards scrambled to rein us all in through the final chute of smaller buoys onto shore. when my feet finally hit the sand i was so friggin' relieved. here was the event i had expected i'd be sad to see end. i've never been so happy to be outta the water EVAH.
goal swim time: 1:15-1:20
actual swim time: 1:38:17
heading up onto shore and towards the changing tent, i could see the droves of people still so off course coming outta the water and having to run 2 football fields to make it back to the actual swim exit. i was still second guessing my decision to stay on course. for sure i could've run up the beach faster than i could swim against that current, but what could i do now? the most prominent theme to the whole day was something COACH told me to remember no matter what:
ONCE THE EVENT IS DONE, IT'S DONE. PUT IT BEHIND YOU AND MOVE ON...
back up onto land, i peeled my wetsuit as low as i could. we came upon the wetsuit strippers, and i found myself distressed at which stripper to go to. THEY WERE ALL HAWT!!! so i just sat down in front of one of them staring in his eyes intently. with one full swoop, he rips that sucker off of me..
THANK YOU. THAT WAS SO HOT. WE CAN DO THAT AGAIN LATER WITH OTHER CLOTHES IF YOU WANT...
but i digress. i gotta get into transition and get my bike on. once again, let me state how terribly organized and efficient this race was. again, i found myself paired up with my very own volunteer who was holding my bag with the pink vinyl tape hanging from it. she walked with me into the women's changing room as i dumped EVERYTHING out of the bag. she brought me water, and offered to apply sunscreen although i politely declined (i'm sensitive to a lot of brands). quick change outta my Under Armour lycra shorts and into my bike shorts. applied MASS AMOUNTS of chammy butter, then headband, helmet, sunglasses, no socks, no gloves. the volunteer put everything back in the bag including my wetsuit, and I.WAS.OUT.
T1 time: 5:55no goal on transition times other than to make sure i came out of the tent at some point...
PART3: PRE-RACE THIS 'N THAT
listen up, people. this is important shit
next up was the athletes' meeting. if i hadn't stated it already, let me say right now how incredibly organized this race was. i can't compare it to any other Ironman, but it was certainly more organized than many halves i've done in The States, perhaps because of the international profile, something like 43 countries i think. the athlete's meeting was offered in 4 different languages throughout the day and for several days before race day. for anyone who's never done an Ironman, and actually for anyone who has, i would recommend that you NOT MISS THE MEETING. you may THINK you know everything there is to know about the race, but it never hurts to review it one last time live and in person. for one, there may be last minute changes, and those would be announced at the meeting. the special needs bags may not be exactly halfway on the course where you expect. this is all up to the race directors at each individual race, and it's best that you know where it's going to be so you can plan to carry more or less with you until you expect to reach that point of the day. also, the cutoff times may be different than the standard Mdot times that we've all read about. at Brasil, the swim cutoff is 2:40 only because so many people would come out within just a minute or two and they felt the need to push it back by 10 minutes. they boasted how nobody has ever not made the swim cutoff at IM Brasil. i was expecting to swim between a 1:15 and a 1:20, so i didn't think that was gonna be a concern for me. at each race, there may be additional cutoffs within the 3 events. i recall from sitting in on the IMAZ athletes' meeting that if you hadn't made it to the far end of the 3rd loop on the bike, you could not even proceed back to t2. same thing for the run. Brasil didn't have any of this as it was a 2 loop bike and a 3 loop run. you simply had to make it all the way back to transition in the time alloted. also different from IMAZ where participants had two shots at their run special needs, as they passed it twice, we would only have access to our run special needs bag after the first and longer half marathon length loop of the run even though we would pass special needs again. this was something to consider. i had planned to put a long sleeve tech tee in my run special needs bag, but it would still be warm and light out when i passed special needs the first time, so what was the point? there was NO WAY i was gonna wrap it around my waste for a few more hours in case i needed it. that woulda just driven me crazy. at saturday's bike and bag drop off, the bike was to have nothing on it except for shoes attached to pedals if we opted to, and we would have no access to bags on race morning. ok, this was good to know. how was i supposed to store my extra bottle of Perpetuem that were supposed to go in my bike jersey if they needed to be refrigerated over night and i couldn't drop them in my bike bag in the morning?? change of plans. i now had to tape the extra two that were going in my jersey onto the bike frame on race morning and then rip them off and put them in my jersey pocket as i hopped on the bike. SO YOU SEE?????? all this stuff was made clear at the athlete's meeting, but most importantly, we learned that the Kona roll down was monday at 9am SHARP. last year, both the male and female winners were stuck in traffic and their slots went first. THEY BOTH LOST THEM
. lesson learned, Ironman waits for nobody. Oliver turned to me and gave me a look so serious that i could only have one response:
"WE'LL SET 3 ALARMS."
then back to the room with all the bags of crap. i couldn't deal with them just then. i had two more days anyhow. now, it was time to ride THE FUCKER and do a final mechanical check including changing out to new tubes and brand new race tires and give the tread a bit of wear. yeah, cuz putting on new tires is SO FUN AND EASY!!! i had waited until now because my race tire was wearing unevenly in ONE SPOT due to the rim on my race wheel expanding and the brake catching in the same ONE SPOT which caused a BLOWOUT (more on that later) just a week before on a downhill during a training ride.
this time, Oli and i headed out separately to do our own checks and ride at our own intensity. i wanted to be so careful after what had happened to our fellow hotel guest, Carlos. i kept it mellow heading out to the more rural section of town where the roads were really smooth. everything felt good, and i was easily holding 18-19 mph on the flats as i passed scores of other riders and groups of riders all doing the same, but i knew i had to test the cassette on a hill, THE MOTHER SHITTER HILLS, so i headed back towards the center of town. heading up i felt nervous as i started up the first and least steep of the two hills. there was a serious crew of pro looking dudes running up the other side. they were nearly running faster than i could actually mash up on the two wheeler, and the last thing i wanted to do was UNCLIP in front of them. here i was, all the way in Brasil and still worrying about what other people were thinking!! JAYSUS!!! but sure enough, i barely beat 'em to the top. still about 150 yards up was the shorter but way steeper hill. i mashed and mashed and can't recall my cadence dropping to like 3 EVAH before, but i'll be damned if THE FUCKER and i didn't crest to the top with everything we had like it was L'Alpe D'Huez or somethin'...
back to the hotel where i promptly went to inquire what mechanic Fernando's favorite beer was, and i went and bought him a six pack. that guy resurrected my FUCKER!!!
next day was a free day as our scheduled beach tour of the other side of the island was canceled due to not enough sign ups. we took it as a relief. i was becoming anxious about all THE BAGS and wanted to focus on those and THE LIST/SCREENPLAY
. so instead of our beach tour, i went for my last 5 mile run, this time over the same mother shitter hills i would encounter on race day. i kept a nice clip and then forced myself to walk the steepest portions both uphill and down. right after, i got to squeeze in a pre-race "massage" just before we headed to the athlete's pasta dinner that evening. i use the word "massage" very loosely because it was, well, LOOSE. i had met the couple who were doing the massage therapy a few days prior, and i got the husband. i suppose it was somewhat my fault too because i took every opportunity to practice my Portuguese wherever i could, but maybe i shoulda kept it zipped on the table. i yapped and yapped as we discussed politics (they all LOVE OBAMA in Brasil!!!), culture, family, you name it. all the while he was kinda just grabbing at my skin and giving it a bit of a pinch, not even really getting deep enough to the muscles, and at one point i even got what i refer to as the "Jack Lalanne Chop Down" except it wasn't down my back as you would expect but instead DOWN THE FRONT OF MY THIGHS!!! WTF???? man that is not a good look for '08. nobody wants to see that shit wiggle. who's to say if it didn't do something. i suppose if i'd gotten the massage i'm used to just two days before Ironman, i'd be in a heap o' pain, so i'll just chalk it up as a $45 Portuguese lesson with extra wiggle.
next up, THE ATHLETE'S DINNER!!!
pick your flag...
as we all began to trickle into the indoor arena where they staged the athlete's dinner, it became very clear how different this experience was going to be from a North American Ironman experience. it was similar to my experience traveling to Switzerland to compete at Worlds which was like the mini Olympics for triathlon. 43 countries represented here in Brasil. 43 COUNTRIES!!! who knew there were so many people in this world who love this crazy sport??? at my table alone sat a Brit (Oli), a gentleman from Venezuela, and a Brasilian man from Sao Paulo with his wife and son. all but Oli were doing their first Ironman. coolest part was that i spoke all their languages!! i could communicate with each one of them!!!
the food was the best we'd had up to this point. pastas galore, plenty of grilled chicken for protein, breads, and a whole boat of fruit so we could steal bananas for back at the hotel!!!!
LEAVE NO CARB BEHIND!!
this was really the last opportunity to pack in the big calories and carbs, and up until then, i'd been eating pretty Paleo
and light, so these carbs were sure to stick!!! oh my god, i was SO.FULL. but not to fear. as much as i wanted to stumble out of there in a sweet food coma, there was DANCIN' TO BE DONE!!!
GET UR SAMBA ON!!!!
next up, were the Samba/Batucada performers!!! oh man, this was a sight to see. first, the Samba troop of percussionists trailed like a snake through the room calling our asses out of our chairs and gettin' us movin' to the rhythm!!! this rhythm was infectious, and the frenzy grew within the crowd!!
shake it don't break it...
next came the dancers from all corners of the room, and it wasn't just a show for the men. these women had it goin' on, and again, this country just has a way of celebrating the human body that isn't about degrading women or unleashing a repressed sexual taboo of some sort. we danced and danced, and the Samba troop lifted to a crescendo of one song that the entire room knew the words to. i wished i knew what they were singing about, but i knew that whatever it was, it was all good. what a way to celebrate, what a way to call the spirits up and inspire us for what was to come in 2 days!!!
back to our hotel for a good night's sleep. this was the night to get that good sleep as typically, Saturday night is all about tossing and turning and wondering if you still may have forgotten something. i woke up Saturday with a little more intensity. we got up and headed down to the swim start to hopefully get a swim in with the race buoys out, but alas, they were still on the beach, so we headed out in a different direction than we had before, towards this point at the end of the beach. i saw a few jellyfish here and there, but nothing too menacing, so we kept going around the point. i kept up with Oli pretty well, and it was kinda nice to be pulled a little bit, but neither of us were interested in pushing it at all on the eve of the race. we stopped before we headed back and looked up on land to discover this beautiful fortress overlooking the cove. there were what appeared to be tourists walking along the paths of the perimeters. had we not swam this way, we'd have never known about the fort. you couldn't see it from the expo village or the main beach, so we promised that after the race we'd figure out how to get to it. i wanted to get back to the room, as i still had the bags to do and then get to bike drop off.
so many bags, so little time...
again, i gotta say, don't even go into Ironman week without having your bags figured out ahead of time to some extent. and even though i did have my plan all written out, and all i had to do was fill them with what i said i wanted in each one, i still stood in front of them empty like this all stunned for about an hour. now imagine if i hadn't had a plan already?? if i didn't know what was going in each one and had to figure it out on the fly?? OH.HELL.NO. as i filled the bags, i started to visualize the race, a successful race filled with highs and lows and how i would push through the rough patches. i listened to my inspirational playlist on the ipod filled with inspiring songs i planned to sing over and over to myself all through race day. so finally, i came up with this...
i will want for nothing!!!
this, ladies and gents, is a friggin' buffet of everything i could ever want for on race day. food, sunscreen, more food, more sunscreen, chammy butters, powder drink mixes with more calories, more chammy butters, suprise sugary and caffeine treats, extra dry socks, extra co2 and tubes, extra extra etxra!!!
this part of the day was where Oli and i became a little more quiet, a little more insulated in our own plans and routines. his plan was to eat his last big meal no later than 1:00. then after that it was no more fiber and his last light meal by no later than 4:30-5:00. after that, and for breakfast the next morning, it was ALL LIQUID with Ensure. he was bummed that dinner wasn't opening at the hotel 'til 5:30, but he just rolled with it. me, i wasn't so concerned with the fiber or eating so early, and the next morning i'd be having an early breakfast of oatmeal that would have time to digest and later a banana, a croissant with jelly, and Gatorade Endurance. this guy's goal was to not have to stop and shit and go sub 10 hours. my goal was to eat enough calories to get through my first Ironman without bonking. there was no way i was gonna go all day without a shit...
Oli's last ritual meal...
"the legs" get one last shave...
next was bag and bike drop off. and even after all the printed instructions, the meetings, all the lists, all the prep, i still nearly made one big mistake. you're supposed to bring your "swim" bag empty to bag drop off. i thought we were supposed to drop it off on race morning with the "dry clothes" bag, but no, we were supposed to drop it off empty with all the other bags besides the dry clothes bag. DOH!!! luckily, the shuttle hadn't come yet, and i had time to run back up and grab it. i also pumped the tires up +10 psi from where i ultimately wanted them which would be perfect by race morning after siting Saturday in a little bit of warmth. i'd check them again the next morning, but if they felt firm to the touch, i'd leave them alone.
lining up for bag and bike drop off
again, i gotta say this was one well-oiled machine when it came to organization and communication at bike drop off. for some weird reason though, they made us wear our helmets through the entire process?? we were first sent to bike mechanical check. i don't know if i liked the idea of THE FUCKER being handled by another woman in this fashion, but what was i gonna say...
um, why are you touching my ride like that??
Oli and the aero-helmet militia
welcome to transition!!!
next, we were greeted by this cheery group, each one of whom spoke like 7 different languages. one would be paired up with each participant and personally escort them to their bike rack...
... and here we are. me (helmet on like a dork) and THE FUCKER one last time before we do THE FULL MONTY
(i look fat though. WTF???) the racks were like nothing i'd ever seen before. these wooden contraptions that snugly held the back wheel...
sweet dreams 'LIL FUCKER... tomorrow, WE RIDE!!!!
the instructions were that we were not to leave anything overnight on the bikes except for shoes if we opted to have them clipped on. i still saw a bunch of full setups with drinks mixed and everything, but i left THE FUCKER as instructed. tomorrow morning, i'd attach the bento box, my computer,the salt stick turbo boosters, co2 cartridges and tubes, all drink bottles and rubberband my shoes in place. i surveyed the aisles and where i'd be running out of the changing tent from and identified this marker along the corridor of transition to mark where i would turn...
look for Powerbar and cut left
next, off to drop off our bags. one last bonus from Oli was the pink vinyl tape he brought. we added it to the straps of each bag so that when there were a bunch of volunteers holding out a bunch of the same colored bags, we'd easily be able to identify ours from the others. they let us watch as they hung our bags on the racks and then we walked out the back of the tent through the changing areas.
let's not dilly dally in here tomorrow, k?
and there you have it. all set to go. except people were looking at me funny, and just then i caught up with another woman from my hotel who kindly pointed out that i still had my helmet on. DOH!!!! i tried to go back through but the well-oiled machine wasn't having it. i was told by one scruffy old security guard that i would have to go all the way back to the line at the front of transition which was now much longer. just then i found a volunteer who had better access. she said she'd put it in my bike bag for me. oh man, what a thing to obsess about all night. did the helmet make it?? would it be there tomorrow?? i had to just trust that it would...
i guess this is it now. no turning back...