Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ironman Wisconsin - Pre-Race

Two Days to Go

The Wife and I were up early on Friday to make our trip over to Madison.  I was already packed, so after a quick shower, we hit the road.

The sun rising over Eastern Minnesota.

The drive went quickly.  We spent most of the time trying to plan out the day once we got to Mad-Town.  I drove and The Wife snapped some photos.

Here's me practicing my 'serious face'.
Since we got moving so early, we ended up rolling into town before lunch.  The first thing on my to-do list was final registration, so we headed straight to the center of the action - Monona Terrace.  For those of you who haven't been to Madison, the downtown area is situated between Lake Monona and Lake Mendota.  Naturally, Monona Terrace is on the shores of the former.

Everything, and I mean EV-ER-Y-thing related to the Ironman happens at Monona Terrace. If you're in downtown Madison and you want to find the Terrace, just follow a really fit person.  They're probably on their way there. 

Looking through the outdoor expo and up towards the Capitol.

There were all kinds of cool things going on when we showed up.  I really wanted to buy a Cervelo, but then The Wife reminded me that my allowance was cut off until I finished at least one Ironman.  Okay.  Fine.  I guess I had better check in.

Believe it or not, it was actually pretty crowded.
There were almost 3000 people to check in, but these Ironman guys run their show like a well-oiled machine.  Before I knew it I had signed all my forms, gotten weighed and picked up my swag bag. 

We took a little time to walk through the Ironman store.  I was tempted to buy some gear.  Oh, man.  I was tempted.  But, in the off chance that I wouldn't be able to finish the race, I didn't want to have any clothes in my closet that I was ashamed to wear.  On a side note, they will slap the Ironman name and logo on any product, and it'll sell. 

Get used to seeing this guy - AKA the 'M-Dot' -  EVERYWHERE. 
Now that I was checked in, we headed back to the hotel for some rest.  There was still a day and a half left to go before the race started and I didn't want to spend all day on my feet.  Later on, we headed back to the terrace for the banquet and athlete meeting.

Athletes were allowed into the banquet for free, but guest tickets were all sold out.  There was no way that I was going to attend the banquet without The Wife, so we decided to explore our options around town.  Luckily, there was a great Irish Pub just down the street.

Sure, I wasn't absorbing the FULL Ironman experience.  Honestly though, would you rather be crammed in a room with 2900 people snarfing down the same pasta, or would you rather hang with your lady-friend in a pub while eating bangers 'n' mash?

Correct Answer: Bangers 'n' Mash!  Bangers 'n' Mash!

Accidental artsy-fartsy picture of the Bangers 'n' Mash.

Oh yeah, and what better way to carbo-load than with everybody's favorite carbs....BEER.

Okay, so after dinner we hoofed it back to the terrace again for the athlete meeting.  There wasn't enough room in the main ballroom, so we ended up watching all the presentations on a screen in one of the other conference rooms.  That's fine.

It was cool to have the oldest and youngest athletes up to the podium along with those that had lost the most weight.  Shoot.  One guy has lost 167 since he started training.  That's a bigger accomplishment than any kind of racecourse they can throw at us.  In the end, most of the presentations just reiterated what we all could have read in the Athlete Guide, but it was still nice to hear the messages from live bodies. 

With that, we made one more trip back to the hotel and turned in early.  Exciting?  No.  But there would be plenty of time for excitement later.

One Day to Go

The nice thing about hitting the sack early is that getting up at the butt-crack of dawn gets to be just a tad easier.  Just a tad.  The big things to do this day were dropping off my transition bags and saying a temporary goodbye to my bike. 

First, we met up with Jim and Sarah, some friends of ours that had come into town to watch me race.  Jim did the first Ironman Wisconsin back in 2002.  I'm glad that they came.  My wife was taking pretty good care of me and it felt good to know that someone else could be around to take care of her.  You know.  Just in case.

After breakfast with our friends.  We headed towards Monona Terrace again to hand in my bags for T1 (swim to bike) and T2 (bike to run).  This went SUPER quick.  Plus, since my bib number was #699, my bag ended up on the end of the row - which would make it easier to find later. 

The T1 Bag Room.  Bye bye bike shoes and helmet!
A similar scene in the T2 bag drop off.
He shoots, he scores!
The only mandatory thing left at this point was dropping off my bike.  They use the entire top level of the parking structure for bike racks.


And After:

I walked my Rusty Steed down to the racks and snugged it right up between numbers 698 and 700.  Incidentally, it was parked between two rocket bikes.  Hopefully, some of their speed would rub off onto my ride.
That Zipp wheel on the left.  Yeah.  It costs more than my entire bike. 
I took one more moment to tuck my bike in for the night.

Until later, My Sweet.
Okay.  Great.  The hard work was done.  I peeled myself away from my bike.  Then, The Wife and I strolled down the shore from the Terrace to the swim start.  I thought it would be a good idea to take in a quick swim - nothing crazy, just 10-15 minutes to stay limber. 

Come Sunday morning, the start line would be at the ski ramp.
Look!  There I am!
Well, after the swim, I had done everything that I wanted at the Terrace.  As much as I wanted to stick around and absorb all of the Ironman atmosphere, I was already fighting off some serious butterflies in the stomach.  The best thing for nervousness is distraction.  So, The Wife and I met up with some more friends.  Yay.

Now, I don't have any photos of Saturday afternoon.  The reason?  Well, as it turns out, when you've got a 140.6 mile race the next day, you tend to be a little absent-minded.  How absent minded?  Well, enough to leave your digital camera in your swim trunks as you go for a swim in the hotel pool.  Yes.  I drowned my camera.  Ugh.

The Wife was gracious enough to stop at the local Target and pick up a new camera.  As luck would have it, the pool spared my data card, so none of the photos were lost.  Whew!  Crisis averted. 

Once we had the camera situation under control, we met up with even MORE friends and walked over to the Quaker Steak and Lube near our hotel (Imagine Buffalo Wild Wings and NASCAR had a love-child).   It gave all my *ahem* 'adoring fans' something nice to eat.  I stuck to a light meal - a beef gyro with cole slaw - thankyouverymuch. 

Why yes.  We DID have a Bucket of Fun.
Jim, Sarah and baby Madeline.  Jim points to the flavor of wings he enjoyed.  Sarah points to how she thinks I look in a Speedo.

Jim then points to his opinion of mass swim starts with 2900 racers.
Doc, another friend, even showed up bearing gifts...well, gift:
Strangely, 'Jet Blackberry' was also my stage name when I was 'working my way through college'.
After dinner, we headed back to the hotel and I turned in early.  Sunday WAS going to be a big day after all.  Before I hit the sack, there was one more thing to do - remove some hair.  My wife had waxed my legs earlier in the week.  Yes.  I said WAXED my legs.  I'll probably post about that process later on.  Suffice it to say, REAL men wax.

With the legs already sexy and silky smooth, I focused on my noggin:

Yes.  I shave my head, but not my goatee.  Don't ask for it to make sense.
Then, I did the ol' 'Double-Pits to Chesty':
That is one hairless dude.  Oh, and nice tan lines too.
This all left a rather distasteful mess in the hotel bathroom.
Now that all the unwanted hair was gone, it was time to go to bed.  I was exhausted.  I set the alarm for 4am and hit the sheets.  Sunday was going to be a BIG day.

G'Night everybody.  I'll see you in the morning.

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