When training takes almost a year, and the race itself takes nearly half a day, the recap is sure to be wordy. To spare you, I’ve broken it up into more reasonable pieces. Without further ado…
Getting to the Start
Taking on an Ironman requires an inordinate amount of preparation and planning. Simply getting to the starting line is a small miracle, but thanks to my great support crew, I made it with shockingly few hiccups along the way. Sure, those 36 weeks of training were critical, but so, too, were the 1,100 miles between Austin and Tempe. On the Thursday before the race, Evelyn, Travis, and I loaded up the car and set off to Arizona.
On the first day our destination was El Paso, aka the furthest point west in Texas. We did have a minor scare of running out of gas in the West Texas desert. After a U-turn through the median to get back to a highway offramp and watching the “Miles Remaining” drop down to zero, we held our collective breath in a very tense silence. 5.8 miles after the car said we had zero miles remaining, in the bustling metropolis of Iraan, Texas, we rolled into a gas station and filled up. Back on the road, we vowed not to let that happen again. The rest of the way was thankfully uneventful to El Paso.
The next day we passed through most of New Mexico and finally got to Arizona, stopping in Tucson for tamales before pulling into Tempe to hit the expo. The first thing I noticed was that the whole expo was outdoors. Those Arizonans are confident with their weather! I hit the check-in table, and all of a sudden things felt very real.
The lines were crazy, so after checking in, I hit the gear tent to buy EVERYTHING. We then wandered the expo vendor area before making a necessary stop to begin the race fueling process.
From there we took it easy the rest of the day, setting up shop at Travis’ mother-in-law’s house. It didn’t take long though before dinner was upon us. We went to one of the most highly rated pizza places in the country, Pizzeria Bianco, and I did some damage.
That night I packed my gear bags in advance of Saturday’s race prep activities.
On Saturday I took advantage of the practice swim session to get a feel for the water. It was chilly, but nowhere near as bad as I expected, though visibility was nearly zero. At least I could take one “good” picture that might look like I enjoy swimming.
After the quick swim we went to lunch before dropping off my bike in transition. Leaving my bike behind made things feel extra real. Like, I’d be starting Ironman Arizona in under 16 hours.
We took it easy for the rest of the day before finding a Thai place (my preferred pre-race dinner) in Phoenix. The last bit of great news prior to the race was that I snagged a hotel room right next to the race start thanks to a last-minute cancellation. Talk about a relief! One less thing to think about. And so we checked in, got settled, and waited for the race, 9 months in the making, to finally begin.