Monday, July 26, 2010

Ironman St. George 2010: Race Day!

Well..................that was absolutely the hardest race I have EVER done!!!! I didn't think anything could be harder than the Hawaii Ironman but this one topped even that.

Saturday morning at 3:30 am the alarm goes off because we have to be down at the shuttles between 4:30 and 5 in order to ride out to Sand Hollow reservoir. Kim and I suck down coffee to warm up as it is 49 degrees outside when we head out lugging our drinks and snacks for the long day ahead. There is an intense feeling of "dread" as we think about what lies ahead but the day is here and the only option is to go. The bus ride is filled with nervous energy, I sit next to David and we discuss nutrition and swim strategy but mostly we just talk as a distraction. Kim and Leigh are sitting a few seats away and Vince has been MIA since he got there. I am wearing every warm item of clothing I brought as well as holding hand warmers in my pockets just to keep my fingers from going numb. It seems crazy to think about racing when it's this cold out. When we get off the bus there are swarms of people everywhere and it resembles a recently stirred up ant hill if you were watching from a distance. We check our bike tires, put our drinks on our bikes and stand in an absurdly long line for the port o lets. Now it's just waiting for that announcement that we must head down to the swim start. There are roughly 2000 of us that will start the race............somewhere around 1700 will actually finish. We spray what is the equivalent to "Pam cooking spray" all over our arms and legs in order to squeeze into our neoprene wetsuits. It's not really comfortable or flattering but it's warmer than the clothes I was wearing. The water is 59 degrees...........I am afraid of how cold it's going to be and I know that I will not be able to feel my hands and feet soon. We have to jump in the water and line up behind some buoys for a few min before the start in order to ensure that everyone begins at the same time. I cannot explain the shock of the water as it first hits my face........I start hyperventilating and panic is unavoidable as hundreds of arms and legs are swirling around me. The cannon goes off and I am fighting for an open space anywhere and trying to not think about how cold I am. Finally things settle down a bit but I am starting to shiver in my wetsuit, I take a peak at my watch in hopes that perhaps I am almost done. It's only been 27 min............really????? I am not even half way and I know I am in trouble. Unfortunately a lot of energy is expended trying to keep warm in cold water and once the shivering sets in, you don't have much time before "bad" things start to happen. At 47 min both legs seize up in massive cramps but I can't stop or I will be run over by the swimmers behind me. So I swim dragging my legs as if they were unattached to my body. I can't feel my shoulders or anything else and thoughts of quitting become more and more appealing but I know that Leigh, Kim, David and Vince are all out there fighting the same battle, so as their coach, I cannot let them down. I can see the swim finish but I feel as if I am moving thru quick sand to get there. Finally my feet touch the bottom and I try to hobble to the volunteers who strip your wetsuit off for you. My feet hurt so bad because they are so cold.........every little piece of gravel feels like a knife in my feet. I grab my transition bag and head into the changing tent but am somewhat disoriented with the uncontrollable shivering. A very nice volunteer had to both undress and dress me in my dry bike clothes (there is no place for modesty here)as I was useless to make my body do anything. I see some man taking pictures through a gaping hole in the changing tent but I just don't care. Of course I could end up on Utube and that would be very scary? Over 13 min later I realize I have to leave the tent as there are still 2 more segments to this brutal race. I want to cry but a voice in my head screams "H, move your butt as this is a RACE you know!

The wind is blowing 20 plus miles an hour already and it's still barely 50 degrees. I shiver and shake on my bike for 20 miles or so before I can drink or eat anything and then I realize I am probably way down on my calories and I need to figure out how to make up for it. The scenery is beautiful and I am trying to distract myself from my frozen feet by looking at the mountains. The hills are relentless as is the steady 20-30 mile per hour headwind. (I find out later that there were gusts of 42 mph that day) The pavement is rough and it's difficult to stay relaxed as it shakes and jars my body, especially the "saddle area." Sadly, I know it's going to get REALLY uncomfortable way too soon. A hilly bike course is challenging enough but when you add in a brutal headwind it becomes almost demoralizing because you are going so slow. 3 hrs into the bike I think I can feel my feet and I am finally somewhat comfortable, at least from a temperature standpoint. I still opt to keep on my toasty long sleeve x-tatic NB shirt and my winter gloves though. I am actually starting to enjoy the beauty of all the small towns and there are tons of locals out cheering us on. Unfortunately there is still another brutal lap of hills. I am approaching "Veyo" which has a hill called "the wall" and it is 1.3 miles UP! I am out of easy gears on the bike so standing is a must at this point...........aagghhh I can feel the inner thighs starting to cramp. I just want off this bike.......................I look down and I can see miles of canyons and mountains, it is breathtaking...........or I am just out of breath due to the hill I just climbed! The last 20 miles back into town is mostly down hill, thank God!!!!

I put my running shoes and finally shed my gloves and long sleeve winter shirt (I have never done a race in so many clothes!) and proceed to start the long run. It is a gradual uphill for the first couple miles but I am feeling pretty good and my pace is comfortable and right where I had hoped. The volunteers have been amazing all day and every mile there is a small smorgasbord of items to choose from so that helps pass the time. Mile 4 is a brutal uphill...........finally running seems idiotic as I am quite sure I can walk faster, so I do. Actually as I look around, most people are walking up the hill. The great thing about Ironman is that you always have company. This particular course has 2 large loops with 4 mini loops within the big loops. Unfortunately these are all hills. I keep thinking that Ironman is hard enough just doing the distance, why did they have to make this course insanely difficult? But then again, Ironman is supposed to be hard I guess. I am still running but things are starting to take a negative turn. My Achilles tendon is on fire and I am nauseated. I run with a girl in my age group for awhile and she tells me that she has done every Ironman in North America and that this one is by far the hardest of all of them. Great. I have to let her go so I can walk and dry heave...........I am thinking perhaps I should retire from Ironman as this is just not that much fun right now. I am envious of the spectators sitting in lawn chairs drinking beer and eating "real food". I stop taking mile splits around mile 14 as it is depressing to watch every mile get slower even though ironically I am still passing people. It is mile 21 and this cute 25 yr old guy comes up behind me and asks if I think we can stay under 13 hours. I look at my watch and do some quick math (lol for those of you that know me, the only math I can do is run and swim splits!) and I realize we have to pick up the pace or it's not going to happen. So I tell him we need to run the down hills and the flats since we obviously are walking the up hills in order to make it. The down hills are hurting just as bad as the up hills now though as every step sends a painful jar all through my body. I try to distance my mind from my body to some degree because now it is a mental battle and I just need take it one mile at a time. My new friend cannot keep the pace so I am going solo..............3 miles left......."water, Gatorade, cola, pretzels, chips, bananas, orange slices, chicken broth" it becomes like a song at each aid station and I know I only have to hear it 3 more times. I can now see the finish line and I am going to reach my goal of staying under 13 hrs. The street is lined with spectators, lots of them with hands outstretched so I "high five" them as I run down the final 300 meters or so. I can hear "the voice of Ironman", Mike Reilly shouting "you are an Ironman" to the runners in front of me and I can taste the finish line and I know I can finally stop. "Heather Butcher, you are an Ironman!" I never get tired of hearing that. The funny thing is that I have heard it now 6 times from him and he always says my name like "Boucher" as if I am French or something. I sort of thought "Butcher" looked pretty self explanatory but I guess it adds a nice touch. I get my picture taken ( those are always really attractive!) and a very nice volunteer guides me to the medical tent as I am told I look very pale. I don't feel so well but does anyone really look that great after all of that? I am sticky, salty, dirty and probably stinky but they don't seem to mind. The nausea returns and I am cold again so I lay down on the ground......or rather I crash land to the ground in a heap as there is nothing left in my legs to hold me up. David finds me in the tent and takes great care of me and even scavenges some warm blankets which I greatly appreciate. Kim joins me a short time later looking equally as pale and spouting out the same report "Oh my God that was the hardest race ever! It was harder than Hawaii!!!"..........she proceeds to tell me that "she hates me" which has been the group's mantra since we started this journey. I just laugh because I know she and the others will be signing up for another Ironman soon. We put our race morning clothes back on and head out to see Leigh and Vince finish. The finish line is on fire with spectators and it truly is like a party out there. Thousands of people are cheering and screaming as streams of athletes continue to finish. It is almost midnight and the clock ticks down but most people have stayed to watch. In Ironman, you are allowed 17 hrs to finish the race so if you cross at 17:01 you are not an official finisher. There is always someone finishing at 16:59 something and it's quite magical and emotional to see the last official finisher cross the line. There are always those who don't make it but there will be another day for them. That is the crazy thing about Ironman,, once you have done one, you share a silent bond with everyone who can say "I am an Ironman." And somehow the misery and pain you felt all day long is replaced by the pride of what you have accomplished and all of a sudden you are tempted to have that feeling again. I think I have said "I am NEVER doing one of those again!" 9 times now..............maybe I will see if I can do all of the races in North America since now I have gotten the hardest one done? Actually I can barely move due to the soreness so I think maybe I will "table" that idea for now.

All in all my team represented Florida really well. We overcame altitude, cold water, enormous hills and brutal winds so that we could call ourselves an "Ironman!"

Thanks again for all of your prayers and well wishes as they are appreciated more than you will ever know. Until next time..................Heather

Ironman St. George 2010: day 3


Ok here we are the day before the race and there are lots of things to do. After a leisurely morning with lots of coffee (eeek it was 44 degrees this morning!) and a nice breakfast we headed to the reservoir to check our bikes in and possibly do a swim. When we got to Sandy hollow the wind was blowing at about 30 mph and it was freezing! The bikes were being blown all over the bike racks and trying to walk around was very challenging, but the view was truly amazing. I finally got up the courage to take a swim with one of my other athletes as I needed to check out my "skull cap" (this is to keep your head warm) and my little booties (to hopefully keep my feet warm) as I hadn't worn either of them in the water yet. There were white caps and "antarctic" looking birds as well as a huge rock formation in the middle of the water. The initial frigidness" of the water took my breath away. It felt something like when you drink a slurpee too fast and get brain freeze only on the reverse as it was from the outside in. Anyway after a few min I couldn't feel my face or my hands but it will be doable. I guess you face the challenge on race day because you have no choice. You find a way to endure it and that's what it's all about. We dropped off all of our gear and had a nice early dinner and are now sitting in the hotel basically "killing time" until the race. It's hard to not think of what we will endure tomorrow as well as the intense soreness that will follow but it's coming whether we are ready or not. We will get up at 3:30 to be ready to take a shuttle between 4:30 and 5:30 out to the reservoir as no cars are allowed out there. There we will check our bikes, gear bags and apply lots of "lube" to get our wetsuits on and await the 7 am mass swim start. Yes that's right, 2500 people all at once will start frantically swimming with the sound of a cannon. And the race begins...........

Ironman St. George 2010: day 2


I have never been to St. George but it is absolutely beautiful! Unfortunately the wind today was blowing about 25-30mph which made our pre race bike ride a little less than pleasant. However we did go to a gorgeous place called snow canyon where the scenery was truly breathtaking. (see photos in the next email). We did a photo shoot at this canyon for the company that actually made it possible for us to come out here and do the race. The company is "Young Living" and they produce amazing essential oils and a super antioxident drink called "Ninxia Red" which all of us have been enjoying to help us with our recovery as well as our general health. They filmed us both riding and running up and down the hills of this gorgeous canyon and it allowed us to experience some level of exercising at altitude as well as work out some pre race jitters. We did see some interesting wildlife and nature such as roadrunners, eagles, wild flowers and "frabbits" ok this is a small rodent that we couldnt' really see as it was fuzzy and small but hopped and sprinted at an amazing speed so we figured it was some interesting combo of a frog and rabbit. It was a good source of humor to lighten the mood anyway.

So the race begins with a swim in Sandy Hollow resovoir and it is basically melted snow so it's definitely going to be a cold swim and wetsuits are a must. I think the water temp is "up" to 59 degrees now............that is really not much improvement in my book but there will be close to 2500 of us that have to deal with the same conditions. We will then bike out of the canyon and head thru downtown st. George and up in the mountains for a hilly 2 loop bike course. This race is unique in that there are 2 transition areas. Typically there is only one transition area and that is where everything takes places. You have your bike set up on a rack and then your bike and run gear are in color coded bags that you pick up on your way to the changing tent. This time we start the swim and get the bike stuff but finish the bike at another location to start the run. For those of you who don't know, the Ironman consists of 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking and 26.2 miles of running which is 140.6 miles you must travel powered by your own body. As I said before, I have done 10 of them and yet, when I think about what I am about to ask of my body, I tend to question my sanity. Perhaps that is what lures us back to this crazy event. It's obviously a physical challenge, but more definitively, a mental challenge. Your mind can play crazy tricks on you and one minute you are on cloud nine and you are feeling stronger than you ever thought possible and the next minute you are filled with self doubt and suddenly aware of how bad your body hurts and all you want to do is "stop". But the race itself is such an amazing event that it is actually really difficult to "quit". The volunteers are absolutely amazing and the encouragement of family members and spectators make all the difference in the world. I think that is what makes Ironman unique. You will not find anything so inspiring as the volunteers and race officials as you will at an Ironman. They will cheer as hard for the first place pro as they will for the last place amateur and that will bring the strongest of heart to tears. Perhaps that is why I love this insane event.......everyone is on their own yet we are all facing the same daunting task of completing such a difficult challenge. And to finish, well that will be as rewarding for me at number 10 as it was for number 1.

Ironman St. George 2010: day 1

Here we go again.............for those of you who have known me for awhile, you know that this is not the first Ironman blog and you are probably wondering "why" I continue to do more of them! This will be Ironman number 10 for me and it will take place in St. George, Utah on Saturday, May 1. I am sitting on the plane with 4 other athletes/friends/clients trying to distract myself from the race that lies ahead. You would think that I have done this enough times that I wouldn't even get nervous and yet that is the furthest thing from the truth. In fact, I may be the most nervous I have ever been second only to the Hawaii Ironman. It's not that we haven't worked hard and put in some good training (though a little unconventional at times) it's more the unexpected that is so terrifying. As of now the weather is forecast to be rather unpleasant (low of 44 and a high of 65 and rain), this is a first year race so there aren't any comparisons to be made, there is altitude to contend with and a cold water swim (55 degrees as of the latest data). So a little bit to be nervous about I guess. Our training was pretty interesting this winter. I know that when I say that the Florida "winter" was challenging for training, I will get stink eye from those of you who endured winter up north but it really was difficult to get in the necessary bike training. So we had sporadic training that was termed "Kamikazi" training since it was composed primarily of several really difficult workouts followed by quite a bit of recovery. Not your typical Ironman training actually.The 5 of us made a dozen or so trips to clermont which is our favorite place to ride and did countless hill repeats. We carried back packs with our running shoes on our back so we could run in between hill repeats. I was the recipient of many verbal "I hate you's" and scowls but they kept on showing up and working hard. They endured brutal strength training workouts, hundreds of squats and lunges and other challenging core exercises, But I have confidence in them and I fully believe they will do well and that it will be a grande adventure for all of us to say the least.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Kentucky - 2009 - Ironman - Post Race

UMMMM, OK THAT REALLY HURT! I don't know why I can't remember how bad these things hurt or I probably wouldn't keep signing up for them! Each one is a different experience but the common denominator is each time you have to dig down to the deepest part of you to keep going and do your best.

Ok race recap! We got up at 4:15 yesterday to have our breakfast and get the rest of our gear together. We had about 1/2 mile walk down to transition from the parking lot and then spent about 10 min in there just loading the fluids on our bikes and checking tire pressure. We then had a mile walk to the swim start to go find a place in line. And then we had another mile walk to get a place in line! That was ridiculous! So I think our Ironman was actually 143.6 miles rather than 140.6 after it was all said and done. Leigh and I were probably in the last 100 people in line so we were definitely the "back of the bus" so to speak. It actually took 40 min for us to get to the swim start as the line was moving at a pokey pace and then all of a sudden it was the "hurry up plan" and we were scrambling to take our clothes off and run down the ramp and leap in the river. The water was at least warm so that was good. We got to swim upstream for the first 1 mile or so and then we had a little help from the current for the remaining distance. It was a choppy swim though and even with the time trial start there was a lot of navigating that had to take place. The only hurdle for me in the swim was leg cramps and I need to figure out if that is just being chilled going into it or lack of circulation since I apparently don't know how to use my legs while swimming! The swim was pretty much what I expected time wise though so I felt pretty much on track going into the bike. The bike was chilly for the first few hours but things were going well other than numb toes and a running nose! Ok this might be a little too graphic and gross for you but Ironman is not a glamour sport! One thing that cyclists learn how to do is "blow your nose" on the bike (no there are no tissues involved in this procedure) The key is to not blow it on an innocent person behind you but also not blow it on yourself. Well I managed to blow it right on my arm. nice. Now spitting of course is also one of those valuable skills and again the goal is to be mindful of people behind you, wind direction and not hitting yourself. Again the skill of spitting "loogies" (lol love that term!) should have been learned from having 2 brothers! But no, I managed to spit right on my shoulder. Now I am really feeling special! However, to those of you who are wondering, I did not pee on the bike! I took advantage of the port o lets! lol see, a glamour sport! We did have a good amount of wind yesterday so the bike course proved to be quite challenging between the non stop hills and the wind. The pavement was pretty rough too so by the time I hit mile 90, I was really ready to get off the bike as my saddle area was really not happy! Still everything was for the most part on track for my goal time. As I came into transition, a nice volunteer took my bike and then I had to attempt to make my legs run to the changing tent. That was rough as I thought I was going to fall down! So I put my clean socks on and some sunscreen on and off the marathon! First 2 miles involved quad cramps and something really sore behind the back of me knee but you just have to tune that stuff out b/c at some point or another something else will start hurting so you just keep moving. I was cruising along at my goal pace (always the goal is to break 4 hrs in the marathon) and feeling pretty good. There were a few hills on the run so it wasn't the easiest of runs but then again, running a marathon after 112 miles of cycling is never easy anyway. It actually was a little warm on the run but nothing unpleasant. I did manage to dump gatorade on my head thinking it was again really looking good at this point! I felt really strong until about mile 18 and then around mile 20 things started to really hurt and my stomach was no longer "feeling the love" for the gatorade. Now it becomes a mental race b/c the body is shutting down. I could feel myself "checking out" and no longer very aware of the cheering spectators or the other athletes. Just wanted to get to the next mile marker. I switched to orange slices and water just to keep taking in some calories as I had a headache from dehydration at that point. The last 4 miles my pace dropped from my 8:30ish per mile to 9:30ish and that's all my legs would do. It became survival mode at that point as my running looked more like hobbling than running. Mile 25, I can hear the finish line and I just think, 1 mile, you can run 1 more mile! It was the greatest feeling to know as soon as I crossed that finish line I could STOP running! And then the words I waited 11 hrs and 15 min to hear.............."Heather Butcher you are an Ironman!" I never get tired of hearing that.........or perhaps I am just so happy to be finished that it makes those words golden. I ended up 12th out of 130 in my age group so I was completely pleased with my race as I know I did my absolute best. My age group was very competitive and the top 3 actually beat several of the professional women as well. So needless to say, my hope of a Hawaii slot was well out of reach but I did my best and that's worth more than anything.

Leigh had a great race too and we celebrated with pizza and ibuprofin at 11:00 last night. I didn't sleep well at all as it hurt to move but was just happy to be horizontal. The soreness will only get worse today and tomorrow before things get better. The awards banquet is today at noon and then we will be packing all of our junk to head home tomorrow.

Thanks again for all of your thoughts, prayers and support! See ya for the next one! lol I am crazy!

Kentucky - 2009 - Ironman - Day 2

Today is a cloudy day in KY as Leigh and I sit drinking coffee before heading over to the race site for the "Gatorade swim practice". It will be our first experience swimming in the Ohio River. The water temp is warm enough to make it non wetsuit so that is a positive for me other than the fact that the air temp tomorrow morning will be in the mid 50's. The swim start for the race is actually different than any other Ironman race as it's a "time trial", meaning that a couple of people jump in the water every 3 seconds and your race time starts as soon as you cross the timing mat. Apparently people will line up at the swim start at 5am (the race doesn't start until 7!) but I don't think I want to stand in line that long.

Yesterday we rode part of the bike course and we got to see that we are going to have a pretty challenging bike ride. It will be somewhat scenic though so that will be nice. Not that we do much sightseeing while racing! We did attend the pre race banquet last night and there are 800 first time Ironman athletes. There is a guy who lost 201 lbs in training for this race and of course a guy who is on his 36th Ironman. Lots of good personal stories.

Today is going to consist of taking the bikes down to transition, loading bike bags and run bags and making sure everything is in working order. You are given a red bag for your bike to run transition, blue bag for you swim to bike transition, another bag for special foods on the bike, a bag for special foods on the run, a bag for pre race clothing.............that's a lot of bags! It's really an amazing production to pull off really. Keeping 2500 people organized to have a great experience is a big deal. There are 3,000 volunteers to facilitate this whole event..........they truly are the key to the Ironman experience.

Ok for those of you who haven't done an Ironman, or for those who will be experiencing their first one in the near future, I am going to give you a taste of what the day entails. Ironman is a fascinating event and the experience is really like nothing else I have ever done. Each time I do one of these races, it is a unique experience. The day begins at 4:30 with some coffee and nervous energy while trying to force down some breakfast. Generally, I actually love to eat but race morning brings so much anxiety that it is very difficult to relax and eat. Then we lug our nutrition and fluids down to the transition area and get the lovely tattoo of our race number all over our bodies. We do all the pumping of tires and checking and rechecking of all sorts of things on the bike and people watch to see if there is something else we should be doing. We will have a mile walk to the swim start from the transition area so the next step is to head to the swim start and stand there anxiously awaiting the send off. The first few minutes of the swim are absolute chaos with hundreds of arms and legs thrashing around you and on you that it is difficult to get into a groove and relax. You are allowed 2 hrs and 15 min to complete the 2.4 miles of swimming and if you come in at 2 hrs and 16 min, you are not allowed to continue the race. Fortunately for Leigh and I who are efficient swimmers, the swim is more of the warm up for the rest of the race as it is the shortest part. As you exit the swim, you grab you gear bag and proceed to the changing tent. (there are separate changing tents for men and women though!) Since it will be in the 50's race morning, my plan is to wear my regular swim suit and then change into my bike shorts and racing top so that I can be dry starting the bike portion. The volunteers in the tent are helping you change (no time for modesty here!) and applying sunscreen, offering you water and helping you gather your stuff so that you can head out and get your bike. Now onto the 112 miles on the bike. The first 56 miles are actually really enjoyable b/c all you can think is "I am doing an Ironman!" Then around mile 85 the race begins. Your legs are now getting tired, your fluids are no longer cool and refreshing, your "saddle area" is not happy to be on the bike at all, you are sick and tired of ingesting artificially flavored gels and beverages, your neck, back and toes are tingling from being in the same position for so long and you are now faced with the looming marathon. It becomes very difficult to stay focused and the only thing you want to do is "get off this stupid bike!" The last 20 miles seems like an eternity but it is pure joy when you roll into transition and hand your bike off to the nice volunteer. Of course as you step off the bike you are painfully reminded that your legs do not remember how to hold your body upright. It's an awkward few hundred yards to get your gear and head back into the changing tent. Everyone has a their own quirky habits in terms of what happens in the transition from bike to run. Mine is that I must put on clean socks..........there is something slightly "refreshing" about that. Seems kind of silly actually though as the rest of your body is covered in salt, sweat and stickiness anyway. There is a brief moment of "Oh my gosh, I have to run 26.2 miles!" and then you tell yourself, "just start running". The first 2 miles are difficult as your legs just don't want to cooperate. But then you settle into a pace and you are once again elated that you are doing an Ironman. This lasts until about mile 15 of the marathon and then once again the fatigue levels are starting to become overwhelming and if you are lucky, you are still finding some sort of enjoyment over your calorie choices at the aid stations. "gatorade, cola, water, pretzels, gels, bananas, orange slices.........." It soon becomes a song in your head and none of them sound good. Mile 18, your gait is now modified to accommodate some muscle group that has decided to revolt against you. The aid stations/walk breaks become the light at the end of the tunnel. This is where decision time comes. You can either "choose" to walk most of the remaining miles (because that is like heaven compared to the pounding of running) or you "choose" to keep running. I have wanted to lay down in the street just to stop the pounding on the legs that those last few miles brings. Mile 23 is both the longest part of the race and the glimmer of hope that you need to keep going. Somehow if you can find the mental strength to tune out the fact that your whole body hurts, and run strong those last few miles, the finish line is the most glorious thing in the world. The same guy announces everyone that completes the race that day..........he is called the "voice of Ironman" and his voice is like music to your ears. And as you run across the finish line with hundreds of people lining the chute cheering for you, you hear those magical words.........."Heather Butcher, you are an Ironman!" I never get tired of hearing that as it makes all the suffering worth it.

Ok so there you have the idea of what the day will be, I will give the race account on monday. Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers as well as support. It means the world and it is that strength we can draw on when things get difficult.

See you after the race!

Kentucky - 2009 - Ironman - Day 1

Greetings from KY! Ok so that is not quite as exciting as "Aloha" but it's an Ironman all the same. Leigh and I arrived yesterday afternoon and Rob (Leigh's husband, the saint that he is) picked us up after driving the 5th wheel 20 hrs from FL. We went straight to registration and got our official "bracelets" and race packets and of course spent some money in the Ironman store. It's amazing how much Ironman stuff that is available, and even more amazing how much triathletes are willing to spend!. I even saw "Ironman dog biscuits!" The race starts and ends in downtown Louisville so the host hotel is also in downtown Louisville. I am not much of a city person and I am very directionally challenged so I am quite thankful to have Leigh and Rob in charge of the driving. Anyway some of you may not find this story funny but it had me laughing most of the day. As we were walking from the registration to a cafe yesterday, we walked by 2 young women sitting on the curb (they were unfortunately very overweight) and just as we walked by, one of them leaned over and let out the loudest fart! (sorry can't think of a nice way to say that!) It was so unexpected that Leigh and I looked at each other in disbelief and just started cracking up as soon as we got past them. So now we have been exposed to the "farting locals!" Hopefully this is not indicative of the rest of the population in Louisville. I grew up with 2 younger brothers so those kinds of things are always funny to me. I apologize if I grossed any of you out with that story.

We then proceeded to walmart ( we are lacking in store options) after lunch to get some groceries and got stuck there for an hour due to a torrential downpour. People watching in walmart is always interesting so we entertained ourselves by looking at interesting products and watching random people. Rob and I got a kick out of this particular brand of snack foods. The were called "bimbolitas" (I was a spanish major and I have no idea what that word is but they are a "sweet pastry" with a creme filling apparently) and for a mere 89 cents you can consume 500 calories in one serving of bimbolitas! It is sad that it is so cheap to eat unhealthy. Sorry this blog is a little on the lame side and full of useless information, but as of right now, there isn't anything overly exciting to talk about.

The KOA (RV park) we are staying in is not exactly scenic but it's only a couple miles from the race start so that is at least convenient. In fact, it resembles a parking lot to be honest and as Rob pointed out, the nicest trees are next to the dumpster. Oh well, hopefully we well see some scenery later today. Anyway, the weather is a bit uncertain for the race on Sunday. Ironman Louisville is considered to be one of the "hottest" races on the Ironman circuit and typically high 90's is the norm for this race. But wouldn't you know it, there is a freak cool front on it's way and it looks like race morning could be in the low 50's with a high of 71. So for the Florida girls, that is a little on the cold side and I am a little unsure of what clothing to wear. That is the way Ironman goes though, a lot of uncertainty and you just have to be prepared to make adjustments. Today we will probably go for a short swim in the lovely Ohio river and perhaps go for a short easy bike ride once we get out of the industrial area. So far this is not what I thought Kentucky would look like...............I am hoping that the bike ride will bring on the horse country and green grasses rather than the industrial eye sore.

Tonight is the welcome banquet where all the athletes will be in the same location for the token pasta dinner and a nice presentation. Usually footage from past races is shown and it's a great way to get everyone really pumped up about the race. The reality kind of sets in though about what you are about to ask of your body and it can be a bit overwhelming. Ironically this will be my 8th Iron distance triathlon, and yet that same fear in the pit of my stomach is there every time I think about tackling such a long day.

I hope to have more to talk about in the next blog than farting locals!