Ironman Race Week: Prep, Sleep, Pray, Repeat

It’s officially Ironman race week, and I can’t believe time has flown by so fast. It feels like just yesterday I was registering for this 140.6-mile race on that gloomy day in January, taking the plunge though unaware what I was getting myself into.

Now, here I am, packing up my things, gathering my thoughts, and picking up my head as I prepare to depart for Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada Thursday morning. The last several days have been interesting, to say the least. I’ve experienced many race weeks, but this one is far more important and crucial. For one, just recently I learned that you must PREP and pre-bag all of your race-day items and special needs into four separate bags, half of which are dropped off the day before the race. So instead of a typical transition setup where I keep all my gear and food, I will be reaching into four different bags throughout my journey toward the finish line. That means, pack anything and everything that one may need including: food, fluid, first aid, sunscreen, vaseline, extra clothes, rain gear, tissues, etc. 

So being the type A person that I am, I prepped these bags a week out from the race. I spent Saturday afternoon on my living room floor, laying out all of the items I could possibly need. I figured, as most of us triathletes do, I am not going to need even half of this come race day, but it’s better to be safe than sorry! Because who knows what I am going to feel like within what I think will be these 15 hours of racing. My grab bags will have a little of everything to keep me going and help me avoid the little problems…like a blister! ouch! 

So I made seven columns of items:
*Pre-Swim Needs 
*T1 (transition 1 - swim to bike)
*Bike (what I plan to eat/have on my bike)
*Bike Special Needs (what I will have access to halfway through my ride at mile 56)
*T2 (transition 2 - bike to run)
*Run (what I plan to at/have in my gear belt during the run)
*Run Special Needs (what I will have access to halfway through my run at mile 13)

(I’ll let the photo indicate the items I decided to go with…)

This week is also about SLEEP, which is fine and dandy because who doesn’t love their zzz’s? Since workouts are lighter all week long, there’s more time to focus on my pillow time. It’s pretty clear that myself and most other athletes will not sleep much, if anything at all the night before the Ironman, so all the nights leading up to the race are even more crucial when it comes to sleep. Friday will be THE most important. Before bed, I have been eating lighter, healthier meals so I don’t feel too full and I sleep easier. I have also been dedicated to reading these last few nights - jumping between Rich Roll’s Finding Ultra, to the complete Ironman training manual I picked up earlier this year. Positive stories of triumph and helpful race tips are all I need right now. Can’t clog my brain with anything that may lessen my spirits. 

Now, I’m not one to PRAY, nor do I find myself religious by any means, but I have been wishing and hoping and praying a lot recently. I guess since I have been plagued with this ankle sprain and suffered a lot of setbacks, I have had no choice other than to ask for guidance to get me through this race. I have NO idea what is in store for me out there and that’s a scary feeling. The fear of the unknown is certainly one that keeps most of us away from achieving our dreams; I guess it pulled me closer to mine. It’s funny, you know, I don’t do many things that scare me, as I’d rather play it safe. This has been the one thing in my life thus far that I have taken a chance on, and I have picked up so many fears and challenged all of them. Thinking about it that way, makes me proud of myself. What happens out there on that course could be brutal, it could be beautiful, but what I choose to do with it will be worth watching.

These last few days have served me with some tough moments. I’m supposed to be riding this exciting train to Ironman land, but I’ve been handed a few notifications of sorts. For one, late last week, my foot doc (hey Dan!) called to give me my MRI results. The tone in his voice kind of said it all - this wasn’t going to be good. He went on to explain the sprain and how a race of this nature is not the best thing for me right now. Immediately, I’m in tears and I’m angry and I’m so mad at that damn piece of cement that tripped me for no good reason back on July 5th. After doc spoke his peace, I spoke mine. I could not NOT do this race. I know I am stubborn but I have come such a long way and I need to get to that finish line, even if I have to walk the whole 26.2 mile run. I am no award-winning patient, but then again, I’m usually never a patient at all. So despite docs orders, I am going out there and taking the chance to possibly hurt myself further, though I will do everything in my power to take it easy. A time goal was never in, so that’s not a concern. This is about finishing what I started. It looks like the fall will serve me a couple of rest months.

Another crisis, which I have seemed to majorly dodge a bullet on is my flat tire that went flat in my living room two days back. Yep! Just what I need, a chance to practice my tube changing skills. So I got to work on said tire and when I went to my spare tube in my bike’s tire kit, I realized I had the wrong size tube! The thought of that happening on the road during the race just blew my mind. I already have injuries and other issues to worry about, so I’m super glad I fixed this before it failed me.

I want to remember all of this. And I know this blog will serve as a big help in that department. I appreciate all of you reading along and sharing your comments and stories with me as well. Despite the outcome on Sunday, August 16th, this experience has been unbelievable. I have worked my hardest, but had the most fun along the way, meeting the most incredible people. The well wishes and texts I’ve been getting this week have kept me smiling, so thank you. I may be slow to the finish chute, but I have a million reasons that will guide me there.

Thursday morning, my husband and I head out on our drive for Canada. Hopefully between then and the race, I can write you once more...

If not, track me! #2248