Pre Race Preparation…



Thursday morning we left from San Francisco airport at 6:30 AM.  About 8 of my teammates and some of their cheering sections were on my flight.  We flew to Burlington, and had a charter bus drive us to Lake Placid, around the southern part of Lake Champlain.  It’s a beautiful drive, picturebook New England.  I’m a little surprised at how lush and green everything is, I’ve gotten too used to California summers where most everything is baked brown by late July.  Excitement and anxiety is mounting, as from now through the rest of the weekend I am surrounded by it all—teammates, other athletes, “Welcome Ironman” signs, almost no other topics of conversation.  It’s good for me that I experienced this vicariously when I went to watch Canada last year, or I might be overwhelmed.


Friday we reassemble our bikes.  The whole team meets for a short swim in Mirror Lake.  The water is warm (70 degrees)—warm enough so that you don’t really need a wetsuit for warmth, though almost every competitor will wear one—and calm.  10 minutes isn’t enough time to really get in a rhythm, but it’s good just to know what the course looks like.  In the afternoon, a group of us get in a car to get a preview of the bike course… hilly, but certainly no worse than what we’ve trained on.  And again, gorgeous.  In the evening is the ‘carbo load’ dinner in a huge tent at a horse farm.  Most of my family arrives just in time to join me for dinner—Mom, Dad, my brother Brian, my uncle Roger and my stepmom Bonnie.  It’s exciting to be around all the athletes!  One man has already done 31 ironman races!  It’s not too hard to see how this energy could be addicting, but who could find time to do that, even if your body managed to hold up?  Whit, one of the race announcers, tells the story of Louie, and how his spirit seems to be at each ironman.  I am teary eyed for the first, but certainly not the last time of the weekend.  I don’t think any of us expected to have our team’s inspiration spoken of to the whole group of racers.


Saturday I go for a ride and find that my rear derailleur is only using the easiest 4 gears.  It’s beyond my limited number of tricks to fix, but happily, I don’t panic… Coach Wayne or one of the bike mechanics will surely be able to help me.  And sure enough, after breakfast Wayne is able to track down where the shift cable is sticking.  Good thing I tested it out!  Marcy and Bella and I walk our bikes over the hill, through the town of Lake Placid, and down to the transition area, Bella’s sister driving our transition bags down for us.  We pass our bikes through inspection and rack them and our transition bags according to our race numbers.  I find my family buying clothes (and the prizes for my

‘guess-my-times’ contest) in the merchandise tent, and head to the TNT luncheon.


Everyone gets weepy when the video memorial of Louie is shown.  The moment he crossed the finish at Canada… well, that’s what gave me the final big push to take on this adventure.  The courage he showed that day, through all his training, and morning he carried the Olympic torch, seem even bigger as I get ready to follow in his ironman footsteps.  We’re invited to share our thoughts with our teammates, coaches and families.  There are tons of people that I want to thank for all of the support along the way, but my head is swimming.  I do remember to thank my family at least for coming all this way to stand and cheer all day long, and talk about how I will miss having Lance out there with us the next day (he’s had to return home for a serious health issue for his mom… our prayers are still with you & mom, Lance!), and how much Louie continues to be an inspiration.   And that while I’m planning to do the race faster, there could be no higher honor than to finish in 16:56:30…  Someday the cure will be found, and inspiration like his will be a big contributor. 


After lunch, there is a parade of athletes through town… so much for staying off our feet!  But at least Wayne contrives to get us to sit in the shade, rather than in the sun in the bleachers where everyone else is for the mandatory athlete meeting, where the rules are covered, we go over how transitions will work.  Then, off to dinner up in Saranac with my family and my friend Katee, who has driven up to watch.   At this point, I’m almost too nervous to eat,  but I do my best with one more plate of pasta.


After dinner, my girlfriend Martha has finally arrived from Chicago.  I had been nervous that I would be so anxious by this time that I would forget to be happy to see her for the first time in many weeks… but almost all the practical things have been handled, so we can enjoy this reunion… as much as I’m able to focus on anything.  We haven’t been able to visit each other for awhile because my training has made me pretty unavailable on the weekends, and fortunately we’re going to spend the week following the race vacationing together, because this is hardly the perfect moment to catch up.


One last team gathering.  Ironteam veteran Terry Jordan does a relaxation/visualization with us as we lie out on the tennis courts.  We talk about all the things we want from race day, and remaining positive through the parts that are challenging.  You can’t control the weather, or equipment problems, but you can control your response to them.  She tells us a great story about running in the Dublin marathon, and while everyone else was cursing a strong headwind, she enjoyed it because it gave her the illusion that she was running faster.   It’s a nice way to send us off for the evening.


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