Ironman NZ Friday 3-4-05
I wake up early and open the curtains. Pea soup fog resides over Lake Taupo with an amazingly strong breeze.
I remember swimming Alcatraz during relatively heavy fog conditions. The fog, if floating lazily above the water, is a welcome sight for Alcatraz swimmers as it means that there is no wind and the water is relatively calm. Of course if the fog is floating right on the water, then we don’t go because we can’t see where we’re going. Very bad.
The fog over the lake worries me, as well as the breeze so early in the morning. If it is pea soup like now, I doubt the race directors will start the race as we won’t be able to see the buoys. And the wind itself will be a big hinderance on the bike, as well as whip up waves in the lake during the swim. We can only hope that the conditions will improve by tomorrow.
This morning I double check my gear. I may go out for a ride but that may end up just being a quick run. 9am we have a mandatory race briefing so I cook breakfast and wait to walk over with my friends. After breakfast, I go for a quick bike. It is definitely chilly out there, but I know I should be ok in the race. After exitting the swim, I am usually all keyed up and my HR is racing so I probably won’t feel too cool out there until the sun comes out.
A geeky thought goes through my head. One of these days I need to figure out how to mount a mini-video camera on my body and let it record the whole event from my view. That would be REAL COOL. It would probably catching me cursing, eating, pee-ing, humming “Gonna Fly Now” through the whole race….ha!
We head over to the mandatory race briefing. They go over the rules one more time and then add more detail, like what color the buoys will be and how the swim start will begin. So much info, but I can’t remember hardly any of it. The only thing I do remember is that the weather report says it’s going to be beautiful tomorrow. Unfortunately, that also means that the sun will be really intense and I probably will get a little burnt. At least it won’t be raining. That is a good thing. Supposedly light breezes only as well. That should help generate really fast times especially for us weaker bikers.
By the time the race briefing starts, the fog has disappeared breaking away into a beautiful sunny Taupo day.
After race briefing, I go for a quick run. Things feel pretty good. A few tight spots but I’ll work on those late afternoon.
I get back to my room and check over my bags one more time. Somehow I feel that something more should be in there, but I can’t think of anything. The bags seem kind of empty to me, but maybe that’s just me. I go over to the bags check-in and drop those and my bike off. I never like the day before check-in. I always wonder if I forgot something. If I have, I’m sunk. But we’ll see.
I feel so fatalistic now. Everything seems so much in the hands of some higher power: the weather, my physical condition, did I pack the right stuff?, will I drop all my nutrition on the bike, etc. etc. All I can do now is sit back, have a big bowl of pasta, and get a good night’s rest.
I know I put in the time. I know my fitness is there. I do need to pace correctly and not burn out and run on fumes at the end. It’s always the run that gets me – don’t know how hard I can go on the bike to leave some fuel in me for the run. What else can happen – the wind picks up and the bike split goes haywire. For me, the bike is the critical juncture – to save enouigh energy for the run.
Later, I head over to my friends’ room and have a huge pasta meal. I keep shovelling down until I can’t eat no more. It is a pleasant evening over Lake Taupo. The sun is setting over the lake and it is a fitting end to an excitement-growing day.
I sit with my friends for a moment and go over tomorrow’s plan. I ask for some pictures to be taken, and the super important recording of the announcer saying, “Dave Shen You..Are…AN IRONMAN!!!!” (Hahah!). We coordinate a bit for after the race, and then we are all set.
I am also incredibly happy for my friends’ presence at this race. People have done it alone and it’s tough when others can’t come for various reasons on your behalf. I was ready to do this alone because in truth this was about my personal journey and something I needed to do. But as race day approaches, I realize that finishing Ironman can require every ounce of support you can get from within or without.
Having someone on the sidelines yell support at you when every fiber of your being is saying quit will be re-energizing and probably necessary. It’s also a rush when you run or bike by and you see a sign saying “Go Dave #861 go!” – even a bigger rush than when I hum “Gonna Fly Now” to myself!
I won’t forget their support for me on this very important day of my life, and again I thank them profusely for coming all the way to New Zealand to cheer me on. I can only hope to reciprocate someday in the future.
Next morning, I schlep all my swim stuff down to the beach and….jump in to prepare for start! Stay tuned!
Ironman NZ Friday 3-4-05