Ironman Arizona 2017 Race Recap - Part 1 - Getting There

That was easy!  I just kept saying that...

Wednesday - Getting there

I worried way too much about getting there.  Other friends had told stories of having their phones searched or being turned away at the US border from Canada.  For me, this was just like any other trip to Arizona.  I got a ride to the airport from hubby, who helped me manage my bike box and get checked in.  A goodbye kiss.  Security screening checked out the bike pedals in my carry on and showed me the image of them which, admittedly looked sharp when viewed from the side.  The guy that checked my passport smiled and wished me a good trip.  I only paid $25 for my bike box and the weight limit was allowed up to 100 lbs.  Mine weighed only half that much.

I met up with Gord & Helen, Bruce & Natalie, and Dan and Belinda in the airport while we all waited to board the same direct flight.  I ended up with a window seat (my fave) without having to pay to change my seat, took a nap on the plane, then realized I had sat next to a nice guy who is looking to move from Calgary to Phoenix. We chatted easily for the second part of the flight.

My parents met me at the airport.  My bike box arrived.  Nothing was damaged or missing.  Security had opened the box (likely to check out the aerosol bottle of sunscreen or the torque wrench in there) and left a note.  We got a group photo and I said hi to local pro and coach at the local tri club Elmar.

My dad had rockstar parking only a few steps out the door and had rigged some keychain loops to his license plate so we could bungee cord the trunk with the end of the bike box safely protruding a bit. There was a welcome note on the door wishing "Calgary's famous Iron Lady Good Luck!" from the wonderful neighbours and friends. 

Some yummy quinoa veggie chicken dinner. (My mom makes everything healthy and delicious).  A little unpacking.  (I didn't pack much other than race gear, sleep shirt, shorts, t-shirts, a skirt and a sports dress).  Then it was bedtime and I slept like a rock.

Thursday - Package Pickup and Athlete Briefing

First, I went for an early morning gentle swim to test my goggles, earplugs and noseplug.  I did a few laps, summersaults and just floated before sitting in the hot tub for a bit.  What a beautiful day!

We followed the directions for how to get to the Athlete Village on race day (to practice) and got parking in the recommended garage right across the street.

Vendors were still setting up.  We were in line about 10 minutes early and I chatted with the athletes beside me.  One was from San Diego, the other was a fellow Canuck from Toronto.

In the first tent, I showed my passport, signed the waivers, picked up my swim cap, bib number, envelope of coupons, bracelet to give to a favourite volunteer (more on that later), and timing chip and bags to pack for each part of the race.

I was banded with a bright orange Ironman bracelet with my race number which would give me athlete only access for the rest of the event.  (I may never take it off).

In the second tent, I picked up a free backpack and bought some T-shirts, a keychain, a little magnetic frame, water bottles, a microfiber towel, and the obligatory sticker for my car.  Apparently the special backpack I paid extra for at registration is much nicer and will be mailed to my home address.

We found a picnic table in the shade and had some time to kill before the athlete briefing.  I wandered over to the massage area and asked how it worked.  A very lovely lady and new friend by the name of Sharon guided me to the informed consent area and then worked on me with ART (active release therapy).  She has mad skills and worked on the areas in my neck and legs that were tight, then had me run out and back a little bit and found a tight area in my back to fix.  While she was working on me, my paparazzi Mom snapped some photos and Sharon asked if I knew that lady that was taking our photo.  Absolutely!  :)   Another test run and I was all set.  Sharon invited me to come find her in T2 (transition from bike to run) on race day.  Can you imagine that Sharon has been volunteering for six years like this and had NO photos of her contribution?  We exchanged emails and she now has photographic evidence of her awesomeness.

We could see and hear the athlete briefing area from our shady picnic table.  The announcer started by saying that everything he was about to tell us was in the athlete guide.  We gave him 5 minutes and when I was satisfied that I wouldn't miss anything important, we wandered off to check out the stairs leading down to the swim start.

Friday - Building the bike & Art show

My Dad helped me and we got the bike reassembled in maybe half an hour.  Reattach and adjust the angle of the handlebars and aerobars, attach the seat and pedals and voila!  I took it for a test spin to be sure the gears and brakes were working.  I stopped at the closest bike shop to check it out, then biked home.  Next I went for a little jog and bought a pump with a gauge to use for the race and gift to my Dad.  All good.

Later, we headed out to a local art show called Hidden in the Hills.  Artists host in their homes.  I bought some beautiful art cards from Jeanne Bonine.  Mom and Dad had given me a birthday card by her in the past and I loved it so much I framed it.

We had a great chat with Steve Stento and I loved the painting behind him:

I packed up my race bags and documented their contents for future reference:

Saturday - Bike drop off and Practice swim

Again, we got rock star parking because we were early.  I dropped off my bike and run bags, then headed over to the bike drop line where I chatted with Dan, one of the oldest male athletes.  (He had an Ironman Kona tattoo on his arm).  Rad.  Bruce got in line right behind me and we chatted.  I held his bike (and mine) while he dropped off his bags.  My bike was photographed at the entrance to the bike corral, then I hung it by the seat and made sure my brake cams were down and left it in a low-mid gear to be ready to pedal off on race day.  I lost Bruce but ran into Dan and helped him gear down before heading off.

I got into my wetsuit sandwiched my goggles between Gord's green swim cap from last year (for good luck) and my pink race cap over top.  I poured water down the front of my wetsuit to practice that for race day (because there is no warmup before the race).

Then I joined the line, started my watch...

walked down the stairs,

stepped into the water, dog paddled a few strokes to settle in and then swam under the first two bridges and around the first red buoy and back.

My goal was to get comfortable in the water, check out the temperature and see some of the landmarks from the vantage point of the water.  The water is a bit silty and the visibility is similar to at least one of the open water swims I have done back home.  I found the water really warm, possibly warmer than the competition pool back home.  There were a few choppy waves but I had swum in more chop this summer on a windy day.  I'm so grateful for all the experiences and "tough" training that I got through leading up to this momentous day.  My apple watch says it was 750 meters in 19 minutes.

I stripped off my wetsuit, changed in a portapotty (they were still pristine at that time), and swished some mouthwash.

We were considering going out for lunch but I just wanted to head back and chill and take a nap since I figured I might not sleep all that well the night before the race.  I got my race day nutrition ready by cutting my bars into thirds and packing things into ziplock bags, then I got my special needs bags ready and got my mom to do my body marking with my race numbers on my arms and my age at the end of 2017 on my legs.  She's an artist with mad sharpie skills!

Early to bed.

Ironman Arizona Series:
Ironman Arizona 2017 Race Recap - Part 1 - Getting There
Ironman Arizona 2017 Race Recap - Part 2 - Race Morning and Swim
Ironman Arizona 2017 Race Recap - Part 3 - T1 and Bike
Ironman Arizona 2017 Race Recap - Part 4 - T2 and Run
Ironman Arizona 2017 Race Recap - Part 5 - Guest post by volunteer Sharon
Ironman Arizona 2017 Race Recap - Part 6 - Finish Line & Beyond
Ironman Arizona 2017 Race Recap - Part 7 - Guest post by coach Keith 
Ironman Arizona 2017 Race Recap - Part 8 - IMAZ2017 epic trailer (1 min video)
Ironman Arizona 2017 Race Recap - Part 9 - Ironman Arizona 2017 - Michelle's Day (6 min video)


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