This is my ridiculously long race report. I want to remember everything when I come back to read it years from now. It's broken up into separate posts for readability. Enjoy.
I woke up as scheduled at 4am that morning with a feeling that truly only compares to being a child again. It was like Christmas morning, or like going on vacation and knowing that you were going to ride an airplane that day. It's pure honest excitement that as adults we rarely get to experience anymore. Today was going to be a big day.
The nervous energy in the air downtown was amazing. Hundreds of athletes in varying degrees of focus strolled down Main Street dropping of their special needs bags and lining up for body marking. Triple and quadruple checking that they had everything they would need 14 or more hours from then and using the sharpies from body marking to write their own message of inspiration or motivation on their hands and forearms. Watching this was pretty cool, but I also wondered why so many people wanted to put a smiley face on the backs of their calves. Later in the day out on course, I smiled every time I saw one and found my answer.
In transition there wasn't much to do. Since all our gear and bikes were dropped off the day before, a little air in my tires was all I needed. Then, off to stand in the port-o-potty line up. I didn't have to go then, but I figured I would by the time I got to the front and waiting until you have to go is a bad time to get in line. My forethought proved a perfect strategy.
Timing was perfect to get into my wetsuit and onto the beach in time to find all my supporters before the pros start. Jen my sister from Toronto, Anthony, Robyn and Dave and even Robyn's mom was there to wish me luck, send me love and take some pictures. After all the business of the morning was done, all was calm on the beach as athletes started to fill the waters. A few good luck hugs and well wishes, but other than that, things were mostly quiet. Although it's entirely possible that it wasn't like that at all, but I was completely zen and didn't notice anything else that was going on.
In the week(s) leading up to Ironman I did a lot of thinking about what this day would mean to me. I started reading over old blog posts that started recording this journey in February of 2006. That was when I registered and started training for my very first marathon in Honolulu, HI. I followed my journey though running my first 10km race, my inaugural half marathon, the epic training days of my first 3 hour runs and the challenges and triumphs leading me through the finish line in Hawaii.
I also read race reports from "Try-a-Tri's" done on my mountain bike in 2006 and giggled as I read through the trial and error of navigating the "noodle legs" of transition for the first time in sprint distance races in 2007. I grinned fondly remembering pre-race nerves as I relived my first Olympic distance swim in Kelowna 2008 and smiled quietly at the memory of actually shaking before the Osoyoos Half Iron in 2009. I revisited the days when I started swimming Saturday mornings instead of sleeping in, when Sundays started being reserved for long runs and when biking to and from work just wasn't going to cut it anymore. Wow, what a road it's been.
My little trip down memory lane served two purposes. First, I was so thankful for the internet and the ability to record my journey in a way that not only could I revisit these days of past, but I recycled the words of encouragement left as comments on each one of those posts. Second, it really highlighted exactly what the Ironman was about for me. This was not a race, this was about a journey. It was about the same thing August 2010 as it was in February 2006. Learning about limits and how to push them, about who you are and what your capable of, about believing in yourself and that with a little dedication, commitment and a lot hard work, there isn't anything you can't do. I've come a long way.