We have seven days left until Ironman Arizona, so it’s time to pack our suitcases and prepare our minds for the desert. Not long ago, my stepfather (and kidney recipient) asked me why I chose to do an Ironman in Arizona, instead of some place more familiar and somewhat within driving distance, like Florida. The question really caught me off-guard, because it made me question my decision, one that I made over a year ago and have been working toward ever since. I do have my reasons (a somewhat flat course, the weather is warm now, but not too hot, and no humidity)… but in the end, this is what I chose and re-thinking it now is futile. It helped to watch this video again from last year’s IMAZ; it really makes me excited to think I’m about to do this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrsqgPgekW4&sns=em
Still, I am a little nervous about the fact that – to me, someone who grew up on the East Coast, going to Arizona is going to seem a little like going to another planet. But I am transfixed by the idea that the desert is a spiritual place. A place you can go and find yourself. So, that brings us to the point of having to decide what to pack for a trip to the desert. I have a number of triathlon checklists that I’ve been referring to. And we already packed quite a bit of our tri stuff in the bags we sent with our bikes. (We shipped them through TriBike Transport, and for an extra fee, you can ship a bag along with your bike.) So, I’ve taken care of my helmet, bike shoes, gloves, sunglasses, neoprene swim cap, goggles, extra tubes, extra CO2 cartridges, an extra tire (given my luck with tires), and numerous other small items. We didn’t pack a bike pump, so we’re hoping they have enough of them in the transition area that we can borrow one.
We will have to pack our nutrition stuff and other clothes in our luggage. Key race day clothing items include our RaceJoy shirts (see photo above). RaceJoy is a really cool company our friends started. It provides mobile technology that tracks an athlete while racing or training, so that loved ones/spectators can know where they are and even send them a “cheer” while they are out on a training ride or a race course. We’ve been testing it for our friends throughout our training — on long rides and runs and even in a couple of our races. Unfortunately, when our friends asked Ironman whether they could load the course into their app and track us during the race, Ironman said no, because the app currently requires that we carry a cell phone with us on the bike and run, and it’s against the rules to carry a phone in the Ironman. So, we won’t be doing that. But we will still be wearing our RaceJoy kits in the race and sporting their great slogan, “Bringing Joy to the Race”. I am excited about that, because I really want this to be a joyful experience, and I hope that seeing the slogan will put a smile on other athletes’ faces when they really need it. (In the future, RaceJoy may use a simple tracking device that can be worn – without needing to carry a cell phone. We hope to help them test that out as well. It’s fun to be part of something like this!)
As for other stuff I plan to pack, that will include a very wide range of clothing! While we are in Tempe, the temps will go from lows in the 50s to highs in the upper-70s, maybe low-80s. But when we drive north to Sedona and the Grand Canyon after the race, the temps will drop. So, we need to have both shorts and long pants, t-shirts and coats. Lots of layering! I don’t want to pack too much, though, because I’m hoping to buy some finisher gear, and I’ll need that space in my suitcase!
Watching the video I mentioned above really reminds me that even though I will care about my finish time at some point, and even though I know friends and family members will be tracking us online that day and evaluating our times to determine how we’re doing — in the end, I just want to finish. Right now, I sit before you – a person who does not know if she can complete an Ironman. I hope to rectify that soon. It’s just a huge thing to *not know* if you can do something … and then to do it. That’s all I’m going for here!
Before I close this post, I have to mention my husband, Craig, and reflect on the huge role he has played in my journey thus far. He started doing triathlons back in the mid-90s. I don’t even know if I went to his first triathlon. I did go watch quite a few of them, though. And while I was always in awe of him, it always just seemed like ‘that crazy triathlon stuff Craig did…’ not something I was even remotely surprised that he could do, and definitely not something I thought I would ever do. To this day, I feel bad that I wasn’t in Florida to see him do his first 140.6-distance race – The Great Floridian. I had started a new job and couldn’t take the time off to go. But I wish I had anyway. Now that I know what it takes to do this sort of thing, I hate the fact that I wasn’t there to see him cross that first finish line (even though I saw him do his other six Ironman-distance races).
Perhaps it’s because I know what kind of person Craig is – that I’ve never been surprised by his ability to do these types of things. Craig totally does things his own way, never following the pack. He’s driven from the inside out. He does what has to be done, when it needs to be done, no matter what the circumstances. Even though he’s extremely nice and personable, always making jokes and making people feel at ease, he’s also made of steel. He’s so strong. He constantly helps people who are in need, but he doesn’t cut anyone slack if they should be able to do things on their own. When I decided to follow his path, he was right there with me to give me the best advice I could possibly get and make sure I could stand on my own. Truth be told, there have been times this year when I would have completely taken an easier path, given up on training rides, packed it in early, skipped workouts, etc. — But I didn’t because he was there, doing them along side me, and not giving up, because that is not in his vocabulary. He actually never pushed me to do any of this, but just waited for me to say I wanted to. And by “waited” – I mean he waited until I took the steps on my own. He didn’t make it easy for me; he put it on me to show that I was serious about wanting to do it. If I’m ever really having a hard time and need help, he’s there. But if I’m just being wimpy, he doesn’t give me an out, he just lets me dig my own hole. That gooberhead! 🙂
Seriously, though, I couldn’t have asked for a better person to show me the realities of what I’m about to try and do. It will be hard for me to do this race without constantly wondering how his race is going. We are such a team, and yet this is an individual event. We will be together in the desert doing this thing. But we will also be alone, finding ourselves out there. When we find each other at the finish line, I wonder how the desert will have changed us and what kind of journey it will have prepared us for … next.