Ironman 70.3 Austin: T-4 Days

O.K., we’re 4 days out from the Longhorn Ironman 70.3 in Austin, Texas and pre-race  preparations are in full swing.

I’ve done my last taper ride and taper swim before leaving for Austin.  This morning I’ll do a 3 mile run at race tempo.  Equipment is starting to be gathered and packed – I sometimes forget how much STUFF there is to take to a triathlon.  Not the least of which is Keira (my bike, for those who forgot).  She’ll get broken down and put into her bike box today.  I’m curious to see what Delta Airlines charges me to check her in – I’m rather hoping my medallion status buys me some good grace when it comes to that.  United charged me $100 to check her in when I brought her to Arizona.  Keep in mind that in her box she weighs LESS than the 45 pound limit most airlines place on checked bags and although she is rather tall, the box is less than 10 inches deep and really not any wider than a conventional suitcase.  So…not especially heavy or huge…but airlines still like to charge extra for bikes.  We’ll see what Delta has to say.

Hey Delta!  Here’s an offer for you…if you let me take Keira for free, I will finally sign up for that Mileage Plus American Express Card you’ve been trying to get me to take for the last 10 years.  Deal?

Anyhow…I’ve got my homestay in Austin all arranged (Thanks Chris!), transport is covered (See: Thanks Chris!).   Basically the schedule looks like this:

Tonight:

  • Leave for Phoenix after dinner.  Driving down.  I have a hotel reservation at a place near the airport that offers a free airport shuttle in the morning and free parking for 21 days (with one night room stay)

Tomorrow:

  • Up at a reasonable hour, dressed, showered and off to the airport.  I’m getting there a bit early because A) I need to check Keira in and that’s always a few extra minutes and B) There’s an MVP Chat for work I’m hoping to participate in but I’ll need to do that from Sky Harbor’s free wifi at the gate, due to the timing.
  • Flight leaves for Austin (by way of Salt Lake City) at 11:20 and I’ve already been confirmed in First Class for both legs of the trip.  I’ve criticized Delta in the past on this issue so it’s only fair that I praise them when I’m pleased with how they’re doing on it.  Thanks Delta!
  • When I arrive in Austin, Chris is picking me up at the airport.  We’ll probably get a bite to eat (My treat Chris!) and then settle in back at the house for the evening.

Friday:

  • Up at a reasonable hour, have a healthy high-carb/low-fat breakfast.
  • Stop by Dynamic Health Center to pick up my Spiz (Chocolate) for the race.
  • Stop by Bicycle Sport Shop to drop off Keira for her beauty appointment. They’re going to put her back together for me and give her a tune-up pre-race.
  • Off to Decker Lake (swim site) to check out the scene and hopefully get in a 300-500 meter warm-up swim.  Just testing the waters, literally.
  • Drive the 56-mile bike course to get a look at it.
  • Find lunch.  Healthy, high carb, easy to digest.  Pasta probably. Not taking chances on unknown foods 36 hours before the race.
  • 3PM athlete check-in opens and I’ll try to get there to get checked in early.
  • Visit the race expo and buy an IM 70.3 Austin bike jersey – tradition for me to buy the race jersey at my IM races. Long as I’m there I need some Sport Beans and maybe a new pair of goggles (tho I won’t race in the new goggles on Sunday).  Might need to buy two packs of Sport Beans as I tend to eat them before the race, because they’re too yummy and I want to make sure I still have a pack for the race.
  • Give Keira a quick ride to test her out.  Not more than 5 miles I expect – again just a test effort to make sure the brakes work, saddle is properly adjusted, gears are shifting well.  No surprises on race day.
  • Back to the house, probably dinner with Chris.  High carb, low fat, easy to digest. (notice a theme?)
  • Bed at a very reasonable hour.  Like many people I don’t sleep well the night before a race so getting a great night’s sleep on Friday is important.

Saturday:

  • There’s a complimentary pancake breakfast at the Expo center from 8 to 9:30 that I might try to attend, if I’m up that early.
  • I want to do about a 1-1.5 mile easy run just to get the legs moving at some point Saturday morning.
  • From 11:00 to 11:30 is the mandatory pro meeting.  So…I guess I’m free from 11:00 to 11:30. Lunch perhaps.
  • Back to the race Expo to buy two more packs of Sport Beans to replace the ones I couldn’t resist eating last night.  Maybe I should get three?
  • In the afternoon is mandatory bike check-in so I’ll need to drop off Keira.  They’ll take care of her until race morning.
  • Mandatory Athlete briefing at 12:30PM.
  • At some point I’ll find a good, healthy, high-carb, easy-to-digest, lunch.  It’s probably the last solid food I’ll eat before the race.
  • Mid-afternoon I’ll be back to the house, just relaxing before an early bedtime.  I’ll drink a glass or two of Spiz for dinner.

Sunday (Race Day!)

  • Probably be up around 4:30AM.  Get dressed in my race kit, and some throw-away clothes.  Parking opens at 5AM but I don’t need to be there quite that early because my wave doesn’t go off until 8:45 (more on that soon).  I’ll sip some Spiz for breakfast but I don’t like to race with a lot in my stomach.
  • Drive to the race venue, get parked and get the shuttle over to the start line.  Those shuttle rides are great – you’re surrounded by fellow athletes and the excitement in the air is palpable.  You meet some really great people.  I like to share a little humor to break the nervous tension in the air.
  • Into T1 to get body marked.  Basically that means somebody with a stamp pad and a Sharpie is going to write my number on my shoulders (and maybe my calves).
  • Scope out the porta-potties.  Pre-race there are usually at least a couple of visits to evaluate the portable restrooms.
  • Then I just need to find a spot to relax.  About an hour before my wave starts I’ll drink a Red Bull.  At some point I might sneak into the water for a brief warm up.
  • 8:45….let’s light this candle.  It’s go time.
  • Looking for a smooth, efficient, swim.  Coach Sonja and I set a time goal which would have me out of the water a bit faster than any race before.  We’ve crammed as much work as we can into the last 3 weeks and I’m optimistic that I’ve got a good shot at it. (If I miss it she’s going to make me do Suicides in the pool for the next month!)
  • T1 will be calm urgency.  No major uniform changes.  Just off with the swim cap and goggles, on with the sunglasses, bike helmet, race belt and bike shoes.  Hello Keira…let’s go for a ride!
  • The bike is where I excel.  Hoping for a powerful 56 mile ride without overextending myself.  I want to turn in a good time and put a lot of time into my goal without forgetting that I have a half-marathon to run when I get off the bike.  I’ll take in most of my nutrition (two bottles of Spiz) on the bike.
  • T2 is more calm urgency. No major uniform changes, just on with the Fuel Belt, socks, running shoes and hat.
  • Off on the run. I’ll use the same run/walk strategy I used successfully at Hawaii 70.3 earlier this year.  I’ll run a mile then walk a minute. I’m hoping to set faster pace this time, though this is supposed to be a fairly tough run course so we’ll see how it goes.
  • Into the Finish!  Glory.  And a new PR, if everything goes to plan.
  • Post-race, another meal.  High fat, low carb…oh, heck, I don’t care.  As long as it’s delicious and decadent. There will likely be meat and cheese involved.  Bacon is invited.

This and That

  • Race numbers have already been revealed.  Mine will be 2444.  If you really want to track me you can do so at http://www.ironman.com I’m sure.  No need to rush, I’ll be on the course for a while.
  • If you read my “Watching the Race” post (o.k., go ahead, I’ll wait…) you’ll know that one thing that’s been causing me some trepidation is that this race has a wave swim start.  That means rather than everybody getting in the water and setting off all at once, they break us into groups (typically by age and gender; “40-45 Men” “25-30 Women” etc.) and each group starts with a small delay between them.
    Usually this is bad for me.  I’m a slow swimmer. Not tragically so, but definitely back of the pack.  When there’s a mass start I can start at the back and pass the few people who are faster than me, without having to worry about fast people swimming up my back.  All the fast people start in front of me and take off. 

    With a wave start, however, it’s like the fox and the hounds.  I get a head start, but 1 or more waves, containing some number of faster swimmers undoubtedly, will be coming up behind me in 5 minute intervals. That significantly increases the opportunities I’ll have to trade elbows with other swimmers and have people swim up my back 1100 meters down the course.  How many waves does Austin have you may be wondering?

    17.  Yes, SEVENTEEN.  Just as my jaw started to tighten and I tried to figure out how many waves that would put on top of….errr….behind me I took a look at the wave start list.  Hmmm…Men 40-45…Men 40-45…Men 40-45….AH! Men 40-45 (A-K). Wait a second…that’s Wave 16!  Men 40-45 (L-Z) is Wave 17!  I’m in the LAST WAVE!  WAHOO!

    That means I can just swim my race and not worry about speedsters coming up behind.  I’ll pass the slower people ahead, which I’m fine with, but don’t have to worry much about people behind.  WOW, what a stroke of luck.  Let me take this opportunity to thank my Dad for giving me his name (Schorr) instead of leaving me with my Mom’s maiden name (which starts with “A”).  For once it pays off.

  • Quick word of acknowledgement to all of my friends who have been so supportive in the lead up to the race. I can’t possibly mention all of you by name but certainly Patricia, IronGene, SuperTrish, Lora and my TNT running team, Jackie, Debbie, Echo, Liz, Coach Sonja and the Masters team at the Wall, FrayedLaces (Laura), my BC Endurance team back in Honolulu and the many many of you who have lent words of encouragement and support.  Thank you!
  • Special acknowledgment to Chris for taking me in and lending me his car while I’m in town.  You rock dude.  Dinner is on me!
  • And, of course, the lady who deserves her very own bullet point here…my beautiful wife Carrie.  I couldn’t ask for a more supportive partner.  I know you wish you could be there in for this race but you will be…in my heart.  Like you always are.  I love the you!

O.K.  Come on, let’s race!

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