This evening our sherpa arrived. That’s right, we picked up Mr. Thomas T. from the airport. He is fully prepared to be on full sherpa duty starting Saturday at 4:30 am. Just don’t tell him it’s at 4:30 am. He thinks his sherpa duty begins from the balcony of a local bar along Alii Drive as he yells our names.
It is 9:50 pm, Thursday night, and the race is a little more than a day away. All of a sudden too much time has turned into very little time. I have shared with you the romantic details of the Hawaii Ironman – the beaches, the hot bodies, the sun, the fresh fruit. But those of you that have been to Ironman and back know that beneath the beauty there lies much, much more.
These are the things you think about. When your body is at rest your mind is at work. Thinking, planning, rehearsing – about the important things. The things that truly will make or break your Ironman day.
I have spent 50 percent of the day thinking about socks – do I wear them or do I not wear them? If I wear them, which kind? Thick or thin? Greased up or dry? Will it matter? After mile 4 they will be so soaked in water and my own pee that there’s no hope they’ll be dry.
Once I got past the socks I thought about the shits. You bet I’ve scoped that Queen K for places to go. Don’t count on the bottom dropping out at the ideal spot. It will drop when it drops and you must be ready to go. Good thing the Queen K is under construction right now which has left giant piles of rock and barricades to go behind.
Gels. Imagine this – your race nutrition plan is set. You are thrilled they will have your favorite gels on the course. Then at 9 pm you think you hear the guy say “no salted gels” on the course.
NO salted GELS? Are you kidding me? How on earth am I going to carry what can only be described as a shitload of salted gels across 26.2 miles? This threw me into such a tizzy that I made Thomas-the-sherpa go ask just to be sure. Then we discussed the back up plan. Calculations, calories, salt milligrams…….I have calmed down now and realized the gels are actually the same gels I used just with a different name.
That was close.
We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about tires, preparing for what-ifs. Right now there are things velcroed to my bike that I am not even sure I know how to use. Pit Stop, tubes, cartridges along with the Bento Box which will soon be filled with mylar-packaged foods du jour. I don’t even recognize my bike. What was once a speedy fast machine is now a cargo vehicle that will ultimately travel 112 miles. Right now it is clean but on Saturday night it will be coated in gels (salted, yes), bars, sports drink, pee, sweat, pieces of me.
It is building. In fact, they have built the finish line and spectator area along Alii Drive. Along with the scaffolding and bleachers, the island is building in excitement, the energy, the nerves, all of it building to a crescendo that will release Saturday at 7 am in one cannon shot. This is like Christmas except there is no tree. And no snow. And the only present I get is completion in crossing a line.
What the line means……well, that’s a truth that those of us that have been to Ironman and back only know. And honestly I can’t wait to see what the line means this time.