Who would have thought...
Twelve months ago I was getting ready to tackle the event for the first time. It was the hardest thing I had ever attempted but it was also the best day out ever. I had such a great time I had no hesitation in jumping in and entering for a second attempt - and St Pete had no qualms either!
Since then our lives have taken an incredible turn and I definitely know what it's like to approach an event saying you haven't had a perfect year. We've moved country, changed jobs and at times during the last few months I was feeling like I would be happy just to get to the start line, let alone come anywhere near my lofty goal of a 13 hour finish.
Suddenly, five days out, the time no longer matters. Ironman, after all, is a journey.
It's so much bigger than the time you achieve.
It's more about facing the challenges that life throws your way and dealing with them. Some way, some how.
And I'd like to feel I've embraced those challenges and have come out stronger as a result.
I've embraced hills, both in my cycling and running - on Saturday I did a 2 hour ride that involved over 1000m of climbing. Something that would have been unheard of just a year ago.
I've embraced open water swimming (although I haven't embraced swimming regularly with the sharks in Sydney Harbour!). I took on the chop of Lake Wanaka without any fear and destroyed any remaining qualms once and for all in the 2km Cole Classic a few weeks ago.
Last year Coach Dave wouldn't let me finish a half ironman, 3 months out from Taupo, so as to conserve my legs. This year not only did I have permission to complete a half ironman as part of my buildup, but I did it just 6 weeks ago. Who would have thought!
Last year I didn't have a clue how to transport my bike on a plane. I can now pack and unpack my bike like an expert, and have to admit feeling very cool as I stroll through an airport terminal with the bike case. I might look like a complete idiot but I feel like Chrissie Wellington (except she probably doesn't have to pack and unpack her own bike!). Yeah, I've turned into a real tri geek.
Last year I coined a new term: "excitrified". It's equal parts excited and terrified and I swung between both emotions in the days leading up to Ironman. This year I'm just excited.
Excited to be challenging myself. Excited to see what I can achieve on Saturday. And excited to share that journey with family and friends.
St Pete will be there, as he has been since day 1 of this journey, cheering me along from the sidelines. He won't relax until I cross the finish line - and this year I have to remember that he'll be on the left hand side of the finish chute. No high fiving of the crowd on the other side!
My fellow ironman buddy from last year, Jacky (Ironjack), will also be there yelling from the sidelines and I can't wait to see her in Taupo this week. Coach Dave won't be there this year, but he'll no doubt be following online in the great tradition we have established since our move to Sydney. Where would we be without Skype, email and the internet? And this year we'll have mum and dad up from the south island cheering me on as well. It'll be a long day for them but I hope they enjoy the experience as much as everyone else in Taupo does for that 17 hours of extreme endurance.
Where the ordinary, everyday average person sets out to do the extraordinary.
Bring. It. On. :)