Twas the week before ironman, and all through the house
Irongirl was resting, her legs on the couch
Black Beauty was packed, by the Jet boys with care
In hopes that race day would be completed with flair...
It's Friday morning as I start writing this and I'm about to hit the weekend before Ironman. And I've come to the conclusion that this is the best weekend in the year. Yes, the weekend before Ironman is even better than Ironman weekend, although that does come a pretty close second.
And for those who are facebook friends, and therefore know I'm home alone this weekend, no, it's not because St Pete has headed back to Christchurch to run the Christchurch marathon on Sunday. Shame on you all for even thinking such a thing!
The weekend before Ironman is particularly special because the training volume is down, I'm starting to feel strong, fit and ready to race, and all the fun packing stuff happens.
What also helps is that I'm no longer in that phase of freaking out about my first ironman event. You know that feeling - asking eternal questions about whether I've done enough training; whether I'll last the distance; what will go wrong on the day and will I cope. I've now got enough IM finishes under my belt to know what to expect on the day, understand that it's going to be a long day at the office and that there will be challenges (and pain!) to overcome, but nevertheless will still be looking forward to overcoming it all and coming across the finish line.
And that's what makes this weekend so much fun.
First of all there's not much training on. The sessions I do have still have some intensity to them but the volume has dropped right away. Today, nothing. Saturday, a 1,000m time trial swim and 45min wind trainer session. Sunday, a set of run drills, 50min tops. It's hardly going to make a dent in my days.
|Melting Marshmallows - Lush|
So serious is this recovery business that my good intentions about volunteering on Sunday at the MS Fun Run had cold water poured on it good and proper. I saw the event come up and the call go out for volunteers a few weeks ago and realised that it was on the same day as St Pete would be running his marathon. I figured I'll be home alone, not much training on, why not help out? It'll be an easy way to pass some of the day and give something back to the community.
Well, was I ever wrong on that one.
St Pete thought I had gone insane even thinking about it (and told me so in no uncertain terms) and Coach Dave, normally the optimistic "make anything work" kinda guy, took a long few seconds pondering it over Skype before finally deciding that no, despite my good and honourable intentions, he couldn't make this idea work at all. And with the final nail in the coffin from Mel who, as a race director herself, assured me that the volunteer coordinator wouldn't consider her day ruined by me pulling out, I did so, and left the day as a blank canvas.
So that brings me back to the fun weekend.
With training just a blip on the radar that leaves the packing and preparation. Yippee - the fun stuff! Last night Black Beauty went into Jet Cycles for her pre-Ironman service. Tomorrow I take the bike box in and she gets packed up (they did such a great job last time I'm letting them do it again!). Wheeling her home in the box on Saturday is always a really cool thing to do - yeah, go on, I know you're thinking it....ironman geek! It's almost as cool as wheeling her around the airport - I feel like a real athlete...haha.
And then there's the packing. All the race gear gets assembled and laid out. Gels get counted. Battery chargers get put together and coiled into ziplock bags so they don't get tangled. Spare CO2 canisters, tubes, clothing for all weather eventualities. The gear gets left out for a day or two so I can check it against the checklist half a dozen times and then just check it visually another half dozen times while I mentally go over the course, through each transition, ensuring I have everything I could possibly need.
Finally it all gets loaded into the suitcase. Race day gear goes into my carry-on trolley bag - all of our other gear into the suitcase. I love this process!
Finally there's the mental preparation. A couple of weeks ago my training volume had peaked, I had been pushing myself hard and was sufficiently run down that I got sick. It was only a cold, and a relatively minor hit at that. But it was enough to put me at a low ebb in terms of feeling fit and ready to race. As we get to this weekend, however, I've fully recovered and I can feel my mental focus enter a state of calm readiness.
Come Tuesday St Pete will have returned from smashing his marathon and we'll be getting on the plane to head to Cairns.
The weekend before Ironman - it's the best weekend of the year.