After a long day of traveling, from Jacksonville to Ft. Lauderdale and then to Baltimore, I was finally able to relax a bit as I boarded my last flight of the day with my parents (who flew from Tampa). We arrived to Milwaukee (my first time to WI!) around 9:20pm (10:20EST), welcomed a brisk 56-degree outdoor temp and to my relief, my bike arrived on the same plane as me. Wheewwww. I took off my compression shorts and socks and happily put on my stylish Zoot compression tights. I'm sooo over trying to look cute while I travel. Compression is my best friend and I gladly welcome it when I travel.
We got our Ford Escape rental care and made the 80ish mile drive to Middleton, WI (just outside Madison). 11:45pm (12:45EST) I was unpacked and in bed....fast asleep.
I had a very restful night of rest even though I only got 6 hrs. My body enjoys 8 hrs but I know I will sleep a little extra tonight.
Our hotel is fabulous...my mom out-did herself and booked me the perfect hotel to meet my IM race week requirements. Not only do I have a fridge and a microwave (2 must-have's for my IM events) but I have a FULL Kitchen!! We also have a bedroom in our suite and for the amazing price just 15 miles away from the race site, Staybridge suites is making me super happy! Free internet, free HOT breakfast and the nicest people around.
After a wonderful breakfast of oatmeal w/ walnuts and raisins, cottage cheese, fresh fruit (melon medley) and the most delicious scrambled eggs (and 2 bold cups of coffee and lots of water) my parents and I got ready for an anticipated drive around the bike course.
FYI-when I do Ironman events, I typically don't drive the entire course. However, for this course, because of the road conditions and technicality, I really wanted to drive the entire 40-mile loop as well as the 13ish mile out and back section before and after the 2 loops. When I travel, I always write myself an itinerary of what I want to do from the moment I wake up until I go to bed, every day, from arrival to departure. It really helps me to have a plan so that I don't feel rushed or overwhelmed and that I make sure I fit in all my to-do's. Also, I plan "rest periods" so that I am not staying too busy on the days leading up to the big day. My parents are still laughing at me cause I keep saying "we are ahead of schedule!"
During our 56 mile drive we stopped at a local bike shop (somewhere around mid-loop) to buy 2 CO2 cartridges (since I can't fly with them) and it was a coffee/bike shop...how cool is that!! I love supporting local bike shops so we chatted a bit with the owner and headed back out on the course for the rest of our drive.
So, how can I sum up the bike course??? Um, let's just say that I am the ONLY Florida-girl in my age group (25-29) and one of TWO females in the entire race from Florida!!!!
I have to say that this will be the most challenging triathlon course I have ever done. Although I feel strong and confident with my bike skills, the course is very technical with sharp turns, tight descends and gravel/bumps on several sections. However, the course looks absolutely beautiful and I wouldn't want to be challenged anywhere else in the US...I'm SUPER excited for this bike. I have biked on a lot of "challenging" roads and have completed 6-gap, Clermont Horrible Hundred and have biked around Lake Tahoe...but all of my most memorable and challenging courses have been completed with Karel near or by my side.
I feel like Karel has prepared me for this course and even though I don't train on hills, I feel really good knowing the layout of the course. I took notes on my turn-by-turn directions as we were driving the course so I will be looking those over tonight and tomorrow so that I even more confident and prepared for this 112 mile bike. I am grateful that I have a power meter because it should be abundantly sunny but perhaps a bit windy (high 72-degrees!!) and I don't want to cook myself on the bike because I am feeling really good for a great run. I know I will have some moments with some inflammation/leg concerns on the bike and possibly/probably on the run but I have really worked hard on my confidence to stay mentally strong and smart. I am really happy that my family and Karel are here because seeing them somewhere on the bike course (Karel always seems to find a back road w/ my parents and they all seem to find me while I am on the bike at least once) will really lift my spirits. Also, the course is FILLED with small towns, neighborhoods and farms... me and 2900 other IM athletes will be in great company with lots of cheering fans and curious cows and horses.
Well, we finally made it to downtown Madison (ahead of "my" schedule hehe) and I instantly fell in love with the city. Absolutely beautiful, clean and bike-friendly. The race venue is getting ready and you can feel the excitement in the air. It can all be a bit overwhelming at times but even for my 4th IM, I still get nervously excited and feel like a newbie.
After athlete check-in (which went smoothly as always) I looked around at the expo/merchandise area and then headed outside to check out the IM scene. After lunch I packed my transition bags and minute by minute, the excitement continues to grow.
I'm Super excited to check out Madison for 140.6 miles....I know this is going to be a race to remember. Regardless of how my finish turns out, I am really blessed to be where I am right now in my life and happy to share this day with so many other athletes.
In about an hour I am off for my typical pre-race, 2 night before, pizza dinner and then off to the athlete meeting (which I NEVER miss for a half or full IM). Karel gets in later tonight (my bike is lonely in her case..she is ready to be put together) and hopefully the anticipated rain for the morning will come and go. I'm looking forward to my warm-up swim, bike and run in the morning since today was an enjoyable day off from tapering. Wow - so close to IM starting line #4!!