Panama City Beach holds a special place in my heart.
Not because it was where I spent my spring break in 2000 for my senior year of High School but because it was the location of my first Ironman.
I had my mom and dad with me for support as well as my boyfriend Karel (dating for 5 months).
With less than a mile from the finish, Karel yelled to me "Babe- you are going to Kona!"
I never saw Karel run before so I was smiling and laughing at him (although he had no trouble keeping up with me).
And then, without thinking, I yelled back "I Love you!"
It was the first time that I told Karel that I loved him but it just felt right. Not only was he out on the course supporting me but I just knew he was the one for me because he "got me."
It's hard to explain to someone why anyone would want to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles or run 26.2 miles for what looks like all for a medal and a t-shirt.
But it's so much more than that.
I can't describe this lifestyle that so many of us choose and why it makes us feel so healthy, balanced and emotionally complete but I can say that it's extra special when you can share it with someone else. No matter of that someone is on the sidelines or on the course, I feel so luck that I can share this lifestyle, that started back in PCB in 2006, with Karel.
It only took 7 years of Karel being on the sidelines at my races but now Karel "gets" the multisport lifestyle and loves it.
So here we are, back at PCB to watch our athletes race at IMFL.
We left Thurs morning for a long drive (thanks to ATL traffic) to PCB. Campy did not mind the trip as he loves a long road trip.
I always travel by car with a cooler and food bag so it was nice to be able to eat when the belly says "feed me."
Karel and I took turns driving while listening to a variety of triathlon-related podcasts.
Did I mention that Campy is the best travel partner?
Once we arrived to PCB we went straight to Doris's house so Karel could set up his mobile shop for a few bike tune-ups. It's always amazing what Karel can find on an athletes bike before the race that needs tweaking or fixing. Thank goodness for Karel and his expert bike mechanic skills.
After a few hours of tune-ups for Karel and me chatting with our athletes, Karel and I were so hungry and could not wait to eat some local food.
After checking into our pet-friendly hotel, we asked the guy at our hotel front desk where we could find some good Mexican food. He suggested Guadalajara Mexican Grill....it was amazing.
Karel got the chicken supreme burrito and I got the vegetarian fajitas.
I just love how they loaded up our plates for a very satisfying meal and the food was not salty or overly cheesy. It was perfect for a happy tummy meal.
As a vegetarian (not a sometime vegetarian but a 23-year, for the rest of my life, vegetarian) it is really important that when I eat out, I know what I am eating. Mexican can be a little scary for me as I don't know if the beans and rice are cooked with pork fat or chicken broth so I always make sure I ask. So for the vegetarians traveling to PCB, the rice and beans are vegetarian and they are not stingy on the veggies.
I also like ordering fajitas as I can load up my tortillas as to how much of each add-in.
After dinner, we rested a bit in the room before it was time for bed at 9pm central time (10pm EST).