Hello from Haines City, FL! Here we go again. It feels like it was just a few weeks ago when we were one sleep away from an Ironman!
During our travels back home from Kona, Hawaii on October 16th, we received an email from Ironman that Ironman Florida was cancelled due to extensive devastation from Hurricane Michael. In the beginning of the year, Karel wanted to do something that he has never done before - race two Ironmans within a month. While an experimentation to see how his body would handle two endurance triathlon events in such a short time period, Karel also wanted to see if he would be able to re-qualify for 2019 Kona. Seeing that Karel did not have the race that he wanted in Kona, he was really looking forward to another opportunity to race. Even though there's the uncertainty of what his body will be able to do in the later miles of the marathon due to the unknowns of what's still lingering in his heart, tissues and muscles, Karel was really looking forward to another Ironman.
Karel selected IMFL as his post-Kona Ironman because logistically, it was easy for us to get to. But IMFL holds a very special place in our heart for it was the first Ironman that Karel watched me race (it was so cold that morning, Karel had to borrow my jacket) back in 2007. We were dating at the time but I knew he was a keeper. Funny thing was after the race, he couldn't understand why anyone would want to do this sport. Why run off the bike when you can just ride your bike? Little did he know that 11 years later he would be about to race his 12th Ironman (13th start) and if all goes well, punch his 5th Kona ticket (4th time racing).
Ironman did something that we have never seen before from a race company. They moved the race to a new location on the exact same weekend! Alongside setting up a foundation for money to go to PCB to help with the Hurricane, Ironman has gone out of their way to move an event to a new city and essentially put together an Ironman in 3 weeks! Ironman offered options for athletes to defer their entry to 2019 Ironman Texas but most athletes decided to put all that hard work to good use in Haines City. While the course will be a bit more challenging than in PCB due to the hills on the run (rollers on the bike), the town of Haines City has welcomed us graciously and it will be a special day for everyone.
We have four athletes racing, including our coach Joe and Karel. We are staying with two of Karel's Czech friends which has been a lot of fun for him to speak Czech again after his mom left us a few weeks ago.
Campy is loving his time in Florida and taking full advantage of his warm vacation. We are staying just 2 miles away (Southern Dunes property) and if Campy isn't inside the house, you can find him outside by the pool - working on his suntan.
The energy at the race has been very positive. I rode one loop of the course this morning (plus a few extra miles for a total of 62 miles) and I didn't have any negative encounters with cars, no honks or unfriendly people. The city has also opened the community pool for athletes from 9am-1pm (Wed-Sat) for athletes to swim before the race (no swimming in the lake before race day). I have been enjoying my time in the outdoor pool with the other registered IMFL athletes.
Best of luck to all those who are racing! Be thankful and grateful to your body for what it allows you to do. No matter how your day goes, the goal is to get yourself to the finish line and to enjoy your 140.6 mile accomplishment. Stay positive, don't dwell on the what if's and don't forget to thank the volunteers.