Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Save me, I'm lost


Almost as soon as I arrive in CDA, I start panicking. I honestly don’t remember doing any training, am positive I’ve only biked or ran a handful of times. And while Coeur D’Alene is beautiful, the crappy weather of our Chicago spring has followed me like a lost lamb, with the wind and rain blowing in as soon as I hit town. Shit. On an amusing note, I check into my room and see that in the bathroom there’s a little chair for one to sit on in the shower – I wonder if they put that in ALL the athlete’s rooms? Then I notice that no, I’m actually in a handicapped room, with safety rails in the bathroom and everything. Odd. I wonder if they know something I don’t know.

After picking up my packet, Deirdre calls me, she’s made it here as well, and it turns out that the friend she’s staying with tonight and tomorrow the same hotel. Sweet! Right down the hallway, in fact. And best of all, D! has my Timbits in hand – though we’re lucky they made it here at all.

(Scene: Deirdre is crossing into the U.S. from Canada, and on the passenger seat next to her are 2 extra-large boxes of Timbits and a huge box of donuts, all from Tim Horton’s.)

U.S. Border guard: Purpose of your visit?
D!: Heading to an Ironman. IronSpud, to be exact.
USBG: An Ironman?
D!: Yes, you know, like a really fricking long triathlon? That’s my tri bike I have with me (points at her Cervelo in the back seat).
USBG: Yes, but......(looks at donuts skeptically).....that doesn’t exactly look like race nutrition. (Hesitates only briefly.) Ma’am, I’m going to have to ask you to pop your trunk open so that I can search it. No sudden moves please.

Yes, not only are airport security personnel protecting citizens everywhere from chamois cream, but our brave border guards are also keeping the U.S. safe from Canadians bearing Timbits. Whew! We can all sleep easier at night now.

But arrive she does, and after the precious Timbits are stashed in the freezer for essential race fueling (what the hell does that border guard know anyway? Duh!), we go to dinner at IHOP, meeting up with two of D!’s other blogger friends, who she’s also never met. And as D! and I discuss all the ways I can use cancer as an excuse in case I have a poor race, and I lament the fact that I didn’t think to have a cycling jersey made up that says “I’m not slow, I just have cancer,” the Ohioans look like deer caught in headlights, looking back and forth at us as if WE have issues. What? Cancer can be pretty damn amusing at times – so I always say, if you can’t laugh at cancer, what CAN you laugh at??

That night, after watching the first of many stories on the news about all the “special” people doing IronSpud (tonight it’s 2 women who had gastric bypass surgery), I find myself even more stressed out, and I haven’t even seen the bike course yet.

Thoughts in my head

What am I doing here? Why did I drive all the way out here for this? I’m so not ready, so not in shape. My training, it’s all a blur. Maybe it’s the brain injury, that’s why I don’t remember any of it. Okay dumbass, look at your training log. See, hours of training! Many bike rides over 100 miles! Daily runs! Swims that.....okay, so maybe I could have swam more. But my swims in the 48 and 53-degree Lake Michigan water were hardcore, dammit, and I swam long enough to know that I can swim for hours, so at least I’ll be fine on the swim. And how hard can the bike be? Everyone says it’s not as hard as Madison, and you’ve ridden that plenty. It’ll be fine. Shit. Why didn’t I do any training for this?

Repeat in an endless loop, ad nauseum. It’s going to be a long few days....


The weather is getting progressively worse, but surely that means that race day itself will be perfect, yes? Yes, even though they’re now saying there might be hail. Ha, as if! D! and I head off for a morning swim – or rather, I suit up for the swim, she bundles up in a parka, along with every other non-fool out there. It seriously looks like it’s going to snow. I head out and am greeted by 4-foot waves that make swimming verrry slow going. Excellent, just excellent. Though on the bright side, after my swim as I’m attempting to rinse the sand from my wetsuit without getting submerged by the waves, a cute guy offers to rinse it out for me. Hmm. Note to self: stop heading out for workouts looking like a scalded cat or something equally frightful.

D! later updates her blog, reiterating her happiness that she wasn’t dumb enough to sign up for this race, and “calling (me) out”, as she puts it, that she doesn’t see a Thighmaster anywhere in evidence. Sigh. No matter how much I explain my strict training regimen to people, somehow the nuances are always lost. One more time: I’ve already done the heavy lifting, the strenuous workouts, etc. with the Thighmaster. Now that I’m in taper mode, that means I stick to the easier sports, that whole swim/bike/run thing. As if I would jeopardize things by pulling out the Thighmaster NOW! Oy.

That afternoon, D!, Marit and I decide to drive the bike course. First we do the out-and-back along Lake Coeur D’Alene, on what I will come to refer to solely as That Fucking Road. Because not only do we see it twice on the bike, but twice on the run as well. TFR will haunt me in my dreams.

Then we get to the “fun” part, and as we start to drive the main loop, a stunned silence settles over the car. Until we all start muttering our own respective thoughts:

Marit: Okay, so it’s an uphill, but not too bad, kind of levels off, then a bit more uphill, but not too bad....
Deirdre: I am SO glad I’m not doing this race.
Tasha: What. The. Hell. The people who said this wasn’t as bad as Madison are all on CRACK! Crackheads, all of them! What the HELL??!

We continue on in this vein for the rest of the drive: Marit cautiously optimistic and chipper, Deirdre thanking her lucky stars, and me bitterly shocked. Then we debate the definition of “rolling hills,” pretty much unanimously agreeing that there are very few if any on this course. Shit. We drop off our bags and bikes at the race site, with Dino already having his race number on and ready to go. Such a trooper, my little co-pilot. Note to self: don’t forget to take Timbits out of the freezer, to put into Run Special Needs Bag. This is critical.

That night on tv they have cancer man, who “beat cancer” 2 years ago and is now doing IronSpud. I can’t even be too upset about this, about the total lack of MY day in the sun, so to speak, since I’m obsessively fretting about that insane bike course. That in addition to the hills has some screaming downhills around blind curves, on narrow roads, and many of them ending with sharp turns at the bottom. If it rains, that’s going to be a total disaster. But I’ve been tracking 4 different weather sites, and all indicate little if any rain on Sunday, so that’s a relief. Four sites couldn’t all be wrong, right?


Almost there, which is good, because the stress is a bit much. I go for a final ride today, an easy 15 miles or so on the main loop, and it’s not too heinous on the part I ride. One thing I notice – why is it that male cyclists will wave back or say hi to me, but the female cyclists never do? Seriously, are we that psycho competitive? Lighten up, kids.

In addition to the race, the stress of figuring out what to eat is killing me. I know I’m supposed to eat lots of carbs, but after staying away from them for so long, it just feels wrong. A waffle for breakfast seems like blasphemy. Then I’m looking at my different pre-race guides and info, and Rich Strauss says to eat a big lunch while Mark Allen recommends a big but early dinner, or something like that. So I figure I’ll just combine all the advice and follow it all – big lunch, big early dinner, salt tabs, sipping Gatorade, etc. That should work.


Can’t sleep, so I’m up checking email, snacking on fresh kettle corn that I picked up from a roadside stand earlier today. All I want for tomorrow is NO WIND – that’s not too much to ask for, is it? I’ve been asking that for months now, so surely the Powers That Be will throw this tiny bone my way? Because I’m sure not getting much else these days from them. Wind is by far #1 on my Hierarchy of Cycling Suckiness. Hills you at least know what you’re dealing with – wind, it’s shifty, devious, sneaky, arbitrary. Hate it. No wind, please. But a final check of our 4 sites has given us a general consensus of sorts: between 63 and 67 degrees, light wind of up to 8 mph, rain for literally an hour or two. Okay, not perfect, but doable. Whew. I think it’ll be a great day – I’m so ready, I’ve put in the time, now this’ll be a piece of cake. Looking at a definite PR, maybe even a Kona slot? Okay, maybe not Kona, but at least sub-13. Okay, maybe not sub-13, but at least better than my IMMOO time, so sub-15. Yeah, that’s it. Totally doable. Crushing dreams, that’s what it’s all about. Rock on, baby, rock on....


D said...

Dear readers,
I want to be very clear that Tasha's description of my encounter with Homeland Security at the border, while livened up slightly, is totally accurate. Everything was fine until the donuts were spotted, then it was search time.

Roadie in Vancouver said...

D. Border Guards are pretend cops, you forgot the cardinal rule. Shoulda offered him a Timbit.

JoJo said...

I had a similar experience on Monday returning from Victoria Island to Seattle - the border guy was giving me the evil eye because I declared my mint-chocolate fudge. He claimed I couldn't take it into the US and that he'd have to confiscate it personally. I refused. He went for his weapon. I sneered at him, and finally he backed down. Very scary! OK, maybe not quite the same, but you get the idea.

t-odd said...

The anticipation is killing me. I hope it lasts. I always suspected that Ohioans were incapable of laughing about cancer. Now it has been confirmed. It must have something to do with being hi in the middle and round on both ends. What happens next?