A while back a friend of mine emailed me and said she'd love to do a destination event with me soon. I thought it would be fun and we started talking about what race we could do. She had also been thinking of doing an Ironman and then we found out a large group of folks we know from here were planning on signing up for Ironman Arizona 2012.....and so the wheels started turning.
We decided that we would do IMAZ 2012 together and began to make plans. The first step in the process was making plans to go out to IMAZ this year to volunteer and guarantee we would have a spot.
On November 19th, that process began as weheaded out to Tempe. Once in Tempe, I headed over to the pro panel at the race site. Another friend of mine was racing this year. She is in the Army and was racing as part of the Team Red, White and Blue. This group of folks is raising awareness and raising money to help wounded veterans. One of the pros is an ambassador of Team RWB and would be speaking at the pro panel. I went to meet my friend there and listen to the expert advice of the pros. It was actually kind of interesting as many of the pros said that during the off season they would be enjoying their choice of acoholic beverage and some chocolate. Now that's my kind of athlete.
After checking out the race site (swim course, transition area, etc), it was time to grab a quick bite to eat. There was also an author there who wrote a book called You Are An Ironman. The book is about 6 average age groupers and their journey to Ironman Arizona 2009. The author was there as were several of the folks he wrote about. I got the book and then listened to their Q&A session and then got some autographs as well. There was also a gathering of triathletes at one of the big triathlon stores in town. Lots of the pros were hanging around there and I got a couple more autographs. After that it was time to settle in, relax, and enjoy dinner.
Saturday morning it was time to get up fairly early because I wanted to run part of the run course. I got in about three miles before needing to head to the volunteer meeting to meet the captains for our aid station on Sunday. After that it was time to grab some lunch and then head to a lunch gathering for Team RWB, where I got a shirt so that I could support them during the race. I talked to my friend about possibly joining Team RWB and raising money for them next year. I wished the races good luck and we headed on our way.
Sunday was a long day. We were up early and at the race start to watch the swim begin. We hung around until we saw Brittany come out of the water and then grabbed some breakfast before heading to the run aid station where we were volunteering. We would be helping to set up the aid station and then stay for a little bit of the next shift to hand out nutrition to the athletes as they came through. The good thing about being there so early was that we would see the pros as they came through on their run. It was really neat to see that first pro coming down the path. I got to hand water to several of the pros and got some good pics as well. My friend Selene enjoyed volunteering as well, and her sister and future brother-in-law even jumped in to help. It was lots of fun, but can be very tiring, especially as the day got warmer.
After volunteering at the shift it was time to grab some food and do a little relaxing since we had plans to be at the finish line until midnight. We opted for a late dinner and then headed to the finish line for the last couple of hours. The finish line at that time of the evening is a pretty fun, festive, emotional and inspiring time. I wanted to Selene to see that and get excited about signing up the next day. The last official finisher came through with about 2 seconds to spare in the 17 hour time limit. Wow!
Monday morning it was up early again to head back down to the race area to get in line for to sign up. Volunteers get to sign up first and we were about 30-40 people back in line. It's a good thing we got there early because that line continued to grow and grow and grow. Registration opened a little early and before we knew it, we were standing in front of the volunteer giving them our information. We got the registration done and took our picture with our little piece of paper confirming our entry for next year.
After I registered for Florida, I walked out of the tent and thought to myself "what did I just do". I was excited and nervous and unsure of what the year ahead of me had in store for me. This time, I didn't really feel that way. It's weird in a way. I'm not really nervous about doing an Ironman. I know what kind of training I will have to do and I know what it takes to get it done. The thing that makes me most nervous is the temperature of Tempe Town Lake where the swim will take place. This year the temperature was 61 degrees. Even with a full wetsuit, I know that I will be freezing cold in that. Somehow in the next year I need to figure out how to get use to being in cold water for an hour to hour and a half.
For now, I'm still working out on my own schedule based on what I feel like doing. I do have plans to get back in the pool at least once a week and I've been doing trainer rides more frequently as well. I need to sit down and look at my race schedule for next year and see what I can fit in between the kids' volleyball and soccer tournaments. Specific Ironman training won't begin again until the end of April, but you can be sure I will be building that base before then.
It should be a fun year........