Okay, so you have my thoughts about CF/CFE in the previous post. If you missed this post, please go ahead and read it!
Now, on to the days leading up to the race
I flew out to Phoenix alone on Thursday before the race. My husband and son would follow the next day late. Although I was initially displeased with this arrangement, it actually ended up working out well. I had a good deal of quiet time to get my head together, was able to enjoy the race expo, had dinner with some fellow athletes from CT and MA, got checked in and got my gear squared away and even had time for a nap or two.
I arrived in Phoenix around 2:30. By the time I got to the hotel, there wasn't much time for anything but dinner out with some friends and then some chill time after a long travel day. With the two hour time difference, I was pretty wiped and was happy to lay on the bed and stare at the tv.
On Friday I headed to the race site to get checked in and explore the expo. I got there early and procured a good spot the line before the 10 a.m. check-in start. The weather was absolutely fabulous. Bright blue sky, comfortable temps -- a little hot in the sun but gorgeous. After a quick check in, I headed to the body marking line. This was interesting... they were doing something new and I gotta tell you it was pretty FUBAR... So I guess they were trying to do the numbers like they do it in Kona. They had sponges and a bowls of black ink and the intent was to sort of rubber stamp the numbers onto your arm. The process took a ridiculous amount of time and the end result was a race number that went up and down practically the entire length of your arm from wrist to shoulder and was pretty much unreadable! As the girl was sponge-blobbing these gigantic black marks onto my arm some guy was taking pictures. I'd love to revisit the look that was on my face as I watched this being done to me! It was like watching a train wreck. You couldn't stop it. You couldn't look away. Just smile and act like its cool and move on over to the blow drying station when she's done blobbing you... Then they powdered it so it wouldn't run off :). Most people went back to their homes and hotels and scrubbed that mess off. Not me -- I left it on even though my forearm stuck to my bicep every time i bent my right arm!
While I was waiting in the line for body marking, a guy walked by me with a Crossfit Endurance shirt on. I said "hey, i'm a crossfitter too!", to which he replied "Go fast!" I thought that was cool :)
Through with that little adventure, I moved on to the pro panel. This was cool. Was able to get up close and see Chrissie Wellington and Jordan Rapp and the others. They also had a women who was doing the race to raise money and awareness for MS and a guy who was in remission for a rare form of blood cancer. I love this aspect of triathlon. Age groupers and pros racing on the same course. The only real price of admission is desire or a personal mission. Most of us mere mortals are just there because pushing ourselves to the mental and physical brink helps us to know that we're alive. In the words of Bob Dylan... "If you're not busy livin', your busy dyin'".
Next stop... pick up the bike and the gear bag from Tribike Transport. The nice dude put my pedals back on and off I went on the mile or so walk back to the Hyatt. This was the point at which I was really missing my sherpa! But I managed and was able to spend the rest of the afternoon getting my T bags ready and taking a nap.
Later, I attended the athlete dinner which I've never actually done before. Since I was still on my own until later that night when my boys would arrive, this was the best option for dinner and company. This was held outside next to the Arts Center along side Tempe Town Lake. It was fun to hear the Mayor of Tempe talk about getting the lake repaired in just 90 days in time for the race. He was quite proud of himself and as well he should be I guess. They went on about a lot of stuff that was interesting including the stats for age and gender of race participants. The youngest was 18 and the oldest was Sister Mary Buder, 80! The Sister didn't end up racing and I wonder if it was due to the weather. The headwinds out on the beeline would have taken her away into the desert!
It was a lot of fun to get all pumped up with Mike Reilly. The food was lousy, but it didn't matter that much. Afterwards, I walked back to the hotel and rested waiting for Dave and Brendan to arrive so i could tuck in for the night. They were at the door sooner than I expected and that was a total relief because at this point I needed my sherpa to help me stay calm and help with the final preparations.
On Saturday there was the one and only schedule practice swim in Tempe Town Lake. The lake is not open for swimming ever except for special events so this was highly organized. Only race participants were allowed into the water and you had to wear your timing chip. They needed to know that if you entered, you came back out. They had manned kayaks in the water and you could only swim out 500 yards and back. Saturday was an absolutely gorgeous day in the morning. The water was quite cold. When I first got in, I got a bit of an ice cream headache! But I adjusted quickly and did about a 20 minute swim just getting acclimated to being is this bizarre body of water. It certainly wasn't as bad as all the hype. The water WAS cold and it IS murky, but it wasn't terrible. We're spoiled here in the northeast with our beautiful chilly lakes :).
I'd ridden my bike down to the swim and the boys carried my T bags. I don't do special needs bags so it was pretty simple. Put my bags and bike in transition with a lot less stress than I've had in the past. I had a pretty sweet spot in transition. My bike was close to the end of the row on the aisle and close to the bike out. Sweet!
We spent the rest of the morning/early afternoon at the expo and walking a little in downtown Tempe. Got some things at CVS. Had lunch at Five Guys. I know! Bad! Then back to the hotel for a nap before an early dinner. In bed around 8:30 which was easy because at home it was 10:30. I got a little sleep but woke around 3 a.m. with the usual build of butterflies...
At 4:00 a.m., I got out of bed and began to prepare for go time.