Monday, 4 March 2013

Karen writes: Part 1: IM before THE day

Well, now I am back in Auckland with computer and internet access I'm trying to put so many memories in order from an absolutely amazing few days. I thought perhaps I should start with getting ready just before IM.  On Wednesday, packing the huge amount of gear required to get down to Taupo, I thought "have I got everything" and at the same time "we cant possibly need all this stuff".  2 adults and 2 children need a lot of things for 5 days away from home though, and if one of those is a triathlete it just increases exponentially.  2 bags for clothes, 2 bags children's toys/books, 1 large chilly bin, 3 bags of sports gear (one for each discipline), bag of footwear (including kids rollerskates), bag for bike paraphernalia (pump/tools/helmets), bag of linen for the accommodation, folding chairs (for supporters) get the picture, the car was groaning.

The accommodation was the same as last year, a lovely house a short walk from the lake-front.  Kate had already arrived and had dinner on, bliss. The next day, Thursday we had a final short ride and a run off the bike then we went and registered just like we did last year. In some ways the anxiety has been higher this time because the journey has been 2 very long years, so there was an element of paranoia that something would go wrong again, in other ways we had already been through the process so knew what to expect.  We filled in the disclaimer that indemnified the organisers against anything that could possibly happen, signed the massive flag along with all the other athletes, got weighed, had armbands applied with our race numbers on, collected the empty bags to pack gear in for each transition and then it was done, no backing out now.
Friday morning Kate convinced me we should go for a swim.  While the whanau were still in bed we got into our togs and wetsuits and wandered down to the lake, it was absolutely gorgeous and there were cyclists and runners everywhere.  Groups of swimmers were also energetically going from buoy to buoy, we had a short swim out to the buoy line and back, trying a short distance directly into the sun as we had been told that it would be difficult to tell where we were in the first leg because of sunstrike.  We could very easily have stayed swimming longer but conserving energy was the name of the game at this late stage.  Still not feeling particularly real about this, do we look like we expect to be Ironmen the next day here?
Then the more serious stuff happened. What to put in each of the three transition bags?  I kept changing my mind, taking things in and out, shifting things from pile to pile. This is what part of the stuff needed just for the day looked like...swim/finish bag, swim to bike bag, and bike to run bag.
We cleaned our bikes and greased the chains, it all felt very ordinary out in the sun on such a beautiful day.  Then we took the packed transition bags and bikes down to the event centre.  As I walked out of the tent after signing in the bags I couldn't get the thought out of my head that I had put my bike stuff in the run bag and the run stuff in the bike bag, but told myself I was just being silly, I had spent hours packing and the volunteers did have a quick look, they would have noticed.  This was the same sort of thinking that had me expecting to catch last minute acute food poisoning, break a bone, lose the bike, or that a volcanic eruption or massive bush fire would occur and cancel the event.  The bikes were photographed, our helmets were checked for fit, and we walked away knowing that in less than a day we would be back and it would be for THE START.

While we were off doing Ironman things, the children were off looking at the Huka falls.  I understand they found the tramp a bit of a struggle, but they were impressed by the views when they finally got there.
Shopping for more food, a never ending priority, and getting ready for Kate's family and friends to arrive stopped us thinking too much for the rest of that last afternoon. I had some good news I had been waiting for, my dad had had an operation that afternoon and he was safely out of theatre and recovering so I could at last relax about that.  The final meal was early, and probably  not a conventional pre-event dinner, but roast chicken and potatoes, coleslaw, cooked vegetables, and birthday cake (we now had a newly turned 7 year old in the house) went down a treat.
Alarms set for quarter to 5 in the morning, we went off to our beds and I even managed a few hours sleep knowing that when the alarm went off, we would finally know if all of our hard work would pay off.