Tiffani at Ironman Louisville 2016 Finishline day before race

Ironman Week and Check-in: The last moments before showtime!

Race-Week Taper Crazy and Preparation

I’ve been mentally processing this event for the past few days, and it is all still sinking in.  What an experience.  I decided that training for an Ironman is like planning for a wedding. You spend so many months planning every last detail. Then–BOOM! It’s over.

Last week, I went through what I call “taper crazy.” My training was mostly done, and I had a lot more time on my hands to obsess about every last detail possible. I was emotional, irritable, and just plain anxious.

Meet my friend, Taper Crazy, the mascot of taper week:

My week really did start off on a great note, despite the crazy. My bestie, Jess, had beautiful ironmanweekflowersflowers and a heartfelt note delivered to our house the Monday before the race. We’ve been best friends for over 20 years, and she has seen me through everything. I love her for knowing what I need and when i need it (even when we are both so busy with life that we don’t have time to talk often). This made my week, and helped Taper Crazy simmer down a bit.  It also reminded me that once training and racing is over, she and I need to reconnect.

All week, I had so many people send me notes, messages, and texts of encouragement. I felt so loved.

Preparing for our trip gave me a channel for my anxiety. Being ready and having everything organized would make me feel less stressed once we arrived in Louisville. I spent the day before we left organizing all my race nutrition and all my race gear.

race-gear   nutrition

Finally, on Thursday, we set out for Louisville, via an overnight stop in St. Louis.

When I registered for this race, I didn’t really know anyone else that was doing it. Long story short, my friend Scott (my biking partner all summer) signed up as a redemption race after his experience in the heat at Chattanooga 2 weeks prior.

A couple other friends we’ve biked with ended up registering as well. It was great to have a group of people (and especially all our sherpas!) there. Scott’s wife, Susie, and I have been friends and have trained together for many years at PLF, so this was truly an awesome weekend.

Racimvillagee Check-in Friday:

Everything started for us  when we got to Louisville on Friday afternoon, and arrived at the Ironman Village for check-in and the race briefing. All of this went smoothly, and reality started to hit me that I was there! It was happening.  The weather was quite warm that afternoon, and I found myself relieved knowing there was a cold front moving in the next day that would leave us with picture-perfect weather for race day.

 

racecheckin

 

 

After the race briefing, we walked around the transition area. This was like nothing I’ve ever seen before.  It was massive, and there were bike racks everywhere. This photo only shows my area; it’s much bigger as a whole.

 

 

 

bikeracksBeside the bike racks, there was a bag drop area for our bike and run gear, and changing tents beyond that. The only transition area that matched this was HyVee, and even this  was bigger. I’ve never seen a race with this much detail.

gearcheckNext, we walked up to the swim exit area, which was equipped with four sets of stairs. We followed the swim exit ramp across to where transition would be. It’s always a great idea to know where you’re going before the race, so this made me feel more at ease.

swimexit

My family and I went to the hotel and I spent the afternoon packing my gear and special needs bags. The gear bags needed to be dropped off on Saturday morning when we checked the bike in, so I wanted to be prepared.  The swag for this race was pretty awesome.

swag

Practice Swim, IronKids, and Bike/Gear Check Saturday:

I was so thankful for a great night sleep Friday night. We had a short night in St. Louis the night before, and I knew I would not sleep well on Saturday night.

Saturday morning, we returned to the swim exit, which was the start and finish for the practice swim.  I never swam in a river prior to this, so I was anxious about the current and making sure I could manage the exit without over-shooting the stairs.

The much-anticipated cold front was moving through that day, which made the water super choppy. I kept my swim practice short, and swam upstream about 150 yards or so to a buoy, ironkidslouand turned around. Finally, I made the exit about a minute and a half faster with the current behind me so I knew the river swim would be a good thing after the turn around. I was very thankful that the next day was projected to be much calmer. The wind and choppy water would have made for a very long swim and bike.

Right after the swim practice, we had the IronKids fun run for our 3 kiddos. They loved it (even the one who is wearing a boot for a broken ankle). It was a short one mile for them and was a great way for the kids to be included in race weekend. My middle son has competed in IronKids triathlon events, but this was my youngest son’s first-ever race. What an awesome morning!

Shortly after the IronKids race, Scott and I wanbikerackedinted to get a really short, easy bike ride in to make sure our bikes were in good working order after the roadtrip there. We made a few loops around the downtown area, and then we were set to check in the bikes at transition. Susie, Hubby, and kids joined us to go down to transition. There was a decent line for bike check-in, but it moved fairly fast. They take pictures of your bike at check-in, and then a volunteer shows you where your bike is racked, and where your gear bag dropis, all based on number. It was an easy process, and I was glad to know exactly where my things would be the next morning.

Hubby and the kids and I went to dinner that night close to our hotel, which was across the river from everything. We had made reservations a couple weeks in advance to be sure we had somewhere to eat since I was advised to do that by my dietician, Niki. It was a great plan, and I was thankful not momandironkidsto wait in line! Plus, I was able to peruse the menu in advance and know I could have something familiar. I stuck with my usual pre-race dinner of a salad, grilled chicken, pasta with red sauce, and a lot of water. I’m a creature of habit, and I never eat anything else before a race.

Once we finished dinner, we hfamilyprefinishselfieeaded across the river to meet up with Scott and Susie for a bit. At this point, Hubby wanted a drink. So, we all ended up at Gordon Biersch at Fourth Street Live, which is the electric downtown area where the finish line is. We hung out for a bit, Hubby had a beer, I had a few glasses of water and kids had pop. I got a bit emotional at the finish line, knowing that I had 140.6 miles to cover before I could run on the red carpet finishand have my name called out as an Ironman the next day.

Join me tomorrow for the race report of the year! I’ve spent the entire week on this, and I can’t wait to share this experience with you!

 

 

justbefore-finish-line    tiffani-pre-finish