I wish I had been blogging this whole journey to my first ironman! Alas with three weeks to go I’ll start now. Better late than never?
So… excel and beyond coaching hosted a fully supported bike course preview (support vehicles and amaaaaazing aid stations) so I had to check it out!! Originally I wanted to go to the september ride but Chicago travel got in the way so October it was! I had a few friends planning to join me so it was gonna be a party in Tempe! Woot woot!!
Unfortunately everrrryone had to bail but my trusty bike Ariel and I made the best of the experience and had a blast!
The drive from San Diego to Tempe is actually quite beautiful! The first hour or two out of San Diego is mountainy and gorgeous and then it’s a bit boring before getting desert beautiful. I love desert landscapes with distant mountains and I’ve been in love with Arizona since I first saw it so I love this drive.
After about five hours of driving (and listening to all the available episodes of Serial season 3) I arrived at the Hampton Inn in Tempe. Great hotel! Super easy check in with two bottles of water and two packs of Swedish fish! What what! Ordered a mellow mushroom pizza to practice my pre-race meal (worked great) and went to bed nice and early. Tossed and turned all night stressing about what to expect… I hate how anxious I get about fearing the unknown. Even when I logically process all the worst case scenarios (that are SO not bad) I still get all up in my head! Finally it was morning! And my iPhone wouldn’t unlock. Whaaat? I still have no idea why but i got the “you have to wait a minute before you try again” and then “you have to wait ten minutes before you try again” until eventually it was an hour before i could try again! Luckily I had my personal cell with my (my iPhone is my work cell) so i quickly looked up the (super simple) bike route & headed to the start of the practice course.
The practice course was super similar to what the route will be with the very beginning of the course cut off. But otherwise we followed the course route up to Shea Blvd right past where the turnaround will be. there was an aid station at the beginning of the loop & one at Shea Blvd and they were AWESOME! Lots of snacks and drinks and highly coveted ice!
The ride was perfect- got to really feel what the course would be like, except for the wind. we got super lucky and had very little wind when i was out there, which is not what we should be expecting for race day! BUT the incline that i experienced was definitely not what i had imagined- it was way flatter than i worried it would be and didn’t feel that challenging. HOWEVER my bike computer picked up way less elevation than what the race has so i’m not sure where the discrepancy is. I was rocking over 30mph on the way back towards the start on the second half of the beeline loop so you can definitely make up for some time there! my first loop up beeline there was one point where i was rocking 11mph- super slow for me trying to rock a race-pace. but if that’s what it is on race day then that’s what it’s gonna be- just gonna try my hardest & leave it all out there. just don’t get too stressed going up the hill because you know you can make up for some of that time on the way back down!
It does seem pretty narrow so i’m guessing it’ll be crowded, which is what veteran riders have said. it’s three loops so at the beginning i’m guessing it’ll be packed for me with some of the pros/super fast AGers on their second loop and slower peeps all crowding around on our first. Gotta focus on not getting too close to the person in front of me and being super careful!
i did see a LOT of stuff on the roads that looked like it could puncture a tire (and a lot of caterpillars… random) so i have practiced changing a flat & hopefully don’t have to use that skill. but will have extra tubes & co2 if needed! i just have to make those cut off times and i’ll be good to go!