Week 36: Final/Race Week. The moment I have been training for finally came. With having the race taking place on Saturday, I took it super easy this week, fearing for the nagging knee. I had to do a swim on Monday but because of work I couldn't make it. On Tuesday I did a light bike ride and at night I start packing for Panama City Beach.
Wednesday: FUN Starts! The fellow South Florida’s Hammerheads picked me up at 6:30 am, and we were in a big caravan of 4 cars, all decorated with "Future Ironmen" mottos, it was really cool and encouraging! Road trip the whole day and finally got to PCB (Panama City Beach) like around 7pm. We finished the day indulging in a local Mexican Restaurant, and going to Publix for some food for our stay.
Thursday: I had to do a run on Wednesday, but since I traveled the whole day, my coach told me to do a light 30 min run on Thursday with some accelerations. After the run, I cleaned up, had breakfast and walked around the expo and waited until the rest of the Hammerheads came back from their bike ride for Athlete's Check in.
Finally we got together and sold our souls to the WTC, we got our swag bags and headed out to the merchandise store. After making a huge line to pay for items we headed out to lunch and meet up with my training partner Joey at Mellow Mushroom Pizza (great pizza by the way, thanks for recommending the place Joey!).
Headed back to the hotel for a quick nap and organized the bunch of bags that IM gives you. So how much different is an Ironman from the other triathlons? The bags... bunch of them. I got asked a lot about them so here is an explanation.
They give you a total of 5 bags. Morning Clothes bag, Bike Gear Bag, Bike Specials Needs, Run Gear Bag and Run Special Needs.
Morning Clothes Bag: You will use this bag on race morning to put your sweaters, jackets, flip flops, morning water, googles, swim cap, clean t-shirt (for after the race), nutrition and hotel key. You will leave this bag with the volunteers and they will return it to you after the race. In my case, since I was staying in the host hotel, the only thing that I put there was my hotel room key.
Bike Gear Bag: You give this bag the day before the race with all your bike equipment: helmet, shoes, gloves, socks, bike shorts, bike jersey, race belt with number, sunglasses, chamois butter, gels, etc. In my case I placed the following: helmet, shoes, gloves, socks, bike jersey (which I didn’t use), race belt with number, sunglasses, a small towel, ecaps canister, chamois butter, one gel to eat in T1, one Cliff Bar to place in my tri short, sunscreen, arm warmers and shin guards. Once you gear up with your bike stuff, you place all your swim gear (cap, wetsuit, goggles) in the same bag and as you exit transition you give the bag to one of the volunteers.
Bike Specials Needs: You drop this bag on race morning on specially marked boxes. You get access to this bag half way thru the bike course (mile 55). In this bag you place the items that you may need half way thru the bike portion: Nutrition bottle, gels, bars, extra CO2, extra tubes. In my case I placed the following: a Cliff Bar, one gel, one CO2, one tube. On my race I never used it. Generally the Special Needs Bag are hard to get back, so don’t place anything of value on them.
Run Gear Bag: You give this bag the day before the race with all your run equipment: shoes, socks, running shorts, race belt with number, visor, sunglasses, gels, etc. In my case I placed the following: shoes, socks, extra race belt with number as backup if the first one got ripped, kinesiology tape for my knee, tape for my feet, visor, ecaps canister, one gel to eat on T2, a small towel, extra sunscreen. Once you gear up with your run stuff, you place all your bike gear (helmet, shoes, etc) in the same bag and as you exit transition you give the bag to one of the volunteers.
Run Special Needs: You drop this bag on race morning on specially marked boxes. You get access to this bag half way thru the run course (mile 13). In this bag you place the items that you may need half way thru the marathon: gels, bars. In my case I placed the following: one gel, extra kinesiology tape for my knee, extra tape for my feet. On my race I never used it. Generally the Special Needs Bag are hard to get back, so don’t place anything of value on them.
At night we had the big Athlete’s Buffet and Athlete’s briefing. Eat Eat Eat!!!!
Friday: At 7am I had a pre race brick with Joey, consisting of 30 min bike, 20 min run and 10 min swim. That day was freezing and windy. My hands were so cold that it hurt to change gears on the bike. The ocean was moody that day and we had waves that we could literally surf in. As you were trying to get out of the water, the current will pull you back inside. I was fearing for the worst.
After cleaning up, I had an excellent free carb loading breakfast with pancakes!!! (I LOVE Pancakes!!!, especially when they are FREE!) and then headed to Bike Check in and Gear Bag drop.
Headed out for lunch, returned to the hotel to have some rest. For dinner we had pizza… again!
Saturday RACE DAY!: Special post for this coming soon!
Sunday: Aching but happy of having my mission accomplished I headed out to the merchandise store to get some goodies (insane line just to get into the store!) and bought some photos. Next to the line I was making to the merchandise store, there’s was another even longer line for registration for next years Ironman Florida. The registration online opened noon and it was sold out in 16 minutes!!! Had lunch afterwards and crash into the hotel to have an ice bath.
Monday: Returned to Miami after an amazing experience. I just want to thank fellow Hammerheads’s Jimmy, Ray, Alizca, Lisa and David for taking me and having me as a travel buddy, it was great to meet you and having you as roommates!