It’s astounding how much prep has to go into traveling for multi-sport events. Training at home lulls you into a sense of comfort, in that minute adjustments are easy to make because the items are usually at-hand. Now condense all your stuff, and anything you *might* need (and your backup crap, too) into a suitcase and a bike box, go somewhere totally foreign, sometimes with a time shift, and a strange bed, and maybe even an altitude shift. Then try to achieve your personal race goals. It’s a form of fun devised by Dr. OCD at the Dementia Logistics Center in Provo.
This race would have been impossible without having friends in the area. A friend of mine I’ve known for 20 years moved to Boise 8 years ago and now has a lovely family. He’s a professional photographer and is also a sincere and kind human being in every way. He gave up his weekend to be my guide and escort, he and his partner gave up their bed for my first night in town, and his partner even cooked my yams because I was running out of time to do my own food prep. I am very fortunate.
I live at sea level and the race took place at altitudes of 2500 feet through 3300 feet. Lucky Peak Reservoir is a snow melt reservoir whose downhill stream feeds hydroelectric dynamos. T1 sent racers up a short climb out of the reservoir, then down a roaring downhill towards the agricultural and commercial areas separating Boise from the dam. I might ride 4900 feet of climbing in Southern California, but it’s cumulative over 60 miles and often returns me to sea level for the flats. Also, Boise exists in Mountain time even though it is right on the border of the Pacific time zone shift. Combined with its northern location the sun was bright until well past nine pm. I stayed up late Friday night assembling the bike, didn’t eat dinner until after 9, and was completely thrown by the sunlight, altitude, and time shift. All things to consider for people traveling for sport.
My friend was exceptionally good at helping me navigate town and we were able to drive the entire course immediately after I checked in at the race expo Friday. Lots of riders were out biking the course, which will be on my to-do list for the next event. More time before the race equals better prep for the course itself. Driving the course was highly informative, but biking it slowly a few days beforehand would have been even better.
Because of my new nutrition plan I’m eating loads of fresh, organic produce and single-source carbohydrates like rice and legumes. My friend and his partner again completely came through by shopping for my food needs at local farms before I arrived. I have never had such glorious produce in all my life. Spinach that actually tasted like spinach. Apples from a family orchard. It is a harsh reminder that even the farmer’s markets in Los Angeles are growing near heavily populated urban areas which affect soil and growth. Sure, everything grows year-round in Southern California, but the flavor just doesn’t compare.
Saturday was purely devoted to race day prep. Instead of being able to stage items next to the bike, or use our own transition bags, the Ironman HQ provided athletes with three bags: green, red, and black, for transitions which means deciphering their mandatory rules for bag use. (More on this later.) The bike had to be transported to T1 and checked in between 12pm and 6pm. There was also a practice swim in the reservoir between 11am and 2pm. The T2 bag containing all the run gear had to be checked in downtown between 12pm and 6pm. My wife’s plane got in at 2pm and we had to pick her up at the airport. Add to all this that I had to eat every two hours to build up energy for the next day and all of Saturday was spent in motion. Thankfully, Boise is small and it only took at most 1/2 an hour to get from place to place – but it all added up very quickly given how much needed to be accomplished.
It went something like this:
8am: wake, breakfast, get dressed. Freak out a little.
9am-9:45am athlete briefing downtown to review USAT rules & course details.
10-11am, go back to friend’s house, pack wetsuit, swim gear, and bike.
11am-1:30pm, T1 bike check-in, practice swim in reservoir. (Long walk in and out of reservoir due to parking restrictions.)
1:30-2pm Grab lunch at Subway en route to airport. Pick up wife.
2-3pm return to friend’s house, pack suitcases, head to hotel for check-in. Friend’s partner offers to bake my yams, an hour-long process, to help me out. I am blissfully grateful and accept her offer. Her daughter makes me a beautiful sign of encouragement so lovely I start to cry. I may be freaking out.
3-4pm, check-in at hotel, go to race expo with wife, friend goes to media center and gets pimped out with access, jerseys, and badges.
4-6pm, hotel room prep of race gear into colored plastic bags. No athlete bags are allowed in transition areas, so Ironman provided three bags for use: green morning clothes bag for sweats and such on race day, large black wetsuit bag for bringing bike items into T1 race morning (which for me includes 4 bottles of magic potions, a “bento box” of food for the bike, helmet, gloves, blah blah blah), and for wetsuit and swim gear after swim is completed, and red bag for run gear to be left at T2 overnight, not to be seen until race day. Totally freak out.
6-6:30pm, back to friend’s house where I complete mixing yams with peanut butter, honey, and sea salt for race day food and load into plastic baggies and bento box.
6:30-8pm, dinner. Because they took their goddamn time and I only got 4 spears of asparagus. Awesome grass-fed steak. Needed more veggies! Finally, finally relaxed.
8:30pm, crammed down protein shake and hit the sack.
Our hotel was situated almost smack dab on top of T2 and the finish line, which could not have been better. I was in bed by 8:30 pm Saturday, for a 4:30 am race day wake-up. I was awake at 4:21 am, before the alarm, rested, relieved everything was taken care of. Without the local support providing succor, comfort, navigation, hand-holding, home-made signs of encouragement, and of course, delicious yams, I would have been a stress-monkey right up to hitting the water. Instead, I went to bed Saturday night feeling completely and totally supported by friends and family. It could not have gone better.
I have no idea how this is going to work for the next one.