Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Ironman Chattanooga Training and Spectating Report Part 1

I decided months ago to attend this race in support of my 2nd BFF (or as we now like to say, my younger sister!) Lori, as she was racing and needed the support after one of her sons, Patrick, passed away this summer. I've supported Lori at Ironman Wisconsin twice, and she knows that I have pretty great Sherpa skills, and we would drive down together, so the trip was all set up.

A whole shitload of pictures have been posted to Facebook, so I'm not going to include them all in this post!

Wednesday, September 21
Lori flew from Denver (she now lives in Boulder) to Chicago and picked up a rental car. She stayed with her son, Jon, and planned to pick me up the next morning to drive down to Chattanooga.

I had moved my own workouts for the week around knowing that I wouldn't be doing anything on Thursday, so on Wednesday I ended up swimming, biking and running. I also needed to mow my lawn on Wednesday. Normally I would swim first thing in the morning, and I got ready to do that, but decided to go to Home Depot first to see if they could help me with a project. While cleaning out my garage in advance of Garbage Amnesty Day (you pay for 4 cans of garbage and then you can throw out unlimited amounts of crap), I found a long length of copper pipe. I decided I wanted to make it into a cube. My neighbor, Chuck, cut the pipe into 9" lengths for me, and so I need corners to connect the pieces. He delivered them to me all nice and bundled up!
I loaded my swim bag into my car and got to Home Depot around 6:15. I had fun chatting with 2 of the employees about how to do what I want to do. Bottom line was they don't have the parts I need. What I really want is a 3-way COPPER corner, but that doesn't exist, so I'm going to improvise with red PVC once I talk to a company who makes that about how I could join the two.

Anyway, I leave Home Depot and the sky is beautiful with the sun coming up, and I'm excited to get to swimming. I walk out to my car, get in and look north, and am like what the fuck is coming here? The sky was nearly black, so I check my phone and there is an ugly looking storm front coming down and we are going to get rain SOON. So I rush home so I can mow at least my back yard before it rains, because if I don't, I won't be able to do it and will need to ask my neighbor to do it. He would, but I didn't want to impose. So I get home, leaving my swim bag in my car, and I get to mowing all while looking at the approaching black clouds. For some reason, though, I wasn't scared. I would have taken pictures, but I didn't have time to stop! There was a shelf cloud, and then some mammatus clouds, and those things usually mean bad weather! But I managed to get my back lawn done (it took about 20 minutes) just as the raindrops began to fall, and then it started raining really good, and I was like PHEW! My front lawn would survive not being mowed since it had been really dry and it gets a lot of shade and never grows as much as the back.

So now I was like, OK when can I swim? I'd missed the morning lap time, but could resume again at 9:30 and basically had until 11:30. I decided I'd run first indoors since it was still raining, and then swim, and I would bike later. So I packed up run gear and headed to the Y. I ended up running 10' on the treadmill and then the rest on the indoor track. I got in a nice quickie of a track workout! I was actually running much faster than I've seen in MONTHS!  Yay for fucking me!!! After the track workout, I headed to the pool and swam my 2800 yard workout.

Then, I was scheduled for 1:30 of biking, but knew I'd end up biking during the marathon at IMCHAT, and I was now running out of time to be all packed for Thursday, so I cut the bike short to 1 hour and did it on the trainer to avoid spending extra time making a bottle and all that. Besides, the roads were now all wet and full of crap. I finished biking at about 1:30. Then I got to my almost final packing. I had all the food crap and gear crap organized. I also like my house to be relatively clean when I go away, so I worked on that.

Thursday, September 22
I woke up probably 2:30AM after sleeping for 6.5 hours. Yes, that is how I have been sleeping for almost 2 months now. I had my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) retested, and as I suspected, it's out of whack. My thyroid is UNDERperforming again. Seems odd, right? You'd think that since I'm sleeping less it would mean I was becoming hyPERthyroid, but I know my body, and what's happening is that since I've been training super hard, my poor thyroid is trying valiantly to keep up with me and failing. Anyway, in a few weeks as I increase my Synthroid dose, the sleeping issue should take care of itself.

But I needed the time on Thursday morning to choose my training and regular clothes and get it all organized, as Lori would be picking me up around 6:30AM. I got it all done and she arrived, and she'd rented a mid-size car, so all my crap fit in there. I had clothes to run in 3 times, La Gazza Ladra, which I'd ride during the IMCHAT marathon, my wetsuit in case I decided to swim in the river, a bag of fluids (Gatorade, water, Infinint, Endurox R4), a bag of bottles (bike bottles, Infinit mixing bottles and a Fuel Belt), a bag of car snacks, a bag of dry foods (including wine and champagne, crackers, bananas, English muffins), my regular clothes and a cooler containing cheese, Coke, water, hard boiled eggs (Lori and I love those for breakfast), sandwiches for the road, and some string cheese. I also brought my skull aerohelmet that Lori planned to wear unless she found a new one at the expo. All that crap fit into the car nicely!

The rest of the day was driving. It was about a 10-hour drive, and then we lost an hour moving into the EST timezone, to get to Hixson, TN. Lori's friend, Karen, graciously volunteered to put us up for the trip. We arrived, unpacked our stuff, and then Karen, Lori and I went into town and ate dinner right next to the transition area.

On our way back to the car, who should flag me down but one of my former coaches, Rich Strauss? It was nice to see him! He was there training for Kona and supporting his athletes. We chatted briefly, got a picture and were on our way:

I ended up staying up later than I should have, but it was worth it to spend time talking with Karen about some mutual bad life shit we have experienced. I then slept really well.

Friday, September 23
On this day, my training called for a 5k swim workout and a 40' run. I was aware of the athlete-organized river swim, but decided I'd rather be away from that for the day and instead go swim at the YMCA. At 5PM, I'd agreed to meet my friend, Rich, who I met on a bike ride in July and was doing his very first Ironman at IMCHAT, at the Underpants Run, so there would be about 2 miles of running in that. Lori needed to retrieve her bike and ensure it was in working order and check herself in.

Karen dropped me off at the Y at about 7:30 or so. I had swim stuff and run stuff. I figured I'd swim first and then run about 2 miles inside, since it was FUCKING HOT and I would be running more later. The downtown Chattanooga YMCA is an awesome facility, and the people are really nice. I had to fill out a waiver form, but with my YMCA pass, I got in for free. They have a dedicated lap pool, so I didn't have to worry about when lap time was available.

I chatted with some women in the locker room and then decided to check in on someone else who was racing--Ryan--because we were maybe going to meet up in the afternoon. It turned out he would be driving in from Memphis leaving around noon, so we agreed to just meet up for dinner. I ended up wasting some time and not getting in the pool right away, and didn't start swimming until 8:20. Here is the evil Ironman-style workout I did:

WU: 800 your choice
1200 at race pace, 1' RI
3x600 30" RI at race pace and last 50 of each a sprint
1200 pull w/paddles race pace or faster
CD: 200

So it's 5200 yards total. I'm doing this workout through October and then I will begin adding yardage to my Friday swims to prepare for a 10k swim on New Year's Eve or Day. I ended up PR'ing the time it took me to do the workout! This made me happy! I got out and spent a few minutes in the hot tub, then headed to the locker room to shower and change into running clothes. I made the transition then headed to a treadmill. After I ran for maybe 10 minutes, I had to go potty, so I left my stuff on the treadmill, then came back and some guy was on my machine! I was like WTF wasn't it obvious *I* was using it? I didn't say anything and just grabbed my Gatorade and cup of coffee (YES THEY HAD FREE COFFEE IN THE LOCKER ROOM!) and moved to a different machine and finished up.

I hadn't really sweated all that much, and I knew it was FUCKING HOT outside, and that I'd be sweating like a pig, so I just left my running clothes on. I drank my Endurox R4, left the YMCA, and walked to the expo. I let Karen know I was finished and to let me know when Lori would be done with her massage and then they would both be at the expo.

I walked into the expo and what should I see but a BEER BOOTH! I was like FUCK YEAH THIS IRONMAN IS AWESOME! It was Sierra Nevada to boot! $5 for a beer! YES PLEASE! I'd already had the Oktoberfest, so I opted for an IPA that was DELICIOSO! Walking around an Ironman expo with a beer? DOES NOT SUCK! Of course, everyone was looking at me and figured I was racing, because people tell me I look like one of those people who does those Ironman things. Karen called and let me know they were on their way, and so I meandered around with my beer. I was able to get a Little Debbie bike bottle (they were happy to give them to anyone!) that I will cherish. I wandered around and saw a girl at the Zoot booth wearing MY RUNNING SHORTS, so I went up to her, and turns out it's someone I met years ago that still stalks my blog! It was hilarious! This is Kate:
We were laughing our asses off about life and where we've been and what we are doing now. I didn't remember Kate at first, but was really glad to catch up with her! As you can tell, we had a giant laugh fest!

I got a call that Lori was arriving, so I had to leave Kate and meet Lori and Karen at the bike tech area. I was out of beer, so I picked up another one. I know from all the times I've sherpaed in the past that I need to grab any form of calories whenever I can because I am going to be running low no matter how often I manage to stuff my pie hole. Besides, did I mention it was FUCKING HOT???

Yum--beer.  Bike tech couldn't fix Lori's brake issue, so we got out of there and I don't remember what happened for lunch, but we ended up visiting 2 bike shops and got Lori's bike all squared away, I bought a new pair of sunglasses ( I NEED TO BE FASHIONABLE AT ALL TIMES), and then we headed back to Karen's house to reconnoiter, and I needed to get ready for the Underpants Run. I made a plate of cheese and crackers for Lori and me, and we cracked open a bottle of wine I'd brought with me. Yum! I showered (see I told you I was going to be all sweaty again) and changed into my UPR clothes with some real clothes over them, we ate and drank a little, and headed back to town.

We parked near Rich's hotel, got out, and then met him and we began walking to where the UPR started. It was at least a mile. I felt bad for Lori (who wasn't running) that we were making her walk, but I was cool with it, and we had a million laughs on the way. Rich is a real character! We got to the running store where the run started, and Rich paid my $10 and I dropped off my canned goods donation, and we disrobed and Lori held our clothes. I think Rich and I were styling for the run:
I made that bra. It's funny that I rarely wear a bra (I have nice pecs but not what I'd call boobs), but it looks like I have proportional boobs to my frame, I guess. Of course, even at 5:30PM, it was FUCKING HOT. All the racers were laughing and we looked around at everyone and then it was time to go. We ran from the store up to the Pedestrian Bridge
and over it and then we stopped for calisthenics (jumping jacks basically), and then the leader did a thing where he asked how many were first-time Ironmen/women. Then he asked who had done at least 5, then he kept upping the number, and you left your arm up if you'd done that many. It came down to me and one guy, and I guess the leader couldn't believe I kept my hand up. Anyway, my current count is 18 and there were no women there even close--although IMCHAT would be Lori's 17th! Then there was a guy there who has done 30! Lots of people came up to me and said I was awesome and a few young women said they want to look like me! How very flattering! I try...

Then we ran back to the running store where we each got a glass of beer and a beer glass!

Wow, so the day wasn't yet over--we walked back to our car and left Rich at his hotel, and Lori and I headed back to Karen's so I could shower (AGAIN, BECAUSE IT WAS FUCKING HOT) and change for dinner.

Karen drove Lori and I to Bi-Bas's Italian restaurant, and Ryan met us there. We had a great time, and the food was great!
Just before we left, Xavier arrived with his friend, Billy. Unfortunately, we had to go, but it was nice running into them! Xavier had stayed at my house a few weeks ago when he was here to do the Big Shoulders 5k swim in Lake Michigan. He will also be doing the Double Ironman next year in Portland when I do it as a team with my friend, Brad.

Well, so that was one helluva day, right? Did I mention it was FUCKING HOT???

OK so this post is getting long, so I am going to split into 2 parts. END OF PART 1!!!

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