Today was a truly incredible day and it was only the beginning. I woke up at 5:30 so I could run before my volunteer shift. It was still drizzling and still dark so I hit the treadmill again. It was another good run. My volunteer shift started at 9:00 so my dad and I took a walk to Cafe Soleil to get croissants and coffee. I'm proud to share that I only had one this time! On my walk to Monona Terrace I got my first glimpse of the Ironman Village and immediately felt the excitement of the race.
Registration was at ground level with a great view of the lake. The swim course was marked and there were hundreds of athletes in the water. We spent an hour getting the goody bags, timing straps and other check-in stuff ready to go before the mad rush began. From the time we opened until noon it was a non-stop flood of people. It was great to have a moment to sit face to face with so many athletes and help them start their Ironman experiences. Some were visibly nervous while others seemed to have done it a hundred times before. 99.5% were friendly, energetic and thankful while .5% were indifferent. It's amazing to see the wide variety of people competing in an Ironman. They made me feel like anything is possible if you just have the courage to go after it.
I finished my shift and embarked on what would turn out to be a very productive shopping expedition at the Ironman expo. I love nothing more than a running or triathlon expo. It's like being in the most expensive candy store you've ever seen and for some reason, it feels more justifiable to buy boatloads of things you'd likely hold back on under normal circumstances. I was blown away by the wetsuits and swim skins, some more than $600. For that price, it better sprout tiny arms and do the swim for me.
I managed to make it out with some modest purchases:
- 1 pair 2XU compression calf guards
- 1 pair 2XU compression recovery socks
- 1 set of Yankz laces
- TYR Nest Pro smoke-colored goggles
- Zoot running hat - oddly, it says it's a men's hat, yet Zoot is in pinkish lettering and there's a little blue, girly palm-tree looking thing on it
- 1 package of Blist-O-Ban bandages
- 1 pair Wigwam Ironman Flash Pro socks - ok, these do not count as M-Dot merchandise as I've been running in the same Wigwam socks for awhile
- 1 packet PowerBar electrolyte mix
- 1 double chocolate chunk breakfast cookie
As I left with my bag of goodies, I was forced to walk by all the bike dealers and race wheels. They were offering an Ironman deal on the Zipp 404s I'm dreaming about, but even the magic of the experience couldn't make me lose enough sense and reason to make that purchase. Not yet at least.
All was looking good until I realized I had forgotten to buy a running jacket. I needed a few items for the higher level of cold-weather training I will be doing this year and the expo seemed like the perfect place to pick a few things up. So I headed back in and started round 2 of my shopping expedition. I settled into the Sugoi area and found everything I needed and then some. They had the perfect jacket, lightweight and breathable, but wind and water resistent. I can wear it on the bike and for running and it is unbelievably light. Just perfect. But then the fire-engine red "Firewall" jacket caught my eye. It was thicker and warmer, perfect for the colder winter months. Then I just HAD to get the Wallaroo Speedster, a pullover wool hoody also in my favorite red. It is soft as can be and has thumb holes in the cuffs and a "ponytail port" in the hood. I must be the sucker they have in mind when designing this stuff. I rounded it out with some fleece lined arm warmers. Now I have no excuse to stay indoors this winter.
After 7 hours and with a lighter wallet, I finally left the expo and headed home. I passed by the finish on the way and thought about what it will be like to make it there next year.
I wish all of the IMWI athletes the best of luck in their journeys to make it there on Sunday.
Distance - 4 miles
Time - 32:48