My alarm clock went off at 3:45am. I got up, took a shower to wake up, and got dressed in my swim trunks. I drank some Pepsi, and ate a 6” sub that I had in the cooler. I filled my bike bottles with Pepsi, and placed a couple 24 oz. sized bottles of Pepsi in my bike special needs bag.
I wore some sweats and a long sleeve shirt over my jammers. I put my bike bottles into my morning bag, along with my goggles, ear plugs, and swim cap.
I also remembered I would need my room key after the race. I wasn’t sure when I would get my morning bag back, so I stuck my second room key into my run special needs bag. I would have to remember to grab it during the run. Since I would be wearing a cycling jersey with pockets, I would have a place to put it.
I grabbed my bags, and started my long walk to the transition area. It was still dark out. While it wasn’t cold out, it wasn’t warm either. On my way I struck up a conversation with a guy walking that way. I saw he was wearing a sparkly gold colored wrist band meaning he was VIP. It turned out he was one of the announcers. It was nice talking with him. He asked my name. I told him. I had remembered reading in one of my books how the author had met the race announcer in a bar the day before the race, and the announcer made sure to say “…you are an Ironman” for him, which they really don’t do for everybody. Maybe he would say it for me. Couldn’t hurt.
When I got to transition I put my bike bottles on my bike, and turned in my special needs bags. I would have liked to pump up my tires. But I didn’t bring my pump. You are not allowed to put anything that wont fit completely in your check in bag. I could have brought a pump and handed it off to someone, but I didn’t have someone to hand it off to. So the air that was in my tired from the day before would have to do. I probably could have borrowed a pump from someone there.
I made my way to the swim start. As I said before, the swim start it probably about a mile walk from the transition area. There was a quiet excitement in the air among all the racers walking to the start. I found the start of the line, and start walking back, and back and back. I finally found the end of the line. There were a lot of people there already. I staked out my spot, and made a quick stop to the porta potty. No line! I tried to sleep a bit laying on the concrete sidewalk and using my bag as a pillow, but was not able to. I talked a little with other people in line. They were suggesting that maybe we weren’t as far back as we might think. There were some family members there with the racers. So they probably made it seem like there were more people than there were. After a while, I decided to hit the porta potty again, but now there was a line. I got into line. It moved very slowly. People kept walking passed going to the back of the swim start line. As I was getting close, the all the people in the start line starting standing up and moving forward. Not wanting to lose my place in that line, and ran back and got into line. I guess I would have to hold it. Maybe I could pee in the river.
Volunteers were wandering back and forth collecting the morning bags. There were still about 30 minutes to go, and it was cold enough that I didn’t want to give up my warmer clothes just yet. The line compressed forward. I could see the pros down in the water swimming back and forth to warm up. There was some music playing, the national anthem, some of the Kentucky Derby horn things. Is that a bugle? I have no idea. At about 6:45, the start was sound for the pros. I think it was a cannon, but maybe it was a horn. Those memories are a bit scrambled now. I was pretty nervous and excited.
I stripped off my shirt, and sweats and shoved them into the bag. I gave the bag to a volunteer. Then she pointed out I was still wearing shoes. Crap. She gave me back the bag. I shoved the shoes into it and gave it to another volunteer. I was moving forward, and now on a ramp leading down to the boat docks. I put my ear plugs in, and swim cap and goggles on. Oh my god, I was going to be starting the frigging Ironman in 15 minutes! WTF was I thinking?
At 7am, the age groupers were started, and were diving off of a couple different docks. I made my way forward. I crossed the mat, and started my watch. I jumped into the water at about 7:05. I wasn’t nearly as far back as I had thought. I was in it now.