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Ironman Arizona 2011: Pre Race Activities - Geek Turned Athlete

Ironman Arizona 2011: Pre Race Activities

I’m still in shock that I completed an Ironman on Sunday. It was an unbelievable day, and I feel incredibly fortunate to even have taken part in something like that. Since I have so much to say about the race, I thought that I would break it up into sections starting with pre-race activities. Sorry to be such a tease!!

The Tuesday before the race last week, I twisted my ankle during my speed workout on a pine cone. I freaked out, and it swelled up and hurt for a couple of days. On the Wednesday before the race, I freaked out again because I thought my husband had gotten me sick. My throat was hurting, I was exhausted, and I was starting to cough. I used my connections to nail down a Z-pack. Usually, I’m totally against taking antibiotics for “being sick,” but I was doing an Ironman this coming Sunday, and I didn’t want to take any chances.  A triathlon teammate told me a horrible story of him starting an Ironman with a sinus infection and ending it with pneumonia.  Yep.  NOT gonna happen to me!

Fast forward to Friday and mandatory packet packet-pick up. We spotted this sign as we were leaving the expo, and it just gave me butterflies inside. I was ready for this thing.


We made it back to the hotel after that to put the bike together and go on my last bike and run before the race. The bike felt great, and my handlebars didn’t come off after my husband put my bike back together which is always a plus! haha

My ankle still hurt a little on the 15 minute easy run, but I just told myself to calm down. I still had a day and a half for it to heal up before the race. As for the cold/flu like symptoms, they had pretty much dissipated at this point except for a little runny nose.

Saturday, was the practice swim sponsored by Powerbar. I was nervous to get into the water, but my coach told me it would be a good idea to practice sighting, and make sure my goggles were working properly especially since my last open water swim was in August!! I really wanted to skip it, but my husband doesn’t let me get away with anything!! So I went.

IMG_0346.jpg  IMG_0349.jpg

It was beautiful out, and I met a father who was doing IMAZ with his son. Thank you, babe, for the incredibly awkward pic on the right. haha

I have no idea what I was looking at on the left down there. I was probably thinking about the water being 61 degrees and cringing.

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The water was FREEZING!!!! My face, hands, and feet hurt the entire time I was in the water. At least, I figured out a sighting strategy and that my goggles were crap!!


After being in the water for 15 minutes and being kicked in the head by a zigzagger, I decided it was enough.


After grabbing some breakfast and going to three different stores for supplies (i.e. you are not allowed to fly with CO2 cartridges, need new goggles, etc.), we finally made it back to Tempe Beach Park to drop off my bike and transition bags. If you think you can just show up and do one of these races, you are crazy! There is A LOT preparation that goes on. My family drove all the way from New Mexico to cheer me on for the race, and I felt bad that I couldn’t spend more time with them. They understood that this wasn’t a vacation thankfully.


Literally thousands of bikes. Beautiful!!!! And, it got me really excited to be racing the next day!!


All ready, in my spot…



For those of you who are interested, you are given 5 bags at an Ironman event:

  • Morning Clothes Bag: any clothing you are wearing over your race kit in the morning. This also doubles for clean clothes to wear after the race plus flip flops!
  • Bike Gear Bag: EVERYTHING you will wear for the bike — helmet, cycling shoes, fleece (It was cold on the 1st loop!), arm warmers, socks, sunglasses, garmin
  • Bike Special Needs Bag: Hoo Ha Cream (Amazing if you haven’t tried it!!), tums, tylenol, any special treat that will be a reward for getting halfway through on the bike. I know a guy who put an Arby’s sandwich in there!
  • Run Gear Bag: Running shoes, visor, Shot Bloks, any change in clothing
  • Run Special Needs Bag: tums, tylenol, long sleeve shirt just in case it was cold.  Someone I know also put Mentos in their bag.

It was incredible how many bags the volunteers had to deal with!!!  There were ~3,000 people competing X 5 bags each = 15,000 bags.  Holy Crap!!


After we dropped off the gear, we picked my coach up from the airport and headed to dinner with the fam. We found this great place in Tempe called Picazzo’s that made most of their menu gluten free!! Yay!! This made my stomach very happy.

Having my very young nephews at dinner also took the edge off racing the next day. Dragons and my sister’s growing pregnant belly were the topic of conversation instead of the race which was a good thing!

Next post: The Swim!!!

{ 19 comments… add one }
  • Heather (Where's the Beach) November 23, 2011, 8:45 am

    Been looking forward to your recap(s). So excited for you!!!
    Heather (Where’s the Beach) recently posted..Biceps, Spin & Chipotle Tempeh Chili for Tuesday

  • Jess November 23, 2011, 9:28 am

    I am DYING to hear about this Ironman!!!! So far, you’ve got me on the edge of my seat!
    AND, I love the sign on that rock, that is awesome, I want to put it on a tshirt!!
    Jess recently posted..Sooo….Thanksgiving

  • Axel November 23, 2011, 9:33 am

    Breaking up the recap into sections is a great idea! Each post will be easier to absorb (so to speak) and it leaves us thirsty for more!

    I looked up that Romans 5:3-4 on the internet, and it’s fascinating how each version/translation of the Bible uses different synonyms for suffering (e.g. troubles), endurance (stronger), character (experience) and hope (hope seems to always be hope). I liked the version in your pic the best though.
    Axel recently posted..Multi-sport mind: Cyclo-Cross

  • Sana November 23, 2011, 9:50 am

    You know I am in it for the dramatic recap!

  • donna November 23, 2011, 11:58 am

    Eeeekk…I’m on the edge of my seat with anticipation Nicole. Can’t wait to read the rest of your recap…AND…yes I will be picking your brain for all your pearls of wisdom about IMAZ seeing as I signed up for next year 🙂

    • Nicole November 25, 2011, 5:05 pm

      It will be a great first IM for you!! At least it was for me! I loved it!

  • Lisa November 23, 2011, 12:51 pm

    Been looking forward to this race report! Congrats on finishing your Ironman. Wow. Just…wow.
    Lisa recently posted..Small But Mighty

  • jrm November 23, 2011, 5:33 pm

    Congrats! Cool pics of the bikes and bags.

  • Lyn @ FueledBySalad November 23, 2011, 5:55 pm

    It sounds so exciting! There’s so much work involved in organising (and preparing for!) an Ironman! Can’t wait for the swim recap. 🙂

  • Cynthia (It All Changes) November 23, 2011, 7:44 pm

    I’ve been waiting for you recaps. I’m so happy you found a GF restaurant before the race 🙂
    Cynthia (It All Changes) recently posted..Gluten-free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins–Guest Post

  • Mandie November 24, 2011, 9:56 am

    Congrats on your Ironman! What a wonderful verse to be reminded of prior to your big day!

  • Leah November 25, 2011, 1:41 pm

    Looling forward to the rest of the story! Ive already learned something-5 bags not 3!

  • Toronto Girl West November 27, 2011, 5:42 am

    Yaaaaayyyyy!!!!! So excited for you!!!! Congratulations on an absolutely amazing feat!!!! You’re made of Iron baby!!! 🙂
    Toronto Girl West recently posted..Live from Old San Juan


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