I’m Tennessee bound! Chattanooga, specifically, to meet up with another 4,200 triathletes that have qualified for and come to shoot it out in the biggest and most competitive half-Ironman of the year.
I’m on the plane as I write this, and, hopefully, so is my bike...
This is my first time traveling with my bike on a plane – previously I have always drove to the race or sent it with a transport service. I bring up bike transport because it is dominating my thoughts. I just put a 12 pound bike, arguably more valuable than my 6,000 pound car, into a soft sided bag and handed it over to the care of the airlines and the TSA. Gosh dang.
Dang it all, this has been a wee bit more stress than needed. Ask a friend to borrow a bag, take the bike apart, put the bike together, take the bike apart, put it in the bag, pad it, disassemble it some more, pad it some more, give it to the bus driver, have the bus driver tell you it won’t fit on the bus, drive to the airport myself, drag it on the shuttle, drag it to the bag check, pay a bike fee, say several prayers and feel the good vibes and hand the bike over, hopefully to arrive in Chattanooga in perfect shape.
When I get back, I’m going to trade a chunk of cash for my future sanity. I’m going to buy a premium hard hard hard sided travel case. Son of a gun.
Anyway, I’m going to Chattanooga! Qualifying for the 70.3 World Championship is not as tough as qualifying for Kona, but it requires significant talent, training and commitment. Training and commitment rarely seen in other unpaid pursuits (actually, commitment rarely seen in any pursuit, unpaid or paid). There will be 4,200 athletes from around the world (looking at the start list, more than 50% international) sending it this weekend, on a girls Saturday / guys Sunday race format.
Here are assorted comments that have been floated around the last couple weeks, some stated in general and some directly to me:
Go fast, don’t fall off.
Push on the pedals hard.
Some of these European kids are wicked fast.
You’re ready for the race of your life.
These wheels are fast.
Duuude, you’re going to love it.
Sit on someone fast if you see them. At a legal distance.
That swimskin is way too tight on you.
One pair of socks only.
Look at those quad veins.
Aero is everything.
You’ll find the power no problem at the lower elevation.
Watch the heart rate when running the hills.
Wait until mile 9 to start to crack out that max run effort.
That bike it tidy.
Think about how hard you’ve worked for this.
Here’s one more, a thought of my own:
Think about how hard everyone else has worked for you, for this. About everyone’s generosity and kindness and efforts and thoughts and words.
I don’t own half of the gear that I’m racing with. I’m not even going to start to list all of it - a huge chunk of gear has been given freely, borrowed, or sold to me at a nominal price.
I hardly own my own body. I’ve done the work, but there is a team of coaches, mentors, trainers, athletes, and physios that have told me what to do, how to do it, when to do it. That goes for swimming, biking, running, eating, traveling, setting up the bike, setting up T1 and T2, what to wear, what to think about, what to stretch, how to self-massage, when to go hard, when to go easy, what weights to lift, and of course, what workouts to complete.
I don’t do any thinking. People with greater specialized knowledge do all the thinking for me. I’ve asked these coaches and such to be part of my life, and they have generously shared all that they have.
There are hundreds of people in WI, CO and around the world watching, praying and sending words of encouragement and congratulations. Everyones' enthusiasm and participation, your enthusiasm and participation in the journey, is everything to me.
Thank you sincerely to everyone that has made it happen. I feel the idea I’ve heard expressed by early astronauts - that I’m just the point man, and I’ve done work, but there are so many other people doing work, pushing and pulling me along, and my opportunity and success is only possible through their efforts. I’ll be thinking of all of you this weekend – the race prep, the start line excitement, the chaotic moments, the lonely moments, the ease and the effort – through it all I am going to be thinking of all of you, your love, your efforts, your generosity and the energy and good vibes that I know will be pushing me along.
The team makes it happen. Truly, teamwork has made the dream work.
Thank you, everyone. This weekend, hopefully, it is time - I am going to bust it back out and put on the cape for myself and for all of you.