race day recap #2: check-in and gear bags

On the Friday before the race we had a really fun surprise. Just as we were getting ready to leave the house, the doorbell rang. My mom darted for the door and up the stairs ran my brother’s boxer Charlie, followed by my brother and my dad! They had driven through the night all the way from Colorado to support us. It was an amazing surprise – I couldn’t have been happier to see them!

Check-in was on Thursday and Friday from 10-4 p.m. I had to work Thursday, so we went right after my brother and Dad arrived Friday morning, early-ish.The check-in is in the midst of a giant outdoor expo. Tons of vendors hucking everything and anything from race day wheels to compression socks to energy drinks to finisher shadow boxes to display your medal, photos and engraved time.  And of course, the Ironman store selling everything M-dot and all of the event-related gear. We headed straight to the check-in, not wanting to get distracted by all of the shiny things (yet) or have to check in with our arms full of purchases.

The line was fairly long, but it was a relatively smooth process. If I heard any complaint it was that it was a crowded tent. But I would guess that all of the rain had forced them to move the entire thing inside versus what I think their original plan of doing some things outside of the tent might have been.

First, you verified emergency contact information and signed the event waivers and medical release data. Then you showed your USAT card and ID to get your race packet – swim cap (neon pink for the girls and neon green for the guys), race bibs and stickers for the bike, last minute athlete instructions, and your Ironman race weekend bracelet. And last, we received a nice Ironman Coeur d’Alene triathlon backpack, which had all of our transition bags that we would need to pack and bring back when we checked our bikes on Saturday and the special needs and morning clothes bags we would need to bring on race morning.

After you had all of that in-hand, you were funneled out into the Ironman store to spend to your heart’s content on clothes, hats, stickers, mugs, etc. After all, you need these things to do the bragging for you about a very big deal race and what might be a one-time event. Right? Totally.

We shopped and then jumped in the lake for a quick 20 minute swim. Because of the rain nearly continuous rain over the 4 days leading up to the race, the water temp had dropped from around 65 to 61. Despite that, it was tolerable and we were thankful that we are locals and had been in the lake since May when it was in the mid 50s. And while you might think you can’t tell the difference between 65 degree water and 61 degree water, you’d be wrong…

Fortunately, the temperature mostly recovered in time for race day, but it was uber-depressing to watch the temperature plummet from the 17th to the 21st.

race week water temp

After the swim, we headed home and it was time to think about getting the bikes ready for race day. Bike check in and run/bike transition bags were due on Saturday from 10-3 p.m.

Friday night we hit the sack early, guessing that race day nerves would keep us from getting too much sleep and hoping to compensate for that by getting a decent night’s sleep 2 nights out.

Saturday, we rode our bikes from our house down past the check-in to make sure everything was shifting like it was supposed to. Things seemed to be in working order so we ditched the bikes in transition – the racks looked like they were going to be cozy so we kept our fingers crossed that everyone else would have more expensive bikes than us and as a result would be gentle and cautious when taking them off the rack the next day to avoid tangling cables or chains…

Bike racks in Ironman T1

Bike racks in Ironman T1

bikes bikes and more bikes...

bikes bikes and more bikes…

Our family met us at check-in with our run and bike gear bags and we left those bad boys overnight.

just look at all of those bike bags...

just look at all of those bike bags…

T2 bags

T2 bags

Before we left, we reviewed the map of where everything would be on race day and walked from the swim exit to the rows and rows and rows of bike gear bags, found ours (even though there would be volunteers to help), then walked to the change tents, then to our bikes, noting how far down we had to go. Fortunately, my row had a big tree right in the middle of it and hubby’s had an orange hazard cone right next to it to keep folks from tripping on a manhole cover, so we weren’t too hard to find. And then we walked from the bike rack to the run gear to the change tent to the exit. Walking it definitely helped me visualize how race day would go and made my transition smoother, less panicky and overwhelming and easier to remember on race day.

map of the transition area

map of the transition area

Then it was off to Wendy’s for race day burgers and to the grocery store for bagels, bananas and blueberries (last minute race morning breakfast restocking) and home for an early (bland and low key) dinner and attempted to sleep one last time before the epic journey…

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