Thursday, September 10, 2009

ironman: settling in

Today we took a van tour of the bike course. Did you know Wisconsin is hilly? But what seems more annoying is that there are a LOT of turns along the course. Not just curves in the road, but full 90-degree turns. The course certainly seems doable, but the biggest issue may be the cows. Who doesn't love cows, right? One of the first things every human baby learns is "the cow goes 'mooooo'". Our entire lives we are taught to love cows and they look great in storybooks or on TV. The problem is that in the real world, cows smell. Really bad. Perhaps we should teach our children "the cow smells 'baaaaaaad'". But that might confuse them with sheep. We hit a few spots on the road where the stench was unbearable riding in the air-conditioned van, so I can't imagine what it will be like when we're climbing hills gasping for air taking in giant gulps of cow fragrance.

Madison is a big college town, and State Street connects the Capitol (where our hotel is) to the university. It's a 6-block strip of shops and restaurants and seems to be the definitive area to go to eat. We were walking along State Street discussing our lunch options when one ofthe friendly locals overheard us. He asked if we were looking for a place to eat, and I told him "yeah, we're looking for something simple... burgers and sandwiches." He told us "Oh, there's a fabulous Nepalese place just a few blocks from here." Nepalese is simple? We then clarified: "we're doing the big race in a couple days and we can't have anything that has the slightest risk of upsetting our stomachs." He replied "well they have a wonderful Salmon in Mango Sauce." We asked for a burger, and he's giving us Nepalese Salmon? People in Madison are weird. We went to Subway.

Registration seemed a little disorganized. It was essentially spread out over 4 rooms on two floors. There was a woman in front of us holding her 6-week-old baby and she was doing the race (the woman, not the baby). But she's cheating because asshe explained to us, during post-pregnancy women still have increased blood-volume which is great for racing. She didn't explain how she trained for the past four months with a creature growing inside her.

As part of our package deal with Endurance Sports Travel, we have a private mechanic who comes to the hotel to work on our bikes. Oh. My. God. This is the only way to travel. I had 2 flats in 2 days so I had "Dallas" check the wheel and had him adjust the shifting and just do an overall check-up on the bike. He was the MacGyver of bike repair and was giving us a punch of helpful tips. Like using a cotton ball to shim your front derailer. And cutting up a soda can and rubbing the metal along the inside of your tire to find any tiny pieces of glass embedded in the rubber. Or maybe it was the other way around and the cotton ball was for the tire. Whatever. All I know is that having your own mechanic on call is suh-weet.

Stacey from EST took us out for a carb-load dinner Thursday night where we met "Stuart." Stuart is from England and was also traveling with EST. I really enjoyed comparing training plans and race strategies with him. You see, Stuart is doing Wisconsin because he had to give up his qualified Kona slot this year and wants to get qualifying for 2010 out of the way. His best Ironman time is 9:10. We're talking serious zoom-zoom. He explained to us the benefits of how beet root juice enhances endurance by 16 percent; I explained to him how yummy Mountain Dew was during a race. (I am honored to have given him his first taste of Dew.) I don't think he was quite prepared for the hero-worship from the rest of the group, but he handled us with typical british grace.


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