Ironman Austin 70.3 Part III – Who Shot J.R.?

As a kid growing up in England in the 80s, one of my favorite TV shows was Dallas*. My parents let me stay up late to watch it. Then again, they thought it was a good idea for me to watch Alien and Carrie and The Shining…

Anyway, Dallas, to me, was America. I’m sure I watched other American TV shows and of course all the movies listed above were American, but I actually thought the characters in Dallas were what everyone in America was like. Good thing I didn’t watch Little House on the Prairie.

So of course I stopped thinking that a long time ago (no, really), but I’m reminded of it every time I go to Texas. And even though the only stetsons I saw were in the airport gift shop, there were a heck of a lot of people wearing cowboy boots, and we passed a lot of ranches on the bike ride, although I was too busy trying to avoid the cracks in the road to look to see if any were named Southfork.

I forgot to mention in Part II that we also attended the Athlete Meeting before racking our bikes on Saturday. After failing to attend the athlete meeting at Iron Girl Columbia in 2010, and subsequently stopping at the mat 50 meters from the finish because I thought that was the finish mat (turns out it was the mat that read your chip to give your name to the announcer so he could say it as you crossed the real mat), I’ve since made sure to always attend athlete meetings. At the meeting we learned that most of the cracks in the bike course had been sealed, which meant it was safe but bumpy, and cracks that weren’t sealed and weren’t safe to ride over were marked with bright orange tape. We also learned that water bottles would be handed to us with the tops off, so you couldn’t put them in your bottle cage but would have to dispense the water into your own bottle. Having never done a race long enough to warrant bottle exchanges on the bike, I was glad to get this information so I knew to have my aero bottle open in advance, and that I didn’t need to throw away a bottle to make space for a new one. The race organizers also went over the penalties for drafting and throwing stuff on the road except in permitted areas by the aid stations. You may think you already know all this but, in my opinion, it sticks best when you hear it close to the race.

And the race certainly was getting closer. Back at the ranch house, we shared what we’d learned from the meeting, discussed our race strategies, packed last minute items and worked out what time we’d need to leave the house. Oh, and of course we ate some pasta…with salt.

Several people were going to bed early but I wasn’t tired, despite not sleeping well the night before. I watched part of Avatar with Jack and Kelly and then decided to try to go to sleep around 10:30. I managed to fall asleep but was awoken by sirens at 2:30 (I’d also heard them the night before) and at 3:30 gave up trying to sleep as I was now hungry (weird) and so went into the kitchen to grab some food. I was rustling around in there when I heard someone say, “Alison.” Looked around but didn’t see anyone. Then I noticed Jack on the couch. The sirens had woken him up, too. So we chatted for a bit, made some coffee, and waited for the others to get up at 4.

The first person who went outside announced how warm it was already. At 4am it was in the high 60s. I had plenty of time to double check all my shit since my swim wave, #15 of 17, wasn’t until 8:35, and I didn’t plan to get to the arena until the late hour of 5:30. Those with earlier wave starts were heading out at 4:30 so they’d arrive at 5:00. Even though we had to park at the arena and take a shuttle bus for the less-than-a-mile ride to the lake, I was confident that 3 hours was sufficient.

At some point, while thinking about my stuff, I realized that I hadn’t vaselined my shoes. I planned to run without socks but was wondering if this was a good idea. I’d never run a half marathon without socks. I decided that it was worth the time to put on socks, considering how hot it was going to be, and so when we got to the arena I stopped at T2 to get my socks ready to slide on by putting them in my shoes. Then we boarded a bus to the lake. They had plenty of buses and there was no waiting…this part of the machine was definitely well oiled.

At the lake, we went over to bike transition to put air in our tires, water bottles on the bikes, and faff around like triathletes do. There was picture taking and potties-with-no-line-finding (but also no TP…thanks to Mike, our race support, for bringing tissues)  and National Anthem singing and before I knew it, the pros were in the water and it was time to put my wetsuit on.

*While doing a little research on Dallas, I discovered that a new, updated series of Dallas is due to air on TNT in mid-2012, with “various stars of the original series reprising their roles.” (Wikipedia) All I can say is, Larry Hagman better be in it.

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