When over 1500 people descend on a town, most tan and amazingly fit-looking, with bikes in tow, and sporting gear with the names of other races they have done, it makes an impact.
Nerves fill the air; but so does connection as people share race stories. While those stories are usually surface fun & happy chatter, I know that deep down everyone comes with a different story. For many, this is their first time. They may have never trained so hard in their life, for so long, so many months of pushing. Many, both newbies and veterans are fighting injuries from training, or colds, or perhaps they had setbacks and didn’t train as much as they might like. Some have turned around their lives completely from addiction and other ailments to get here, and never thought, ever, that they would be doing an Ironman.
Some signed up for other races this year, didn’t complete them, and came here to show they could do it. Or perhaps the prior race was shortened and they are disappointed and sign up for another. (Yes, this happens more than you might think, and I think increasingly these days due to weather patters. Most often I have heard of swims canceled due to rough waters; and the occasional other race change that results in something shorter. My second Ironman last year was shortened – no swim and 5 miles short on the bike from a shark and then a bush fire. I still consider it as my second Ironman.)
A phenomenal number of people have no recognizable body fat. It’s amazing really. I stand out in that regard and have to constantly remind myself that I could be sitting on the couch! And that this is how I am built. It isn’t a willpower issue. This is me. And this is the lifestyle that I love!
Back to practical terms, as far as I know, all Ironman distance races (at least by the Ironman company) require you to show up at least 2 days in advance to register. Thus, here at Ironman Cozumel, I was required to register on Friday, and to attend an athlete briefing. On Saturday, I will be required to drop off my bike and all of the gear that I will need for the bike and for the run. (With some exceptions – I will have access to my bike on race morning to attach water bottles and food, etc). It is kind of nice to do it this way because I can break down what I have to think about and plan for!