I'm going to start telling the story. Blogger has hated me for months and won't let me post any pics, so it will be mostly words for now, and pics through Picasa.
It's gonna be a long story.
It starts on Wednesday, as I packed up from school and left to head to Chicago, and then Madison. I had been stressing out about leaving school for three days. I left my sub plans, I had made all my copies. I had stayed until 4pm to help some students that were worried about next week's test. It meant a later start on the road, but oh well--what's my profession again? Pro triathlete? No. I am a teacher--that's what I do, and that's what it's all about. I was happy to stay and help.
I packed up my car, including flowers and a few bags of gatorade, blow pops, and peanut butter filled pretzels that my teaching friends gave me (they are awesome), and a bunch of construction paper cards from my students. These almost made me cry when my friend Elizabeth gave them to me. My favorite one said, "Good Luck MRS. ZIEMNIK--U Can Do It Ironman" and the "M's" in Mrs. and Ziemnik were big red M-dots. I knew I'd need them and brought them along for the ride. They would be there for another ride, too.
And finally, it was just me, alone, in a car, for 5 hours.
It was great. It was just what I needed. I stayed with Jacks that night in Chicago and had Giordino's pizza--we always get it when I visit--so yum. Then the next morning I headed to Madison.
I checked in at my hotel around noon, and a fit-looking guy was there too.
"You here for the race?" I asked.
"Yep, we just got in a bit early." (said with a heavy Canadian accent)
And that's how I met Manitoba Guy. Manitoba Guy was really cool, and it was his first IM, too. He was with his wife and mom, and we were both antsy from our long drives, so we decided to go for a little ride.
I remembered a bit of the course from our WIBA weekend, so we headed out that way. I felt great. It was 80 degrees and not a cloud was in the sky. My bike, thanks to TriEric, was running like a dream. Everything felt perfect, and I absolutely couldn't wait to race. Manitoba Guy asked if I had ever heard of Simply Stu. I was like, "Have I heard of him?!" I laughed as I told him of WIBA weekend. He said how helpful Stu's videos of the course were for him.
I got back to the hotel to clean up before heading to Stu's CycleOps presentation, which I was SOOOO excited for. Manitoba Guy decided just to hang with his family. So now I had to head downtown to try and meet up with Wil, TriAl, RunBubbaRun, and Mr. Wil for some dinner.
So I drove downtown. My car, by the way, is a total beater which smells a little like dill dip from when I spilled it on the way to the pool party 3 weeks ago and sounds like Chewbacca when I turn the steering wheel. One of many things I've been putting off until IM is done....so Chewie and I made it downtown, calling Wil, and trying to find them.
And then I saw them. Right on the corner!
She turned around, and our faces both lit up. It was our weekend, and we'd been waiting so long to see each other again.
Turns out, they were lost like me! The light was red so I said hop in! They did--but the light turned green, and I was so discombobulated from driving all over the place in circles around the Capitol ("Look kids, Big Ben!") that I started to drive away with poor Bubba struggling to get in the car!
So I almost took out an Ironman before the race even started. Oops. Big oops. :) Sorry Bubba!
We made it to Stu's thing--it was great. I got to see TriThomps and RobbyB! These guys are amazing and so cool. We had a good time, and then I was so tired, I headed back to the hotel. But--not until I dropped TriAl off at Rocky Rocaco's pizza place to meet up with Trina, Cassie, and Josh. We hung out a bit and joked around until my eyes were so heavy that I had to leave.
I really missed Matt. It just wasn't the same without him there, but he couldn't get off work. He'd be there Friday though, so I just needed to make it to Friday evening, I told myself. But even though I was surrounded by friends, without Matt, I was a little bit lonely.
So I got back to the hotel, went into my room, and turned on the light. I just sort of stood there and stared at the room. Why? I don't really know. I guess I was just in awe that I was there. If I was there, that meant I was really doing this. I had my favorite card from my student with the M-dots on it right on the mirror, where it would remain all weekend. I looked at it, and knew that they would be watching. That was a little scary, at the same time. It's one thing to do this with no one watching.
It's an entirely different thing to do an Ironman with friends, your students, and people you've never even met watching you.
I have to admit, that was a little scary. But, I tried to tell myself, that's not why I'm here. I'm here for me.
So I flopped on the bed, set the alarm for 7am to head to the swim with Wil, Stu, and TriThomps, and turned out the light. Before I knew it, the alarm was buzzing, and it was Friday.
Time for a little dip in the lake.