It’s race week. As if I need reminding, someone posted a picture on Facebook of the Ironman banner tied to the front of Bolton Town Hall with the ever so slightly sinister caption: “Knock knock, we’re here”. I am not sure if it caused the release of a shot of adrenalin or a little bit of wee. Either way, it got my heart rate up and my week off to a lively start.
Monday night was my last Club track session before Ironman. At the end it was hugs from all the girls and manly handshakes from the men wishing me luck. Sam, our longest serving coach reminded me: “…we’ll all be following you online on Sunday. Remember that when you are out on the course. It will help”. I drove home feeling a little tearful. In my defence it doesn’t take much to make me well up during this emotional roller coaster that is Ironman race week. I am sure if it caught me at the right moment, the Shipping Forecast could have me in tears!
My support crew has also been busy this week with race day preparations. Matilda has been hard at work producing a banner to hold up at the roadside. Hopefully I will see a lot of it on the bike and the run and it will make my job a little easier.
So far I feel OK. We travel up to Bolton tomorrow (Friday) when I expect the whole experience to crank up a notch or two as the Ironman process takes over. Registration, expo, race briefing Friday. Then familiarisation swim, bike racking, transition bags on Saturday. And then it gets serious.
It concludes with 2,000 nervous athletes standing on the shore of Pennington Flash as the clock approaches 6.00am on Sunday wondering what the day ahead has in store for them.
Everyone starting on Sunday, and those in whose footsteps we follow, know how much of a challenge Ironman is. They know better than anyone that it is not just about 140.6 miles that thousands of spectators will see in Bolton on Sunday, but just as much about the thousands of miles they haven’t seen. It is hard to imagine as we bask in a heat wave that for many this incredible journey began on cold winter mornings in January. All of that commitment for one day – or one glorious moment.
Everyone will have his own goal in mind. Me, I am not going to Bolton seeking a Kona slot, or a prize or even a fast time. I am there to finish. I am not interested in being better than anybody else. I just want to be the best me I can be on the day. If I manage that and I finish, there won’t be a happier man in Lancashire.
It’s been a long time coming. It’s been a journey that I have really enjoyed and I hope I will enjoy the race as much. Now it’s here, I can’t wait to get on with it.
Good luck everyone!