So, I think I’m taking this Ironman business too seriously. It’s not like I’m concocting to be the first man to tight rope between the former World Trade Center Towers like Philippe Petit, or stand on a pole 100 feet in the air for 35 hours like David Blaine. Some estimates say more than a quarter million people have finished Ironman, and I plan to be one of them.
So for starters, I think I’m gonna cancel my hotel, roll into town sometime on Friday afternoon and pitch a tent on the beach near the swim start. I know that Friday is a huge day for Ironman participants and I expect to be borrowing a lot of equipment I forgot to pack for the race. Water bottles, Gu, tire pumps, goggles. I’ll graciously invite all donors to my tent party the next evening.
I know the Badgers play Saturday, so I’ll probably meditate for a while, then swing by Camp Randall and see how the team is responding to new head coach, Gary Anderson. And, though it will be early in the season, I predict this will be the day Melvin Gordon officially eases the pain of losing Montee Ball.
After the game, I’ll likely head to Essen Haus for some brats and a beer before doing a little shopping on State Street. Then, after picking up some PBR (who we are trying to secure as a race sponsor, so if you know anyone . . . ) for the cooler, then it’s off to the tent to dry my socks by the fire. My buddy, Roger, will be back home from the Florida Keys and it will be nice to hear a little beach music as a nod off for my race.
My dreams will be filled with soft waves pounding the rocks along Lake Monona and my body clock will reset to nature. I will be in tune with the surroundings and feel sorry for athletes stuck in nice hotels with no connection to the land or sea. But those concerns will drift away as the light mist floats through the air and the Wisconsin State Bird perches like a guardian angel on the peak of my green canvas tent.
I will naturally wake with the universe and sip coffee from a metal cup that was warmed by the fading fire. The Ironman volunteers will politely wish me luck as I peak my head through the tent flaps to gaze at kayakers on the lake. I will inspect the buoys from ground level, then close my eyes to visualize every stroke of my swim while Mike Reilly does mic’ checks in the distance.
For the sake of old times, I’ll wear cut-off blue jeans and flip flops to my final transition inspection. I will marvel at all the spectacular bikes and race wheels, then sit on my towel for a final meditation before slipping into my wetsuit. There will be a nervous energy, but I will be calm, playfully asking other racers, “How far is the swim again?” They love that stuff!
I will be back home, surrounded by friends, family, and familiar terrain. The bike course will bring back hazy memories of college road trips and long nights of drinking beer. The hum of my tires on the road will serve as a music bed that flashes me back to childhood. Those rainy forty mile “bike-hikes” that twisted through Southern Wisconsin. I will soak it in like a Sunday drive. Then to the run.
I spent many nights in Madison and can barely remember any of them. We used to drive down from LaCrosse on Thursday, hit the Kollege Klub (which is conveniently less than two miles from the Ironman Swim Start) happy hour and stumble up State Street to my buddy’s place on top of Paul’s Club. On September 8th, I will be stumbling by for a different reason.
I hear that State Street portion of the run is unforgettable. People line the road and cheer you on, and hopefully with the same enthusiasm as I remember the Halloween night celebrations. And hopefully security won’t feel the need to pull any of these shenanigans like they did with innocent party-goers on occasion.