Ready to Rock

Wow, it’s amazing how busy one can be on vacation. Maybe one day I will look back at these things and wonder why I kept making myself suffer. Maybe…

Yesterday started off as well as any 0550 flight type of day could. Luckily, I was able to catch some good shut eye on the planes. Amazingly, despite having a bag full of straps and neoprene, I was somehow able to get through security without a cavity search.After arriving at SFO, I caught a hellacious cab ride to my hotel and unfortunately, 10:00 was a little too early to check into my humble hotel. So, I dropped my bags off and hit the street ala Anthony Bourdain. Normally, I like to plan all my trips down to the last detail, but I been too busy to think about this trip until like one day before. So, I just winged it and just started walking. Uphill mainly.

And wouldn’t you know it, I just happened to walk right to that famous curvy section of Lombard street. I would love to run up that thing. After that, I heard a “ding ding” and I turned to see one of those famous cable cars behind me.

I shrugged my shoulders, bought a ticket, and hopped on, not knowing where it was going. Luckily, I ended up at Fisherman’s Wharf where I found a landmark that will greatly be on my mind tomorrow morning.

Fontana Towers

These are the Fontana Towers and I will be swimming towards them as I cross the bay. The current will take care of the rest. Even cooler was that I found a beach I could do a pre-swim at. More on that later.

All my readers know my love of food and drink, and I was thrilled to also come by the Buena Vista Cafe, the birthplace of the Irish Coffee. That’s right. Coffee plus whiskey began here in the US:

 

Tired from lack and sleep and anxious about the race, a whiskey doused coffee with cream sounded perfect. I saddled up and a bartender that had been working there 40 years made me an Irish coffee in less than 30 seconds. Needless to say, it was DIVINE.

YUM

I will most certainly be enjoying one of these tomorrow after the race.

After that pick me up, I started what I thought would be a small stroll to the bike store to pick up my ride. It is fortunate that I am an endurance guru because this turned into a three mile walk into a constant headwind. The bike store had said it was conveniently located “near” Marina Green and transition. This is like saying the beach is accessible in Montana. Fortunately, I picked up my bike without incident and everything seems to be working just fine.

After this, I was finally able to check in my hotel and get some last minute school work done. Then, I got to enjoy yet another culinary jewel, Pliny the Elder.

Locals may wonder what the big deal is as this beer is readily available here. While us Montanans enjoy the pinnacle of mother nature in Big Sky, one thing we don’t enjoy is beer from the Russian River Brewing company. I have been dying to try this thing for the last three years, and it was worth the wait. I had planned on calling it an early evening, but unfortunately, I passed by this place on the way home, and well, with a name like that, how could I resist.

Pizza. Beer. Orgasm. Sign me up.

So….this morning, I woke up with a bit of a headache, but I was able to quench that with some good old NSAIDS and coffee. Ibuprofen is really great stuff. Anything that allows you to go from a near migraine to listening to Daft Punk via headphones in 30 minutes is a miracle drug in my book. After a light breakfast, I donned the walking shoes again and headed back down to the Fisherman’s Wharf area for my preswim.

Amazingly, I wasn’t the only one swimming this morning. I got into my wetsuit without any difficulty; it’s a little small, even for me. And to simulate the shock of jumping off the boat tomorrow, I just dove in. They say that diving into cold water can take your breath away; today was the first time it actually ever happened to me. It took a good 20-30 seconds before I could put my face in, but after that I was able to finally start swimming. After I got settled, I found myself on form and moving well. Its cold, but not COLD COLD. Hands and feet were semi numb after a brief ten minute adventure. The salt water was a little odd; I hadn’t expected to feel so slimy sticky from it as I did. Tomorrow, there are apparently these pools of normal water we can rinse in after the swim; I may have to hit that after all.

After surviving that, I rented a bike from Blazing Saddles. They have a couple of locations around the city, and they run like a well tuned machine. In less than ten minutes, I had a mountain bike of my own, complete with a luggage carrier, lock, and yes, a bell. Rates are 9 dollars an hour or 36 dollars for 24 hours. Just in case you’re wondering, yes, they can give you a helmet if you need one. Those under 18 have to wear helmets, otherwise it is optional. But of course, none of my readers would ever be stupid enough to ride a bicycle without a helmet.

New ride in hand, I rode to transition and joined the biggest line I have ever seen for a race check in. This race is a learning experience and now I know something about it. If you want to wait forever, show up around lunch. After a grueling 40 minutes of hearing every weekend expert talk about the race in line, I finally got checked in.

Athlete check in lines. Where your entire racing career can be determined by your outfit.

I had a quick lunch (an eggplant and cheese melt if you really want to know…I could get used to this town) and off I went to check out the bike course.

Unfortunately, my scout of the course was short lived. Traffic got to heavy and with being unfamiliar with the area, I called it quits and just did some touring around. I must say, as corny and geeky as it sounds, it was nice to be riding a bike around without trying to kill myself on it. I even used the bell a few times. I went up to Fort Mason first; there I took my obligatory San Francisco picture.

 

After that I headed down to check out Fort Point. I love history, and this place really hit the spot.

 

Fort Point

After having a day of great sightseeing, I headed back to transition for the athlete meeting and updates on last minute details. At this time, the weather is looking great. Little wind, sunny, and warm in the afternoon. The current is supposed to be booking it tomorrow, moving at roughly 3 knots (5mph). I will be swimming mostly across the current, it moving from left to right, as I swim towards the towers. Hopefully, if I time things right, as long as I swim towards way left of the swim exit, the current will drag me to the small beach by the San Francisco yacht club. If not…well, I will get yet another impressive view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The closer I get to this race, the more I realize that this first attempt is mostly a learning experience. There are simply too many unknowns for me to maximize the course efficiently. So in the end, I have only these goals:

  1. Survive the swim.
  2. Go hard.
  3. Do my best.
  4. Have fun.

There are lots of hills on this course and I will try to use that to my advantage. I plan just to go hard on them and rest on the downs. For the run, I will go hard whenever I can as I know there will be lots of hold ups on the course that will provide rest. Hopefully, I can finish in a decent amount of time. In any case, I am just thrilled to be here in this awesome city. And I can’t mention doing my best in this race without paying homage to one of Sean Connery’s best acting lines, appropriate from The Rock:

Now, its time to get the gear ready for tomorrow, more Daft Punk, and some sleep before the storm. I want to thank all my friends and family for their continued support. My wonderful wife is home with three kids, not to mention a bun in the oven. This trip was the greatest early Father’s Day gift I could ever have and I honestly not do any of this, or really anything in my crazy life, without her support. Love you babe.

Now, enough of the mush. Let’s get this party started.

About Ironvan

From couch potato to Ironman triathlete in 2 years.

Posted on June 9, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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