"It's a cruel season that makes you get ready for bed while it's light out."
This picture look familiar?
It should, it is exactly like the picture from 2007, the last time I engaged in this lunacy called Ironman.
Aah, its wonderful, though! We arrived last night, around 9, into Coeur d'Alene (how elegant a name--so annoying to spell!) Along the way over I phoned my dad who told me my grandfather, experiencing all of the age-and-smoking-related ailments a human can experience, had been put back in the hospital for a variety of reasons I will not go into. So, seeing as how his hospital in Spokane was right off the freeway, and I knew my way around ok, we decided to stop and see him. And I am glad we did.
My grandfather has always been a stoic, kind of stern figure. But lately his own mortality, as a result of aforementioned age-and-smoking-related health issues has caught up with him and he has softened quite a bit. Over the last few years he has appeared to me to become almost an entirely different person--and one of my favorites.
So Jan and I stopped by and he was, in his own subdued kind of serious way, thrilled to see us. Hospitals have a way to make all those staying in them seem older and sicker than they really are, and he was no exception. I was and am concerned for him, but what he is really experiencing I will never know. He is a Male and a Moss, and from a generation that does not complain--they just motor on. And so it goes, and so it goes... I will never appreciate what he has gone through for me, for my country, for himself and his family. The least I can do is listen to him and show him I care.
After we stopped in Spokane we kept on to Coeur d'Alene (CDA). We are staying in the Motel 6, which on Wednesday before Ironman, was woefully understaffed. I waited in line to check in for about 40 minutes while Peggy managed to answer phones, make reservations and patiently deal with the 80 year old in front of me who did not know how to use a credit card swipe machine. Ack. It was torturous (at best), but eventually it ended-- and I was hurriedly cramming the bikes into the room so that we could head downtown for my LAST pre-ironman beer: Vanilla Bourbon Stout at the CDA Brewery. Oh man, it is worth waiting for. Thick, rich, not too hoppy, yummy!!
We met Brian Kirby, my labmate, and his dad there, had dinner, and enjoyed a lot of laughs--most of which were at Brian's expense as his dad more than willingly shared embarrassing details of Brian's somewhat misguided youth.
The last time I was here it was just me; and I had a few notes to go by from my Ironbuddies. This time, I am the veteran and Brian is the newbie. And I have to say that it's really nice to have him here. The humor and laid-back attitude is well suited to counteracting my anal, serious, anxious demeanor. We blend together into about the perfect level of attentiveness to the tasks and schedule at hand.
This morning we swam in the lake down at the actual swim start, just like last time I was here. BUT this time, the water was about 64 degrees. The waves, however, were ridiculously huge, like last time. As Brian would happily state, "OH WELL!" We will deal with that on race day. After that we rode our bikes over the run-course and enjoyed the gusty winds sweeping in off the lake, rather annoying. There were a lot of nice bikes with people on them doing the same thing as us. Its amazing how many people converge on the towns which host the Ironman events. The population of the town is literally 30% larger for one week of the year. And hopefully everyone is spending their out-of-town dollars accordingly!!
After our bike ride we did the Ironman check-in game, waiting in line then going in the dark tent of reckoning. I remembered last year the psychological evaluation they hold, and warned Brian not to look too shifty... he apparently did ok because he emerged with the same blue Irongeek bracelet as me.
Now the day is over and its time to rest. Its almost 7 and mentally I am done for the day. Its an intense experience from start to finish, and every day the bed is calling me... the cardboard Motel 6 bed and its sleepy spell are pulling me again.