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Friday, September 5, 2008

Ironman UK...Sherborne Days 2 & 3

(The pics above are the aerial view of the storm set to hit Sherborne the morning of the race...get your rain/wind/cold jackets on!)

Woke up yesterday morning and, after a long sleep in, WOKE UP TO WIND AND RAIN, and had a great breakfast again. Every morning, I have had cereal with milk straight from their farm, 2 cups of coffee, and some toast. Then, I have usually gone back and had a little nap again, especially since it has been raining here so much over the last 2 days. I knew that I had to register today (Thursday), so I drove over with Francesca to the Castle (where the tri headquarters are) to get all of my stuff, in addition to looking to see where the bike course was going to start. I wanted to ride a bit of it- but not too much. Just to get a feel for the roads, etc…, that is all I wanted.

Erica, Francesca’s mom, was going to meet me to drive me around the 40 mile or so, inside loop of the route. So, I first hopped on my bike and went about 5 miles in, then 5 miles back. There is a long, gradual climb for the first 2 miles right at the start, which is like the climb out of Wildflower triathlon, but 2 times as long and as gradual- maybe not as steep. Which is fine..but, that is what the entire course is like out here. Erica picked me up 1 hour or so later (raining again) and we were on our way to travel around the loop. There are some pretty good climbs on this course, but with pretty fast descents, which should cancel them out. So, if I ride this course with some decent strategy, I can make it a fast course without putting my legs in too much jeopardy for the run (which is also very rolling). I would say that the bike course is similar to that of Wisconsin’s course, yet there is nothing here I haven’t yet experienced back home in CA riding. I am looking forward to a fun ride- but, could deal without the rain or wind. The roads here are slightly rough- that vibrating rough if you know what I mean. So, tush could be definitely sore after 5-6 hours on this stuff. I believe the bike measures out to be somewhere 113 miles or so…

As Erica and I drove around the bike course, we stopped in Cerne Abbas, which is the home of Giant’s Hill- a huge Herculean type figure carved out into the side of a hill, with his manhood laid out in great detail- very “large” detail. Giant’s Hill is said to be a good place to go when wishing for healthy fertility- to go sit on, touch, or even just have a glance at Giant’s “Giant” can make one lucky to have an abundance of children. I stayed away...  Then, Erica and I had some tea at a tearoom in Cerne Abbas and had a look at the town- some buildings of which are definitely more than Centuries old.

Last night, Erica and her husband Ron took me to a pub for 2 ½ pints of some English beer. I reckon the beers here are pretty good- and not as strong as I thought they would be. Or, perhaps since I have had a beer or two every night since I have been here with the family, I could be getting used to it. Don’t worry- still have the race in mind, so I have been well behaved. Health wise, I feel strong and good. I have noticed a bit of a sore throat here and there, but think it is because of the damp, cold weather and just acclimatizing still. I have been sleeping very well, as it has been cool, and I also have been eating quite well. Erica is an amazing cook- so, needless to say, I have had my share of some type of meat, veggies, and bread at every night’s meal- in addition to some treat.

We had 2 surprise visitors last night in Paul and his dad, from the Czech Republic, who had to stay with us for the night because Paul’s home stay could not be reached when they came in from their 16 hour drive. Yes- 16 hours to drive here for this Ironman from the Czech Republic. Paul (not his Czech pronunciation by the way) spoke O.K. English, and his dad, none. Paul (not his dad) was doing the race. Both of them had dinner with us last night and shared with us some Czech beer and some really really really strong fire water, as Ron called it. Fire water- 50% alcohol, to be used as an after-dinner drink. (My hosts here think I am a very “fun” triathlete because I have the occasional drink- as many who have stayed here before don’t drink at all- at all. So, me having just 1 beer is seen as being very laid-back and fun- a sip of the fire water was all I could do, however). Oh, did I mention that Erica made homemade Apple Pie last night? Well, she did. It was just “alright.”  Went to bed fairly early after speaking with a new friend of mine in London (hi Rob), which helped set my mind at ease and sweet dreams…did not have any dreams about the race (i.e. getting a flat tire, being late for the swim, etc…, so that was good).

This morning (Friday) I woke up and it had stormed all night long. Can you believe there are triathletes staying outdoors- on a farm, in a tent, during this race? I think that is crazy. But, there are. They wanted to save about $40/night doing it, and perhaps that works for them, but the weather here has been no where near what you would want it to be for decent camping, it is not worth the savings in $. Plus, you can’t put a $ value on the feeling you get when staying with the Denings. They really have made me feel right at home. They will have a hard time kicking me out!

I was going to have a swim in the lake this morning from 9-10, but it was storming fierce and I decided against it. Will have a chance to do the same tomorrow morning, so I will wait for that. I did go to the boys school again today (Erica brought me) so I could swim there for ½ hour. I did about 2000 meters in the pool for 30 minutes, which was good enough for me. I had brought my hand paddles with me, so it helps to break up the monotony of the laps. I would really like to get out and run, but tell myself that I will have plenty of running on Sunday. I thought about it- and, roughly about 1 whole week’s training in 1 day- that is crazy. After swim, Erica and I (we have really become quite good friends- Erica is in her 70s, but has the energy of most 50-year-olds I know, and is quite an active and funny lady. So we have had fun together going around the city of Sherborne when we can). I had bought a Sherborne Boys School beanie, so I put it on to keep my wet head warm as we walked around in the RAIN AGAIN. It really has been raining just so much…I am preparing for the worst, expecting the best! Erica and I had some coffee in town and then went home- had some vegetable soup, and now, I am writing in my blog to you guys… Tonight I will have the pleasure of finalizing what to wear for the race as it could change come race morning. I definitely have a rain jacket to bring with me on the bike ride, which will keep me warm, even if I don’t wear long sleeves on a jersey. Erica likes my Lucky Charms jersey, which is the same one I wore in Wisconsin. I also have my bright green Penn Cycle jersey, which might also suit me well in this race, as it has some great pockets in the back. My bike has been riding quite well lately since my tune up in Santa Barbara (thanks to the great tech there that sorted out my miscued derailleur cable). So, I feel good that way- might give it one last look tomorrow when I go for my swim in the lake.

Tonight, we are having Shepherds Pie for dinner, with some bananas cooked in butter and brandy..I suppose you are jealous?

Oh, and yes...did a few things today that I haven't done in a while. #1: Used an umbrella, #2: Went to Starbucks, and #3: Got nervous thinking about the race...


Anonymous said...

Hey Erika
Saw your blog as well as the ironman site, you are biking now and you did great on your swim!!! can't wait to check this out in the morning!!! good luck and have fun!!!
JoDee said...

Congrats Erika!!!
Just heard from your mom "YOU DID IT!!!! WOW!
So happy for you, what a huge accomplishment!!!
Now rest and recover and know you are "Awesome"
Can't wait to hear all about your experience and your travels.
Talk to you when you get back!

triclancy said...

bananas in butter and brandy? Hell yes I'm jealous!!!

Cannot wait to hear the full race report!!! You rock sista!!

XOXO, Clancy

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Clancy, Mike and I

Clancy, Mike and I
SB Tri Finishers- Nice Tiles!