Heather, Paula, Chris and Greg (Plucky) are smiling now - but what about Saturday?
Ironman Cal kicks off the week at B&L Bike and Sports.Well race week is officially under way. Luckily due to the cool temperatures we have been spared the sight of any 'speedos' riding down Pacific Coast Highway. Whilst the Marines are working feverishly on base to get the athlete village completed and ready for opening tomorrow afternoon - Triathlete magazine hosted a panel discussion and Q&A with some of the local talent. On hand were myself, Heather Fuhr, Chris Legh and Greg Welch. Bob Babbitt, publisher of Competitor magazine was the mediator for the evening.
Unlike a real pre race press conference everyone was in high spirits and loaded with good last minute tips as well as insights into last years race and the upcoming event on Saturday.Cracks and jokes were the order the day. Chris and Heather as defending champions talked a little about the fact that rest and relaxation was the key for the last 3 days. Both also touched on the fact that they had participated in the Wildflower Half Ironman 10 days ago, and that it had been a good race/workout to prepare for the Ironman. Both feel that they have completely recovered and are ready to take on the definitively more stacked field here this year.
Chris shared some insights into his victory last year - the first Ironman victory of his career (after 8 attempts). He told us that it had been a tough day particularly in the last 10-15 kilometers. Heather, confessed that the 18 minute deficit she came off the bike with, was not anything planned, just an off day on the bike - and she has no intention of giving up that much time this year.
Greg, who will be reporting all day with Ironmanlive.com, had just gotten back from driving the course. He offered some valuable tips on what he thought were some of the 'tricky' sections of the course, and along with everyone else urged patience on the first lap of the bike. He also offered his views on the men and womens pro fields, and there is no doubt that this is the best field assembled for an Ironman race so far this year. On the mens side there is Chris Legh, Tim and Tony De Boom, Olivier Bernhard, Chuckie V, Craig Walton, Tani Shingo. On the womens there is Heather, Natascha Badman, Beth Zinkand, Nicole De Boom and myself (Paula).
I offered my views on the necessary attention to clothing/dressing for the race. Due to the cool temperatures (mid 50's in the morning) and the ever lingering marine layer which some days never burns off - I talked about the fact that I would be wearing a surf rash guard under my wetsuit and making sure that I had clothes to put on for the bike ride. If it doesn't warm up significantly, I certainly don't want to be stuck out there in a bra top.
Probably the most important question of the evening was about how to handle the mental ups and downs of the day. There was concensus from everyone that, it is all about the focus, and not falling apart when the going gets tough. There will be ups and downs, coming at you all day and the key is to just weather it and stay in the game plan.
Tomorrow all the action moves north to Camp Pendelton. Stay tuned for all the pertinent news!!