Well, I’ve been out of the loop for almost two weeks. Sorry about that. On top of a few busy days at work and a weekend away, my mind has been all over the place about all things IM. More on that later.
First, my trip to Madison for some pre-race training…
Endurance Nation was hosting a four-day camp for athletes to preview the IMWI bike and run courses. Since I knew a few people heading out from D.C. and really wanted the opportunity to find out what I was getting myself into before race day, I quickly booked a cheap flight on Frontier, made plans to pack up my bike and coordinated with Katie to share a hotel room. It was so great to finally meet in person, and we instantly bonded over our twin (baby) bikes, country music and a love for pizza and ice cream.
I debated renting a bike from a store in Madison, but more than one person convinced me that it’s important to understand how my own bike and gears handle on the course terrain. So I borrowed a box from Bonzai, took my bike apart — well, watched Adam do it and took mental notes — paid just $20 to put it on the plane and began my journey to the Midwest.
I arrived in Madison mid-afternoon and took a cab to our hotel, which, unfortunately, was well outside the downtown area. But my driver was fantastic — he’d been a volunteer on the IM course for several years — and pointed out Monona Terrace and the infamous helix and a few of the course landmarks along the way.
My first priority after checking in was to rebuild my bike. I knew that if I couldn’t do it, I’d need to head to Machinery Row, one of the local shops, before it closed to get some assistance. Thankfully, I was paying enough attention when Adam was giving me instructions to reassemble it without help. Katie, who drove up from Chicago — bike fully intact — agreed to do an easy spin down to the bike shop to pick up CO2 and some extra nutrition. While I was there, I had the very nice mechanic tighten all the bolts and check my brakes to ensure I wouldn’t have any emergencies over the course of the weekend. Turns out I’m not strong or skilled enough to tighten everything appropriately, and had I not done that, I may have seen my headset pop off on the bumpy roads out to Verona.
Bike ready to roll, we headed back to the hotel for our first classroom session with Coach Rich of EN. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t find much of what he had to say over the course of the weekend to be all that useful, and Katie and I more or less ended up doing our own thing. The good news is we didn’t pay a crazy fee to attend, and the schedule gave us the flexibility to follow our personal training needs. In any case, this first session was a general intro to the course and a Q&A about nutrition and aero tactics and anything else people wanted to talk about. Rich went over some strategies for riding the course, especially spinning up the hills. I appreciate feedback, sure, but not the “my way or the highway” attitude.
After the session, it was late and Katie and I were starving, so we headed to Noodles&Co for some pre-long ride carbo loading. Then it was off to bed for an early morning wake-up call. I was definitely nervous to see what was in store for me…