Thursday, May 7
We arrived in beautiful Panama City Beach, Florida Thursday afternoon after a 10 hour drive from Houston. We checked into our hotel, changed clothes and walked up the beach to the Boardwalk Resort (official host hotel) where we hit the expo and did packet pick-up.
I love expos, maybe it is the girl in me, but I can’t resist a good sale! I picked up a PHENOMENAL TYR transition bag, orange Blue Seventy mirrored goggles, a cute orange fish swim cap, a Zoot Swim bag, TYR tri shorts (50% off!), and a couple of extra CO2 cartridges and tubes. I can’t believe I waited so long to get a transition bag, I have never felt so organized and prepared for a race in my life!
After the expo, we walked along the beach back to our room, dropped off our steals and went to the Mellow Mushroom for dinner. My favorite pre-race food is pizza so we decided to test out the Mellow Mushroom Thursday night and Buttr’ Face Pizza Friday night, all in the name of research for Ironman Florida, of course! :)
After dinner we went to Pier Park to walk around, hit the Ron Jon Surf Shop and have some Marble Slab ice cream. After Pier Park, it was lights out (for me), I knew that Friday was going to be a busy day.
Friday, May 8
Friday morning I woke up around 6:00 a.m. to check the surf as I wanted to see what the Gulf looked like at race time. Then, it was back to sleep for a couple of hours before my morning swim. I got up for real around 8:00 a.m., packed up my new PHENOMENAL transition bag and walked along the beach back to the Boardwalk. I figured that there would be lots of athletes doing morning swims from the Boardwalk and I thought it would be safer to swim with a group than by myself from my hotel.
I put on my wetsuit and ended up meeting a Team In Training group from Michigan that I ended up doing my swim with. They were so nice and friendly and even offered up some great Gulf swimming tips. The best tip for me though was taking off my wetsuit while still in the water. I still struggle with removing my wetsuit from my ankles, even with Body Glide. My last wetsuit race had wetsuit strippers, so I did not have to worry about removing it by myself. So when I asked one of the guys what he was going to do since Gulf Coast does not have wetsuit strippers, he suggested taking it off to my waist when I could stand up in the water (when you can no longer swim but are not quite to shore) and then sitting down in the water at the shore line and doing a quick “rip” to get it off – sure enough, when I practiced the move after our swim it worked like a charm.
After rinsing off, it was off to the pancake breakfast before heading back to my room to meet up with my husband who was enjoying the view from our room from the comfort of the bed (he was up late cleaning my bicycle for me – it is good to be in good with your mechanic!). After quick showers, it was back to the Expo (via bicycles this time) so that I could work my shift at the Trakkers booth. I got to meet a couple of my Trakkers teammates, including Pro Triathlete Carole Sharpless, which was very cool, and I even got a new Trakkers hat.
Next stop was our room again to change for a quick brick workout before running errands, including dropping off my bike at transition and attending the athletes meeting. While I was at the athletes meeting, Doug picked up our pizza for dinner. We had dinner on our balcony around 7:00 p.m. and then went for a walk on the beach to look for sea shells for our boys (since it was low tide). I finished prepping my transition bag, set 3 different alarms (2 cell phones and the hotel alarm) for 4:15 a.m. (note to self, get a travel alarm!) and watched a bit of TV before drifting off to sleep. The night before a race is never particularly restful since I am always so nervous – not about the race itself – but about oversleeping! That is one of the reasons I try to have good sleep in the days leading up to the race.
On the hunt for sea shells