Friday in Cozumel – Two Days Before the Ironman

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Quote of the day: “So Peter… Are you sure you really consult to NASA?”

Said by my friend and fellow Ironman racer Damien of Candid Wines, as he noticed that I was putting every single piece of my bike on backwards.

Today was a long day. Woke up around 6am to get over to the park by 7 to go for a practice swim. Everywhere I went today, there were reminders of what I was about to do, and these reminders were scary.

I tried to make the best of the fear, and laugh at it. It worked.

Why does EVERYTHING have to say “IRONMAN” in such big letters?

Walking into the park area where the swim was to start, the first thing I noticed was how big the water was – I mean, massive. Which makes sense. It’s an ocean.

Well, it’s a big ocean. You’d be scared of it, too!

Here’s a cool thing – That center pen to my left houses dolphins – Before the start of the Ironman, they’ll perform a little show for us. That’s kinda cool. Of course, they’ll be mocking us – “We have fins! You don’t! We could do this swim in 47 seconds, human suckers!”

At least, that’s what I think they’ll be saying.

Soon as I got in the water, I realized something amazing – The water is clear! You can see all the way to the bottom! And there were tons of fish! And plants! And rocks! I’m so excited! I’m going to get through my swim by staring at fish for an hour and fifty minutes! YAY FOR ADHD! This swim is gonna be AWESOME!

I did about a 30 minute swim, had the crap scared out of me by a scuba diver, (turns out, they’ll be lots of them under the water to watch for us, they’ll wave occasionally.) Got out of the water, dried off, and then noticed the manatees!

Note the giant flipper for a tail. Lucky Manatee.

Why is this funny? Well, in my Montauk Half Ironman report, I talk about how me getting into my wetsuit is pretty much like a Manatee dropped onto a dirt road. Ah, Karma.

Dried off, headed over to my friend Damien’s condo which he rented for the week. Damien is out of Chicago, and this is his first Ironman attempt, as well.

I have NO IDEA how to turn this into a Bike.

I had NO idea what to do here. I knew that there were two wheels, and I assumed they went somewhere onto the bike. That’s about all I got.

I started doing the simple things. I put on the handlebars. (Backwards.) I put on the water bottle. (Backwards.) I put on the seat. (Got that one right.) I totally felt like Homer Simpson when he tried to build the Bar-b-que in his back yard.

How I felt putting together the Bike

Fortunately, cooler heads (and smarter ones) prevailed.

Stupid… Bike… Bottle… FIT BETTER!

Finally, with a LOT of help from Damien (Thank you, Damien!) we got it done, I went back to my hotel, and went for a test ride.

Ride was awesome except for the wind.

It’s gonna be one hell of a windy course. Half the island is head/cross winds. It’s all flat, but it’s brutally windy. What the Buffalo Springs Half Ironman was to hills, this is going to be to wind. It’s gonna be tough.

Brought the bike back, took a shower, and headed into town. Mom, Dad, and Lara were arriving around 4pm (Their flight into Houston was late, so they missed their connection, so they went to Cancun and caught a ferry – just like I did.)

But first, I had to handle the mandatory pre-race meeting.

One thing to say about that:

“At midnight, the race officials watching the finish line are required to turn their backs to the finish line, so they can’t offer anyone “just a few more seconds. You either finish by midnight, or you’re not an Ironman this time.”

Aaaaaand…. Welcome back, fear!

Got out of there, made it to the ferry, where I found my mom, dad, and Lara wondering aimlessly. My best friend Jasmine comes in tomorrow morning, and the four of them will make one hell of a cheering section.

Got back to my hotel room, and started putting things together. Swim gear, bike gear, run gear, clothing for after, nutrition, food, jelly beans (I am sponsored by Sport Beans, after all…) Yoo-hoo Towel, all laid out in nice little bags.

All set…

Tomorrow, I drop my bike off at 12:30, then head back to the hotel, lie in a beach chair, and do nothing all day/night. Then Sunday, at 7am, starts the longest 17 hours of my life.

All for the goal of my dream of hearing four little words:

“Peter Shankman, You Are An Ironman!”

In a little over 50 hours from now, we’ll know if my dream has come true.

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