IRONMAN OCALA – CLEANSING of the SOUL. Part 1

As we departed for the airport thanks to a ride from Eimear, it was 28 degrees in Charlotte. A grand total of 3 hours later we are in Weirsdale, Florida and it’s 60. We originally planned to drive down to the race, but Gina smarted the itinerary and we flew into Gainesville (which is a super efficient airport), grabbed our luggage at the sole baggage claim, all while securing our rental car (USAT member discount thank you), walked out the door, made a right and were in our car! An hour later, a straight shot drive, we were at the Shamrock Thistle Bed and Breakfast. The Ironsherpa handled the details to perfection on that end, but this was my choice. It is a huge house, managed by owners Brantley and Anne Overcash. For over 20 years, they have opened this charming, Irish themed home to guests. They were the primo of hosts and once we had the keys – literally let us treat the house as our own. The Blarney room we reserved was right up Gina’s roots! Wallpaper, trinkets, sofa colors, and a lime green bathroom (with jacuzzi) said Ireland all over it. The bed was soooooo soft and comfy!! And we had matching Tommy Hilfiger robes. Perfect for the pre and post anxiety that comes with an Ironman race.
The bike was shipped here already thanks again to Melissa and crew at IOS. We unpacked and just chilled that afternoon. It was overcast, but mild. We monitored the weather as the rain forecasted for late Friday into Saturday was on our minds. But now, we wanted to blend in, make it feel like home. We took a ride to Cracker Barrel for brunch. We marveled at the hoards to golf carts and grey birds “driving” all over. This area is pure retirement complexes and relaxing social living. Entertaining indeed, but also admirable. Almost envious too. Seriously, I think we were the youngest ones walking through Publix, the Winn Dixie, and the area called The Villages which seems to be THE place to live here. We were able to shop for all our foods for the next 2 days as we planned to not go dining out until after the race, since we were staying until Tuesday. Once we got back, we put the bike together, soaked in the jacuzzi for 10 minutes, read the paper on the outside deck, made some sandwiches, then made sure to get a good nights sleep. On travel days like this, 9:30 is a late night.
A deep lovely sleep it was. We woke up at sunrise and took a nice walk along one of the country roads. Quiet. Reflective. Weather was still overcast but comfortable, around 65 already. We heard cows, dogs, and a rooster who seemed to be on west coast time. Once back, stretched, it was breakfast time served by our hosts. Anne can whip up some serious French toast, sausage patties, parfait, and fruit. Brantley talked and got to know us, and we also got to know him, his wife Anne, family history of the house, and the area itself. And another couple – Luis and his wife were from Brazil. He has done a few Ironmans already and travels a lot for work. They were here all week and he was looking forward to the event as well. Brantley said a few other couples were coming but later in the day. Some were doing the half ironman, others were doing the shorter races scheduled for Sunday. After breakfast, we prepared logistics and then I took a wetsuit swim in the pool. Was about a 3 stroke-then-turn sized pool, but water temperature was 72 according to Brantley and served as a good comparison to Luis’s note of the Lake Weir water being 67!! I opted to layer up for warmth underneath the wetsuit and happy to have brought my booties. Note- I haven’t “swam” in a pool, lake, etc since October. But the 30 minutes I was in the pool was enough to get the “feel” of the water again. Neuro-re-stimulus yo!
We drove the quick 10 minutes to the race site to check in, get the bib numbers, and attend the race briefing. Both the full and half distances athletes were present and the HIT (www.hitstriathlonsereis.com) race director Mark, displayed tremendous confidence, service, and security to all about how his crew, volunteers, and sponsors would make sure everyone was going to have a great time. With a show of hands, half the people seemed to be newbies. Only 75 were registered for the full, 250 for the half. It’s this type of intimate race environment that reminded me of how races were when I started this sport some 20 years ago (yes, I said that long). It was humid now but no sign of rain. Yet – now it was called for 10pm. Based on the parking, layout, transition area (everyone had their own stool to sit on!) it was easy to manage. Ironsherpa was pleased. Once all was done, we made our way back to the BB for the lockdown and mental prep for race day.
Dinner consisted of the Wade Wilson inspired pancake/turkey slices/peanut butter sandwiches. Yes I said that. I eat that. Yo.
Shamrock BBALL was the perfect setting for a pre race reflective mode. The Overcash’s let each guest live as if their home is your home. Awesome. Now, my inner scanning takes place. Body check. Mind check. Spirit check. I am about to go through a world of fear, pain, suffering, confidence, glory – aspects I am use to in each race I am in. But in an Ironman – it goes to a different level. All encompassing. Lent has taken me to this point, in my preparedness. Now it was a matter of what the weather would add to the spice of my entree with a heavy dose of rain. And it did. Hard.

0 Responses to “IRONMAN OCALA – CLEANSING of the SOUL. Part 1”


  1. No Comments

Leave a Reply

You must login to post a comment.