August 2, 2011
Day after IM race report (Kona slot)
Rumor around the casa was that #3 in my age group had already taken a Kona slot at a previous race this year, so was going to pass it down anyway. As with anything with Ironman, I wasn't ready to believe that until I had that slip of paper in my hand... Call me a doubting Thomas, but I wanted to be sure before I got excited.
So, I wake up from the Ironman insomnia at about 4:30am in my hotel. Maybe the Advil had worn off, or dad was snoring too loudly, I don't know. Either way I went over the roll down procedure in the Athlete Guide to make sure I wasn't missing anything one more time. Dad and I woke up around 8:30am or so and I knew that auto-qualifiers had from 9am until 11am to sign up at the high school gym. We were at breakfast (attached to our hotel) at 9am and sat with Jochen and a few other folks that morning. As we finished up at around 9:50am or so, I said, "Dad, we gotta get going!" as I knew it was a good 20 minute drive MAX to get to the high school. I wanted some time to spare.
We hopped in the car and had a few things with us like a wheel to return to Racedaywheels.com and all and started driving West on Route 86. It was about 10am now and we had a good hour to drive 20 minutes, no big deal, right?
5-10 minutes down the road we are stopped in a line of cars. It looks like there's construction up ahead, but I'm thinking maybe it will be a one way road and our side is stopped. We sit for a few minutes and then the cyclists who are in the road start turning around. I roll down the window and asked one and he said, "roads closed, take the detour..."
Internally, I immediately start to panic...
I know that there are 3 main roads in Lake Placid: 73, 9N, and 86...If 86 is closed, we would have to do the bike course in reverse to get to the high school. That was close to 40 miles of driving in about as many minutes now....
I turned the car around and Dad looked at me and said, "whatever you have to do, just get to the High School!" I began to drive, and we switched on the GPS just to give us an ETA...it was not pretty. ETA said 10:56am and we were on some windy roads with lots of no passing zones. I'm not going to say I've never broken any laws in my time, but I'm REALLY REALLY thankful that no police were out on the detour that morning. I was driving approximately 70-80mph and passing people on the double yellows to get there (Dad was being an excellent spotter as well) but other than that no words were really said.
The only thing I could think about was a message I got from a buddy, Pat Wheeler that morning that read, "You better get your ass to the high school and get your slot!" I have never been more nervous in my years on this earth. It was a challenge to race an Ironman finally and now IM was throwing this monkey wrench in my plans to get to Hawaii! NOTHING is ever easy with Ironman....NOTHING.
We screamed up to the high school with 9 minutes to spare. I threw the car in neutral, slammed on the emergency brake and hobbled as fast as I could into the high school as the parking guy said, "You can't park here" and my dad got out of the passenger seat and proceeded to move my car (thank you dad!) I ran into the high school and had to weave thru throngs of people to get to the table, but as I looked down, I saw a red line right under my name and my name was highlighted. Along with 3 others....
And I lost it, I cried, I collapsed on the table and I smiled to myself.
The woman at the table told me congratulations, asked to see my wristband and I obliged. She gave me a sheet of paper that I've been waiting for YEARS to get. It read, "Aloha, and congratulations on qualifying for the 2011 Ford Ironman World Championships in beautiful Kailua-Kona....".