Paul, Kevin, Derrick, Nikki, me and Coach Andrew (photo courtesy of Kevin)
Afterwards, Dudley and I went on a quest to find a bagel shop for breakfast. Downtown Chattanooga may have a lot of things, but one thing it doesn't have is a bagel shop. So, we ended up at a little diner called the Innside Restaurant. Y'all - the breakfast for the two of us was less than $8.00. And it was good! I would have eaten there every meal if it was a little closer to our hotel.
The rest of Friday was basically spent hanging out, napping and waiting for that evening's athlete banquet. I'd heard mixed things about the athlete's banquet - mainly about how bad the food is - but since this was my first IM, I wanted to go. I'm really glad I did.
The banquet was free for athletes, but guests had to purchase a ticket online ahead of time. I totally slacked on this and the banquet was sold out when I tried to get a ticket for Dudley. Fortunately, he still had some work to do, so he dropped me off at the Convention Center where I met up with some of my FTP team mates for dinner. How we all found each other is still a surprise because the banquet was packed!
This only shows about 1/3 of the room!
We heard from a few speakers, including Mike Reilly - "The Voice of Ironman," and Chris McKee, the VP of Little Debbie (and whose family started the company), who spoke about the controversy of having them as the title sponsor. I have to say - the more I learn about this company, the more I like them. They are huge supporters of Chattanooga, and also encourage a healthy life-style. They just want you to have an Oatmeal Creme Pie every once in a while.
Then Ironman started playing their inspirational videos. You know - the ones showing people overcoming unspeakable odds to finish their races while dramatic music is playing in the background. I swear - there wasn't a dry eye in the place. We also heard from the youngest and the oldest participants in the race. The youngest was 23 or 24, while the oldest was 78. SEVENTY-EIGHT!! And you know what? He didn't start racing Ironman until he was 72. Y'all - seriously - we have no excuse to not be out there doing something. I think we all left the banquet sufficiently inspired to tackle whatever the race threw at us.
Saturday morning, Team FTP met up for a short bike ride. This was mainly to make sure everything was in proper working order before bike check-in later that day. Fortunately, none of us had any issues, so we headed on to our next item on the agenda - team photos.
Such a good-looking group of crazy people.
I then had to check-in my bike and transition bags. I had all of my transition bags packed from before we left Nashville, so getting everything together was really easy. I just moved everything from my pre-packed bag to my official Ironman bag. Even though I knew I had everything covered, I felt uncomfortable about checking everything in. You're basically giving a stranger the most important things you're going to need for the race (bike, bike shoes, helmet, running shoes) and hope everything going to be there the next morning. Not a fan.
The Weapon - ready to rock!
So many bikes!! Love the Honey Buns in the background.
So many bags! And that's only part of the run bags! There's another set of bike bags!
After checking everything in, I had nothing to do but rest. So, that's what I did for the rest of the day. Just stayed off my feet as much as possible and rested for the next day - RACE DAY! Would I be an Ironman at the end of it? I had no idea.
Next up - Race day!!!