After the swim, I walked around the race course, following what the flow would be. On race day, you start the swim in the water- it's a deep water swim, and you head out east into the sun, which is just starting to rise. You turn north for the short leg, then back west, and the final short leg south to exit the stairs. The stairs are hard because the last step is at the top of the water, but there are volunteers that apparently pull you out. So that would be a job for a really strong guy. Note for next year, sight on the biggest, strongest guy and head straight to him!
You run out on carpet and pick the biggest, strongest pair of guys for wetsuit stripping. Unzip and pull out your arms first, then lie down and they down the rest. Of course, they are no longer allowed to be called strippers, they are now pullers. Not nearly as much fun.
Head out on cold concrete (though your feet will be numb from the water, so it won't matter!) to the change tent where a volunteer will meet you with your bag. It will be busy and crowded. Bring a towel. Change out of everything wet. Bring throwaway arm warmers and a windbreaker, because it will be really cold at first, but hot in the afternoon on the bike. A volunteer will help fetch your bike for you.
The bike is three loops, the first quarter is in the city, but the majority is on a blacktop highway on the edge of town. Very flat, except at the turnaround in the desert where there is an up and down to the turnaround, and then an up and down to get back to the flat. Watch out for wind.
Each time you come back into the city, you will turnaround at the "hot corner." There will loads of spectators camped out to watch the bike turnaround on one side, and a turn on the run course on the other. Wave and smile at your supporters as they ring cowbells at you. Once you've done your 112 miles, head back into transition where there will be more volunteers to take your bike away. Walk or hobble back into the change tent where a volunteer will meet you with you bag. Change out of everything again.
Head out on the run course, which is 3 loops of concrete, and surprisingly hilly. It is rarely flat, with lots of rollers and some real hills. The sun will set around 5:30, so be prepared to run in the dark- headlamp, reflectors, glowsticks. And it will get chilly quickly, especially if you are moving slow. Pack a jacket or long sleeve shirt in the special needs bag.
Finish the third loop and turn up through a parking lot. You will have heard Mike Reilly and the finish line crowd three times as you pass by on your loops. Now you get to turn left into the finish chute.
It's short, so take your time to savor it. Raise you arms, pump your fists, smile, and cry. Slap the hands of the spectators lining the chute and banging on the posters- they get a charge from watching you finish. Try to get a good finish picture if possible. Listen to Mike Reilly say you're an Ironman. Find a friendly finish line catcher and have them help you get your medal, finisher's shirt and hat, and picture. Hug your friends and family and tell them how much you love them all. And you did it! You're an Ironman!
Next on our journey, the last meal...