Thursday, Oct. 8 - 1 p.m. “All of the pros had to check in and attend a race briefing at the race hotel, which was hosted by the ‘voice of Ironman’ Mike Reilly, and just hearing his voice gave me chills. It was very exciting to see my name among the top Ironman athletes on the planet—it was a culmination of a goal I set a year ago to race in the Ironman World Championship after many years as an Olympic-distance specialist. After crisscrossing the globe to accumulate enough points and then just squeaking in as the final female qualifier, seeing my name on this board validated the effort and sacrifices I made to get here.” Thursday, Oct. 8 - 2:05 p.m. “The inconvenient realities of being a pro triathlete: I was randomly selected at the pro meeting to have my blood tested along with a handful of other athletes. This was my first time being tested prior to an event; typically it occurs once the race is over. The testing took an extra half-hour or so out of my day, but it’s a completely necessary step to keep our sport clean.” Thursday, Oct. 8 - 6:00 p.m. “On Thursday night, one of my good friends hosted a dinner party with some other triathletes. A chef came over to fix an amazing Asian-fusion meal, including coconut fish, rice, and these delicious caramelized onion rolls. The guests included several experienced Kona athletes including Bo Arlander, who has done the race 14 times. As a rookie, it was really helpful to listen to their stories and pick up valuable tips.” Friday, Oct. 9 - 7:00 a.m. “I wanted to be finished eating by 9, so I did a light spin and swim first thing. This morning, it’s all about just stretching out my legs, staying loose for tomorrow, and getting the blood flowing. Earlier in the week, I swam the race course and since then have been sticking to the pool. Today’s quick swim let me get a feel for the water and helped me start the day a bit more relaxed.” Friday, Oct. 9 - 8:30 a.m. “My favorite meal of the day: Breakfast! With less than 24 hours to go before the race, it’s super important that I double up my carb intake. I follow the QT2 Systems pre-race diet, which, among other things, calls for extra carbs leading up to race day. Today, I loaded up on a stack of seven pancakes and a waffle. And, of course, Kona coffee.” Friday, Oct. 9 - 11:00 a.m. “The preparation for race day has to start early: I’ve been organizing and re-organizing my stuff all week long, and today I blocked out two hours to pack and sort my essential items. Ironman gives us five bags to fill for various stages of the race: Swim, bike, and run gear, plus bags for special foods like my XrCel sports fuel and salt tablets. With it being my first time racing in Kona’s hot, humid conditions, I’m extra nervous. You really have to think and rethink every single tiny detail. And because we’re required to bring our run and bike bags to bike check, it all has to be sorted out by Friday afternoon.” Friday, Oct. 9 - 3:00 p.m. “Off I go! Bike check-in is a big deal at Kona. It’s like a red carpet for triathletes, with press and fans waiting to snap pictures of the pros and their bikes. For years, I’ve scrolled through slide shows of pros on their way to dropping off their bikes, and now here I am. It’s all pretty surreal. And talk about eye candy—every single one of these bikes is the best of the best. It’s hard not to be intimidated. I’m excited be debuting my new Diamondback Serios-AF.” Friday, Oct. 9 - 6:00 p.m. “Time to eat, hydrate, and put my feet up. Dinner will be totally low key tonight—just some carbs and protein—and then I’ll head to bed. This is a photo from the other night—I’ll be in bed before sunset! While thrilling, the build-up can be exhausting and stressful At this point, I’m just ready and anxious to race.” Saturday, Oct. 10 - 5:30 a.m. “Race morning! I’ve already become overwhelmed with emotion a couple of times. One of my best friends posted a very touching blog about my journey from a cancer patient to a professional triathlete, and it reminded me of just how far I’ve come. It’s important to realize that it didn’t happen overnight or without the help of my family, good friends, and tremendous supporters and fans around the world. Today, I’ll fight for everyone who can’t run, and for myself because I can.” Saturday, Oct. 10 - 3:43 p.m. “This is not the race I envisioned. It’s been that kind of day where nothing goes the way I expected and I’ve found myself so far off from the pace I planned. But am I going to stop? Hell no. I’m going to soak it all in and never lose sight of the finish line. I just saw my sisters at mile 10. The support along the course has been incredible.” Saturday, Oct. 11 - 5:03 p.m. “10 hours, 33 minutes, and 49 seconds after the cannon fired, I finally hear Mike Reilly shout ‘Laurel Wassner, New York City, you did it young lady. Her twin sister also races Ironmans…you are an Ironman.’ I wonder how many other competitor’s twins got a shout out? Before I crossed the finish line, I took a few seconds to hug my parents, give my sisters high fives, then throw my arms in the air to celebrate and soak it all in. Regardless of my place or time, it was a realization of a dream I’ve had for 20 years. Unreal.” Sunday, Oct. 11 - 11:15 a.m. “What’s the best way to cure an Ironman hangover? A full day of rest and relaxation in one of the most beautiful places in the world. And in good company, too: Not only did my sisters join me, but we ran into some fellow Kona pros—including a podium finisher!—and a Tony award-winning Broadway star. I took the day to reflect, laugh, talk about stuff other than triathlon, and indulge in some poolside Pina Coladas. When in Hawaii…” Monday, Oct. 13 - 8:07 a.m. “Back to reality! Lounging poolside can’t last forever. This is the far-from-glamorous side of the Ironman. It’s time to sort through my stinky clothes, shoes, and pack up my bike and bags to head home. I really don’t want to leave, but I’m doing so feeling satisfied and stronger because of the experience.” Wednesday, Oct. 15 - 4:45 p.m. “Now home and out of the bubble of Kona, I’ve become more and more aware just how meaningful it is. You tend to forget how incredible it is to have some of the most fit—and maybe the most insane!—athletes on the planet all on one island, focused on one event. I’m proud to sport and display my swag, as it connects me to an elite club that I’ll now be forever part of.”
Ever wonder how a pro triathlete spends the final hours before—and after—the Ironman World Championship? To get the inside scoop,
Triathlete contributor Sarah Wassner Flynn shadowed her sister, Kona rookie pro Laurel Wassner, in the hours surrounding the biggest race of her life.
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