Jun 082008

IMBrazil was my first Ironman event. It is held in late May on the beautiful island of Florianopolis, Brazil.

I arrived at my destination on Monday afternoon after a long and painful day of traveling. Things went from bad to worse when I was told at the airport that I could not board my flight, to waiting over 4 hours for an alternate flight, to having my lugguage lost, and finally to almost missing my connection in Brazil. It was a very frustrating and stressful trip…and was the last time I ever flew with Delta Airlines.

Despite having no race equipment or even a change of clothes upon arrival, the weather was great and I was there mentally ready to race.

The rest of my family (brother, father, and uncle) were not scheduled to arrive until very early Thursday morning. So I had a few days to hang out on my own.

Tuesday I took some time to travel and get to know the island. I went to 6 of the 42 beautiful beaches Brazil has to offer and met up with some locals who took me surfing in the sand dunes! it was a lot of fun. I took a bunch of pictures but unfortunately the camera was later stolen…I also found some hiking trails along the coastline of one of the beaches so I went exploring. I took some more nice pictures that a thief is now enjoying.

Wednesday morning my luggage arrived. This was such a relief that I didn’t know what to do with myself. Up to this point, I had been wearing the same clothes since arriving on Monday. The owner of the hotel was kind enough to lend me a clean pair of shorts and t-shirt from here much shorter son. It was a kind gesture nonetheless.

I put my bike together, went through all my stuff to ensure I was prepared and grabbed my wetsuit. I went for a swim in the ocean. The waters were dark and a bit intimidating. At this point I was still fearing sharks and whatever other unknown creatures my mind thought could be lurking below.

Pops, Uncle Jorge, Me, Alex

Thursday morning, and I mean 2 am morning, my brother, dad, and uncle all arrived safely and it was fantastic to have some family surrounding me. 2 days alone with no clean clothes (lost luggage issue) and worrying about my luggage was not a good time. Once they arrived, everything was better.

For the next few days we just took it easy and enjoyed the sunny, cloud free 25c weather everyday. We went out for some delicious meals and strolled the beaches. We also checked out the ironman race expo but were a little surprised to see everything marked up some 2-3x their regular prices. I paid 10 bucks for an air cartridge or something crazy like that.

Friday night we went to the pasta dinner and it was a blast. Competitors from 43 countries in total where there totaling approx 1350 bodies. The food was really good, as was the companionship shared amongst the many athletes. The fruits and veggies were fantastic; if you ever get to try bananas from Brazil don’t pass it up. After dinner there was live entertainment and the Brazilian booty shakers came out to do the samba to the live music…very cool.

Saturday Jorge and I took our bikes and race bags to the checkin and picked up our race kits, signed some waivers and went to the race briefing. We had an early dinner and hit the sack early.

Race Day

Sunday 5am was when my alarm went off, but I was already awake. I had been since about 4:30 and was just lying in bed thinking about the long day ahead. After I got out of bed I used the washroom, key before a long race, and ate a small breakfast. I grabbed my wetsuit and gear and we all headed for the beach. As we got to the race there were thousands of people all over the place…this and it was still only 6am! Jorge and I got body marked with our numbers and headed into the transition area to change into our wetsuits. My brother and dad headed down to the beach and found a good spot to take a few final pictures before the mass start.

After a quick warm up and some last minute good luck wishes we were at the starting line counting down the seconds to the start. As the sun started to rise in the horizon….BANG fireworks went off and music started pumping…helicopters were flying over head, scuba divers and kayakers were in the ocean, the crowd went berserk and the 1350 athletes started to run into the ocean! This was the most intense moment of my life and I loved every second of it.

10 hours 47 minutes and 39 seconds later I crossed the finish line and officially became an ironman. The race was incredible and sharing the experience with my family was better than I could have ever imagined.

I wanted to thank everyone for all the support and kind words throughout the past month. I had a lot of time to think during the race and every comment, message, good luck wish I received; I thought about during the race…it helped me keep pushing.

Cheers and thanks very much.

Chris Pickering
Triatlhon Coaching – Transiton Myself Training
Progressive Cycling Program – Indoor Rider