Dear strangers, I write this now on the eve of our Ironman departure. In a few short hours we will head south, Paul Cyclemon and Larry in tow, off to war.

I'm freaked out.

Like, really freaked out.

Over seven months ago I registered for this Ironman. I thought then that going from being able to swim two laps  to having to swim over 2 miles seemed like a stretch. And I had never set foot on a road bike and thus could not even imagine what 112 miles on one might feel like. Especially after that 2.4 mile swim in probably shark infested open water. Oh yeah, and then there's a marathon at the end.

Like, really, seriously, freaked out.

But so much has changed in those seven months. For one, I kind of, sort of, learned how to swim. Also I started consuming 20 times the calories (unfortunately many many more than I needed). Paul Cyclemon came into my life, as did most of you. And I made it through a whole Utah winter without once thinking, "please dear snow. Either cease, or kill me already." I guess I was too busy to really notice that there was a reason to be greatly unhappy again (winter).

And here I am now, just three short days away from the big event. Where did the time go?

Ironman training is an odd thing. Different than I expected, but every bit as strange. The April workouts that I glanced at in October seemed like a series of typos, where numbers were uniformly accidentally doubled and words like "hours" were overused. But by the time April rolled around, those workouts were sort of just the norm. Difficult--but doable. And during that process, the social life was buried under a pile of training-related excuses, accepted by most friends who were supportive enough to be proud that I was trying to accomplish something I had no business trying to accomplish. And I will always appreciate that undeserved attention and encouragement. It's that kind of thing that reminds me that I know so many great people.

But it's not just the wonderful friends I know personally, but it's also all of you strangers out there who have listened to my swimming-related rants and exposés about biking across The First Eye dwelling locations that have helped make this Ironman experience so memorable. Your support will be remembered as I trudge through the water, convinced that every submerged object is a Water Moccasin darting toward the exposed part of my neck. It will act as a motor as Paul Cyclemon and I climb a vertical wall at 97--that number referring to both the mile and the temperature. And it will perhaps be most needed as I make my way on foot, sobbing hysterically (let's be honest), for the last several hours of a long day.

Like, incredibly, seriously, really, unbelievably, freaked out.

But also a little excited.

~It Just Gets Stranger