Monday, November 2, 2009

Panama City Beach

As I write this, I am sitting in on a couch gazing out the gigantic
window looking at the beach and the wonderful Gulf of Mexico water.
Our travel was a little bit problematic (mechanical problems, etc) but
we made to Panama City Beach. Thanks to my friend Artemis who took us
to the airport. She was thrilled to help me on my journey to Ironman
Florida by taking us to the airport - seriously. She's awesome, and
she even brought her camera to take this photo for my blog before Dave
and I left. (Sorry we won't have any more photos until guest blogger
Lauren arrives in a few days!)

During our layover, that gluten free salmon meal was the perfect lunch
with some Udi's white sandwich bread that I'd brought along and an
apple. I think it would've been difficult to buy anything at the
airport that seemed like a real meal. Once we got our rental car and
started driving to PCB, we saw lots of Publix grocery stores. Last
week I finally realized that a good way to find a grocery store that
carries gluten free items is to go to a GF products website and use
the store locator option! That helped me figure out that Bob's Red
Mill stuff was sold at Publix, and when I checked the Publix website,
I found they had a page about gluten free items. So we stopped at
Publix and found goodies like Pamela's mixes, Blue Diamond nut thins,
etc. I found a gluten free chickpea salad and bought a container of
baby spinach and mixed the two together for a big salad which I ate in
the car for dinner. I can only deal with so many Larabars or Boomi
bars per day. We also had a stash of crackers that we got at the
Gluten Free Cooking Spree, so they were a nice snack on the plane. I'm
glad I brought what I did though because I haven't seen my GF creamy
rice cereal or GF pretzels anywhere. We need to spread the word on
celiac disease to help increase awareness of the purchasers at grocery
stores nationwide! You can help by making a donation to the National
Foundation for Celiac Awareness by visiting I've raised
almost $3000 through my Ironman for the NFCA so far!

I packed a LOT of stuff, but once I unpacked I realized my
non-triathlon, non-gluten free foods took up two full suitcases, so
really I'd be a light traveler were it not for the celiac Ironman in
me! TSA inspected both of my checked bags. Probably thought I was a
psycho. I'm guessing it was the bike pump and the gallon ziplock bag
of CarbBoom gels that looked weird to them. Tomorrow I'm going to go
through all my triathlon gear and food and sort it into the different
transition bags. I spent most of my time on the planes making lists of
what to do, what food goes where for the race, what food I'll eat
when, etc.

The last few days (all week?) I've been either excited or nervous, not
much in between. This morning was a mix of calm and excited though!
Something about waking up to a peach colored sunrise over the beach I
guess! I'm going to have to wake up pretty early on Saturday for the
Ironman, so I decided not to worry about waking up before 5am today. I
did stay in bed to rest until 6 though. I had a swim and a run on
today's workout schedule and I was feeling a little apprehensive about
swimming in the ocean (the gulf is pretty much like ocean) by myself
and I was thinking about how it was just going to be cold and dark and

Around 6:30am though I saw two people in wetsuits walking into the
water, then I saw someone else already swimming. When I saw two more
wetsuit donning people, I decided I should hurry up and go swim while
other swimmers were out there. I raced down there and apparently
everyone else who was watching from their condos had had the same
idea. By the time I was in the water, I saw lots of other triathletes
in wetsuits wondering to the water. I ended up swimming for awhile
with two people from England but also did some solo swimming too.

The water was amazingly perfect for my swim!!! Pretty calm, pretty
warm. I didn't even wince or squeal when I put my delicate toes into
the water. The water is pretty clear too, but because there's
basically just sand (no coral, seaweed, etc) after you get far enough
out from shore it's hard to tell if you can still see the bottom. I
saw two rays and a school of fish. I was really thankful that we spent
two years in the Caribbean doing open water swims. The water here is
pretty comparable (except less scenic), so I feel right at home. I was
actually a little disappointed that I don't have more swim workouts
this week! The weather is great today too. Sunny but white fluffy
clouds. Not too hot, not too cold. I had a short run after my swim and
though I felt chilly for the first minute or two, I warmed up quickly.
It's such a trip to see so many other people out in wetsuits or on
bikes or running and you can just tell they're here for Ironman too!

I'm having an AWESOME time so far. I hope the weather stays this great
all week, or at least on Saturday. Today has been great. Relaxing,
enjoying the view, just taking it all in. I'm going to make sure I
enjoy every moment this week. The race is just 5 days away and I know
the time is going to fly. I'm going to take the time to stop and smell
the ocean.


  1. I am so jealous that you are already there! I hope to meet you on Wednesday at Bob's party. Where are you staying? We are staying at Shores of Panama.

    I am thrilled that things are going well and it is nice to have eyes on the ground in PCB! See you soon!

  2. Enjoy your week and good luck!!

  3. Have fun!! so exciting!!! IMFL is on my bucket list

  4. Sending you lots of luck and encouragement! Go Get 'Em!

    (And thanks for the shout out.)

    Udi's Gluten Free

    Heather Collins