Race Day started bright and early. I woke up three times in the middle of the night, without my phone alarm going off. I was glad I woke up the third time, because fumbling around with my phone the second time, I had somehow killed the battery. I set another alarm, and then I was up at 5 a.m. sharp. I got ready, ate my banana dog (wheat hot dog bun, smear of peanut butter, and banana), made my electrolyte drink bottles (with my by now partially frozen water), packed up the car, dropped the hotel key in the little mailbox outside the manager’s office, and bade farewell to the Bates motel.
I parked at the Target parking lot and got on a shuttle over to the race site. I drank up a large diet coke on the way over, since I can’t get along without caffeine. It was a pretty warm morning, and muggy. I checked on my bike, took the plastic bag off my bike seat, and set up my transition area. I made a huge tactical error at this point. In my first 2 tris, I had simply brushed the sand off my feet after my swim and then put on socks and shoes for the bike. While preparing for this race, I had been advised a couple of times to use a squirt bottle of water to rinse the sand off my feet, and I set one of those up as well on race morning.
So, my transition area looked like this: scrap of towel flat on the ground under my bike, with running shoes and dry socks inside, and baseball cap with race belt with number laid across the running shoes. Toward the front of the towel I had my clippie bike shoes, with bike helmet (race number sticker on it already) upside down on top of the shoes, dry socks, sunglasses and rubber bands inside the helmet, and bike shorts on top of that. Then there was the squirt bottle of water in front of the whole setup. I also put my two water bottles full of electrolyte drink into the cages on my bike. I left my bag by the bike’s front tire, and I headed off to get my number re-written on one arm and written for the first time on the other arm. I had my swim cap with me, and I had one earplug. The other earplug never did turn up - perhaps the cleaning staff at the motel made good use of it.
I walked around the lake to the swim start, and started getting nervous. The race organizers had arranged to have two extremely perky women do a zumba demonstration while we all waited for 7 a.m. to arrive. Not my bag, but it did take my mind off my nerves. Finally, the elite wave went off, and then the trek women team wave went. And then it was time for the third wave - survivors and some of the older age groups. I bumped into one of my mom’s friends who does several tris each summer (!) in the wave start, and I heard her name announced later in the day as one of the top finishers in her category.
I wore my heart rate monitor and kept an eye on my time as I swam. I felt pretty good during the swim, but I went slower than the previous time. This was disappointing, and I did not really get over the disappointment until well into the bike leg. The lake felt good and cool during the swim, and I was able to go straight, mostly doing the breaststroke, since I had so many cramping issues every time I did the crawl while I was training.
I trotted through the transition area and got to my bike. I used the squirt bottle to get sand off my feet, pulled on the bike shorts and put on my socks and clippie bike shoes. I put my bike helmet on, pulled the bike out from under the rack and walked it over out of the transition area. I got on my bike and started pedaling. There were way more hills than I had planned for during training, because the bike route had changed the week before the race. I started out slow, and had a difficult time when I was going up the hills, for all of the ride. I was able to get some good momentum, but at the bottom of at last two hills, we had to turn, and I had to brake so as not to go through the corner too fast. Boo for wasted momentum! About a third of the way through the bike course, I started feeling better, and I cranked through the rest of the course, doing my best to stick with it going up hill and to try to be aerodynamic whenever I was going downhill. My right foot fell asleep during the bike, and it didn’t wake up until almost the end of the run.
Finally, I was back at the transition area, and I got off the bike without falling over, got it back to the transition area and pulled off my bike shoes. I decided not to change socks again, got my running shoes on, put on my cap, chugged the remainder of my electrolyte drink and walked over to the start of the run. I started out running fairly slowly, and then I saw DH and my son. I was overwhelmed when I saw them. I gave them a high five as I went by. Partway into my first mile, I started to walk. My feet were hurting lots (I ended up with several blisters from putting the socks onto wet feet after the swim), and I needed to stop a few times to adjust my chip strap, which was digging painfully into my swollen ankle (swollen from the heat, not any sort of injury).
I met a very nice woman who walked with me for about a mile and a half. We did pick it up to a jog for the photographers, but otherwise, we walked briskly. Her coach came and ran with her for the last half mile or so of the race, and I started running again soon after they took off. I was never so happy to see Sally Edwards as when I rounded the curve to the finish line. I skipped over the finish line and gave her a double high five as I went past her.
DH and my son found me soon after I crossed the finish line. I had some cherries and water they had brought with them, and then I sat while DH went and hunted down my flip flops from the tree I had left them under near the swim start. I counted up my blisters, and when DH arrived with my flip flops, I realized one of the blisters was from the flip flop. Hobbling ensued.
We took a bunch of team photos, and then I went and got my car keys from my race bag. We took more team photos, and DH left. I took our son with me for the rest of the day, because I had missed him an awful lot. Not long after, we decided to go back to get my car, so we waited for a while in line for a shuttle bus, rode back to the car, and then I drove it to the race site, so I could put my bike on my bike rack and head home.
My overall time was 16 seconds different than the last time I did this race. My swim was slower, my bike was faster, and my run was slower. My transitions were slightly better. And now I have not done a lick of exercise (other than playing some volleyball) since the race.
I am glad I did the tri, and I want to do it again. But I am feeling ambivalent about my "progress." I guess I saw such a drastic improvement between my first and second race, and I really wanted to see similar improvement again. Perhaps I should just start working on aerobic fitness/running, and then develop a training schedule I actually stick to next year.
Photos/links are in process.