The plan for race morning was to be up 4:00AM. However, at 3:00AM exactly, Jennie and I both awoke to the sound of a crash and then drip, drip, drip. What the heck? My first thought was that something mechanical went wrong with the room. Once we finally got a light on, we discovered that the flowers Jennie bought at the farmers market just tipped over. My heart was racing, but somehow I managed to fall back asleep because at 4:00 my alarm went off.
We made breakfast in the hotel room. We didn’t have a kitchen in our hotel, but we brought an electric skillet so that we could make eggs and toast. It worked great!
After that I hopped in the shower and got ready. Does anyone else shower before a race? It always seems sort of weird to me, but it helps me wake up. Once out of the shower, Jennie helped me apply my TriTats for the first time. My coworker, David, got this for me earlier this season, but this was my first change to use them. They are supper cool and easy to use. I hope more races start to use them.
By 5:30, we were out the door.
First stop was special needs bags drop off. That morning, I realized that I forgot to put my chamois cream in my T1 bag. I wasn’t sure if I would still have access to the T1 bag or not so I decided to put it in my bike special needs bag if I couldn’t get in the T1 bag. I asked the volunteer at special needs if I could still get to the T1 bag, but she didn’t know. Another guy overheard my question and told me that I could still put stuff in the T1 bag. I look up, and the guy that answered was Phil, a guy I have ridden with a few times on group rides. Small world. We chatted a bit as we walked towards transition.
After adding the chamois cream to my T1 bag, I went to go check on the Black Rock. I had to add my nutrition to the bike and pump the tires back up. It is amazing how many people in transition didn’t have a pump and were asking to borrow one. I had a couple people ask to borrow mine, but they ended up not using it. My pump is sort of broken. It has inflators for both presta and schrader valves, however the presta inflator doesn’t work. So I have to use a screw on adapter on the bike so I can use the schrader inflator. Once I explained that, the couple people that asked decided to find someone else. haha.
Once the Black Rock was all set, Jennie and I headed down the helix to the swim start. I had complete tunnel vision and totally walked right past Derek. Luckily he saw me and we stopped for a quick picture.
Derek just rocked IMLP and was one of IMWI’s many amazing volunteers. I’d see him again later in the day.
I eventually made my way to the end of the helix. This is where Jennie and I had to part. Well, she had to stand on one side of the fence and I on the other. I lubed up with Body Glide and then slid into my wetsuit. Pulled it up to my waist and then remembered that I forgot to put on my calf sleeves. Crap. Off it came. Calf sleeves on and then back into the wetsuit. I gave Jennie one last hug and kiss before heading to the water.
Again, I had tunnel vision as I walked to the water and walked straight past Kristin. She saw me and called out my name. I stopped to chat with her before getting ushered along by the volunteers.
I got in the water about 20 minutes before the swim start. This was probably much earlier than I needed to be in, but the swim entrance gets congested really quickly. As swimmers get in the water, they tend to linger in the shallow water making it harder for other swimmers to get in. I quickly moved out to the deep water and tried to relax. Originally I was really worried about floating in the water for so long, however, my fears were quickly abated. For a while I just let my body relax, put my head back, and floated on my back. Super relaxing and peaceful. The water was bout 70* and actually warmer than the air temperature so it was very comfortable.
After the pros started, I decided that I should pay a little more attention. So, I swam over to one of the volunteers on a surf board and held on to a side of it to keep me afloat. There were already a couple other athletes hanging on so we chatted a bit before the swim. When asked what my goal time was, I said that I was hoping for 1:05 – 1:10 based on my times in the pool. The lifeguard looked at me and said, “Oh well if that is in the pool you’ll probably be about 20 minutes slower here.” What?!?! Not really sure where she got that logic and I really didn’t know what to say.
As the start time got closer, I floated to the front. My plan was to start at the very far end of the starting line and then angle in around the first buoy. I was just hanging out and then all of a sudden “BOOM!”, the cannon went off. I totally wasn’t prepared for it. Thankfully, there really wasn’t anyone around me so I didn’t get trampled or anything.
For so many people in the water, I had very minimal contact. The only contact I really encountered was at the turns where it really slowed down as everyone made their way around. Other than that, I would occasionally have someone run up on my feet or brush my side, but nothing that really altered my stroke. I stuck to the inside of the course pretty much exclusively and made my way out at the corners. This meant that I spent a lot of the time swimming by myself. I’m not big on drafting on the swim mainly because I am not good at finding a good set of feet to hang on. Either I find myself running into the swimmer in front of me or getting dropped instantly.
The course was laid out really well. The buoys were spaced every 100 meters and numbered so that you knew exactly where you were at along the way. I always find the swim a little demoralizing because I completely lose concept of time. I kept plugging away though and before I knew it, I was starting the second loop. My arms and shoulders definitely felt more tired than they did during a pool swim and I attribute this to not training enough in a wetsuit. Next time I’ll make sure to spent more time in the open water as does seem to take a toll on the arms.
The second loop went much better than the first loop mainly because the crowds had thinned out. I was finally settled into a good pace and just cruising along. It was sort of funny during the final half mile though. I was right next to a woman who was breathing to the left. I was breathing to the right. So, the entire time, we would look at each other on every stroke. It was funny to basically be swimming with someone but not be able to communicate with them.
In no time, I hit the final turn. I tried to maintain the same pace and not speed up, but the energy got the best of me and I kicked it up a notch. I swam all the way until my fingers touched the carpet before standing up. As I stood up, I saw a 1:06:XX on the clock. Woohoo!!! Perfect! I ended up with 1:07:10 by the time I crossed the mat.
As soon as I got out of the water, I saw my cheering section. I had a huge smile on my face after getting my day started on the right foot.
I made my way to the wetsuit strippers. In a matter of seconds, I was up and being handed my wetsuit to carry into transition. Holy bonkers did the wetsuit feel heavy. It felt like carrying a ton of bricks as I ran up helix. My breathing was really labored for some reason as well and I was felt like I was choking on each breath. Thankfully, by the time I got to transition I had settled down a bit.
T1 could not have gone better. I immediately found my bag and then proceeded to the next room. A volunteer was at my feet as soon as I sat down. He quickly organized all of my gear and in no time I was ready and head out to find my bike. I stopped at the sun screen appliers on my way out.
I ran with my shoes in hand to my bike rack. I shouted out my number as I approached and a volunteer quickly pulled my bike off the rack as I put on my shoes. I jogged the rest of the way to the mount line and hopped on to begin the bike.
Stay tuned for the bike!