Race Prep and the Swim
I was nowhere near the happy-go-lucky girl that I was last year on race morning. Of all the parts of the day, the thing I was most nervous about was lining up for the new swim start. I did not want to be stressed or rushed and I didn't see any way around that with the new entry.
Most of the house was empty on Saturday morning. (They went for a swim – that took FOUR hours. Later I realized they were out chalking the bike hills J) So I had a lot of quiet time and floor space to triple check my gear. I had taken time before leaving home on Tuesday to label 2-quart Ziplocs with the same labels my gear bags would have; warm clothes; bike; special needs bike; run, special needs run. I added another one for things that would go to transition after body marking – mostly nutrition because didn't want it to sit out in the sun all day on Saturday. I wrote everything I needed on the front with permanent marker and check the items off as they went into the bag. On Saturday I dumped them one by one and did the same as items went into my gear bags. I couldn't decide on sleeves or no sleeves for the bike jersey so I packed both. Same for my RSN – both short and long sleeve running tops. I went to my bike and checked on the tubes and CO2 that I always keep in my seat pack – check. I filled my bottles, put them in the refrigerator and made a big sign reminding me to get them in the morning. I set out all my breakfast food – coffee, GF oatmeal, banana and almond butter. Check, check, check.
At about 11:30 a.m. BL and I packed up the bags and the bikes (twice because, thank goodness, we realized that his bike would not clear the carport before trying to drive under it!) and headed to town. We lucked out and got a parking spot near the oval. We even had police officer stop traffic for us so I could parallel. I racked my road-bike-without-arrow-bars Ruby into her spot. It was right next to a $5K+ bike that belonged to a woman who looked like she had been doing this since she was five and had no problem telling me that I was doing it wrong (?) "Stay in your own business!" I thought – meaning ME stay in MY own business – I am doing my race, no one else's. Later, when I was hanging my bags next to hers I learned that she had a Lake Placid DNF too.
The house was still quiet when we returned. I had my planned lunch – turkey sandwich on GF low fiber bread and GF pretzels - and then went upstairs to review my race plan and try to nap. Later BL asked about the race plan. Reviewing it with him was a great exercise for me. Calm, slow and steady, positive, stay in the moment…..those were repeated objectives throughout the whole day.
Once we arrived at 4:30 a.m. and got marked, I went into transition and pumped my tires, stocked my nutrition and headed with my swim bag to the team tent. I had almost an hour before 6:30 rolled around. My first trip to the bathrooms had no line and the second time I snuck in the side and cut – again no waiting.
I was desperate for music to distract me and was bumming that I had not thought to bring my headphones. I sat and stared, a few tears streaming down my face from the nerves. Then I remembered that my aqua iPod was in with my swim gear – booya! I put on my favorite playlist, sang and waited for the warm-up area to open.
With a mass-start, you can be in the water, relaxed or warming up, swim to shore and get to the bathroom or the tent if you forgot something or your goggles broke. With this start I assumed people would be lined up on shore hours before the cannon. In order to be up front (where I needed to be to maximize my chances of making the bike cut-off) I figured I was s@&# out of luck if I broke my goggles, needed to go to the bathroom, wanted to dump my pre-race drink bottle, etc. As it turns out, athletes were not allowing to line up in their seed area until the warm up area closed. That meant everyone lined up at the same time – total relief! I had a throw away bottle and an extra pair of goggles in my wetsuit that I checked at the eye glass table. I swam from the warm up area right to my spot ten minutes before the start – totally relaxed and without issue.
The swim itself was uneventful. I got right on the cable and stayed there the entire two laps. This start made it easy to get on the cable so, of course everyone wanted to be there. I got clocked in the head a couple of times and a few nails in the face from some woman who was doing backstroke (!) It was a little tough at the buoys because some people were swimming just inside the line between them but then moved out to go around them on the proper side. I had drafting options most of the way. I finished in 1:14.03. One minute faster than last year. I saw ML on the side line, already chocked up – going to be a LONG day for her! Off to transition!