Race day. I woke up at 4a, not tired but also not super wired. I managed to get some decent sleep, and the only thing from keeping me getting good sleep was the fact that I had those stupid temporary tattoos on my arms and every time I moved, I was worried I would rub it off on the sheets. Grr.
I started hydrating as soon as I woke up and organized/put all of my gear in my bag, and finally at 4:30a I turned all of the lights on so I could get ready in regular light. I tried to hold off as long as I could so JMR could keep sleeping, but I guess 4:30 was my limit (I think he was awake anyways, but oh well). After the gear was packed I ate my banana and half of a pb sandwich. I usually just eat a banana before training but I knew I should eat more with the long day ahead and honestly, half of a sandwich probably wasn’t enough, but my stomach was already fighting solid foods.
At 5a we headed downstairs to meet the rest of the crew and pack into the vans to head to the race site. It was chilly and dark! I was glad I purchased a long-sleeved tri-club tech shirt so I could wear it to the race and not only feel warm but feel full of club spirit! We arrived to the race site pretty quickly and so my training buddy, T, and I headed to the transition area to get everything set up. Transition didn’t take too long, I got my tires pumped and nutrition set up. As it got closer to transition closing time I gathered all of my swim items up as well as my wetsuit, so I could put it on in transition and not get all of the clay in it from the beach. Immediately I realized I was missing my swim cap! It was most likely in the bag that I gave to JMR during my transition set-up that I thought I didn’t need (It had gloves and arm warmers in it, definitely not needed with a race start temperature in the high 70’s…in the dark). I hussled out of transition to find JMR, and sure enough they were in the bag. Phew!!
I ran back into transition to attempt to finish squeezing into my wetsuit as I had already squeezed/pulled it up to my hips. With some help from T I was able to zip it and was race ready. Well, physically I was race ready, was I mentally? Not sure…. everything was flying by so fast. It was crazy. I was nervous, but at the same time, really darn calm. It was like there was so much to worry and think about that I just couldn’t focus on one thing, so I focused on nothing. Whatever it was, it worked for me and I managed to not hyperventilate (or have stomach issues… thank you pre-prace immodium) before the race.
Here’s a pic T’s husband took of us right outside transition before heading towards the lake:
Next we walked down to the water, and man, they weren’t kidding about why it was called Redman, this red clay was ridiculous!
Shortly after waiting around we realized that our group would be up soon, and we also realized that the waves were pretty small and that it was probably not a good idea being in the safety wave as we were both decent swimmers and not really new at this sport. Ugh. Oh well, the wave in front of us was the wave we would have been in anyways, so it didn’t really put us that much further back.
Before I knew it, we were walking into the mushy clay into the water in preparation for our wave to start….and then… the horn went off. Just like that, I was in the water swimming. Wait, no, I wasn’t. Oh good grief! Breaststroke, backstroke, treading water..!!! Never again, safety wave, never again. It was a huuuge struggle to try to even find some clear, safe water to swim in without fear of being pummelled by a backstroker or kicked by a breaststroker. Didn’t these people know how far we had to swim and how gosh darn long it would take them to finish it at that pace??
I finally found some clear swimming space and started getting into a groove. Mid-stroke I spotted T right in front of me and got really excited! She is a pretty darn strong swimmer, so I knew if I could keep up with her, I was in good shape! In the beginning I was mostly sighting/breathing on the right, but as I got more comfortable, I got into a better groove and was breathing bilaterally after every three strokes or so. I felt good!! Yes!! Every now and then I would come upon an arm or some feet and would have to redirect but for the most part, it was smooth sailing! I was even caught up with some of the swimmers from the wave before mine…and… the wave before that! Yep, some men two waves ahead! I felt great!
Then. I got a little tired and hot in my long-sleeved wetsuit. I needed a mantra and I needed one fast. Dori from Finding Nemo came in my head, “just keep swimming..” but that wasn’t enough. Somehow ‘One buoy, two buoy’ (yeah, you can laugh, it’s dumb, but it kept me going), stuck in my head, and I just kept repeating it. It helped me keep me focus on the buoys as well as keep my breathing strokes on track.
Before I knew it, we were close to shore! Yes! ‘One buoy, two buoy’! I finally finished swimming where I could touch the bottom and started running out of the water. I looked to my right and who else was there but T! I tapped her on the shoulder, we smiled and laughed and gave each other a high-five. This was really happening, and we were doing great!
As I got out of the water I suddenly felt a huge bout of nausea, which I had felt a few times during my longer swims, but nothing to this extreme. I hoped this was just a fluke and it would go away as I still had the bike and run ahead of me. I also had huge issues getting my darn arms out of the wetsuit! The left arm was stuck on my Garmin! Quite the focused face (it took me all the way up the ramp to the wetsuit strippers to get my freaking arm out of my wetsuit):
Next up….the bike!