We arrived in Louisville Thursday evening so we could sleep in Friday morning and then head to packet pick up, rather than getting up super early Friday morning to travel and feel rushed all day. So Friday morning I headed to packet pickup around 10a, attended the Athlete briefing at 11, grabbed lunch and then headed back to the hotel. Then I got my bike ready and also starting planning what the heck I was going to wear on the bike on Sunday. The weather forecast looked pretty certain that it was going to be COLD and WET, so I had to finally accept the conditions and figure out a game plan. I don’t usually ride in cold/wet weather because I have Raynaud’s, a circulation issue in my hands and feet, that once they are cold they turn white, go numb and have trouble warming up. So to say I was slightly stressed about riding in the predicted conditions was an understatement. I knew I needed to keep my core warm and had brought a rain jacket, however it was already slightly baggy when I purchased it several years ago, and since I have lost a considerable amount of weight this year it was anything but aero. After doing some research on slowttwitch.com, I decided to make more own ‘trash bag’ vest to wear over my tri top and under my ¾ sleeved aero top to keep my torso dry and warm. JMR just looked at me like I was a crazy person while constructing it and said more than once, ‘I will buy you a jacket!’. Once that was complete I did a dress rehearsal, minus tri shorts. Tri top, ‘vest’, aero top, arm warmers, fingerless bike gloves, latex gloves (a tip I got from my local bike shop when I went to buy the second pair of full gloves) and second pair of bike gloves with fingers.
I was also going to wear wool socks, toe covers on my bike shoes and toe warmers. I planned on packing an extra set of toe warmers in bike special needs just to be extra safe as well. Ok, I was set. The rest of the weekend flew by and was pretty uneventful other than experiencing waves of anxiety about race day temps. On Saturday I did the practice swim and the current was very strong, which I was happy about since that would mean a fast swim. What I didn’t realize that too fast might have been a bad thing.
After the swim I took a long HOT shower, packed my T1 and T2 gear bags, and headed to grab lunch. After lunch I headed to transition to drop off my bike and gear bags, and then met up with my coach and another Eco teammate to catch up and discuss race day strategies given the conditions. Meeting with them helped calm my pre-race nerves/anxiety a bit, but I still had that surreal feeling of ‘Oh sh*t, the race I’ve been training for since January is TOMORROW’. No pressure or anything. We had an early dinner and I was asleep by 10p and surprisingly slept like a rock.
I was up at 4:30a to eat my banana with almond butter, cup of applesauce and ½ Bobo’s Almond Oat Bar. I didn’t have much of an appetite as usual but forced it down. Around 5:30a I gathered my Special Needs bags and my bike pump and we headed to transition. It was raining. And cold. Not horribly cold, but not warm. Setting up transition was pretty uneventful and soon we headed to the swim start area. The start setup was so much better than in 2014 when I raced, where the swim start line was first come, first serve and if you weren’t there early (some people got in line at 4:30a), you had to walk at least a mile to get to the end of the line. This year they had you line up by predicted finish time, so I got in the 1:10-1:20 line. And we waited, and waited. I put my wetsuit on and waited some more. And then I started to feel really cold, probably the rushing to transition and then to the start was keeping me warm and now just standing wasn’t helping. Soon the swim start time of 7:35a came and went and everyone was starting to get antsy wondering why the delay. Then it was announced that due to the current being too strong, the swim was going to be shortened to .9 miles downstream. Oh ok. JMR asked me if I was going to cry to which I said ‘No, in fact I wish they would just cancel it so we don’t have to start the bike wet!” (I was pretty darn cold at that point). After more waiting, and lots of slow walking towards the docks, I finally plunged into the water at 9:02a