Race morning, we had a 4 a.m. alarm. Yikes! – as far as I’m concerned, 4 a.m. the world simply doesn’t exist most days. Not surprisingly, it was a not-so-great night of sleep (but at least we had gone to bed early to kind of make up for it…?)
Breakfast for me was an Ensure and ¾ of a bagel with butter. I think there is a possibility that I had a banana too but it’s all a haze. It’s possible I had one bite of a banana and then gave up. Typically I’m not much of a morning eater and especially not much of a race morning eater so I usually have to force myself to eat on race morning. But my stomach must have had its game face on too because it was surprisingly cooperative.
We were out of the house by 4:45 a.m. and made a quick drive and parked without any issues just a few minutes’ walk to the transition area /and swim start (definitely an advantage to being a local) .
It was foggy and peaceful on race morning, very mysterious looking. You almost expected to see Nessie poking her head out of the misty lake.
But perhaps most importantly IT WAS NOT RAINING! All week it had rained and all week the weather promised no rain and mild temperatures for about 30 hours, including race day but it was followed by another few days of rain and thunderstorms and you know how weather forecasts have a way of being either flat out wrong or just off by a day or two? So do I. I wasn’t holding my breath, but I was ecstatic when it turned out to be true!
It was still very quiet on the walk over to the transition. But as soon as we entered the transition, chaos took over.
First things first – we should’ve dropped our special needs bags off before we entered transition (more on that later…). But instead, our first stop was the bikes. I dropped off my first cheeseburger (yes, I said cheeseburger but don’t go crazy, it was just a little jr. cheeseburger), put my Perpetuem bottle in my water bottle holder and velcroed-in the aero bottle full of water. The 2nd water bottle slot was reserved for a bottle of Ironman Perform (energy drink) that I would pick up at the 1st aid station about 10 miles into the bike course.
Then, I found hubby who was done using the bike pump and we brought it back to my bike to top off my tires. (There were a lot of people who recommended NOT filling tires all of the way on the day before just in case it was hot out and the air expanded and popped your tires, so we erred on the side of caution).
After that, we passed our pump over the fence to our family and they went to stash it in the car and find a good place to watch the swim. Hubby and I headed off to grab a few things from our bike gear bags that we had dropped off on Saturday – I had food that I wanted to pre-stash on my bike so I didn’t have to worry about it during the transition (there would be plenty to do then and more pressure to do it faster…which would probably result in me forgetting something!). Hubby also had some things to pick up and stash on the bike, so we split up and decided to meet on the beach near the warm up area.
I didn’t have to worry about visiting the porta-potties – my race morning nerves were surprisingly calm and my stomach was being very cooperative. I dropped the rest of my food off at my bike and decided it was time to start squirming into my wetsuit. First was the sunscreen, then the bottom half of the wetsuit.
I body-glided my neck and hairline where my suit usually chafes with one of those itty-bitty little body glides they just started coming out with…which at first I thought was handy but quickly decided not to ever buy them again. First of all, they’re tiny and not well attached to the canister. So one swipe and the ¼ inch of body glide fell off and into the grass. And at 3 for $10 or whatever they were, you’re basically paying for the container and a dime-sized or two’s worth of body glide – it’s a total rip off. But I digress.
I picked it up off the ground and began applying it and threw what was left into my morning clothes bag with my sweats. I pulled out my goggles, my neoprene cap, my race cap, my water bottle and a gel and headed to drop off my morning clothes bag.
I had 3 bags left to drop before I hit the beach. It was chaos trying to drop off the morning clothes bag but relatively uneventful since it was only other athletes in the crowd, all of whom were trying to move pretty quickly towards their destinations whether it was a morning clothes drop off a porta-potty or the beach. By the time I dropped off my morning clothes bag (in transition), it was probably around 5:50, just a few minute before the pros started and they were starting to call for athletes to move to the beach. I asked a volunteer where to drop off my special needs bags and quickly found out that their instructions of just cutting through transition and out onto the street was incorrect and that I’d have to leave transition and walk a couple of blocks to the street corner where the trucks were waiting for the bags.
The crowds were starting to get thick outside the athlete area as spectators tried to find the best vantage points. I was like a fish swimming upstream – it was slooooooooooooooooooooow moving. I tried not to panic, but the crowds were packed in tight and barely inching along, if they were moving at all. Plus, by this time I was barefoot and desperately trying to move quickly and gently and also trying to avoid getting my feet and toes stepped on and walking gingerly to go easy on my shoeless feet. It took what seemed like forever to get to the trucks, but I quickly handed off my last bags to the volunteers, prayed I would see those bags where they were supposed to be later in the day, and headed back the way I came from for more upstream crowd swimming to get to the beach and the swim start.
I had my wetsuit halfway on, but at this point I was starting to tug the sleeves on. Just in case.
In hindsight, it would have been best to drop off the special needs bags before I ever went into the transition area, way before the streets and sidewalks were packed with spectators. But it all worked out ok. Thank goodness we decided to get up so early – an hour and 20 minutes in transition and I don’t know how I could have been too much faster other than the bag drops. But I made it to the beach toes intact and tried to collect myself as the pros hit their first turns about 1000 yards out.