Could I possibly have more stuff to take to the race?? I'm used to packing for just a marathon, just for running, just for one run. Luckily I didn't have to pack for an airplane because I would have been stumped. I always carry on everything I need for the race but I don't think I could have gotten my entire dining room floor in a carry-on bag. Every time I added something to the pile I got more nervous. What was I forgetting? Did I really want to wear/eat/use whatever it was? Is there enough drink/gel? Will it fit in my car? Will it fit in my pack? Will I be able to carry my pack??
I finally decided enough was enough and carefully stacked everything, in order, into the pack. It was heavy but liftable. I also packed all the other clothing and toiletries I'd need for the weekend and set aside a few things to pack in the morning.
I didn't sleep Thursday night -- nothing different there -- and got out of bed early. I had my last physical therapy appointment to go to before driving down to Monterey. My therapist and I had agreed that we wouldn't do anything corrective, just things to stretch and ease my back and neck. The usual stim and heat, ultrasound and so on and I left feeling like a million dollars. A nervous million dollars.
After picking up my breakfast (a skinny vanilla latte, as usual) I rushed home and loaded up my car with all my stuff. Sheesh, you'd think I was leaving for a couple of weeks instead of two nights. My timing was excellent and I drove off to meet up with the others. I was caravanning down to Monterey with Claudia, Rocky, Olivia, Phil and Lindsay. No, of course we didn't all have our own cars. Claudia, Rocky and Olivia were smooshed into Claudia's car with her bike and all her stuff, not to mention their own things for the weekend. Phil and Lindsay drove down in Phil's car, probably with a lot more room since they didn't need a bike.
The drive went well and quickly. Amazing how fast you get down to Monterey when you drive 8070 65 mph. Hey, I'm not admitting to driving any faster than the limit. Even though traffic was whizzing past us at well over 80. We decided to go straight to the hotel. Official check in time wasn't for a few hours but we hoped to get lucky.
I managed to get myself lost (took the wrong exit) and happily dug out my dandy iPhone with the GPS. In a couple of minutes I had placed myself on a map, placed the hotel on the same map, and got directions from one to the other. It turned out I only had to stay on the street I was on, go a few blocks and there it was! Without the phone I probably would have driven in circles for a long time. I think the phone paid for itself right there.
Our team (and I think all of the 340-ish competing people from Team in Training throughout the country, along with their family and friends) were staying at the Hyatt. I've stayed at many many many places in Monterey, Pacific Grove and Carmel but that's one place I've avoided, probably since it's off the beaten path. We were able to check in early and were put in the same building. It's a big resort with lots of buildings. I ended up with a ground floor room, right on the parking lot which concerned me because of noise. I parked in front of the room so at least nobody would be able to shine headlights into the room at 2 am. Are there enough pillows on that bed? I knew I would end up throwing most of them onto the floor. And what's up with those incredibly odd lights? They looked like they were meant for someone to break into song in the middle of the night. Or like they belonged at the foot of the exam table when you're getting a ... well, all the women here know what I'm talking about.
We unloaded the cars and went to lunch. We couldn't figure out anywhere exciting and ended up at Carrows. I was afraid to eat anything except for a simple sandwich, I didn't want my stomach to get any worse than it already felt. I ended up with a turkey sandwich (and fries, which I hardly touched) since I know bland turkey and bland bread rarely upset me. Boringly dull, but safe.
It was time to go over to the expo, time to look at the water, time to see the transition area. Oooh, my nerves went nuts. I was trying to maintain, trying to be calm, breathe in breathe out. The water looked different this time: The swim buoys were in the water and we could see the actual course. There were large piles of kelp everywhere. Oy. Hopefully the earlier waves would break it up before I'd have to crawl through it. Claudia and I picked up our race packets. I was afraid that I would be put in the second TnT women's wave which wouldn't start until 9:30 am, 2 hours and 15 minutes after race start and the last wave before the relay. I wanted to be in the first TnT women's wave and luckily that's where I was placed: pink cap, start time 8:45 am at 1 hour 30 minutes after the race start. Whew, that would definitely give me enough time to complete the race, even if I had to crawl.
Wait. Reading through the regulations, crawling isn't allowed! What's up with that? "A participant who gains forward progress by crawling shall be disqualified." Hmmph. Guess I won't crawl then. Our race packets were given to us in a very nice little "green" reusable canvas bag. It was heavy, containing a couple of magazines, literature, ads, our set of race numbers, our cap, our shirt. The shirt was a simple white short-sleeved cotton tee with the name of the race on the front and a multi-colored picture on the back. There were a few booths selling merchandise and the official branded logo merchandise. I liked the women's cycling jersey but even the largest size was too small for my comfort. I could have gotten a men's jersey but I didn't like the colors. Just about anything you'd need for the race, except for a bike, was for sale. Maybe bikes were being sold too and I just don't remember them.
Since we had lots of time before our team meeting we walked over to check out our transition spaces. Claudia and I were an aisle apart from each other, close to the "bike out" spot. The transition area was quiet and peaceful, very different than it would be in only a few hours. We cracked up at a sign that described the water we'd be swimming in. Great, now I feel completely safe! Good thing a wetsuit can be used as a flotation device.
Our training schedule told us we should be doing a 10 minute bike ride and a 10 minute run. Although I had brought an extra set of clothes in case I wanted to do it, I decided that rest would serve me better. Since I had tested the water 3 weeks earlier I decided to also skip our scheduled test swim. I didn't need to be reminded of how cold, how salty, how kelpy the water was. Believe me, I was well aware of the conditions and didn't need to go in again. And I also didn't want to get my wetsuit all wet and sandy before the race.
Our team gathered, pulled on their wetsuits and listened to Coach Paul give some last minute tips. We watched from the sand and stayed dry, then decided to head back to the hotel to get some rest.
TO BE CONTINUED. AT SOME LENGTH. ALMOST IN REAL TIME. I HAVEN'T EVEN GOTTEN TO THE PASTA PARTY YET ...