Wednesday: After seeing my family off to work and school, I visited Dr. Taylor one last time for a little tweaking and cold laser. After that, my TB (aka Training Buddy aka Hombre) picked me up and we were off to the airport. OKC, here we come!
We arrived and it was pretty uneventful and calm. Just the way I like it. The first sign I see as we leave the airport is for a restaurant named, "Kona Ranch." How appropriate. LOL
I checked-in and found my room had no fridge! I thought for sure I had one last year? I called the Marriott folks and asked them about it. They said they were "by request only", and didn't know if they had any left. Wonder why? Maybe the 1,000 triathletes descending upon their business in the next 4 days had them all reserved. Hope and pray, hope and pray! Anyway, they checked for me and 3 minutes later and a knock-knock at my door and the fridge fairy appeared! My lucky day. Whew!
So TB had did some research and found a decent local grocery store, so that was our first task at hand; stock up on a few things for my room, so I wasn't eating unknown crap. Picked up some yogurt, granola, whole wheat bagels, almond butter, fruit, etc. Foods I eat normally.
Then we headed out to drive the bike course.
Now, I will preface this with the fact that in Houston we have no hills. So if you're a Sooner or Boomer, and you read this, understand it is F-L-A-T here. There's nary a climb anywhere to be found outside of bridges and overpasses. Redman is billed as fast, flat course... perhaps for those who train there year round. LOL
However, note that if you ever decide to race the Galveston 70.3, we have wind, in exchange for your hills. :)
In any case, as we drove the course along the outskirts of the city to the country roads. We drove through part of the course where it was evident a tornado came through, with tops of trees snapped off and debris still around. Kinda made me sad for a moment, thinking of the folks who had to live through it.
The course was full of rolling hills with a little bit of climbing and a a few steeper challenges. Definitely more challenging than last year's course, I felt. Now, driving the country roads is a bit deceiving because you see everything coming ahead of you. It's like tunnel vision, as TB described. It just makes it look worse than it might be.
It is so easy to get overwhelmed with the thought that something is going to be more challenging than you ever anticipated, but then isn't everything about triathlon? Winning (or finishing well!) never feels good until you cross the finish.
Some of the climbs were just long and gradual, but then the downhills were equally so it events out somewhat. The course was pretty much an out and back (with a small difference on the way back) and it seemed on the way out we kept going up in elevation... so that just meant on the way back we'd be going down more.
However, as I watched the course go up and down, it was never more clear to me that the only way I would be able to have the kind of race I shooting for was to stick to my plan and ride my target heart rate. No matter what. I would have to do whatever I could to stick to it. I had to race my own race, stay focused and ignore everyone who might be pass me.
The winds were projected to have a tail/cross winds on the way out and head/cross head winds on the way back. Yet another reason to keep my HR on target, so I didn't die on the way back. Was I worried about the bike? A little, but it was more about the unknown.
The unknown is out of my control. "It doesn't matter."
I've been saying throughout my training, "I need to train how I want to race", so this should be nothing new to me, at all. Right? Right. Right!
Then that was it. My Wednesday was done! TB and I had a good dinner and made it an early night. I called the Family and played a few rounds of Words with Friends with Hubs. Made it to bed by 9:30 pm.
As I went to sleep, I thought positively about the bike course and how I would need bike to maintain my HR. No mashing the pedals. Come up out of aero on the climbs and keep my shoulders relaxed. I knew I would have to granny gear it up some of the climbs, get passed by a ton of athletes and smile, and take advantage of the downhills and not coast. I needed that valuable momentum behind me to help with whatever was next to come.
ThursdayI slept super good the night before and rose bright and early, I mean dark... it was 4:30am! It was okay. I wanted to be used to race day scheduling. Today we were headed out to the lake for the event's scheduled open water swim from 7am to 9am. When I first woke up it was thundering and lightening and thought we'd have to readjust our itinerary. We waited a while and then headed out when it seemed like it subsided. When we got to the lake, it was chilly, windy and raining. Definitely not optimum weather for open-water swimming, but you know what?
The weather is not in my control. "It doesn't matter."
Something is missing! This was the swim entrance. Last year it was covered in water.
With that, I saw no lightening and heard no thunder, so I headed in for the swim. One of my fellow club members decided to pass on the swim and do it the next day. I decided it wasn't a good idea for me, and that this choice was in my control. I knew I had not had a wetsuit on since April and was afraid if I had a problem, I would need time to rectify it. Once I saw a couple athletes brave the water, on their way back to their vehicles, I made my way to a pavilion where we chatted with the swim director. He explained how the new swim course would look because the water was so low in the lake. And by low I mean it was low, Low, LOW! Dirt now resides where we swam the course was last year. It's jut unbelievable a body of water that size can get that low.
I also recalled my troubles last year with my zipper pull coming unvelcroed, quite literally burning my arm pit and creating a chafe that caused me a lot of pain during last year's run. As I swam last year, the cord kept getting caught under my arm each time I stroked. Despite my efforts to reattach it during the swim, it just wouldn't stay. The water was 70 degrees this year, so I opted to try the sleeved suit first (I had brought a sleeveless too), and completely eradicate the risk of the pit-burn again, and hit the water -- a choice completely in my control.
Like a spa treatment!
The water felt good and admittedly there is something fun about swimming in the rain; it makes me feel like a kid! Since the water was so low we had about a 200 yard walk to the water's edge of muddy red dirt. It squished between my toes like, well, mud! I waded out there and it finally became deep enough to swim a bit. I was relieved the water was plenty cool enough for my sleeved suit. Which incidentally fit better than it did last time! Imagine that? It didn't shrink. LOL
Now the practice swim was done and my wetsuit decision made. Next we were off to grab some lunch. We took a ride to the local bike shop, since they had some cool stuff last year, but I wasn't really moved to spend on anything more than replacing a shirt of Darren's that got ruined by bleach. The bike store is "Schlegel Bicycles" and the shirt has treads across it and says, "I got some Schlegel on my shirt." It's cool :)
My ears seemed to be bothering me a little after the morning's swim, I wasn't sure what it was, so I did make a stop at the pharmacy to get some swimmers ear stuff to knock that potential issue out, then back to the hotel for more rest.
My bike arrived on Thursday night via OC and the bike trailer. Brought my bike and transition bag up to my room and by now some other club members had a arrived; socialized and got caught up. Good times.
Funny story. We're chit-chatting in the lobby with some other athletes and this girl says something to the effect that she checked out last year's results and decided she was going to race Athena, instead of her AG, because there was only one entry in her group. Ironically, I was the only Athena Master in 2010! Pretty funny she made that statement to me. I told her that was me -- we both got a laugh out of it. I informed her we had 8 others, for a total of 10 in our group.
TB had to do a run while we were there, so I took the opportunity to just hang at the lake and do a little race visualization. I know, I know.. might sound hoakie, but I swear it works -- especially for remembering everything in transition.
I wrapped up Thursday night with dinner, called the family, more Words with Friends (started to suspect Hubs was using a helper, until he played the word "t*ts." Okay, maybe not). LOL
FridayThe alarm goes off at 4:20 and I spend time getting all my gear and nutrition ready; I've got it all layed out on my bed, along with my race day apparel. All that has to be done the morning of the race is roll out of bed, get dressed, remember to grab my nutrition from the freezer and roll!
We headed to breakfast and I kept it pretty bland. TB wasn't feeling so well so he headed back to his room. He was with fever and nausea. YUK!
Later, I told him I'd find my own way to packet pickup. Luckily OC was having lunch next to the hotel, so I was able to hop a ride with them to the race site. I walked to the restaurant to meet them and had a little panic session when I realized I didn't have my wallet. I had to run back to my room (I had put it in a different bag). I grabbed a yogurt and some granola from the fridge for lunch so no one would have to wait on me and then we were off to packet pick-up.
Packet pick-up was pretty uneventful. Got my goods, bought a red Redman jacket and was delivered back to the hotel. I put my numbers on my gear and waited until 3pm for the bike transport. Headed BACK to the race site (thank goodness for me it was only 10 minutes away, if that.) Dropped my bike off with a sigh of relief. *exhale*
TB still wasn't well. I called him to see how he was doing, and he gave me the keys to the rental car so I could get dinner. I didn't want to have to go to any restaurant and I didn't want to go to the house rental, where a few of the athletes were staying, and try to make/eat dinner with 15 other people. I needed to depend on myself and stay on my schedule, which was a choice in my control. Not that it wouldn't have been a good times, but there was no sense in me driving more than 20 miles away to an unknown location in a city I'm not familiar with. Instead my plan was to visit the local grocery store and pick up a rotisserie chicken and some potatoes, and that was dinner.
I returned to my room to eat and had a "knock-knock" at the door. It was some of my fellow club members. They were delivering a specialty cupcake from Pinkitzel -- a cupcakery in OKC. I chose the chocolate malt. This was definitely post-race fare and it went directly to the fridge. Not to be enjoyed until after I finished!
After dinner I met up with the few other athletes who also didn't go to the house, and socialized a bit, but I was back in the room by 8:30. Mixed up my Perpetuem, stuck it in the freezer and applied my tattoos. I was in bed by 8:45.
Hubs finally arrived in OKC some time between 9:30 and 10:30 and quietly came in to the room. I woke up a bit, but went right back to sleep. Sleep was good.