Four AM on race morning arrived to find me well rested (relatively speaking) and ready to go. I have tried hard to make myself sleep when I need to by telling myself that all the preparation is done, there’s nothing left now but to race. That seems to work, most of the time.
I got myself up and went through my usual morning routine. I took a shower, got dressed and watched the news while I ate three pieces of whole grain toast (OK, so I lacked a toaster and it was just bread) topped with peanut butter and grape jelly. I did a few, last minute checks of everything and then began to pack my car.
I was on the road to the race site at about 5:30 AM, which put me at the race at about 5:55 (give or take). Along with the other racers, I made my way through the now muddier parking lot, for the 3/4 of a mile trek to the race site, bike and gear in tow.
Upon arriving at the race site, everyone was being funneled through a narrow-ish corridor where body marking was taking place. I know that body marking has to get done, and I know that this seems like and efficient way to make sure everyone gets it done, BUT, when you have hundreds of people, packed to the gills with gear and often bikes as well, this is a tricky prospect. Bikes and gear and the clothes that we had to wear in the cool morning air were falling to the ground and tripping their wearers and everyone else.
By the time I got to my transition area, it was about 6:30. The first thing I noticed was that racer number 702 (the numbers went in order but on alternating sides of the transition racks, therefore, on my side of the rack were the odd race numbers and on the other, the evens) had set up hi entire transition in my area on the wrong side of the rack, leaving me absolutely no place to go. I pointed this out to a volunteer in the area, as racer 702 was nowhere to be found, and she moved his belongings to the proper side. I began setting up, putting everything in its designated place to make for a smooth transition.
At 6:45 the transition area was closed as the start of the race was scheduled for 7:00 AM. As I was leaving transition, the rain began. Rather than my usual shoe setup of cycling and running shoes set up in their respective row on my mat, I had placed my cycling shoes inside a plastic grocery bag (along with my other cycling needs) and placed that bag on top of my running shoes. This insured both pairs of shoes stayed mostly dry.
I headed down to the water’s edge, putting on my wetsuit along the way. As I walked toward the start, Maria found me and we both got in for a short warm-up swim. The water temperature, which I had expected to be frigid, was actually really nice and was a great compliment to the wetsuit legal swim. Just before the pros started the announcer informed us that they may be trying to send the waves off with a smaller time gap than the four minutes that were scheduled. (Side note: the National Anthem was actually quite good. I’m not sure who it was, but it was a good baritone.)
I made my way to the start and waited for my wave (powder blue swim caps and all) to be called to the line. This race was a beach start, which meant a great opportunity for some full contact racing. In this environment, kicks to the face and being swum over (by me) is not out of the ordinary by any stretch of the imagination. The starters gave us sectioned countdown. First we got the ninety second call…then sixty seconds…I didn’t hear the thirty second call, and there was no countdown from ten or even five seconds for that matter. I was clearing the fog from my goggles when the horn went off.