This is going to be a biggie.
So, the morning before a race you actually have a lot of planning and execution before the gun ever goes off. Here’s what I do: First, check transportation websites to see what’s closed and what time tables are like. If you’re not driving and don’t have a bike, this is a big deal. Check the night before if you can, but day of is always best. Next, I do a quick little 10min yoga/active stretching routine. (I knew something was wrong with how sore I felt. That and the sunburn.) Now it’s time for some striders. You want to get these in about 2-3 hours before your race. They help wake up and activate your muscles. This should take about 20mins. Then it’s time for a cool, not cold, shower. This is your last time to shave anything too, so you’re all set to show off your legs. Then, go get some breakfast. Generally you have about a 2-3 hour window before your race to get something you normally eat in, but on the lighter side. For me, it’s usually an egg, piece of toast, and coffee. Why hello again Denny’s. Then it’s one last look over your checklist and out the door with your gear. I typically wear my race shorts under a pair of sweats or workout shorts. This way I can get my chamois cream and trislide on without being all gross and greasy at transition. Besides, port-o-potties aren’t the easiest place to get changed in. Then it’s off to transition and race.
So, that part fell into place, but what happened next….not so much. All of the buses were way off time table and cabs weren’t able to get within 2 miles of transition, so I walked…..again. That’s 3 miles with my gear. Not exactly something you want to do only a couple hours before a race. Needless to say, I was sweating and exhausted getting to transition. That doesn’t help with getting your mind straight and getting your gear laid out properly. Good thing I practice this stuff and use checklists. The only thing I was worried about was using the iPhone as my race computer. This was going to be its first test in water. (Remember, never try anything new on race day!) I did have 30mins to get ready, so I wasn’t too rushed. I did, however, have to hunt down a timing chip b/c they forgot to give me one in my packet and race numbers. We all met up on the beach for swim start underneath the arch. My Chain Reaction contact pulled me aside to ask a few questions and take some pictures before the start. It was neat to be interviewed. I was the last wave, so I had to spend some time keeping myself fresh and calm. Always have a saying to repeat to yourself so you remain calm. My phrase is “Swim smooth, stay relaxed.”
There was the typical countdown before my wave. I started my timer and zipped up my suit with 30secs to go. I don’t like to overheat. Once the horn sounded I waited for about 1/3 of the crowd to enter the water first. Even though we were in a back bay, there was still some current, so I swung out wide towards the first buoy. The course was basically a giant U. 200m out, 400m swim, and another 200m back in. By swinging out wide, I was able to stay on course easier and get around a bunch of people. The water was very cold, but when you’re going that hard, you barely notice. I made it out of the water pretty quick and knew I was towards the front of my wave. The swim exit had plenty of seaweed kicked up from the waves before, but nothing too gross. I ran into transition and headed for my bike.
I was quickly able to get my wetsuit off and head right out onto the bike. Good thing I remembered to gear way down because right out of T1 is a bridge climb. Not fun. I must say, this was one of the most fun and most painful bike legs I’ve ever done. Besides falling off my bike because a guy clipped my wheel, it was a lot of climbing and hair pin turns. I fell into grass, so no biggie. I didn’t get hurt, but after the second to last climb, I could feel my calves cramping. I forgot to put on my compression sleeves.
T2 was fine. I was battling it out with three guys on the bike, so I knew I was still towards the front. Little did I know the run was going to break all of us. I was never able to fully get my legs under me the entire run. I was just mediating pain, so my run splits were so slow. Good thing for me though, everybody was slow. There was very little shade and the sun was blaring down, but what kept me in the game was the final mile. This was the same course as the pros, and it was quite an honor. Apparently, a volunteer left their post and a bunch of us wound up running an extra 1/4 mile almost. As we entered the finish area, the crowd was awesome and the feeling of running down that blue carpet was exhilarating, but as soon as I passed under the finish arch, I felt something else. Vomit.
I never ran so hard that I had to throw up. I did so into an ice bucket full of water bottles. Oops. Volunteers were not happy with me, but I apparently wasn’t the only one to do it. I was quickly taken to med tent and set to recover. Interestingly, the med tent and finish area was really poor. Philly and Jeresey State Tri do a much better job. Once the race was over, I stopped by Chain Reaction for another interview, grabbed my gear, and rode home to the hotel. I had some time to kill before the pro men’s race, so food and sleep were on my mind. Everybody has talked up In N Out burger, so I gave them a shot. (Five Guys is better.) I grabbed a beer and a very cold shower before rolling myself out and taking a nap.