Or what I hope to remember next time.
I woke up at 5:18 in a panic that I was late before it registered that 5:18 is before 6am which is when I needed to leave. I quickly got dressed in my bathing suit and casual exercise clothes before making a quick trip for coffee to the local coffee shop. I came back to find my friend at my house, ready to go, and we quickly loaded up and headed over to my brother-in-laws to collect him. We had loaded the bikes on the rack the night before so that was set to go. It was the shoes, socks, wetsuit, swim cap, goggles, towel (to wipe sand off feet), sunglasses, sunscreen, water bottle, luna bar and helmet that I was worried I would forget. Not to mention my running shorts and shirt!
We arrived in plenty of time. What I forgot: baby shampoo (to defog goggles) and to shave my legs (yesterday was a little hectic). We collected our registration packet, ankle bracelet and bib number before going over for "body-marking" which I don't understand because the wetsuit covers the numbers in the water and the rest of the time we have a bib with a number on our shirt and our bike...but oh well...traditional I guess.
After both arms and one calf were marked we set our bikes up in the transition area. This was a roped off part of the parking lot near the beach that had racks to put your bike on, set up your towel, and lay out your supplies for the biking and running. Looking around I realized my friends and I were the ONLY PEOPLE with hybrid-mountain bikes. Hmmmm.
SWIM: So the swim started off okay. We got into our wetsuits and then waded in and did a few laps. The water was BRACKISH which I was unprepared for. My practice swims had been in a heated pool with one quick dip in a lake. I was not prepared for salt-water! Or waves! Or boats! The men started out first. I watched the majority of the women race out before I dived in and started swimming. Seeing all those people so close together made me nervous! What made me even more nervous was seeing the jellyfish under water! Swimming straight into my face! And the buoys were so far away...back and forth in a pool for half a mile is not a good mental prep for visually seeing half a mile stretch before you! I do have to say wetsuits are awesome because they buoy you up and make it easier to swim...even $20 wetsuits from local discount stores.
BIKE: Eventually I finished the swim and made my way up the beach to the transitional area. By this time there were only a couple of us left to claim our bikes. I walked my bike through the gated area to the road and climbed on, feeling shaky like you do after you've hyperventilated or something.
Another mistake: I never bought a water bottle holder for my bike. So I decided to carry the bottle in my left hand, hanging over the handle, while I changed gears with my right. I think it was the 8th or 9th mile when I realized why my bike was so slow picking up speed and almost stopping going up hill...the bottle was pushing the brake! But with only 7 speeds and mountain tires...well it would be hard to go anyway. At least that's what the sweep told me as he rode beside me.
RUN: By the time I got back to the transition area (the second time) I had everyone cheering me on...because I was in last place. I have never received such support! It was awesome! Made me smile from ear to ear...I even asked the volunteer at the beginning of the run if I was allowed to run...or was I too late? She laughed and told me to go for it! On the run I surpassed one other person. My friend saw me coming from the opposite direction and decided, with true camaraderie, to wait for me so we could finish the race together. We crossed third and second to last. Having benefited from all the support from the race crew, we decided to wait for the final finisher to cross and cheered her on just as loud as we could.
Could I have done better? Undoubtedly. Am I proud of myself? Even more certainly. I remember doing my first 5k two years ago and finishing dead last...and also feeling like I would die. After this race I felt pretty good. I'm confident that if I work on my swimming skills and invest in a road bike I can come a long way from today. And was it fun? Indubitably! Already signing up for our next sprint tri!
*Picture above is the "medal" my niece made for me