The alarm went off at 4:15 a.m. I think I was already a little bit awake, having tossed and turned all night in anticipation. Into the shower and then it was time for breakfast, a plain blueberry bagel and a Luna Brownie Chocolate protein bar, with a Red Bull of course.
We were on the road by 5:15, and joined a small caravan on headlights in the darkness headed for Lake Logan. This was it, it was finally here. It was tough to realize that this was it. 11 weeks of training, blogging, pain, frustration, joy and satisfaction rolled up into one morning of my life.
We parked at the appointed location, an old airstrip beginning to be reclaimed by the grassy field around it. It was a cool 63 degrees, so I had yoga pants and a pullover on top of my tri outfit; 90 degree Florida mornings do not prepare one for the cool temps that other places experience in the midst of August. It was lovely though, to breathe the cool air and see the mist rising above the water as we walked towards the lighted tennis courts, where I was to be body marked and pick up my chip. Depositing Bella outside the fences of the court, I went in and had “109” written on my arms and legs, and my age on the back of my calf. The next station was for my timing chip, which I fastened around my left ankle. Nothing left then but to find my spot in transition, the area that would hold all my gear for the next several hours. New racks spaced wide apart meant roomy aisles and plenty of room for everyone to lay out their gear. I set up my little transition area under the spotlights, surrounded by all the others and their loved ones who had gotten up this early to support them.
After ensuring that everything was as I wanted it, I walked down to the water so I could get my first look at the buoys. Wow. And I mean WOW. They looked tremendously, impossibly far away. Was it possible I had ever swam that distance? But all I could do at that point was take a deep breath and get ready to dive in. I put on my wetsuit and went down to the starting area, and got in the water to swim around a bit, testing out the new goggles, wetsuit and swimming in freshwater – lots of newness for race morning! Everything felt good though. Before I knew it, my wave start was coming up and I got in the water with all of my other purple caps. The first 10 minutes or so went really well. I kept up with people, maintained my stroke, put my face in water – it was great. But I wasn’t maintaining my breathing like I should, and soon I was out of breath and puffing. Thus commenced the rest of the swim, which was mostly a combination of side-stroking, breast-stroking, head-out-of-water stroking and my actual swim stroke. It felt like it took forever, and the waves that went behind me started to catch up. Overall, the swim took me about 42 minutes, and I actually was looking pretty good in my space in the pack.
Next Up: The bike and the run!