Thursday, June 24, 2010

Race Day: Before it Even Started

At 3:50am I'm waiting by the garage in Adams Morgan for my ride down to set up my transition area. As I imagined, while I stood there in my tri uniform, gym bag in hand, all the partiers who still thought it was Friday night, were slowly making their way home after a night of drinking on the strip... such a juxtaposition.

I was lucky enough to secure a ride down with my coach. I'm not sure how you were supposed to get down to transition without inconveniencing a non racer. It's an issue I had with how the race was set up. Transition was not metro accessible (plus metro was closed), my bike was already racked, and the parking was minimal and quick to disappear. My back up plan was to order a cab. You really don't want to take any risks with your timing.

The scene at West Potomac Park was that of a sleepy army armored in spandex bustling to prepare for battle. Once we got down there I set up my transition blanket. We had about 30 minutes before the area closed. I also needed to pump up my tires. Since it was so hot the day before when we racked our bikes we all deflated our tires since the heat could expand the air in them and blow them out. We also needed to get body marked (numbers & age written on our arm & leg), and pick up our time chip.

My Transition Area:
  • Bike
Helmet hanging on the handle bars w/ Sunglasses & Watch placed inside
2 Bottles of liquid: 1 Water 1 Gatorade
Fuel Taped to Handle Bars: 1 Clif Bar, 1 Energy Beans
  • Bike Shoes w/ Socks unraveled and placed over each shoe
  • Small hand towel to wipe of my wet and grass covered feet
  • Running Shoes w/ laces untied and loosened
  • Spray sunscreen for easy reapplication (did I mention we had a heat warning that day?)
  • Bib number already attached to my race belt

The transition area closed at 5:15am, after which you cannot drop off or pick up anything in your area until after your swim. This means I was barefoot holding onto my goggles and cap with a disposable bottle of Gatorade and a banana. We had almost 2 hours to wait since my wave wasn't until 6:55am. So what do you do to pass the nervous time? Well first you get into the port-a-john line... with EVERYONE else. It took us a little less than 30 minutes to get through. It was a bit awkward standing for the National Anthem in a bathroom line, but at least I was there with most everyone else.

Next we decided to head down to the waters edge and see how the Sprint swimmers were doing. It was not motivating to see how many needed to grasp onto a kayak after only 100 meters. Watching them struggle through half the distance I was going to tackle made me slightly queasy and we decided to head back up to zen out with the rest of our team. This was the best part, being surrounded by people you've been training with for 6 months, people who are in the same anxious position you are in. We all seemed to have equal shares of dread and excitement... though that seemed to sway a bit the closer we got to starting.

Then it was finally time. We each got into our appropriate corrals, not that different from cattle and slapped on our caps and goggles. It suddenly got pretty quiet as we each prepared ourselves for the hours to come...

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