I got up at 5:15 so I could get ready and get the bikes on the rack. DH had already put the bike rack on his SUV and left it in the driveway since it wouldn’t fit in the garage that way. I quickly got ready, grabbed a cereal bar, and moved the SUV to right in front of the bikes. I had a little trouble getting them on the rack, but felt that they were secure. Boy was I wrong as you’ll see in a minute. I grabbed the top water bottle on each bike and filled it with ice water. I also grabbed the Gatorade out of the fridge. I had already put a couple towels and a change of clothes in the car.
I drove over to pick up my friend Melissa. She was kind enough to start this with me last year. Once she got in and we were all set, we pulled out onto the road. After a couple turns and less than a mile, another SUV flags us down to tell us we are dragging a bike. I immediately pull off to the shoulder. Sure enough, the last bike had come loose on one side and flipped. It was dragging the handlebars.
Luckily, all it had done was shave about an inch of the left handlebar and slightly shave and bend the left brake. Everything was still functional. Needless to say, my adrenaline was through the roof at this point. The problem was that it was still dark. So, it was hard to keep an eye on the bikes through the back window. We continued on to the parking area with no further issues. We decided to go get our packets and then come back to the car to get the bikes.
It started sprinkling on our way back to the car. I should mention the sun did come up on the drive there. We got in the car and started putting our numbers on our bike helmets and race shirts. We also had our ankle strap with the timing chip so we put those on. I started eating my cereal bar. By this time, the drizzle has stopped. So, we got out, put the numbers on the bikes, and got them down. I felt bad since my friend was using the bike that had the issues. It was my bike, but I use DH’s since I’m taller and it’s easier for me. We grab all our stuff including a towel for me and head to the transition area. Melissa’s rack is right on the end. Mine is a little inside. I position my bike at one end of the rack and put the towel down on the ground. I should have brought something plastic to put underneath it as the ground was already wet. Then we head back to the packet area to get marked. They write on my upper arms my race number and down one side my first name. They also put my race number on both thighs just below my tri-suit. They put my age on the back of my right calf. They also asked us for our swim ability. Last year we said 3 and hung back to the end of the 3s. We ended up behind someone who was extremely hard to pass. So, we said 4 this time. We head back to the transition area to take off our shoes and socks and I leave the shirt that I forgot I was still wearing. We get one of the volunteers to take a before picture and I tuck the phone into the nice pouch on my bike. Somewhere in here I also used the tool DH has in his pouch to adjust my bike seat down lower for Melissa. We make sure everything is good and head back to the front to wait for our turn to swim.
It sprinkles off and on while we are waiting. They make a few announcements about things that can get you DQ’ed and then play the National Anthem while someone holds the flag. Then they call all the 10s to the start/pool. They work backwards from 10 to 1 for starts. Last year, there were a lot of people in 3 and lower. This year it seems most people are 5 and above. The sign did say 5 and above was supposed to be freestyle only which is another reason I wanted to go with 4. I rarely freestyle. Mostly I breaststroke or side stroke. We got towards the front of the 4s when they are called. We ended up talking to 2 very nice women while waiting in line. One was celebrating her birthday. They give us last minute swimming instructions as we head through the door to the pool. In a couple minutes, it’s my turn to jump in. No diving allowed. I decided not to use goggles this year. Since I still had some sinus congestion, that was probably a good move. I guess I should mention I had been battling a nasty cold for the previous week. I woke up to have it almost completely gone. I jumped in feet first and proceeded to breaststroke my first lap. After the turn, I tried a lap of freestyle, but kept finding myself towards the middle of the lane. We were supposed to stay to one side since it was a down and back in each lane. I switched to sidestroke. After one more down, I think the lady in front of me and myself had caught up to a slower swimmer. Since she did not seem to want to wait for us to pass, we both swam by her in the lane while she was backstroking. The total swim is 9 widths on the pool. I know I did backstroke 2, but I felt my throat start to close up both times. I mostly side stroked. When I got out of the pool, I jogged to my bike in the transition area.
I sat on the ground and put on my socks and shoes. Then I grabbed my helmet and clicked the chin strap. That was one thing that could get you DQ’ed. I got my bike off the rack and started jogging to the bike start. You have to walk/jog your bike through the doorway until you get to an orange line on the ground. Then you are allowed to mount it. I got on the bike and started pedaling. It is slightly uphill to get to the main road and start the first of two 4 mile loops. The volunteers are at every turn to let you know which way to go. I turn right onto the main road and catch up to some people. I think they must be on their second lap. I know there is one killer hill on the loop. Last year there were always several women walking their bikes up it. After making a few turns onto neighborhood streets, I am momentarily confused by an uphill portion. I know this can’t be it because the large hill has a right turn at the top and this had a left. The neighborhood streets have a lot of pot holes. It’s hard to pick up too much speed. It’s also drizzling again. At this point, I’m glad I’m on a mountain bike with knobbly tires. I’m trying to build up speed because I know the hill has to be coming. I make a turn and see it. Unfortunately, I had to slow down on the turn and can’t build up enough momentum. I downshift quite a bit and make it up the hill panting at the top. The rest of the loop is pretty smooth with a few more turns. On the main road, we encounter traffic. It’s a 2-lane road and the drivers are getting a little agitated being held up. Some finally try to pass us. It’s hard because this is the area where we can finally catch up and pass other bikers. I get to the flag person who tells us right for running and straight for second lap. I go straight and continue. Incidentally, almost a dozen people are DQ’ed later for only completing one lap. I know at some point I catch and pass the birthday girl. She gets me back later, though. I’m passing about as many as are passing me which is a good feeling. I get to the hill the second time and almost walk. I downshift to my lowest gear and push through. The volunteer does a great job encouraging me up. Finally at the top, I pick up as much speed as I dare with the curves and make my way to the split. I ride down hill to the transition and dismount at the orange line just before the doorway. My legs feel a little wobbly, but I don’t feel scared of falling down like I did last year.
I jog my bike back to the rack and have to move the bike of the person currently in the transition area with me to get mine back on. I take off my helmet and tug on my shirt and jog to the run start doorway. I jog until I get to the hill going up (the way I just came on the bike). I walk up to the crowds and then start jogging again. Shortly after the sidewalk starts, there is water and Gatorade. I grab a Gatorade and walk to drink it. I feel the zipper from the bra in my tri-suit come apart. I spend the next little bit walking and trying to get it back together. Finally, I give up and just run again. Luckily, the tri-suit is snug enough to hold me. I look ahead and see Melissa. I’ve been switching between running and walking based on light poles. I shout up to her and she turns around and waits for me. We stay together doing short run intervals. We make it up to the turnaround and grab more Gatorade. We both stop to drink. Then we do our short intervals back until we hit the crowd. One girl encourages us to run to the end. I know that is too long for me so I tell Melissa to go on. I take one more walk break and run starting at the downhill. I easily run through the finish line. I’m tried, but not as completely drained as last year. They put the medal around my neck and I’m happy to have finished.
Melissa is waiting for me with a water. We walk and find the bananas, jelly bellies, and pretzels that end up being too stale to eat. While eating the banana, I realize I’m having women issues. We walk to the transition area and find out we are okay to take our things. We gather everything up and head to the car. After loading up the bikes, we grab our clothes and take off our muddy shoes. We had both brought flip flops. We head back to the building to change. I end up having to shower off. Let me just say that those tri-suit are super duper absorbent in the crotch area. After putting on my clothes and using the spin dryer on the tri-suit, I join Melissa back outside. She has another water for me. We watch a few more people finish and then they start awards. We are just sticking around to get our times. They end up having to reprint the times after realizing some of the awards might not be correct. Apparently there are a few people who didn’t complete 2 laps on the bike. The last person crosses the finish line while all this is happening. It’s a great crowd of cheers as she crosses. This is a very supportive environment. They printed out the whole list of times so we went to find ours. They only printed overall times, but I find ours and mine is 1 minute better than last year. I’m very happy. I find out later it was mostly on the run.
Final time 1:14:12