So - I gave you the official information but what fun would it be without my take of it all.
The alarm went of at 3:45 am. Guinness & Finnegan must of thought it to be a joke. I made it out the door at 4:15 am and met the carpool group at 4:45. Brian (my We made it there a little before the gates opened so we got great parking! Why is that important? Ultimately you could end up lugging your things over a 1/2 a mile just to get to where you need to be!
Step one was to go to the transition area. To get in, you first had to be body marked. In other words, they took permanent marker and put your race number on both arms and both thighs. In addition, they put your age as of 12/31/09 on the back of your calf. Still not sure what that one was about. From there, you enter and the bikes and your gear are staged according to your age group. Once you were "set up" you needed to get your chip - since it was a timed event. After that, it was just milling around and hydrating.
At 7:30, the transition area closed and the race activities began. There was about 1000 people registered for the race and around 750 actually competed. I have also learned that you need to be comfortable in your own skin. There was so definite "PRO's" there and then there were the not so in shape people. I have yet to ever meet a person that looks sexy in a swim cap - Lycra to your head. Hats off to the women races that did the whole race in their swim suit. I had a tri shirt & shorts which the shorts have a little padding in them for the bike portion of the race and both are to dry quickly.
The first wave of races started at 8 am. The did the Open division first and then went through the men's divisions before my turn was up. I started precisely at 8:24 am with the 35-39 Group. I was starting with what I envisioned my hardiest piece - the swimming. Basically we were making a giant horseshoe, out & back. Of course, it was no shock that the wave behind me, which started 3 minutes later, caught up to me. But, the positive was I wasn't the last one out.
Now it was off to the transition. I thought I would run there but couldn't find my legs once I got out of the water. I really appreciated the people on land telling me I had mud on my face. Hmmm - thanks, appreciate it. The transition went smoothly - which really consisted of me taking off the swim cap & goggles and then getting my bike helmet, glasses, gloves, socks & shoes on. I managed it all in under 3 minutes and was out the gate on the bike.
It was in that first two minutes of the bike that I really questioned what the F*#k I was doing trying to do a first Triathlon at 35 - I must have lost my mind. Now, my legs were tired, however, what made things worse is that they gave us a hill from hell right away. At that point, I can only assume that it is the first of more to come. It was tough, I quit and got off the bike and ran the bike up the hill. I can't tell you how many thoughts of this is going to suck, I should quit and turn back, what was I thinking, etc went through my head.
But - I pressed on and really the first hill was the only really BAD hill, the rest were more of a rolling hill. However, I must say that I have come to despise the ages on your calf. Especially when the fit, queen tri lady of 65 went flying past me on the bike. It appears my 6 minute head start from her was not enough! About mile mark 8, tragedy struck and the darn chain fell off. It had been grinding when I changed the upper gears so it was a shock that it fell off. Fortunately, in a matter of minutes, it was back on and I was off.
I finished the 11 mile ride and actually it was quite peaceful. The first part was pretty shaded with all the trees. It reminded me a lot of home and being back in the country. Of course, I did follow coaches advise and it was my "rolling buffet". I took in my gel packs and liquids to give me the fuel needed for the run.
I made it back to the tranistion area and outside of ditching the helmet and gloves, it was a quick transition. By next race I should be using my bike shoes & clips, so it will take a minute or two longer for the switch. Off on the run it was. Well, was suppose to be?
About 30 seconds into the run, my right calf cramped. It is the first time in my life that I can ever remember having a cramp like that in the middle of the event. Usually it is a charlie horse in the middle of the night. So no running, but I kept moving foward. I did a wog - walk jog for the 2 miles and towards the end - just decided to go for it and run. Of course, it helped that it was downhill to the finish line.
Until you experience it, there is no bigger rush that hearing people cheering you on and having the cow bells ringing as you race towards that finish line. My TNT folks were there on the side cheering on those of us that were still coming in. Maybe it would be cool to be on the sidelines cheering, but at the end - they cheered for me crossing the finish line. I wasn't the last one to cross and didn't promptly collapse either. I was promptly greeted with an ice towell and cold water. LOVED it and I DID it!