Race weekend - all the buzz, the excitement, and the nerves all wrapped up into a nice package called athlete check-in. One thing I've noticed about triathlon expos, albeit my experience is very limited, is that the lines are so much longer here than at marathon expos. I've never had to wait in line to get my packet at a marathon and I even went to the big mammoths of NYC and Chicago. I guess all the extra numbers, bibs, bracelets, waivers, and swag causes a backlog of people. My initial impression from the check-in and buzz around the city is that this is a big-time event. I guess it's big by default when you have the greatest female triathlete of our time, maybe ever, racing here. It will be an honor to race behind Chrissie Wellington and maybe even catch a glimpse of her athletic abilities out on the course. By my calculations she'll likely be finished by the time I get off the bike, but I'll at least get to see her come out of the water since my wave starts 44 minutes after her start. Hopefully she'll be sticking around the finishing chute to greet all of us age groupers as we finish up our day.
My weekend in Lawrence started on Friday afternoon. I pulled into town about 2:30 PM and checked in at the hotel and dropped off my bags. I basically brought my entire apartment with me on this trip. Packing for a triathlon followed by a vacation in Colorado is pretty impossible. I had to pack for the heat and the cold and for training on the road. I basically could live out of my car for at least a few weeks. After unloading the car, I headed out to Clinton Lake to check-in and grab my swag at the "expo". I put that in quotations because all of the check-in and merchandise tents are set up in a camp ground near the lake. It's a pretty small expo area, but I bought some souvenirs for myself and gawked at all the extremely fit people around me. It's unreal how fit most of these men and women look at these races. Lean and mean is definitely the look of the day. My muffin tops sure are going to stick out on Sunday.
After the expo, I drove the bike course so I could at least get some sort of feel for what my day would be like. It's definitely a rolling hill course with almost no flats. It looks like I'll be shifting quite a bit and trying not to burn out my legs on the ascents. It's going to be great prep for Louisville and will be a nice gauge of where I'm at in my training. Friday night consisted of a grocery run to pick up bagels, bananas, and fruit, followed by a to-go pick-up of pasta, chicken, and breadsticks from a local Italian joint. I spent the rest of my night curled up on my bed listening to music and enjoying some downtime. Today started easy enough with no alarm and a quick run for Starbucks when I woke up. I ate some breakfast, iced my knees/Achilles, and headed out for a quick 30 minute ride on my bike to test out my positioning. I tweaked my aero pads just a bit because on my ride on Thursday it felt like they were slanting out and down so I never felt really secure. After a slight adjustment, it felt much better on my short ride today and it was off to check in my bike at T1. The T1 and T2 areas are separate from each other at this race so getting around the race site isn't quite as easy as my other races I've done. I'll have to make sure to be diligent about setting up both of my transitions in the morning so I don't forget anything.
Here's the real kicker for this weekend though. Rain, rain, and more rain. Unfortunately it looks like tomorrow is going to be pretty dicey. The weather forecast is looking pretty grim for a timely start or even racing at all. Today (Saturday) was absolutely perfect. Light winds, temps in the low 80s, low humidity, and sunshine. Perfect day for a triathlon. Perfect day for bike check-in at this race though. The buzz around the transition area was obviously the forecast for storms. Transition was littered with bikes shrouded in plastic bags to cover the seats and handlebars. Athletes talked about what they had heard from race officials and speculation was rampant on how long they'd delay the start before completely calling off the race. This added element of uncertainty really has helped calm my nerves. I'm not as fidgety as I was earlier in the week and I'm at peace with my readiness for this race. I'm going into tomorrow with a focused mind, willing heart, and what feels like is just the right combination of training/taper to have a successful day. The bags are packed, the race gear is laid out, and my feet are propped up, snugly tucked into my compression socks. All I can do now is try to sleep and see what Mother Nature has in store for tomorrow. The only thing I can control at this point is my attitude. Tomorrow will be a good day.
As far as expectations, I'm going in with a few loose goals in mind. I haven't nailed down anything concrete because I really don't know how the body will react at this distance. My long brick days have been decent and I feel like my swim is stronger than last year. However, I've never put it all together on one day so there's a lot of unknown for me at this distance. Will my nutrition plan work? Will my run suffer because of my bike? Will my bike be strong enough to hit my goal? Was my swim at Route 66 legit? Due to my lack of racing in triathlon, I have a lot of questions still. Until I race more, I think it's going to be really hard to nail down a time. Here are my loose goals as of this evening:
Swim - 45 minutes (based on Route 66 I could go under 40 on a good day)
Bike - 3 hours 15 minutes (all my rides were windy in OK so I went conservative b/c I don't know)
Run - 1 hour 50 minutes (the biggest factor will be how the bike treats my legs and if I pace properly)
Transitions - 10 minutes total (I'm notoriously slow at transitions)
Total Time - 6 hours
I'll obviously be happy with any time tomorrow as long as I cross the finish line. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for some good weather, fresh legs, and cooperative digestive system. I'll see you guys tomorrow night after I soak it all in. Run happy friends. Don't forget to send some good vibes my way tomorrow. Track me live at www.ironman.com : Bib #955, Last Name : Sloan