I woke at 3:30 a.m. and ate a bagel, donut peaches and a glass of O.J. We left the house at 4:30 a.m. My brother dropped me off at T1 (Transition 1) by 5 a.m. for body marking and special needs bag drop. I boarded a school bus to T2 (Transition 2), for the swim start. Arrived at T2, 15 minutes later, used the bathroom, pumped air into my bike tires, put water bottles on my bike cages, and ate my second breakfast – bagel with peanut butter. I walked to my bike transition bags and untied the knot, fixed my bike gear and put on my wetsuit for the swim start. At 6:30 a.m. we were allowed into the water to warm up, and 7:00 a.m. the gun went off. I stayed a little behind the main crowd of swimmers and waited until they swam first. It was kind of beautiful, to swim with so many other people surrounding you. I didn’t feel too stressed. I unintentionally hugged the buoys. They were so bright and it was reassuring to be close to them. Everyone seemed to take it easy for the first 7 buoys, which was the first stretch before the turn. I didn’t even feel like I was using much energy, trying to find my groove in the mass of people. When we went around the first turn, people started picking up the pace, but I just kept on thinking, like Dory, says in the movie “Finding Nemo,” just keep swimming, just keep swimming. After the second and third turn (a triangle course), we made it to the second lap. I was pretty happy to make it to the second lap because I didn’t feel like I was struggling and I was keeping up with others. My worst fear was to have everyone leave me and be alone in the water. I was grateful to have others around me, even though sometimes it felt like bumper cars. Only twice, did I stop my stroke, because I felt someone grab my ankle. Not a simple, sorry, I bumped into you, but a full grab, pulling me down. It was definitely intentional because no one swims accidentally grabbing a foot. It happened twice and I couldn’t see the other swimmer, so it wasn’t a big deal but definitely not nice.
I made it out of the water, 2.4 miles in 1 hour and 36 minutes, which is not bad at all, considering I only swam maybe 10 times the whole summer. I also didn’t site too bad, the buoys were fairly clear and easy to see. I did not veer off the course much. I tried to draft a few times but I wasn’t very good at maintaining the close distance, so that’s something to practice for another time. All in all, I was happy with my time. I know I could have been quicker, possible coming out of the water at 1:15 if I trained properly/consistently.
Into transition, it was a strange feeling, walking out of the water, moving from horizontal to vertical. I followed the path to the strippers/peelers, and followed their directions. They helped unzip my wetsuit and told me to lie down so they could peel off the wetsuit. I said, thanks walked to my bike bag, and changed my clothes in the transition tent. I was very grateful for the volunteer in the tent who helped me change out of my wet clothes. Surprisingly, it was very difficult to change out of my swimsuit into my bike kit. Next time, I will definitely just wear a tri-kit so I won’t have to struggle with changing out of wet gear.
Out of the tent, a quick stop to the porta-potty and then I got my bike. It was heartwarming to see my fan club: brother, his wife, and my friends at the transition area. They were cheering for me and were all smiles. I also loved all the volunteers and fans at the swim exit. They said words of encouragement, like “you look great!”
Onto the bike course, the first 5 miles were difficult. I had a hard time getting my heart rate and breathing to be normal. We started climbing very soon into Callaghan Valley. Home to the Winter Olympic 2012 Nordic Ski course. It was 8 miles of climbing at a 10% grade. Very difficult, but not overwhelming. At the turn around, it was 8 miles downhill, passing thru Whistler (where I saw my friends and family again), then onto Pemberton. It was at mile 60 that my back started to hurt. I remembered all the friends who supported me getting here, and remembered I must persevere. By mile 80, I was having a difficult time and peddled almost every other stroke to stand and stretch my back while on my bike. I stopped into a med tent and the most they could give me was Ibuprofen. I kept pedaling but knew I would have trouble making the cut off time. I biked thru more climbs, making my way back to Whistler, but 8 minutes too late. I was not allowed to continue onto the run.
I tried my best and would not have done anything differently on race day. It was a great course (scenic, beautiful and the temperature was excellent.) There was so much love everywhere. Maybe, I might try for an IM finish one day, but not any time soon.