October 23, 2011. Austin Texas.
The event was well organized. This is my first triathlon with two separate transition areas. Three large plastic bags with drawstrings were provided. The morning bag for items to put in last minute and things you need after the race. Bike bag for helmet, shoes, nutrition, race belt, and to put the wetsuit in after the swim. Run bag for shoes, nutrition, and fuel belt. It was definitely cleaner in the transition areas and there was no over lap with the person next to you. I also liked this aspect because the volunteers pick up your bags and all your gear is shipped over to a final pick up place.
Swim: The water was warm, so I used my O'Neil wet suit-shorter on bottom and top. The water was calm and the sun was coming up as the waves went out. This is the best race swim I have had overall. I felt calmer and more prepared.
T1: I had a rough night prior to the race. Sick-vomitting, chills and slept maybe 2 hours straight. So I took my time in T1 and drank a half a bottle of gatorade and ate a Larabar. At this point, I was thinking I might not be able to finish the day, but I would at least get to ride my bike somewhere I had never been.
Bike: Texas has beautiful scenery. It's so different from what I'm used to in the Pacific Northwest. There were bridges and small streams, over grown brush, tumble weeds, estate type houses and churches, beat up trailers, abandoned cars and some distinct Hispanic communities. It was like a country music song unfolding as I rode along. The surface of the roads are quite bumpy and at the half way mark, I got off my bike and stretched my arms. The challenge that day was the high temps and wind. This was the first time I have felt myself moved over by the wind while I was on my bike. It feels a little scary, especially down hill when there are other riders around you. Despite the conditions, my bike time was what I thought it would be. As I rode into transition, I got to see my friend Sonja on her run. That was definitely a boost and I thought, I am going to finish today!
T2: By this time in the afternoon, the sun was bright and hot. I had water left over, so I just dumped it over me and started for the run.
Run: The run course was changed due to the drought conditions. Apparently the trail portion was cracked-raised in parts and sunk in others and the race officials deemed it unsafe. I had three loops ahead of me without shade. I think this was more of a psychological challenge than physical. I have run 13 miles before and I knew I could do it, but I had to mentally prepare for the monotony of three loops in the baking sun. The first loop was great and it felt good to stretch my legs after the bike. I started to get really warm and I heard someone behind me say I was swaying. I slowed way down. I had made it that far and it was a fine line between pushing it and over heating or jog/walking and making it to the end. The route went by the lake and it was extremely tempting to jump in and be done. The crowd support was amazing. People were handing out ice chips and one group of spectators brought a hose hooked up to a water cooler and made a little shower. The finish line approach was more of a shuffle. I'll always remember the song over the load speakers as I finished in the cool air conditioned arena.
There are moments when I still can't believe I did it.