Wednesday, August 20, 2014

the home stretch

The more this week goes on, the more excited I get for the triathlon to get here.  I really was indifferent not too long ago and just wanted to get it over with (because of the whole 6 months of training thing) but now that it is almost here I am feeling excitement again.

As per usual, I am still concerned about the swim – but what I lacked last time was confidence in myself and I think I have that this time…even though it is still intimidating as crap (the intimidating kind of crap that is).  At least I know I can swim a mile, which certainly helps things.  But I am definitely still keeping my fingers crossed for warm water and calm seas (my latest check showed water temp at 75 degrees, so things continue to look up on that front).  There is just something about cooler water that makes me unable to swim normally in it (probably the fact that it quite literally takes my breath away). 

I also should note I am also concerned about the bike and run (so, so long!) – but those aren’t nearly as scary as the open water swim so I will suck it up and not complain about them :).  Actually, scary isn’t even a good word for them.  They’re really just lengthy and all in succession so that makes them daunting.

But enough about my thoughts on the race, let’s talk about the actual race!

The Athlete’s Guide finally came out on Monday.  It seemed like it took forever for this thing to be released.  Of course the most important part is the wave start times and wow there is a lot of them.  With about 9,000 people total competing it is definitely going to be a bit crowded (at least this also includes some with events on Saturday).  I either start at 7:18 or 7:22am with up to 150 other individuals (although the average wave size is 80…let’s hope it’s closer to that!).  There were so many people signed up with the age group it had to be split into multiple waves.  Mark’s is even more split up – he has four potential waves he could be in (closer to 8am start time).  It’s going to be like bumper fish out there, especially once people who are faster swimmers catch up to slower individuals in waves ahead of them (probably even jumping multiple waves ahead). 

As I learned last time for the ITU, large-scale triathlons have a way of taking up your entire weekend.  It’s a combination of things you have to do for them and also accessibility.  Everything here is in and around Grant Park, which is just so big it’s miles and miles to get from A to B. 

Friday after work we’re heading to get our packets.  Since they changed the race course this year from prior years, the course talk was made mandatory, and they are restricting your ability to get your packet until you listen to it and are able to prove it.  They’re also requiring you to sign up for a session ahead of time, so I signed us up for 5:30.  I get off early on Friday (my second-to-last summer hours for the summer :( ) so I think I’ll head early and check out the Expo (which is massive), and probably be checking it out again after packet pickup with Mark (two times the goodies?).

Since we’re picking our packets up on Friday, technically Saturday we wouldn’t need to do anything triathlon-related (other than get all of our transition stuff together and eat properly), but they are offering Saturday bike-racking which we will be taking advantage of.  It certainly beats hauling that thing down there on the train at 4:30am on Sunday. 

And then comes Sunday.  Triathlons seem to be an event completed on minimal sleep (make that any race event, actually), because they all start so gosh darn early in the morning.  The transition area opens at 4am in the morning and then closes at 5:45.  Since our bikes will already be there, I’m assuming we will probably get there at about 4:45 or 5 to set up (so, about a 3am wakeup call I’d guess).  We’ll just need to check that nothing happened to our bikes overnight (tires decided to deflate, etc.) and lay out our gear, which shouldn’t take too long.  Then drop off our things at gear check and watch the swim waves start until it’s our time to go. 

And once it’s go time, it’s go time.  For fun, here’s the course map.  This thing goes all over Chicago – well, it goes far north and far south at least (and a little west in the Loop).  We will definitely get to see the city on the bike ride and run, that is for sure.  

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