Thursday, August 9, 2012

Saturday: Expo-Expert-Excited

Twenty-three years old and I still have a love for slumber parties and the juvenile act of jumping on the beds in hotel rooms. It’s almost like a necessity when you walk into the room. You take a moment to look around at how clean (usually) everything is, drop your bags just inside the door and flop yourself onto the bed. Then there is always the question of who gets what bed. Since there were three of us with two queen sized beds we did what any normal adults would do…..push the beds together to  make an ultra bed :)

I made sure to sleep on one of the ends of the mega bed so when I woke up at 6am Saturday morning I wouldn’t wake Liv and B. I mean there was little sense to this because it was only about 30 minutes before I ended up waking them up anyways out of the sheer excitement to start the day. In fact the night before I sat down with a pen and paper to draw out what needed to be done throughout the day and an hour-by-hour schedule. They both thought I was nuts but because they’re my friends, they went along with it. A cup of coffee later and a few shuffles in and out of the bathroom later we headed down to the main lobby for breakfast. Surprisingly the food was plentiful and not just a bunch of crap. Although I will say that I ended up bringing my Keurig with me because I am a huge coffee person and the hotel stuff just wasn’t going to cut it….I know, I’m such a snob. After breakfast we headed back up to the room to grab my bike and things I would need to check into transition. I drove most of the weekend and we always got to where we needed to go faster than expected, something about a lead foot and a car that can break some wind gets me all excited.
We drove around downtown Racine again, which actually looks a whole lot different during the day than at night. A lot less sketch to say the least. The Civic Center was amazing in and of itself. There was just an overwhelming feeling of exhilaration that overcame me seeing all of these athletes checking in. Granted we were there much, much, much earlier than everyone else but I was soaking in every little bit. Having been through expos for other races before I have to say this one was well put together. I walked up to the first desk and they gave me my number and packet. Onto the next and the lady asks me, “What’s your lucky number?” I look at her and say “3”. She took my packet information and goes, “No it’s 1010, because that’s you’re number”. Right, I should have known that, triathlete humor. A hop, skip and a jump later and I had gotten my timing chip, a free draw string bag, my racing license, a shirt and my number with more safety pins than I can even imagine ever needing, because those buggers are easily lost!
Of course I made it a point to look at and touch everything at each of the stands, because I could. I was pumped, in a few hours I would be competing and (hopefully) complete my first 70.3.  One of my bad habits whenever I go to any expo is when I get up to the register. I love collecting clothes from every big race I do. I definitely over-did the marathon gear last year. So I was admiring all of the Ironman gear but decided against anything with the Ironman logo on it simply because I felt like it would be a bigger enjoyment to purchase when I sign up for the full distance. I did however find an awesome sweatshirt that I have worn more times than I can count and a t-shirt that has my name on it….how do you not buy clothing with your name on it!? Truth be told though, Alivia found the shirt before I did, and I caved to peer pressure!

My coach told me not to make multiple trips in and out of the expo because it would probably be a disaster with all of the people and that triathletes tend to be cocky sons of ….but I forgot to add the water bottle holster on to the bike so we had to run back in really quick to grab an allen wrench. Not to mention I think I held a record that day of peeing something like 4 times in a half hour, it was sick! We left the expo and didn’t look back….because the beach in front of us was too gorgeous not to go sit by it. Alivia, Brian and I decided to hang out by some of the rocks on the lake (which actually had more spiders than the second harry potter movie…you’re welcome Mara and Ron for the reference). There were still quite a few things on the list for the day and I was beyond obsessed with hydrating. At that point I may have been at water bottle number three with my third tablet of electrolytes. Also I will admit that I do have a problem with water. Whenever I have it, which is always, it’s gone before I even realize I was drinking it. I mean this is only a problem when I don’t have access to the bathroom…or when you have friends with you that are annoyed with the constant pit stops J
After a few minutes we hopped back into the Rav 4 and headed to the beach, where the start of the race and transition would be located. I brought my wet suit with me so I could have a quick go with it before tomorrow and apparently quite a few people had the same idea. The water was warm and the suit complimented me well enough. I went with my coaches suggestion and did a sleeveless suit but the guys at the store made fun of me for it….who’s laughing now?! haha. Me, it’s always me J So I was in for maybe 15 minutes before I hauled myself back to shore and jumped on the bike for a quick ride. Now I didn’t have my shoes or anything with me but my thinking was it would be good just to have a quick go on it. It was only after I had peddled up the wicked steep hill that I realized I didn’t have my helmet on and one of the rules in the race packet is that if you are caught by an official at any point during the weekend on your bike without a helmet you could face a DQ. I hopped off that bike so fast and walked it back to the car.
Ok enough messing around, time to say goodbye to the bike until tomorrow. Liv, Brian and I walked the bike over to transition but only I could actually go in. I looked around at all of the bikes that were already there. I drooled over a few of them and eventually found my spot in the racks. I think I got lucky because my spot was right by the bike in-bike out location. Which meant I would be farther away from the run but hey, you’re running anyways right? I was a little weary of having to run in my biking shoes, knowing me I would probably face plant on the way. This was good. I bagged up the seat and handle bars, took a moment and said bye to my bike.

Two hours. That’s about the amount of time we had before I had to be back on the beach for the info session. So naturally we decide to drive all the way back to the hotel, stopping at subway on the way, so I could shower and change my clothes. It was a lot more driving around than was probably necessary but B was great and switched off with me. I think the biggest let down was the sandwich though, it was just awful, not cooked all the way…we blamed the guy who didn’t know what was going on the whole time we were there. Back in the car and onto the beach. By this point it was 3pm and everyone had more than likely checked in a dropped off stuff to transition (because if you weren’t in by 5 you couldn’t race). That being said there was literally no parking; we pulled a quick Chinese fire drill and I ran over to the grassy area where the official was explaining expectations for tomorrow. I was a little intimidated by his explanation of drafting and the different penalties that you could receive. At the end of it I wandered off to try and find the two knuckleheads because even though they said they’d park and come find me…they didn’t. I must have called them 7 times each and finally I plopped down on a bench and tweeted Alivia: “I’m tweeting you because you’re not answering your phone and I’m lost #comefindme”. Sure enough my phone goes off and she had replied to my tweet “We’re at the beach”. I am still confused on how she didn’t get one of my phone calls but thank goodness for twitter! We sat around for a while and then headed out to dinner.

I had made dinner plans with one of my old co-workers from the Elmhurst YMCA. He is something of a triathlete guru and I hadn’t seen him in a while so he invited me to their team dinner. It was at this nice Italian restaurant and we had something close to 20 people at dinner. Our waitress absolutely hated us though. I’m not sure why but we told her ahead of time that we were going to need pitchers of water. She copped an attitude at everything we asked for after that one. While at dinner I was listening to the many stories that people shared about past races but the best one was probably the game that some of the athletes played while biking. It works something like a point system where during the bike, if you pass someone with an aero helmet you get 25 points, aero tires are also 25 points, Iron Man tattoos are worth 50 points but if you get “chicked” (passed by a chick) you lose 50. I almost fell out of my chair laughing, did they really do this?

After dinner we all headed back to the hotel, it was going to be bed time soon. Or I was telling myself I was going to try to go to bed….I already knew that was going to take some convincing…

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