January 1st seems like a lifetime away, and that's about how long I feel like I have been training. Needless to say I have been itching and scratching to race! Granted the weather hasn't been the most ideal for lake swims but I was ready to get my feet wet. After wishing well to friends who have already started their race season I was counting down until it would be my turn.
So here we are, race weekend. It was funny to think that this would be my first Olympic race. Being the crazy-outgoing individual that I am I skipped that step and went straight to the half last year. But it made it more manageable in my mind, I knew I could handle this distance. More so I was hoping to come in the top of my age group!
This being my second time around there were a few "learning moments" I was sure to apply to this race. And surely this time I would by-pass the silly mistakes from the first time around....or not! It wasn't until I had gotten up to Deerfield that I realized I forgot my wetsuit and my helmet back in Chicago. A suge of panic rushed over me as I pulled over to check my trunk. Sure enough, it wasn't there. So began the mental game of convincing myself that this would be ok, don't panic, don't panic! ......I WAS PANICING!
It was probably about 3:30pm at this point, I was in Gurnee with my racing partner who was grabbing his stuff. Not that I hid it well, but he picked up on my panic pretty quickly and started trying to come up with a plan. We called everywhere near him, even a place in Milwaukee, to see if we could rent a wet suit and buy a helmet. The only place that offered that closed at 4, we would never make it. I called my coach, freaking out, and she told me I'd be fine swimming without the wetsuit but I would need to buy a helmet. I sat in Kris's front seat feeling absolutely broken, I hadn't trained without my wetsuit, I knew I could do it but my time wouldn't be what I was aiming for. We had been on the road for maybe 5 minutes when Kris decided to go back to Chicago for me to get it.
What a guy! I'm not gonna say we didn't sit in traffic and that it wasn't a really long trip, but I seriously appreciated this guy more than anything in the world at that point! We rolled into Lake Geneva around 7pm, checked into our hotel and scrambled to find some food so we could sit down and watch the Hawks game. Well, Kris watched the game...I chowed down my spaghetti and than passed out on the couch. BUT! I woke up in the last 1:40 of the game and pretended like I had watched all of it :P
I love the feel of race morning. There's so much adrenaline rushing through me, I rarely need more than one alarm to get up and I'm usually up several hours before. Like many people I have a morning routine: I have to have at least 45-60 minutes to have breakfast and coffee, listen to music and check email/fbook/twitter. I was up well before Kris, rockin' out to my EDM at the little bar in the kitchen, ready to race! But unlike other race mornings I wasn't as prepared. We still needed to pick up our packet. I would NEVER be the person who picks up their packet the morning of the race, but because of the shananagans I pulled the day before we missed the pickup window. Opps.
By the time we packed everything into the car and were on our way we literally had 30 minutes to get our stuff and an hour to put everything into transition. And OF COURSE there would be traffic trying to get into the race. My anxiety was getting the best of me, so finally I jumped out of the car with both mine and Kris's IDs/USAT cards and sprinted over to the packet pick up table and BEGGED the lady to give me both of our things. She probably felt bum rushed and looked crazy dazed and confused as she handed over both of our packets. Ok, fire extinguished. Now to get into transition. Set up was rushed, we didn't have much time and one of the volunteers kept yelling over an air horn how much time we had left. I literally wanted to shove it down his throat, it was making me so nervous!
By 7am everything was done, or as done as it was going to be and Kris and I headed over to the start. His wave was right before mine, and we were ready to go. I watched him take off and then lined up for my start. Despite knowing good and well I could do this distance I still had butterflies in my stomach. But there was no time for that, the gun went off and I ran into the water.....