Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pre-Race Recap: Chicago Triathlon

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.  This race was a doozy.  Well not really the race itself--that part was actually okay--but the whole getting there and getting set-up thing was crazy and crazy stressful and nearly gave me a heart attack.  Seriously, it was not good.
Before we get started with that story, here's a short synopsis of Saturday pre-race.
Like I mentioned before, on Saturday, my friend Laura and I headed into the city to check out the race expo, pick up packets and get body-marked scribbled on by teenagers.  We planned on getting back to my place in time to enjoy a late lunch of leftover pasta from Friday night, but we ended up still being in the city at 3 pm and we were starving.  Famished.  And I was starting to feel a little light-headed and dizzy-not a good sign.  Especially when we should have been consuming a few hundred calories more than normal to prepare for the race.  We really wanted to eat sandwiches and had settled on Potbelly's, but everywhere we tried to stop was closed.  Turns out a whole bunch of restaurants down there are only open Monday-Friday.  What the crap? So we ended up at Cosi, which we considered to be very similar to Panera.  We both got the sandwich and salad combo and split our baby carrots and chips.  Overall, the food was pretty good, and I really enjoyed my salad.  I did cheat a little on my pop-free challenge but only a little because they had this crazy fountain pop machine with a gazillion flavors.  They had a touch screen from which you could choose what you wanted and it all came out one spout.  I taste-tested some Fanta flavors with Laura, so in total I only had about 2-3 oz. of pop.
Once we got home we went for an easy-peasy 40 minute bike ride immediately followed with a 10 minute run.  Just a nice easy warm-up before the race.  Following that easy workout, our bikes got loaded into the car and we went inside to eat some of that left-over pasta.   We had to make a quick run to Target to pick up some last minute supplies, which I forgot about anyways so it doesn't matter.  Darn masking tape.  Impulse purchases in the form of popsicle molds and juice to fill said popsicle molds were made.  At about 9 pm, we were back home and in bed since our wake up call was coming at the ugly butt crack of dawn dark the next day.  Seriously, a 4 am rising from bed should only happen to go to the bathroom and then get back in bed, no other reason.  So the slightly cranky me and Laura hopped in the car with all our gear at 4:30 am to head down to the lake.  And this is where the adventure really begins.  By adventure, I really mean panic attacks.
First, my GPS wouldn't find Soldier Field which was where we were parking and I got flustered and forgot how to get to I-294.
Second, the on-ramp from I-294 to I-90 was closed, which I knew but again had forgotten about.
Third, the exit to get from I-94 to Congress Parkway was closed.
All the while, my heartbeat is going up and up and up with our ETA going later and later and later.
Fourth, we had to go around the area where the triathlon area was set-up.
Once we finally got to the parking garage it was already about 5:30 am and transition closes at 5:45 am.  In a panic, we threw together our bikes, grabbed our gear, and headed off towards transition.  Too bad I wasn't really sure how  to get to transition and did I mention it was still dark?
5:44:58 am
Approximately the time we arrived at transition. Racing pulse, shortness of breath, sweaty palms.  Symptoms of a heart attack or late-for-triathlon attack?
Our bikes basically had to be squeezed onto the racks because they were already full and we tossed our transition gear onto the ground, all the while they are yelling at us that we need to leave transition.  This is about the point where I realized I forgot my sunglasses and my masking tape.  Bleh.  At least my bike was in transition.
Thank goodness we made it.  I said about 1,000 praises to God at this point for getting me this far.
Ensue deep, calming breaths to make heart rate return to somewhat normal, or at least something around 100 bpm.
To pre-fuel for the race we headed off to the Michigan Ave. area to grab some breakfast.  Corner Bakery was our first stop, but apparently they don't open till 8 am on Sunday's? What the crap?  Don't you people want my business?  Thankfully, the ever faithful Dunkin' Donuts is open 24 hours a day so that's were we headed.  Coffee was on the menu for me and Laura was having coffee with a bagel.  The night before I had diligently crafted a breakfast cookie with banana and chocolate chip to eat before breakfast, but when I opened up the container I was greeted with a terrible surprise.  At 4 freakin' thirty in the morning I had grabbed the wrong container and was left with the cantaloupe pieces.  :(  So I ended up getting the egg-white flatbread because I needed some major fuel for the upcoming triathlon.
After our nice relaxing breakfast, we headed back towards race start to hit up the bathrooms disgusting porto-potties. Barf.  Oh and I forgot to mention, with everything else that was going wrong this weekend that I was also granted a visit from that monthly monster.  (Sorry any guy who reads this, you definitely didn't want to know that.) Yippee skippy...NOT! Let's just say that and porto-potties don't mix.
A short jaunt of a run warm-up followed along with some dynamic stretching.  You know, the kind where you swing your arms back-and-forth and do high knee runs.  Then I tried to get the strings out of my shorts so I could tie them on tighter so they didn't fall off.  Wish that would have been easy, but no! Laura ended up finding a scissors and cutting a slot in the shorts to pull the strings out, but only after I stabbed myself several times with a safety pin that I then somehow lodged in my shorts.  Go figure.
Laura ended up running into a few of her old friends at this point too.  And by run into, I literally mean ran into, like "Oh sorry for running into you, oh wait, hey I know you!"  At 8 am, we started to line up for our race!  Our start time was scheduled for 8:26 am, only 3.5+ hours after we had to be there.
This post is long enough but I will continue with the actual race recap on another post!
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