My first Olympic distance triathlon was Sunday. In a rare moment of lucidity, I realized that I had NO IDEA what people do with spare tires, CO2 cartridges, etc. on these races. All I have ever raced are sprint distances and I figure if I get a flat, I am a DNF since it takes me about a day to change a tire. Normally while out riding I wear a jersey with huge pockets that can carry pretty much everything one would ever need.
But I would be sporting a Tri singlet - not much room there. There are two tiny slit pockets on the side, enough to hold a GU maybe. A bento box would hold important nutritional items like GU, fig newtons and possibly a ham sandwich. I realized that I had no idea what the big kids do with this kind of stuff.
Email advice from Coach Joe was "just use a small seat bag". Well duh...So off to the LBS I went to spend some money. I settled on this great little kit. I love that it is pretty much self contained and compact.
While at the LBS, I bought some new water bottle cages that actually MATCH. I then went over to the Springfield Running Center to pick up some sundries and talked up the race to Derek, co-owner of the store.
Back home, I laid out my practice transition area in the middle of the kitchen. The cats, in true cat fashion, realized that something was up and attempted to block my escape.
Reindeer Mary worked at the Girls on the Run 5K Saturday morning and then came straight over. We loaded up my Escape and hit the road for Carlyle. Weather forecast for race day looked terrible -- wind and thunderstorms. The rain would be ok, I would take that over wind on a bike ride any day.
The drive to Carlyle was uneventful. Getting there is easy. You hop on I-55 and take that south to Raymond, then follow 127 the rest of the way. You pass through a lot of little towns that have been hit hard by the recession.
In Greenville we stopped at McDonalds and got grilled chicken sandwiches. It seemed like one of the healthier options. There are some very cool old mansions in Greenville and the town has a distinctly southern feel to it.
Once through Carlyle, we took Route 50 to Salem, Illinois and passed through more sleepy little towns and rolling pastures. Lake Carlyle is a Corps of Engineers lake that was formed by damming the Kaskaskia River and there has been a LOT of flooding this spring. So much in fact that as recently as a week before the race, there was some question about whether or not this event would actually occur.
I had made reservations at the Comfort Inn in Salem, so we went there first and checked in. It was hard to find a hotel room for the weekend. We learned that there were graduations going on, plus there were two huge weddings, so hotels were at a premium.
Dumped my stuff in the room and although it had a "nonsmoking" sign on the door, I was pretty sure the room had a distinct odor of stale smoke. Being in a hurry, I thought nothing of this.
We got to packet pickup, which was uneventful. They checked licenses and USAT status. Mary had mistakenly grabbed her Blue Cross card rather than driver's license. Fortunately the good people at pickup accepted this as a form of identification. We were handed shirts, race bibs and bright yellow swim caps.
We Meet Some BT Folks
Walking through the parking lot, I saw a guy who looked really familiar. He looked like Mike (code name ransick) of Beginner Triathlete fame. We introduced ourselves and exchanged phone numbers. While typing in "ransick" my iphone autocorrected his name to "ransack". I knew better than to fight an iphone and left it.
Down to the water we went for a practice swim. While shoehorning ourselves into our wetsuits, I noticed another BT'r, also named Mike. He was there camping with his family and had just tried out the chilly waters of Lake Carlyle. Mary and I stood on the shore and looked out across the waters at the orange buoys. This picture doesn't really do it justice. It looked like the last buoy was at least a mile out there.
The water was a brisk 65 degrees and kind of a murky greenish brown. You couldn't see much more than a foot in front of your face. We decided to swim out to the yellow buoy that marked the sprint course and then come back. This went well although I could feel the slight wave action on the return. We clambered out onto shore, went to the restroom/bathhouse and hosed the skanky lake water off.
It was getting late in the afternoon. JHouse and his lovely wife, Michele, their baby William, and their giant dog Haans rolled into town. They had missed packet pickup by about a half hour. The website for the Gateway Olympic gave two different times, so it was a litte confusing. We sat around on a picnic table and searched for a restaurant on our iphones. Ransa(i)ck made a call to his brother-in-law to get a recommendation and came up with nothing.
Applebees in Salem seemed to be the safest option. Everyone piled in their cars and drove the 24 miles. The House clan were lodging at the Super 8 next door to the Comfort Inn (dog friendly kind of place) and went to check in while we got a table. The place was absolutely packed with softball players, triathletes, and some people who had so many tattoos that I wondered if a carnival was in town.
We had some pretty good fare at Applebees. This is a cajun shrimp pasta that was tasty and came with a nice breadstick.
Mary enjoyed some kind of shrimp-on-a-stick that looked really nice. Coach Joe's baby enjoyed what I think was some kind of pureed chicken with vegetables. It was about the color of Lake Carlyle.
A highlight of the dinner was watching Suzie the Giraffe be tortured in a deep pool of ice water.
After dinner it was off to the hotel for an early bedtime.