I got to Lake Van Friday early afternoon with the boys to stake out a camping spot - it was too early as I got to stare at the swim distance all day (it was already marked with buoys). I had been sick all week again and did nothing, except one open water swim on Wednesday evening in really windy, choppy water. So I was nervous with first time race nervousness, nervous with not working out all week nerves, then the swim just looked longer and longer as the day progress.
Slept relatively good, and woke at 4:30am. Tried to stay still and quiet for a while and "visualize" the race. Jeff finally woke up at 5:30 when I started moving around more and looking out the window to see who else was up and what they were doing. Ate a bagel with cream cheese, drank 6 oz water and 2 sips of coffee. Pinned my race number on my shirt. Got dressed, put all my transition stuff in my bucket. Helped the boys get dressed. Jeff and the boys and me walked over to the transition area with my stuff. I set up my transition area and realized that I didn't bring any sandals or flip flops to walk down to the swim start - so Jeff and the boys went back to the motor home and got my other pair of running shoes. I got marked - race number written on the sides of both arms and legs and my age on the calf of my left leg. Jeff sprayed me with sunscreen, we listened to the pre race announcements. Then we all sauntered down to my wave area. They started the swim in age group waves. My wave wasn't due to start for 15 minutes after the official start, so Jeff took the boys over to the playground and I just watched people, then watched each wave swim. Then just before my wave left for the start, Jeff was back with the boys to wish me luck and give me hugs. I was relatively calm by now. The swim started in the water with one hand on the pier. The gun went off and I waited a few beats before I started to make sure I wouldn't get run over. I started furthest from the rope line, so I started swimming diagonally to get to the rope, then once I was there I swam next to it breathing on my left to keep an eye on it. I started getting out of breath so I breast stroked a while and bumped one guy, who I then passed after we both apologized. I just kept moving alternating between breast stroke and freestyle, then around the half way buoy and kept alternating strokes till my fingers scraped bottom, the I walked out and to the transition area trying to catch my breath. Jeff and the boys were there as I came out of the water cheering me on.
At T1 I sat down on my bucket, rinsed my feet off with a water bottle, dried as best I good and put my "open a can" socks on, then my bike shoes, then my t-shirt, then my helmet and glasses. Took a sip of Gatorade and jogged my bike out of T1. Got on and started to relax. Took a look over to the lake and realized that I survived the swim. The guy that I passed in the swim passed me on the bike and said "we survived the swim!" I then concentrated on riding comfortably and not getting caught up with everyone passing me. I kept and eye on my mph and I was riding faster than I expected. The first quarter was easy - flat. The second quarter was a tough uphill, but I plugged along pretty good. Did the turn around and started downhill in a good breeze (no wonder the first half was so easy). Just kept plugging along. Ended up passing the same guy on the down hill.
Entered into T2 with Jeff and the boys right there cheering me on. Dismounted and had to tell my legs to stop going in circles. Racked my bike, took off my helmet, bike shoes, put on my running shoes - struggled with a bit of grass in the shoes. Took a swig of Gatorade and jogged out of T2. First mile I kept debating with myself if I should stop and stretch my calves as they were tight, but I didn't want to stop and loose my momentum so I didn't stop. Oh yeah that guy passed me again on the run... At the 1.5 marker I started to get a little stitch in my side, decided to walk a little. Walked off an on for the next half mile, then at the 2 mile marker decided to run the rest of the way one marker at a time. My feet were hurting and a little numb, but my calves weren't bothering me any more and no side stitch. I just kept plugging away until I saw the finish line, then I picked it up for the last 50 yards and crossed the line - got all choked up because there was Jeff and the boys cheering me on.
The time on the finishing line was around 2:15, and it took me a minute to remember my watch and stop it, but I stopped it at the 2:01:17. So I beat my estimated time of 2:10 by 10 minutes.
My official time was 1:59:49, and I beat two men - sure one was 78, but I wasn't last... Anyway I signed up in the Athena class, which is a female weight class of over 150 lbs. During the awards ceremony, they announced my name as the first place winner of Athena, 39 years and under. I was stunned. Then realized that there were no 2nd or 3rd places - meaning I was the only one in that class, but hey I got a trophy!!
I did it. Now I'm pumped and ready to do it again. Already signed up for the Fat Tire Tri in Fort Collins, CO. Figured I'd tri a little while visiting my pregnant sister. She's excited too!