Monday, September 5, 2016

The Chicago Triathlon: Saturday - The Day Before

*Sorry this has taken so long! I was ridiculously busy after waking up on Friday - 18 miles run, 24 hours of travel during those 36 hours of waking time, following by combating jetlag yesterday. I originally wrote this post while I was traveling but could not get the pictures to insert to save my life, and this is the first sit-down time I've had to work on things. So here goes! Flashback to last weekend!*

Saturday started bright and early with a stop at my friend Holly's to get my nails done. It had been like a month since I'd seen her, and I was hoping for some super sweet triathlon art. She did not disappoint either! Check out the cool designs for yourself:

After Holly's I'd planned to go home, eat, then head to the gym for my final training workout - a quick swim. The fates had something different in store for me though...less than 3 minutes from my house I rear-ended the person in front of me. I thought she had turned but apparently after starting her turn she decided to bail on that idea, and I slammed into her when I went to turn.

After making sure she was okay, I started to panic that maybe my car wouldn't be driveable enough to get me downtown - just what I needed. The few days leading up to the weekend ended up being pretty stressful (and expensive) for me, and the last thing I needed was a police report and a ticket.

In the end we didn't call the police because her car looked fine (mine did not look great). I decided I would have to skip the gym and head home to have my brother check out my car. It was almost 9 at this point, and I was supposed to pick my friend Tina up at 12:30...and I still had to pack!

After getting home and taking a shower my brother told me my car was driveable...but to keep my speed down and try not to hit anyone else ;) Feeling relieved that I didn't have to make emergency last minute plans, I got down to packing. And guys...triathlon takes a *lot* of stuff:
I took all of this...
...and turned it into this!
I was ready to bounce right at 12:30 (with a sandwich for the road), and picked Tina up a few minutes later.

Sidenote...Tina and I are both new to triathlon and one day she was asking about races to sign up for and I practically begged her to do this with me. She's amazing, so she said yes, and flew in from Minneapolis for the event!

Anyways...before heading downtown we had to stop at a local bike store to pick up Tina's rental. Though super helpful with everything, the guy helping us took *forever*. What should have taken about 15 minutes took 30, and we were hitting the road to Chi with exactly 1 hour and 30 minutes...for the 1 hour and 30 minute trip.

(Of note...I *finally* purchased a tire kit and saddle bag for my bike when we were at the store. I do know how to change a flat, so if I got in trouble on the bike I'd at least be a little prepared.)

I wish I could say differently, but the ride in was not stress free. Traffic was terrible the whole way in, and we had to stop at two different Oasises. Coming up to the first I though my car was making a funny noise...and it was. This dumb piece of plastic that hangs from my front bumper had been knocked loose. I put it back in place and we left, but 10 minutes later I was pulling into another oasis and pulling out the packing tape in my glove box to ghetto rig it so it wouldn't keep dragging.

With that, we made our way into the loop, having added a good 20 minutes to our time.

And as soon as we got there I was reminded of why I love that I don't live or work in Chicago...parking.

We drove around and around and around the parking garage of the Hilton Chicago. Up and up and up....and found nothing. So I started driving down down down, greatly agitated at the thought of having to find another parking garage...and an open spot appeared. On the 2nd floor. Magic.
Putt-Putt and Ariel, set up with a new saddle bag!
*Sidenote* - I chose the Hilton Chicago because they host the course talks and packet pick up, and they had a really good discount for race participants (something like $168 per night plus taxes and parking, which was $56). Given the prices for Chicago hotels, this was pretty good. The hotel was within walking distance (~20 min) of transition, comfortable and - best of all - quiet. Between the two of us, it was a very doable stay.

The first thing we did was check in and get our room keys (it was 3:45 at this point and we had already missed the course talk we'd registered for). From registration I tucked the keys in my wallet and we went straight to the course talk so we could get stamps to pick up our packets.

The course talk was informative *and* funny. The guy doing the talk was the swim start announcer for the race which we found out *after* I joked to Tina that the guy had a total radio voice. Ilost all of the notes I took about it, but in addition to notes about the course and transition and all that, I know I jotted down some stuff about the following:

  • A portion of the course goes through Wacker and Lower Wacker drive. I quote, "If you feel like *are* Batman
  • The water temp was measured Saturday at 70*. Announcer dude told us not to get too excited, and to wait for the official reading the next morning
  • And my favorite, "When you're out there on the course, looking around, just remember...It's not her race. It's not his race. It's your race."

From the course talk we got our hands stamped:
...then headed to packet pickup!
So excited!
...and followed that up with a tour of the expo, free samples, and a couple more pictures:

We closed out the expo (note to self: leave the house earlier next year) and headed to my car to grab our bikes and head to transition to rack them. We adjusted our seats, pumped some air into the tires and test road our bikes around the parking garage. As we were leaving I heard something on my tire clinking, and looked down to see that the magnet for my bike computer had come loose and was sliding on the spoke. I was super peeved because I'd just had the bike tuned up, and they adjusted the sensor but forgot to tighten the screw afterwards. I decided I would look for a bike tech and a screwdriver when we got to transition (to ruin it for you: I didn't, I didn't, and I rode without the computer).

We decided to *walk* from our hotel to the lake front path (rather than ride our bikes), which turned out to be a good idea since we almost got nailed by traffic in a weird and dumb ambulance-vs-dumb driver situation. When we finally made it to Columbus we hopped on our bikes and rode as far as we could before walking them into transition. I found my wave's rack (17) without too much trouble, and snagged a picture of the end of the row so I could study it and know where to turn in coming from the swim (because 4,000 bikes):
When I turned down the row right in front of the bush my bike was about ~50 yards down, past another tree.
At this point we were pretty hungry, and I ended up relinquishing my pre-race pizza ritual for some Asian fare. We went to a place called Tamarind, and it was okay (I got duck, brown rice, and veggies, as well as a chicken salad). Though the food was decent, I had some cramping the next day, and I won't be breaking my ritual again! Pizza is what does it for me!

We got back to the hotel and finally grabbed our things from my car, getting up to our room at almost 8:30. We'd left my/Tina's house right around 12:30, so it had been a very long day already, and we still had to sort through our things for the next morning.

I was feeling particularly gross, so I took a shower and changed into my pjs, then applied my race tattoos for the next day:
Swim Bike Run...and when you're asleep, you should be dreaming about it!
You can find these pants at SwimBikeSell!
I also laid out everything I needed for the next day, packing it all into my TYR bag (or my 'master' transition bag), and setting out my tri kit, water bottles, and Camelbak.

Right around 10 we climbed into bed. We chatted for a while and I think we both dozed off around 10:30...

...and that was just the start!

Stay tuned, because I'll be back with a full recap of Sunday's activities soon :)


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