Pre-race LogisticsI arrived in Chicago on Monday evening and took the "L" from O'Hare to downtown. There was another guy on the train who had a fancy bike box and I was pretty sure he was going to the same place I was, but I never got up the nerve to talk to him.
The HostelCoach Dave met me on the street once I got off the "L" and walked me to the Hostel. I decided to stay at a hostel because one week there cost as much as one night in a budget hotel in Downtown Chicago. I was in a "semi-private" room with eight other women. There were two bedrooms with two bunk beds in each and a bathroom and a sitting room.
Oh and a "kitchen" which looked like it had once been a full kitchen but all that worked were the fridge and microwave and the cabinets were completely empty. Weird.
It was a little awkward at first rooming with people I didn't know. Plus, I was assigned a top bunk which meant at least once a day I almost died trying to get either up or down the ladder. But, as the week wore on, it got more fun as we got more roommates who were into the Hostel thing and immediately introduced themselves and started chatting.
However, I definitely recommend that, if you are going to share a room in a hostel, you know at least one of your roommate. Having to constantly introduce yourself to new people and adjust to them is a bit wearing.
Packet PickupThe next day Coach Dave and I went down to get our packets. The procedure was a breeze for us, but there was a sign telling the Canadian athletes they weren't allowed to pick up their packets because their National Federation hadn't paid yet! I thought that was a shitty thing to do actually. ITU could have just said those athletes couldn't get their packets and to talk to your federation. The public shaming wasn't necessary especially as later on Brazil got added to the sign, which suggests maybe the ITU was part of the problem.
After we got our packets and our bodies marked, we decided to check out the course. This involved a lot of walking. A lot. That's because packet pickup was on one side of the venue and the Swim Out and World Champion transition area was at the other. The venue was about a mile long. Getting from the Swim Out to the Transition entrance and the all the way through transition to Run Out was almost half a mile on top of it. I probably ended up walking over two miles just that morning and maybe four miles over the course of the day. That's a lot of walking right before a race.
My New Best FriendOne of the cool things about being at Worlds is meeting a bunch of other athletes who are similar to you. At first, all I could see were these super hard-body athletes. I was feeling fat and uncoordinated and like a poser. But then I ran into the Austin Gals -- a group of women my age with all body types from Austin, TX who were all doing the Aquathlon, too. One of them introduced herself as "Hi, I'm P and I'm your new best friend." I answered back "Okay. Oh and I'm Mac" and then we all hung out for the rest of the day.
We attended the Aquathlon Team USA Photo shoot and did the Swim Course Preview and had a great time comparing notes on how we got there and how we expected to do.
Swim Course PreviewSpeaking of the Swim Course preview, I also got to swim in the harbor. Originally we were told we couldn't do that and we'd have to do our swimming somewhere else. At the last minute they put a course preview on the schedule. It was a chance to see how cold this "very cold" water was and to try out my racing kit.
The water was wonderful. We were told the water temp was 16° C and that wetsuits were mandatory. I am pretty sure the water was warmer (low 60s) and, since it was so hot on land, it felt so good when I jumped in.
I just swam one loop which they said was 350 meters. I had no watch but it felt like a good swim. I wasn't the last out of the water of our group that all went in at the same time. And I felt like my stroke was efficient, if not super-fast.
Race DayThe next day I didn't have to get up very early because I didn't have to be into transition until 9:30 am! My wave didn't go off until noon and we had to be out of transition by 10:30. Plus ITU does this thing where they want you to have a "clean" transition area. That means no mats or towels or water bottles or sunscreen. Just your biking stuff (if doing a tri) and running stuff. Oh and no transition bag either.
All of this caused me to be a bit off my game. I ended up switching bags to a smaller one after packing the night before and this caused me to forget my timing chip as it got stuck to the first bag without me realizing it.
Setting UpI got to transition pretty early, around nine, and set everything up, watched the officials yell at people for having transition mats and make them put them away and then did my 10 minute run for my warm up. There were a lot of other people running in transition too.
I was worried that warming up 2.5 hours before my event was a bad idea, but I wasn't sure what else to do. Then I left my shoes behind and walked barefoot to the bag check area to turn in everything but my wetsuit.
Then we waited. It was hot as heck, so we stayed by the bag check area because it was shady. Around 10:40 am I was looking at people's legs and realized I had no timing chip!
This is when I did something dumb. I got my hotel key from my gear bag and ran back to the hotel to get my chip. It was only three blocks and I felt good. But it was dumb. I was running in bare feet which kills my feet and I was wasting energy. I should have just gone to the swim start and asked for a new one. However, I didn't even think of that until the next day.
The SwimI ended up back at gear check at 11:00 am with an hour still to kill. Eventually I went over to the swim start and resisted the urge to put on my wet suit. I put it on up to the waist about five minutes before our wave was called to the holding pen. Then I put the the rest of it on right before we moved to the "on deck" pen. So that went well. I wasn't nearly as hot as some of the people who had put their suits on much earlier.
We were given instructions and made our way to the water. After standing in the heat, the water felt great! TPTB were going on the day before and that day about how cold the water was but it was only in the low 60s. I thought it was perfect. The only thing I would change was having the wind whip the current towards the swim out and not away from it!
The starter said "on your mark" and blew the horn and we were off! I swam strongly and was able to keep up with my new friend Elle for about half the swim. I thought that was pretty good because she is definitely faster than me.
I ended up falling off the fast pack after a while, but I was able to keep ahead of the slower pack. I got out in about 20 minutes with at least 16 people behind me. Without my Garmin it's impossible to know if the swim was short or long and if that was a good time or not, but I was okay with it.
Results: Swim Time: 20:35. 19/26 in Age Group, 250th Female, 655th overall
TransitionThen I ran (and ran and ran) to the transition area. I had a decent transition -- no wetsuit snagging and got my shoes on reasonable fast. I grabbed my race belt and put it on as I was running (and running and running) to the run out.
Results: 4:59. 15/26 AG, 222nd Female, 581st Overall