I decided to take the bus to the race. I can't say I was thrilled at the prospect of getting up at 4:30am, but it ended up working out great. I got there plenty early and did not have to deal with parking. I arrived at the race area around 6:40. I found my assigned rack right away and set up all my stuff. I helped myself to some free coffee, then I went to get body-marked and chipped. After that I milled around taking in the scene. I sat in the grass and did some stretches. The grass was wet but I figured it didn't matter. My clothes would all be wet soon enough, anyways.
At 7:40 there was a pre-race meeting. They introduced announcers and officials, reminded us of some rules, and then sang the national anthem (which made me cry for some reason). I was in the 4th swim wave so I just stayed on the beach after that.
My swim went VERY well. It was a little daunting seeing all the people in my wave shoot past me. But I just kept going at my own pace. I swallowed a little water as I rounded the final corner. But I never stopped. I just flipped over on my back and did the back crawl until I stopped choking. The water was a comfy 80 degrees yesterday, and the weather was mild. It was actually a little cool getting out of the water after the swim.
Then it was off on the bike portion. This was the part I was most dreading and probably the part I was least trained for. It was a nice course, for the most part. A few rough spots. Only a couple of big hills. There were no mile markers, though. So I was left to guess as to how far I'd gone. I brought a watch with me to the race, but decided at the last minute that I was not going to wear it. So that I would just concentrate on doing the race and not worry about the time. So I really had no idea of my progress. At mile 7 there was a volunteer shouting "only 8 more miles!" That was nice to know, but I thought I was closer to 10 miles at that point so it was also kinda discouraging. The last five or so miles were pretty rough. My butt was really sore at that point, for starters. And there was a really strong headwind. In spite of all the cheerful volunteers I found myself getting very frustrated. I was so glad when I reached the bike finish.
The bike leg had left me very sore and cramped up. I tried to stretch a bit, but I was really hurting. So I did not run as much as I would have liked on the run course. I was hoping for something closer to a 50/50 walk/run. But it was more like 70/30. By the time I hit the run portion I was pretty used to people passing me. But on the run it was actually kinda neat. The body-markers put our ages on the backs of our legs. So I could see the ages of the people running past me. I suppose some people might have been discouraged to see a 72 year old pass them on a race course, but really I thought it was kinda cool. I did make sure to run across the finish line.
I got my finisher medal and turned in my chip and then I promptly burst into tears. I was thankful I wore the big dark glasses so nobody could see me crying like a little girl.
I still kind of can't believe I did it. But then on the other hand I kinda can't wait until next year to see how much I improve. =)