The final day leading up to my half ironman was planned to be full of eating, resting, and final preperations. It mostly consisted of final preperations (of course I ate too, albeit not when/as often as I would have liked). I had planned to be in bed around 9:00, since I had to leave around 4:00 a.m. in order to make it to Mentor abount 5:00, as transition opened at 5:15. I finally fell asleep around 11:30 p.m.
The alarm clock was set for 3:30. At 2:30 I rose out of bed wide awake. When I looked at the clock I thought I would grab a big glass of water and then catch my last hour of sleep. By the time I was able to relax enough to think about sleeping, I only had 45 minutes until the alarm went off, so I headed straight to the coffee pot and began my morning.
I used the extra time to stretch and go over my list of what to bring again (and again, etc....). At 4:00 I hit the road with Amaterasu on the roof. I arrived at Headlands Beach State Park at 4:50 (thanks to Craig for the pic above), and saw a parking lot full of maybe 2 other athletes. Ask Treetop and J, my frequent carpoolin/racin' pals, about this and I'm sure they'll tell you it is not exactly typical. OK, I was a little anxious to get the show on the road. I mean, after all the hours and miles of training, after all the years where 6 beers sounded like much more fun than running 6 miles (trust me, I was a well trained beer drinker), I couldn't wait to prove to myself that I was still alive. To prove to myself that I was 30 years young. To prove to myself that I am capable of things that in my past I would not have thought I could accomplish. I could not wait for this day to begin.
Transition didn't open until almost 5:30 and after getting my bike checked in I headed straight to my spot and set up on my green towel....and I talked to folks. Folks I've met through the sport, folks I've never met in this sport, and the first person I knew in the sport. Before long it was time to head to the swim start, which was a mile walk down the beach.
Off walking I went, with Janet; across the sand as the sun began to rise to our right whilst glistening off the lake, as flat and shiny as your bathroom mirror. There were no concerns of choppy conditions today, the lake was as calm as the inland lake I did much of my training in. By the time I arrived at the start there was no time to warm up in the water. The first wave went off immediatly, and I was in the "red cap" wave, the second wave, which was departing in 3 minutes. I pulled my wetsuit up over my shoulders, asked a neighbor to zip it for me, and jumped in the water to test the temerature and wet the goggles and suit. In the water, which was quite warm, then quickly out and over to the starting line.
I looked down the beach to my left and the line of buoys stretching on, and on, and on.....OK, it was only a mile, but it was quite a bit further than the swim in my previous races, 400 meters. But I was trained and I was ready. The calm shimmering lake was beatiful and I was ready to go. Mickey (who puts on the best damn triathlon in NE Ohio) gave us our countdown and about 30 of us highstepped it into Lake Erie.