I found myself very paranoid about hearing all of the instructions at the athlete's meeting, and became mildly panicky about the fact that I neglected to look at any of the course maps. Zero. Not even a glance. This was perhaps not the best frame of mind to be in when starting the race. I did calm down, there was just that little niggling feeling of "unpreparedness."
That part was all fine, as expected, so we all trooped down to the water's edge to prepare for the start of the race. There were not a lot of women in this race, so I was in the third wave with all the other women. E was in the first wave, and our other friends followed after mine. The gun went off and I started without really realizing that this was more than a swim. And the swim was AWFUL. About 5 seconds in, I panicked and couldn't breathe. I don't know why, but it's like I forgot how to swim. I floundered, backstroked, breaststroked and doggy-paddled my way to the end, and I don't think any swim has ever felt so long, especially one that topped out at 500 meters. I didn't manage to catch my breath the entire time.
Stumbling out the water to T1, I ran up the beach and into transition, where it took me a minute to figure out what the hell was going on and what I was supposed to be doing. I had laid things out pretty well though, so on went the sneakers, the helmet, the sunglasses, and I grabbed Bella and off we went.
The bike wasn't too bad, though it was hard to find my normal cadence. This was the first time I've been on the bike directly after the swim, and I see many bricks in my future. My quads felt like they were on fire about, oh, 10 seconds in. Honestly, the swim really freaked me out and took a lot out of me. I've never been afraid in the water before, and not being able to catch my breath was really terrifying.
The bike finished out ok, and I averaged about 16.2 mph. Getting off the bike and jogging into transition was weird. I've only experienced the whole "bike legs" feeling in small doses, and never when I've really intended to run, just when I've jogged for a few steps to see if I could. By the time I docked Bella and traded my helmet for my visor, my legs felt better.
I'll just throw this out there - the run was what really killed my time. I could not get it moving. There were people passing me that just made me feel ashamed. Wow, Grandma, keep up that great pace! Hey Homer, good job! This was definitely not my finest hour. And I walked...a lot.
And then I finished, and was pretty much done for the day. And woke up with a head cold the following day, so now it's Wednesday and I've missed a few days of training.
Next up will be some different cross-training: backcountry backpacking in the Great Smoky Mountains.