Monday, August 9, 2010

My First Olympic Tri: The Journey North

The tri fell on a Saturday, at Lake Logan in North Carolina, a little outside of Waynesville.  As this is about a seven hour drive for us, we started our journey on Thursday evening, driving about halfway, stopping in Orangeburg, South Carolina for the night.  I had butterflies in my stomach the whole drive, and I tried not to think about what Saturday would bring.  I vacillated between feeling almost sick (why on earth did I sign up for this) and being really, really excited.  It is one thing to know logically that you have done the training, but in the blood, sweat and tears, and another to really think - know - you can do it.

Friday morning found us back on the road, this time not stopping until we found our hotel, the Waynesville Inn.  We were given an adorable room on the second floor, at the very end of a long and somewhat winding hallway. The whole Inn, at least the part our room was located in, had the feel of an old world hotel, that place families came to for weeks on end or where empty-nesters would come for golf and antiquing (if you can't tell, I'm channeling a little Dirty Dancing here).  We loved our room, with its lovely porch that had a view of the golf course (could care less) and the ridges of the mountains (the very exciting part).  In addition to hosting a bunch of triathletes for the weekend, the hotel was also playing host to the Western Carolina Porsche Club's annual meeting, or some such event.  Either way, this meant a portion of the parking lot was reserved for a fleet of shiny porsches of every model, several cocktail hours and a "Porsches on the Green" contest.  It was a bit interesting, to see groups of triathletes, in their compression socks with giant bags of gear, sharing elevators with the upper-crust Porsche owning set in their polos and loafers.  
The hotel was about 25 minutes from the race site, so after checking in we drove to the site to see what I was getting myself in to.  My stomach churned the closer we got to it, and I had to remember that it was fun.  My  mantra became "I'm doing this for fun."  Remembering that was extremely helpful.  When we arrived, they already had the transition area in place, and were setting up different cones and markers.  There were a couple other early arrivals like us, roaming the area, scoping out the lake and the docks, as well as the grassy lanes that marked the entrances and exits for T1 and T2.  
There were no bouys in the lake yet, but the serene body of water, nestled in the midst of Pisgah National Forest was very soothing.  It was the type of idyllic setting that seemed nothing bad could happen there.  From some of the race reports, I was also picturing a long jog from the lake to T1, and was relieved to see that it was not much longer, if at all than what I was used to.  We left the site, and I felt a lot better having seen where I would be swimming and running, though having now seen part of the bike course, I was nervous about the one part I had been super confident about.
The roads leading up to Lake Logan were steep and winding, and would be a part of the bike course.  Suddenly, I didn't think I had done enough bridge repeats or hill training.  Gulp.
After an hour of relaxation at the hotel, we left to go for packet pick up.  This turned out to be a cluster.  When you have a three hour window for people to pick up packets, and you know you can expect 400-500 people in this window, generally you want to go heavy on the volunteer front.  Packet pick up was not a pleasant experience, and I won't lie I pouted a bit when I was through with the whole thing.  They started out by giving me the wrong person's packet, arguing with me when I said it wasn't mine, and then I discover that the oh so coveted race shirt, that memorial to my pain, was not what I was expecting.  Did it say "Lake Logan International Distance Triathlon"?  It sure did.  It also said "Multisport Festival" and listed the Lake Logan Sprint Tri and Aquathon going on that same weekend.  E's suggestion, given the list quality of events on the shirt was to take a black Sharpie and circle my event.  
Dinner was a lovely meal at Bocelli's, a neat little Italian restaurant in town, and then it was back to the room and to bed.  Number 109 was ready to rock and roll!

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