I sat up, wide awake. the clock read 4:08am. 22 more minutes.
I tried to get comfortable again, but the butterflies were already there. I started stretching, well, at least those stretches I could manage while my head was still on the pillow.
the beeps finally started. I reluctantly got up and started gathering my gear. put on my shorts and top. then I headed downstairs to feed TheDog and myself.
there was a faint knock at the door. he was early. I finished checking my tires, re-inflating them a little, before he took my bike to the car. I grabbed the rest of my gear and we headed out.
we walked in from the car, then he wished me luck as I went to set everything up, and he went to find his friend.
I got my gear set up in the transition area and looked for M. she was nowhere to be found, so I got ready and headed to the start.
he was standing there on the beach as I walked to the start. he wished me luck again. it was strange to have someone there cheering just for me.
by the time our wave got into the water, it was already hot, making the chilly reservoir water feel great.
I had been worried for weeks that I hadn't trained enough. truth was, I hadn't, but with that first stroke I knew I was stubborn enough to finish.
the swim felt slow. and A & M were not about to start their wave, cheering me on when I got out. so, it was with a little less enthusiasm than last year that I made my way up the boat ramp.
I got my bike, helmet and shoes, and headed out on the bike course. not too long after, I started lamenting my (not) training. particularly on those hills. but the air blowing past the faster I went felt good. and I knew I could do it. I knew the course.
besides, there were a couple of guys cheering me on as I reached the bike finish. one with a camera and one with a cow bell. wait, where did he get the cowbell??
by the time I got my bike racked, it was hot. really hot. I quickly changed shoes and started on the run course. there was the cowbell again, and since I couldn't run, I teased him about it as I walked past.
about five minutes into my "run," M passed me. I cheered her on. I was going at a decent walk pace. but the heat started wearing me down. I felt a little dizzy. thankfully I'd grabbed my water bottle as I headed out of the transition, as there was only one water station.
M ran back past me again on her way to the finish, we cheered each other on again, and I did my best to pick up my pace a little.
but the heat was ridiculous. after the turn around, I tried running a short stretch. but my hip and back protested too much. and since the path had been completely paved since last year, there wasn't even dirt on the course anywhere to soften the impact.
not too far from the finish line I heard a woman sobbing behind me. I turned around and asked if she was alright. she said she was fine. but she didn't think she could do it. I pointed out the finish to her. told her if I could make it, she definitely could. she was walking more quickly than I and eventually got a bit ahead of me.
as I came up near the finish, he was there cheering me on still. he walked a short way with me, then said he'd see me after the finish. at that point I knew I had to run through the finish again.
as I approached the finish I heard M and her husband cheering me on. then, about ten feet back, I came up on the woman from earlier. I patted her on the back and told her congratulations on finishing.
they announced my name and hers as we crossed the finish. I was so happy to be done, but mostly to not have to bake in the heat anymore.
after finding M and getting a quick picture, I jumped back in the reservoir to cool down. I didn't feel good, but it didn't feel like dehydration. we headed back to the car, and he generously offered to carry my bike across the field so I didn't get flat tires from the cacti.
when we got to the car, the outside temperature read 97 degrees. it would get up to 103 degrees that day. every time I walked outside the remainder of the day I felt instantly ill. I realized later I may have had heat exhaustion. I didn't feel better until later, once the sun finally went down.
as I climbed into bed that night, though, I felt good. sore, but good. I finished. and I couldn't wait to do my next one. maybe even another this year.