OK OK I'll try really hard to keep this shorter ;o)
Race Day - The morning
"What is that noise?"
"What is that noise? And what time is it?"
"Oh god it's only 4:45" I'm awake and nervous. "What is that noise?"
"Ahhh oh yes it must be the noise of cars going over that metal plate I drove over yesterday. Oh that'll be people going for the early races. Oh blimey I need more sleep, I can't wake now it's too early. Sleep Karen! Sleep!"
Luckily, despite my nervous head's best efforts I did fall back to sleep and finally woke at 7am - much better. I mouched around for quite a bit, reading and watching TV as I didn't want breakfast too early and then feel hungry before the race. The outline plan was to have breakfast at 8ish, take a little stroll, get a day parking ticket for the car, then come back shower - including shaving the legs for extra aerodynamics ;o) - and get into my tri-suit. Aim to be setting up transition at 10:30 which would give me plenty of time for last minute panics!
Pleased to say all pretty much went to plan. Nervous though I was I did manage to eat breakfast, small bowl of muesli, couple slices of toast and marmalade and a banana. Luckily no after effects from the previous evenings curry ;o). I went for a stroll outside about 8:30, a lovely clear morning although worryingly warm already. Had a great view of one of the mens swims coming to the buoy turn point. What a fight! Despite it being 750m down the track there were arms, legs, splashes of water flying everywhere!.... Having watched for about 5mins I found myself getting increasingly nervous so decided to leave and distract myself my getting the parking ticket, having a bit of an unpack, repack of my bags and a shower. I'll fine - not even a any nicks when I shaved my legs ;o) Leanne and I had exchanged texts during the morning I think to help allay both of our fears - it's always reassuring when you know someone is feeling the same as you! :oD
Headed of to the excel centre and checked that both Leanne's bike and my bike tyres were still inflated. Yep - all good. Phew. Set out my transition stuff (by this stage I had done a list of what had to be out). Was completely paranoid about my timing chip. Didn't want to put it on too early for it to fall off (although quite how it would have done this is beyond me, but nervous non-logical thought was ruling), and I didn't want to forget to put it on. Still all laid out nice and neat on strip of Liverpool towel. At the front; bike shoes, socks in each shoe, race belt (with number) and epipen. At the rear; trainers, bottle of water, couple gels and new white cap. All good. I spent the next hour monging around really. Met up with Angel but was too nervous to engage in any form of conversation really although did manage a big yell for her b/f Paul who was on the run route. Finally went back to transition at 11:30 to pick up my wetsuit and meet up with Leanne. This was finally about to happen. I don't know when it happened but suddenly I became very focused. Just wanted to get on with it. Dan mentioned afterwards he'd never seen Leanne and I looking so focused (although I think he may have said fierce!!!). We made our way to the gathering point for the heats. Squeezed into the wetsuit at the last possible moment before being herded like cattle into a holding pen where we were handed out blue swim hats. Got a final briefing from the race organiser, told that the bike was 2k short because of a road subsidence. We then had the race organiser giving us a rousing "Oggie! Oggie! Oggie!" upon which 250 women over the age of 35 all replied in the traditional fashion... "Oi! Oi! Oi".. and like cattle to the slaughter we were herded out of the holding pen, down the steps and to the outside jetty to get in the water. Bright skies, a massive crowd, heat - lots of heat. Dipped my toes and hands into the water, splashed a bit on my face and in I went. Leanne and I made our way to the pack and decided to start out to the right and towards the front. As everyone got bobbing around, canoes in front of us holding us back, from the command boat we got one final briefing, one final "Oggie! Oggie! Oggie!", "Oi! Oi! Oi" and the last I remember was the bloke saying: "Ladies you have 30secs". One last look at my watch I saw to my horror that it was knackered and I'd be doing the race with no HRM, no timings, no nothing. I'd be going blind to times and HR. Then the horn sounded and we were off!!!!