I was on the “early” flight down, which meant I got in to Orlando in the early evening, enough time to head over to Epcot for some extra magic hours. I meandered my way over to the new Italian pizza restaurant, but they were full for the evening. So instead I rode a few rides and headed back to the hotel.
I took advantage of the early magic hours at Hollywood in hopes of reaching Toy Story before the line was outrageously long. Alas, that was not meant to be. I ended up fastpassing it for later in the afternoon (in the event I did end up back at Hollywood). Instead I headed over to Rockin’ Rollercoaster and discovered I am not so brave by myself, and definitely not brave when there aren’t other screamers on the ride. After some HSM, it was time to go check in for the race.
Race check-in went very smooth, I picked up my rental bike, got my chip and racked my bike. And since my race number was 409, I had the Beach Boys song stuck in my head most of the weekend. And I found out there were only 6 waves and I was in wave #5. Well if there was ever a race I was going to be last, it was going to be this one. Deep breath. Bring it on. Mickey can console me afterwards, along with Mickey ice cream. And, at least I will get over my irrational fear of being last. It isn’t being last per se, it is the fact that people will have to wait for me to finish last.
It seems as if there is always one aspect I am worrying about more than others. This time it was how to get to the race in the morning. I wasn’t staying at the host hotel, and supposedly there were no buses from the hotel I was staying at. Okay then, I will take a taxi. On my way back to my hotel to drop off my race packet, I noticed another girl with a race bag. In a very un-Emily like move, I went up to her and asked how she was getting the race site. Her husband was going to drop her off and just like that she asked if I wanted a ride. Yes, I would thank you very much. Yay!! We exchanged information and made a plan to meet up the next morning.
And then it was off to Animal Kingdom! I was having doubts about the Yeti, after the experience with Rockin’ Rollercoaster. Hmm... But then somehow I was in line. This time I was on with a lot of teenage girls, which meant a lot of screaming!! Whew! That made the ride a little less scary. If there is ever a good time to go on Kali River Rapids and get soaked, it would be this trip. It was H-O-T!!! Have I mentioned I don’t do heat? I was not the only one who had this idea and so I never did end up on the ride. The park was about to close and I walked toward the exit, trying to decide if I really wanted to go back to Hollywood to use my Toy Story fastpass, or if it was time to go back to the hotel. The hotel won out. The heat and humidity had taken its toll on me and I was ready to be done for the day. Besides, I had a race the next day!
There was a German family standing behind me in line for the bus back to the hotel. And I’m happy to say I could understand every couple of words! And their conversation was peppered with my favorite German word, genau. They were discussing where to eat breakfast – at the hotel or at Hollywood so they could fast pass Toy Story. And for those wondering how to say fastpass Toy Story in German? Fastpass Toy Story.
Early, early the next morning I awoke and got ready. I met my new friend Kimberly & her husband and we drove over to the race site. I prepared my transition area, made a few mental notes of where my bike was, used the real bathroom and then headed down to the water. I found a group of “royal” blue swim caps and stuck to them. They noticed me and welcomed me into their circle as we tried to calm our collective butterflies.
It was then our turn to head into the water. Our word? Sexy! That’s right, I am a sexy triathlete! The swim started off with the normal jockeying and jostling for position and soon I was in a rhythm. It wasn’t long before I felt like I was all by myself. Was I at the back of the pack already? Nope, not quite. The course is in the shape of a big semi-circle and I kept getting off course. And there were several times I felt I must be way off course and all by myself, but then a swimmer would pass by me. I was never so happy to have someone pass me! The shore came into sight and the swim was done.
I found my bike, threw on my gear and took off for what turned out to be an interesting bike ride, due to the bike I rented. My thought was, if I have to rent a bike, why not rent a bike I might want to get in the future? With that I forgot the cardinal rule of never try something new on race day (although I break this rule often since I like to wear new outfits). I ordered a road bike and the guy told me it was basically a triathlon bike. It was a nice bike, it just took me some time to figure out shifting – I figured out how to shift up pretty quick, but had trouble shifting down so I just stayed in that higher gear for a lot of the race until I did finally figure out the down shift. And the handlebars... I’m not sure I’m a fan of the aero position. And the seat was a normal seat, not my nice gel seat, so saying it was slightly uncomfortable is probably an understatement. Other than that, the bike went great! The course is basically flat and I was flying at times!
I wasn’t sure what to expect for the run with the heat. I gave myself permission to walk as much as I needed to. Not too far out of transition was the first water stop. Oh, thank the Lord!! I continually talked to myself (or the heat) throughout the run. Just around this corner, just around the next corner, how about to the first turnaround? Dear Humidity, I hate your guts! Fortunately the first part was fairly shaded, and I heard the sounds of a water station, but it was on the way back. I kept plodding along until I realized I didn’t have much further until the water station. One to drink, and one to pour over my head. Oh wow, that feels good. The next stretch had basically no shade and went on forever!! You can do this. Soon you will be eating Mickey ice cream. Not much longer now! I made it to the next water station and same routine – one to drink and one to pour on the back of my neck. I knew at this point I had less than a mile left. Boy, was it hard to start running again after that water stop. Just one more cone! Okay, go! Finally I was back in the shade, and even better there were people yelling and cheering! I can’t explain how much I feed off of the cheers. It is such an uplifting feeling! The finish line was in sight! Done!
It’s the little things that get me through a race – a “you go girl” from a passing racer, the kids blowing bubbles & cheering as I rode by, volunteers shouting encouragement and handing out water, the cold water dripping down the back of my neck, the cheering spectators lining the finish line, and the kids giving you a high five as you barrel past.
My times? I did actually better my overall time by about a minute, but I picked up most of my time in transition. This is a much smaller race and therefore a much smaller transition area. I lost 3 minutes in the swim, picked up 2 minutes in the bike (surprise!), lost 1 minute in the run, and picked up 3 minutes in transition. I was pleasantly surprised by the pick up in the bike and was happy I only lost a minute in the run considering how stinking hot it was!
With the race over it was time to get my Mickey on! I saw Kimberly and she offered me a ride back to the hotel, which I gratefully accepted. But before I got my Mickey on, I decided to try the Italian restaurant at Epcot. I got in no problem. And yum! The pizza was good. As was the strawberry drink I had. And then I caught the monorail and headed over to Magic Kingdom and pretty much spent most of my time in Fantasyland. I love the cartoon rides! One of the coolest moments was when I was sitting on a bench (to take some ibuprofen) and lightening flashed right above the castle. It was super cool! I didn't quite close down the park (it was extra magic) but I came close until I realized how tired I was and went back to my room and crashed.
Overheard at the Magic Kingdom: Does Cinderella live in the castle with the Beast? I don't know why that cracked me up, but it did!
And there you have it! Three triathlons down, one to go (plus a little one, but that is for another post)!!