Next to my wedding day and Ironman, this will go down as one of the longest days of my life.
It started early. I awoke to that amazing view. A breakfast of oatmeal, yogurt and pecans. I love my homestay parents – they even had cinnamon. I spent some time watching the goats and the chickens. Chasing little lizards around the house.
Then off to run. Holy down a hill and hotter than hell run! It was like an August day in Illinois – hot, windy and humid. Yes, you can have all three. Throw in the hill that I had to climb on the way back and you had the 4 H’s of hell – heat, hills, headwind and humidity. Perfect. And just when I thought the run couldn’t possibly get any hotter, Amanda Lovato runs the other way. Followed by her husband a few hundred yards back.
Made some plans to meet with Wee. Realized I had no clue where I was which meant I had no clue how to get where I had to go so pulled into a gas station and asked a policeman. Who then kindly gave me a police escort (even turned on the lights at the drop off) to the meeting point. But then I arrived at the meeting point thinking it was the race hotel to find out it wasn’t the race hotel, drove 10 minutes to the race hotel, drove 20 minutes looking for a parking spot, then spent 30 minutes looking for someone I really didn’t know what they looked like other than a photo online.
Which results in me standing by the harbor and shouting Wee in the middle of the field but no one heard my cry.
At this point I had about 30 minutes to swim in the harbor. It was open for about 1 hour today. I figured Wee was already in there swimming so I said to myself it’s now or never. Most of the athletes had already gotten in so I had to go in really by myself. Now, if you know me the open water is sometimes a bit “scary” to me. Especially ocean. Especially when you can see to the bottom. And especially by myself.
But I brought my big girl goggles because I climbed right in and started swimming towards the other swimmers. The water was so choppy. I couldn’t believe it. It’s so shallow and so windy that the water was just turned up all over the place. But I found the rhythm, reached, rolled, and it felt so good to be in the ocean again. I even got out and then decided to jump in off the edge of the harbor, symbolically to myself, take a risk and jump over the edge…..a noble effort until I realized that’s a great way to shove salt water up your nose.
Afterwards, I hung out with my new friend. I made a new friend! Her name is Christy and she is from California. She is also traveling alone. We went to registration and then I found Wee! I watched Wee swim – she makes it look too easy. She was pretty much swimming faster than the ferry that took people to the Cay.
Then Christy and I decided to drive the course. 3 hours and 100 miles later….we had seen 25 miles of the course. Please don’t ask. But I guess when you have all year to pave roads you decided two days before the race is the best day and don’t believe the locals – there is rush hour on an island and it starts at 4 pm.
We did see the beast. I was expecting much worse. Like a brick wall you would have to scale with your tongue with bike on your back at a 25 percent grade. By no means is it easy but it looks manageable. The rest of the courses will be tough – probably 100 times tougher than the seven-tenths of a mile called the beast. The course is twisty, hilly, windy, sandy, gravely and in case that wasn’t enough we’ll throw some potholes, chip seal and feral dogs in the way.
Speaking of which – if I leave this island without being bumrushed by a posse of roosters or bitten by a rogue pack of feral dogs – I would consider my trip a huge success.
Finally at 5 pm I had enough of driving and decided to have Christy help me assemble my bike. I was having some trouble with the rear dropout. Long story short – the rear dropout screw thing (technical terms) was completely stripped.
I nearly cried to my homestay father. Good thing he worked in a bike shop for 8 years and had more tools in the closet that my husband in the basement. He knew what the problem was, explained it to me with enough detail that I could understand I was screwed unless I found a helicoil something or other to rethread the entire thing.
So homestay mother calls the hardware store to see if there is like a one in a thousand chance they will have the correct toolset for all of this and how lucky am I – they do. However, the bike is still not fixed because the thread was the wrong pitch? But I have been told it will be fixed by the morning and to just relax (they have told me to relax about 100000 times).
So I’m here now relaxing. Because there is nothing else I can do but trust I will have a fully operational bike tomorrow. So until then, I am off to sleep. Tomorrow is another day. And I’ve got to get to sleep by 10 pm because in 8 hours that sun will be blasting in this window to remind me that I’m on island time.