If you want the knitty-gritty of the actual race, skip to the Race Report. This part includes everything up to actually getting lined up at the swim start.

I had bizarre triathlon related dreams Friday night — i.e., I was so slow that, by the time I was done with the bike they’d closed the course so I couldn’t do the run.

Saturday we went to pick up our race packets. Goodies included a nice albeit plain designed grey t-shirt that I’ll actually wear (like now, as I type), a very nice navy baseball cap, a copy of Men’s Health magazine (Cosmo for guys?), some Herbal Life fizzy tablets for energy drinks, a coupon for a free liter bottle of Arrowhead water, some Goody ‘grip’ hair rubberbands, free white transition towels from Toyota with your name embroidered (cheap towels, but hey! they actually SPELLED MY NAME CORRECTLY — many kudos! — and they’re fine for laying out your stuff on the ground), blinking bike reflectors from Men’s Health, some shampoo etc samples from Paul Mitchell, and, of course, your swim cap (colored depending on your wave; Dave’s a lovely pale purple, mine ‘condom gold’ — more on that later). And the goody bag itself was a yellow nylon backpack/bag from Nautica.

We also stared at the surf for awhile and realized that, most likely, the swim entry was really going to suck.

Dave and I had basically rode the bike course already, and we were pretty familiar with where the run was going to go (we’ve done the Zuma Dolphin Run/ 10k before, and the tri run covered some of the same route), so felt we were as prepared as we were going to be at this late date.

We relaxed the rest of the day and tried to go to sleep early.

I didn’t have dreams that I can recall Saturday night because I kept waking up.

GAH. I foolishly thought that since this was my SECOND tri, I wouldn’t be nervous.

Anyway, Sunday a.m. we dragged ourselves out of bed a little before 4 a.m., with Dave asking me ‘just WHY are we doing this?’ and ‘this is supposed to be fun?’. I showered (yes, I know I was just going to get dirty, but it felt good, was quick, and helped wake me up), he drank coffee and had a yogurt, and I got down about a bite of banana before gagging. I insisted we dress warmly (me: polartec fleece top & bottoms over my LA Tri Club top and black tri shorts, him: sweatshirt over his LA Tri Club cycling top and his cotton baggies over black tri shorts. And hiking socks with Tevas. Oh yeah, we were making a fashion statement!).

We’d loaded the XTerra (well, Dave loaded it) the night before with everything except our bottled drinks, so we just had to get those and go. On the road by 4:30.

The parking lot was supposed to open at 5:15 a.m., and by the time we arrived at 5:20 already a ton of people were there. We parked about 3/4 mile from the transition area (as close as we could). The parking lot was pitch black which made it fun getting our stuff out, numbers attached to the bike, etc (note to self: attach those things the day before!) (and bring a flashlight next time!). Some idiot was absolutely blasting some hideous rap music — really offensive, especially at 5:30 in the morning. Wear headphones, jerk.

We made it to the transition area with plenty of time to mess with our stuff, get set up, and make a bathroom stop before they closed the transition area. The transition area was arranged by your number, i.e., find the rack that had the tag with the range of race numbers that included yours, and pick a spot on it. Volunteers bodymarking were in the transition area which made that easy.

Regarding bathrooms: they had a fair number of port-a-potties available. The public restrooms didn’t open til at least 6:20ish. Plenty of toilet paper, cleanliness about what you’d expect.

The transition area was set to close at 6:55, so after the pit stop I went to get out of my warm fuzzy clothes (and it was really chilly (speaking as a Southern California gal)) and into my wetsuit.

I figured it would take about 10 minutes for me to shimmy into that thing. It’s a Body Glove sleeveless ‘Triad’ wetsuit. I wanted to get a wetsuit with long sleeves but unfortunately Triathlon Lab was sold out of my size (apparently they sold out of a lot of their inventory at the LA Triathlon expo) so was stuck with what I got. BTW I do resemble a sleek stuffed sausage in it.

Because the event has a fair number of celebrities (David Duchovny, etc) there were a lot of cameramen around. So there I was, yanking on my wetsuit, and there was a camera guy with his camera pointed in my direction. “Please don’t film me getting on my wetsuit,” I pleaded, and turned around, and SNAP! the nice LA Tri Club guy took my picture. Yeah, he laughed as he did so. Can’t wait for that one to go up on the website.

Downed a Clif shot (mocha mocha) and some water. Breakfast of champions.

Anyhow, wetsuit on, swim goggles and cap in hand, and cold bare feet, I met up with Dave and we headed over for the Mandatory Pre-Race Meeting. For five or ten minutes this guy alternated between thanking us standing on the cold sand and yelling for the other (majority) to get over by the stage for the briefing.

Eventually the meeting started, and we learned a new rule: the ‘No Wake’ rule.

I’d already heard that one part of the bike course, where you ride through a tunnel crossing under PCH, was flooded and slick with algae.

The ‘No Wake’ rule was just that: slow down to 5mph or less through the water or get DQ’d.

Not a big deal, it was a safety thing. But kinda cute anyway.

The Star Spangled Banner followed, sung by a kid in sunglasses, black leather jacket (?) and black jeans. Apparently he’s a finalist on some audition/TV show a la American Idol for becoming the lead singer for INXS. Regardless, he did a good job, but it seemed silly to be wearing sunglasses with the sun barely up. Oh well — guess it’s an image thing.

Then we all trudged south to the swim start. Dave and I walked through the surf a little — damn it was COLD.

Triathlons generally are chip timed — i.e. you wear this chip on a velcro band around your ankle, and when you cross the strategically placed matts that register your chip your own time is noted. So it really doesn’t matter so much where you are in regards to other people — what matters is your chip time.

So I tell myself when I’m in the last swim wave to start.

So I had plenty of time for one last necessary pit stop, and even made it back in time to wish Dave luck — his wave was the last men’s.

Then it was a matter of waiting, with my heartrate up to what it get’s when I’m working out anyway, just from pre-race jitters — especially as we watched wave after wave of triathletes get pounded by wave after wave of ocean energy.