Challenge Williamsburg Race Report - Pre-race + 1.2 mile swim

My alarm went off at 4:05am which gave me 10 minutes to make some coffee with the help of our home electric kettle that we brought + instant coffee (Nescafe Classico), take Campy outside and then fill my Nathan hydration belt flasks (2 of them) with cold water.
I sipped on aminos + electrolytes in a small bottle of water and a mug of coffee w/ milk and grabbed my T2 gear (in a drawstring bag that I brought) which included: running shoes, my dad's Corvette hat, race belt,  number (safety pinned), Nathan hydration belt + flasks (with extra nutrition in my belt pocket: margarita Clif blocks, salt tube  and Clif Bar Gel)  and a small towel and headed 10 minutes down the road to T2. I parked and made the 10-15 minute walk to transition.

I decided the night before the race that I would go to T2 first thing in the morning (it opened at 4:30am) to drop off my run gear by myself. Since my mom was driving us to the beach (T1/race start) we did not need to board the bus shuttles. Our athletes ended up on the shuttle buses and they all said it was very easy and not waiting involved. 

I dropped off my run gear in my designated rack and kept my run shoes in my drawstring bag just in case it rained (lesson learned from Knoxville - although not sure it mattered as cold/wet feet may have been nice in the heat - minus the potential blisters). 

I double checked my gear at least four times - it is so different to just lay out run gear and then know that it will be hours until you see it again and then headed back to the car around 4:40am to make it back to the hotel by 4:55am. 

I took a banana with me for the car ride home so I started my pre-race fueling around 4:55am (2 hours before race start).

When I got back to the hotel room, my mom and Karel (and Campy) were up and I ate my typical pre-race meal of banana (consumed in car) a rice cake dressed up with lots of maple syrup, raisins, cinnamon and peanut butter. I brought everything with me from home and laid it all out the night before so it was easy to make and consume. 

I continued to sip on my pre-race bottle throughout the morning so in all I consumed around 28-32 ounce fluid in the 2.5 hours before the race start and around 400 calories and around 1200 mg sodium. 

Karel drove us to T2 and we parked in the spectator parking lot (cars had to be out by 9:30, athletes who drove could park in a different lot but no shuttles back to T1 after the race) across from the transition area. 

My mom and Campy stayed in the car for 15 minutes or so while Karel and I went to the transition area to pump up our tires with our pump. We had our race numbers on us already (race number temporary tats) so it was a very smooth entry in and out of setting up our gear.

I laid out my helmet, shoes, Oakley Women RPM shades and compression socks. Since calf sleeves were not allowed in the water with it being non-wet suit legal, I decided to wear my CEP socks instead of putting on socks and calf sleeves. I also had a towel to wipe off my feet and my T1 bag which I was to put all my swim gear in after the swim to be transported to T2 by the volunteers.
We were given a dry clothes bag but we put our clothing, transition bag and pump in our car.

Campy came to greet me after we left transition area and it was very nice to have his great energy around us. He makes every situation less stressful. 

Thanks for the pic Elizabeth!

We all (Trimarni athletes) gathered for a picture after transitioned closed for half athletes at 6:20 (and after a bathroom stop) and off we went on the grassy field toward the swim start. 

I had my pre race drink in a plastic bottle so I tossed it in a garbage can as we were walking to the swim start. 

Thanks Elizabeth for the great pictures! 

I warmed up for about 10-15 minutes in the water with a few strokes to get comfortable, then I would just hang out since the water was extremely shallow. When the pro males were making their way back to the beach, you could see many dolphin dives as the water was not deep at all.

I chatted with Amy before the start and we talked about the best strategy with the shallow water and we both decided that swimming or dolphin diving would move us more than walking (and I don't think either of us considered walking in the swim portion).

At 6:50am we all corralled behind the timing line on the beach and then made our way into the water. It was an in the water start although we could all touch the bottom. The water was extremely warm and the sun was rising as we were waiting for our 6:55am start.
Thanks Elizabeth for the great pictures! 

Our wave included all women, relays and the aquabike so Karel was in my wave (he later mentioned how awesome it is to swim with the ladies and not the guys - he said there is no pushing or swimming over each other. He loved the calmness of swimming with the ladies :) )

At 6:55am we were off. I tried really hard to stay with Amy who is a former D1 swimmer and extremely fast but despite swimming as fast/hard as I could, I just couldn't hang. I was a bit frustrated that I missed her pack of a few pink caps but oh well, time to just focus on myself.

I had heard from previous years about the current in the water and I can say that I never felt as if we had it easy as if the current was in our favor. I felt like the entire 1.2 miles, I was fighting hard to not swim off course because the current was constantly changing. 

My main focus was to feel myself catching the water and moving through the water but never losing sight of the buoys. I spotted a lot, probably every 4-6 strokes. 

When I made my way around the 2 buoy, I noticed that despite trying to swim a bit harder than I did at Knoxville, I wasn't as tired. I felt strong in the water but for some reason, it just didn't feel fast. As I start swimming toward the shore before one last right hand turn around a buoy to head toward the finish (there was one more turn buoy to go around near the finish), I felt as if my sub 5 hour time goal was not in reach for I feared a very slow swim just because of the difficulty I was experiencing trying to stay on course. As I was swimming to the last buoy by the finish, I noticed that several athletes were walking. I could not feel the bottom with my hands (maybe because I am only 5 feet "tall") but I never considered walking as I was swimming.  We kept the buoys on our right the entire swim (except the last buoy to swim around toward the finish) and the buoys were very well marked so you could see which was a turn buoy (candy corn colors) and the red buoys were for spotting. Challenge did a great job marking the swim course.

Nearing the shore, I saw many athletes walking. I stood up but I was not walking very fast. I dolphined dived back into the water and swam some more. I kept doing this until I could stand and run out of the water. 

When I exited the water, I made the long run on the grass (so much better than concrete!) and entered transition. I first put my swim gear in my Swim to Bike bag and that stayed near my rack. My mom was there with Campy and I couldn't help but smile that Campy had crawled under the railing around transition and was laying down watching me. It took a lot for me to not go over and kiss him (Karel would not be happy that I spent time in transition to kiss Campy - he would say - Marni that's free speed!). I removed my chip to put on my socks (I have to say in my head "chip, chip, chip" over and over so I don't forget to put it on), helmet, Oakley RPM sunglasses and shoes, powered on my Garmin 500 on my bike as I was running out of transition and I asked my mom what place and she said she thought 4th or 5th female. 

Karel leaving T1...just a few minutes after me!

My competitive spirit was there and I was excited to see what my body could do on this "fast flat"  course. 

I mounted my bike, hit start on my Garmin bike computer, clipped in and pedaled my way on a bumpy side road until I reached the main road. I made a left hand turn, got aero and off I went for 56 miles of chasing the girls ahead of me. 


1.2 mile swim: 
T1: 3:07

1.2 mile swim: 
T1: 2:16 

Stay tuned for my 56 mile bike recap. 

If you have any questions that you'd like me to cover in my race recap, just send me an email.