‘Twas the night before the World Championship Duathlon and all though Spain – there was chaos. You didn’t think this story was going to be drama-free, did you? So, it’s the night before the biggest race of my life and I’m staying 20 minutes away from the start line. My coach CRS, has my bike and we’re working though a bunch of logistics in a foreign country. What could go wrong?
CRS, her husband Tom and their German friends Hans and Claudia, had rented a house in the hills of Spain near the race. CRS graciously invited me to sleepover there, the night before. She knew I was a 20 minute, anxiety ridden cab ride away, and that my family and I were sleeping in two twin beds pushed together at our hotel (Spain’s idea of a “queen bed”) with a kid in the middle, so she didn’t hesitate to offer her hospitality. She sealed the deal when she said I would have my own bathroom. Done!
So arrangements were made, and I headed into Pontevedra the day before the race for bike drop-off. In Duathlons, you have to transition from the run to the bike and then back to the run. Basically, you’re putting on a helmet and changing out your running shoes for bike shoes and then you haul ass back out onto the course. As my good friend Tara likes to
say yell, during transition “You’re still racing!” Preach on sister.
So, the night before the race we could check our bikes into transition, which would save us the headache of doing it the morning of the race. Sounds awesome, right? Wrong! First of all, I had to get a cab to the race site. There were different races held that day (Saturday) so all the roads were closed. My obnoxious Team USA jacket actually came in handy when my cab driver kept pulling over and pointing to it so the cops would wave us in and around the barricades. After 45 minutes, several u-turns and 50 Euros, I came somewhat close to where I was to meet CRS and her husband Tom.
They had my bike and Hans had fixed my computer. Bless his German soul!
Once at the race site (a track around a futbol stadium of course), we got in line to gain admission to the in-field, where the transition area was. Unfortunately so did about 500 other athletes. With their bikes.
We got in line roughly around 8pm, which was the earliest they said we could, and when the sun was setting and we were still in line, I knew we were in trouble. There was a lot of confusion as to what we were supposed to have to check our bikes in. We had been told at our team meeting to bring our uniform and identification. The morning of check-in, I received an email saying I needed to wear my bike helmet. Others seemed to think we needed our shoes and the chatter in line was getting out of control. I mean, are these people serious? Who the hell would actually want to sneak into this race? No one in their right mind wants to go through this in the morning. I think it’s safe to say that if you’re here, it’s because you want to be here!
We didn’t check our bikes in until almost 10:30pm and I witnessed my very first sunset in Spain since I arrived four days earlier.
Hans drove like a madman though the tiny little back streets of Spain, until we arrived at their house. It was gorgeous and the view was spectacular. It was also nearly 11pm and we hadn’t eaten.
We didn’t have to be to the race for “athlete’s call” until 11am so I wasn’t panicking. However, my mind was processing that I was now going to eat dinner at 11:30pm (late even by Spain standards!), sleep in a strange bed and have to wake-up and compete in the biggest race ever. I give myself all the credit in the world for not completely freaking out.
We had a lovely pasta dinner (with bicycle pasta!) and the freshest salad. It was also the first and only night I didn’t have wine while I was there. CRS sent me to bed at midnight and said she would clean up my plates and make sure I was up by 8am. The woman is amazing.
I literally crawled into bed and tossed and turned for a while. My thoughts were racing. I was trying to stay positive. I was thinking of my family, friends (of my bike in a dark field!) and of every single training session that led to this very moment. Would I be ready? Would my hamstring hold up? Would I come in last? Would I get a flat tire? And on and on and on…until I drifted off from pure exhaustion.
The next thing I knew, my familiar alarm was going off. I smiled big and thought “Holy shit. THIS IS IT!”
What thoughts keep you up at night?
What’s the worst thing that has happened to you the night before a race or other big event?