On a serious yet not-serious note, I wanted to tell you guys about this past weekend. All of us in Team In Training went up to Lake San Antonio, outside of Paso Robles, for practice. We went and did the course for Wildflower, the triathlon for which we’ve all been training.

The result? Well, I didn’t throw up, which was the best I could hope for, considering the chaos going on in my guts on Friday. Some stomach bug decided to set up shop, and my body did its slumlord best to evict the little bastard. I was delirious and woozy the entire drive up, and I wished to God someone would put me out of my misery. But there’s no whining in triathlon, so Anne drove, shoved me into the nearest Jamba Juice and made me eat and drink and flush all that bad stuff out of my system. She reaffirmed my belief that she is the Greatest Girlfriend In The Universe, and I’m not just saying that because she also made me dinner when we got to the campsite. Which she did. Brown rice and chicken never tasted so good.

I got up the next morning feeling 100% better, which is a lot since I’d felt like slightly warm death the day before. The sun was coming up, and I could see just how gorgeous the countryside was. The area around the lake is nothing but green rolling hills dotted with wildflowers (hence the race name). Several hundred TNTers were there, crawling out of their tents, reaching for caffeine and carbs. We fueled up and headed down to the lake for practice.

We weren’t going to do the whole course at once, thank God. We were going to swim, take a break, do the bike ride, go back to camp and eat and sleep, then do the run on Sunday. The whole point is to get used to the course, figure out what our Race Day strategies would be, and make sure there wouldn’t be too many surprises when we do this crazy thing for real.

This was the first open water swim for a lot of us, and the first time any of us had worn a wetsuit while swimming. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I ran to the end of the boat launch and leapt in, so that would explain why my entire body went “YAAAAA!” as the cold, green murk froze everything that was exposed. It was *cold*, cold enough that some people freaked out and forgot to breathe and swim. Our coaches were out there with surf boards, and they pulled a few people up so they could calm down.

But once I got my bearings, I found out how easy swimming is in a wetsuit. The entire thing keeps your body afloat as well as warm. All you have to worry about is swimming and keeping a line of sight. If you get tired, you can just flip over on your back and float. It would have been downright pleasant if it hadn’t been for all the thrashing of arms and legs; I kept up with the pack and brought it in without any troubles.

The bike ride, though, hurt. A lot. Parts of me that never complain were very unhappy, like my hip and shoulder. The hills were a grind; in fact, we started the ride with a mile long climb up a 5% grade, and it just set the tone for the rest of the day. Every time we’d finish a downhill, there’d be another climb waiting for us. My stomach started churning again, and I kept slugging down water and Accelerade in an attempt to keep from blowing chunks. There’s no shame in puking, but, hey, you set a goal to get through a race sans vomit, you gotta stick with it. I flew down the last hill back to the parking lot, inhaled all the food I could find, and leapt back into the lake. What was shocking in the morning was pure joy in the afternoon. It was like a giant ice pack.

We went back to camp for second lunch (triathletes eat like hobbits: there’s breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, lunch, second lunch, dinner, supper, second dinner, and then dessert. Plus beer), then came back to watch the Long Course people return. While we’d only done 25 miles, the Long Coursers had 56, and their big climb was at mile 41. They came surging back, and Anne, who’s doing the Long Course, smiled sweetly as she rode past and said, “Get me off this fucking bike, now!” No wonder I love her so much. Everyone took another dip in the lake, and then we headed back to camp for showers, food, icing down, more food, and, eventually, sleep.

Sunday morning, we broke camp and headed back to the parking lot one more time. The run course is hilly and rolling, and I kept wondering how in hell I was going to do it after that swim and ride. I sure felt strong that morning, though. The bug was completely burnt out of my system, I’d eaten plenty, I had lots of water, my heart rate was down…and then my foot started to hurt at mile 4. It hurt in a place it had never hurt before, which is never good. I walked it off, then ran, then it hurt again, then I cursed and walked the rest of it. I’d never felt that good on a 10K up to that point, and now hoped that I hadn’t gone and injured myself in some way that would keep me out of the actual race. One of my teammates, Deb, has a hairline fracture on her femur, and she couldn’t run or bike. She just put her rig up on a trainer and spun away while we were doing the real thing. I didn’t want to be like that. I’ve worked too hard to get to this point, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to be sidelined for Race Day. I limped back to the parking lot and iced my foot down in the lake.

(Turns out my shoe had finally broken down and that I’d probably just tweaked a tendon. I’ve got new shoes, and my foot feels fine now. Whew.)

The Long Coursers came in an hour later after their half marathon. There was Endurox and water and crackers and cries of “In-N-Out! Double-Doubles!” all around, and we hosed off and headed home.

So, am I ready? I will be on Race Day. Did I learn anything? Oh, yeah. I need to drink and eat more on the ride, I need to walk some of those hills, and I need to keep greasing up with sunblock at every transition. It was in the mid-80s this weekend, and it’s only going to be hotter on Race Day. But I’m going to do this insane thing. I am going to complete this race, and I am going to feel like a million bucks afterwards. Or, at least, I’m going to feel like a Double-Double, extra grilled onions, please.

-A.

P.S. Photos from Race Weekend, the Bachelor Auction, and other TNT events are on my TNT web page. Just follow the link at the bottom.

P.P.S. I am also done with my minimum fundraising, and am now pushing $4000. Thank you to all of you who have donated, online or off. Every bit has helped and will continue to help. Your cash has helped get my Grandpa to his 80th birthday a few weeks ago, and he’s still kicking ass. Thank you again.