The BBC is actually four separate races - an Olympic duathlon and triathlon, and a sprint duathlon and triathlon. The "Border Challenge" is named as such because the Olympic triathlon (what I was racing) starts in Louisville, Kentucky and ends in Indiana. It was recently named one of Active's "7 Super-Challenging Triathlons to Try," due to the athletes swimming across the Ohio river. This article falls into the category of "things I wish I would have read prior to signing up to the race," because don't know about you, but I read a "Super-Challenging" swim as "there is a high probability you will drown during this race."
Even with this warning, we headed up to Jeffersonville. Our first stop was the Sheraton, which was where we were staying, and the host hotel. Staying here was by far our best decision of the weekend. If you do this race in the future - stay here. It's located across the street from the transition area. Unless we actually camped in transition, we couldn't have stayed any closer.
After packet pickup (which was in the hotel), we walked to dinner. The hotel was, again, across the parking lot from any restaurant we'd want to eat in while in Jeffersonville. We ended up eating on the deck of a place that overlooked the river. Dinner was fine. Nothing too exciting. The funniest part was that there was this duck that kept wandering on to the deck. It made sense that there was a duck there - we were on the river and there were a ton of geese and ducks around, but this one just walked onto the patio like he worked there.
We noticed that the wait staff all just kind of ignored him, so we figured this wasn't the duck's first time visiting. Turn out, we were right. His name is Howard and he's at the restaurant every night. He's kind of their mascot. In fact, our waitress said that sometimes when the shift starts he's at the door... just looking in the window...waiting for someone to come out with food. He was adorable and reminded us of our little doxie Hef, which is odd because Hef is short, long, black and, you know, a dog. But he does beg for food very well, and so did Howard.
Who's a good duck? Howard's a good duck!
After we finished eating, we walked down by the river. I wanted to see where the start line was. As I mentioned, you had to actually swim across the river for this race.
Dive in...you know you want to.
Kicker about the river - there was construction being done on one of the bridges we had to swim under. There was a barge sitting right in the middle of the river where we were supposed to swim, as well as a giant pile of construction materials. Because swimming wasn't going to be hard enough, we also had obstacles to avoid. YAY! We happened to run into a USAT official at this time, and I asked him about swimming around the stuff in the river. Surely, it would add distance to the route. He said that the original course length was correct, and that any course is allowed to have a 10% variance in distance. So this 1,500 meter course could actually be 1,650 and still be considered an Olympic distance swim. Things I didn't know. I do think you should get some kind of extra credit for swimming over a mile when you're only supposed to swim 1,500 meters, but I don't make the rules. Whether this rule applies to the bike and run legs of a triathlon, I don't know.
By this time, I was ready to head back to up to the room and start getting my gear ready for race day. Like most triathletes, I'm kind of obsessive about this. I lay everything out - then I pack it in my race day bag...only to think I forgot to pack something so I take everything back out. I go through this about three times before I'm finally convinced I have everything I'll need. It's crazy.
After I have everything ready, I set as many alarms as I can because I have to get up at 4:30 am. My cell phone, Dudley's cell phone, hotel wake-up call, alarm clock - they're all set. When I finally get settled in bed, it's around 10:30 pm. As I start drifting to sleep, I hear a text come in. What? Who could be texting me at 10:30 on a Saturday night other than Dudley and he was right next to me? The race director, that's who. "Please check your e-mail for an important race announcement." Great. What could this mean?
I logged in to my e-mail and learned that USTA has been testing the water and they found high levels of E. Coli in the river. Yeah...E.Coli. Good stuff. The levels weren't high enough for the swim leg to be cancelled, but they were high enough for the RD to have to let the athletes know about it, and give us the option to change to the duathlon if we wanted. (The Olympic duathlon would substitute a 2-mile run in place of the swim.)
So, now I have a decision to make...do I swim? Or do I move to the duathlon? Those of you who know me know that 1) I don't like change and 2) I'm not a fast runner. Moving to the duathlon would definitely affect my race in a negative way. Plus, this was my first triathlon post-injury. I wasn't even sure I'd make it through the 6.2 mile leg that was already scheduled - forget about adding another two on! But I really wasn't sure I wanted to swim in an E-Coli infested river with construction materials and barges as obstacles.
What did I do? Find out in the next recap!