On Friday (7/30), I got off work mid-morning and went straight home to finish packing and load the truck, and then we set off for Mississippi. I knew we would have a long time in the car, so I tried to pack somewhat healthy snacks like grapes, pretzels, and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches for me to eat. I am a sucker for fast food meals and gas station ice cream bars, but I didn't want to eat any of that junk before the race.
We stopped just north of Jackson, MS about 10pm on Friday, and settled in for a short night. We were up and going at 5:30am, and back on the road by 6:00am. This was Emma's third stay at a hotel, and she did pretty good! She even got to ride the elevator a few times.
We pulled up to Chad's parents house in Alexandria around 10:30am. We were so relieved to be out of the car! I was full of nervous energy for the race and so excited about our week in Alexandria. It was great to be back on Louisiana soil, at the front end of a great week to come! Not long after we arrived, Chad's sister Payton and her husband Jay arrived with their German Shepard, Miles. Chad's mom (whom I call Mrs. Suzy) whipped up a great lunch of big baked potatoes with brisket. They were great for carbo-loading! I went easy on the brisket though.
After hanging around for a little while, I said goodbye to everyone and headed north to Shreveport. The plan was that I would go to Shreveport early Saturday afternoon to meet up with my family, pick up our race packets, etc. and Chad and his mom and sister would drive up to Shreveport for the race Sunday morning, and then Chad would stay with me and my family in Shreveport on Sunday, and then we would drive back to Alexandria on Monday when my parents and sister left for Houston. And Chad's parents would baby-sit Emma through the whole thing. Try saying that 5 times fast! I wish Chad's dad (Mr. David) could have come to the race, but he is a pastor so he is usually pretty busy on Sunday mornings!
I got to Shreveport about 3:00 pm and headed straight to my grandparent's house to meet up with my sister Megan and my Aunt Genie. After getting unloaded and arranging our triathlon gear in the garage, we headed to Sport Spectrum to pick up our race packets. I have always heard that the swag at this race is incredible, and this year was no different. This year was the 30th anniversary of the race, so we lucked out and got a really, really nice triathlon suitcase (with a $250 msrp tag still on it!) a New Balance race shirt, a fitted technical hat, socks, and a pair of sunglasses. Nice!!
After organizing our stuff and applying our race numbers to our bikes, helmets, and race belts, we headed to dinner at Cypress Inn with my parents, grandparents, and my cousin Emily. Cypress Inn used to be located on Cypress Lake (the location of the tri) but the original building burned down a few years ago and they relocated to a newer building just up the road. My grandparents and parents love Cypress Inn (it is the first restaurant my sister and I ever went to! My parents took us there when we were just little babies). I haven't been out that way (Benton, LA) in a long time, so it was nice to get an idea of where we would need to go in the morning for the race. I had grilled shrimp, a baked potato, salad, and a roll. It was very good and I ate it all, but I didn't feel stuffed. I was so happy Emily could go out to dinner with us and that we were able to see her for a little bit!
We were home from dinner by 8:30 pm, and after making some last minute race preparations, I was in bed by 9:30 pm. Also, on Saturday night my grandma gave me, Megan and Aunt Genie really cool Clean Bottle water bottles! Thanks, Darling!
Once I was settled in bed, I thought it would be a good idea to read through the race instructions and information booklet. I felt pretty good about everything until I saw that race officials would disqualify you if the stem cap on your handlebars was not plugged. The stem cap on my handlebars came out over a year ago, and I have just taped over it for races this year. Usually this satisfies race directors, but the River Cities information clearly stated that tape would not suffice! I was too tired to do anything at that point about it, and I knew that I would have more brain power in the morning to address the stem cap issue. My grandpa has a well stocked garage shop, so I figured that I could find something to plug it with.
My alarm went off at 4:15 am and I was up and ready to go. I drank a Starbucks Doubleshot (thanks, Mom!) and had a bowl of cereal with a banana and then headed out to the garage to figure out what I was going to do. I found a bottle cap that worked, but I was afraid to have something on the outside of the handlebar rather than something plugging up the inside. When I explained to Genie what I was trying to do, she just said "put a cork in it." Duh! Why didn't I think of that!! I will forever be grateful to Genie for that advice, because it ended up working perfectly. After I spent some time with a saw and a piece of sandpaper, the cork fit perfectly in the stem. We even colored it black with a Sharpie so that it matched. Talk about redneck ingenuity!
Next up, the actual race report!