I can’t believe it, but the Chicago Triathlon is only 4 days away. I signed up the first day registration opened, last year – 1 October. And now the race is this Sunday, 28 August. I’d be nervous, except I’ve basically spent the past 8 months training up from zero, and I’ve spent this whole week so far being nervous, so now I’m too tired of being nervous to actually be nervous. So I’m probably good, at least until Saturday night, when I will not be able to sleep at all. But anyway!

So anyone who is planning to come out to spectate — read the official spectator guide. This is what I will be doing:

My bib number is 4639, and I am in Wave 30. That means my start time is 8:14 AM. Don’t try and pick me out of a crowd of swimmers; we’ll all be in black wetsuits and my wave all in white swim caps, so we’ll basically look like a crowd of clones. Just stand back and watch the sloshing and flailing at the crazy swim start, and think good thoughts about me not getting kicked in the head, or at least, if I do get kicked in the head, that I swim fast enough to kick them in the head right back.

I estimate my swim time will be between 35-45 minutes for the mile, so that puts me running (ha) the 450 yds from the water up to transition at around 8:50AM or so. This would be an excellent opportunity to take embarrassing photos to blackmail me with later, except that triathlon has caused me to lose all sense of shame and you can’t embarrass me this way anymore. (Spandex bike shorts do that to a person. Not to mention that this is a sport where they have to explicitly state in the rules that nudity is not allowed in the transition area. Just imagine what was going on before they decided to throw that one in.) T1, the transition between the swim and the bike, I think will take me like 5 minutes. I don’t really know how long that 450 yd run is going to take, and if it’s gravel I might be a pretty princess who doesn’t want to run and hurt her pretty princess feets on it.

On the bike, you should be able to spot me because my bike will have a big bunch of flowers on the front stem. Like this, except I bought a bunch of red flowers specifically for race day. Team To End AIDS, red ribbons, red jerseys, red flowers… it’s a thing. Anyways, look for the bike with red flowers. You’ll be able to spot it because all the skinny people looking all serious and intent on their aerobars will be zooming past, while my flowers are the complete antithesis of aerodynamics. But they are race legal, I have it from USAT rules officials, so suck it, aero nerds!

The bike leg is two loops of Lake Shore Drive, north from Randolph up to Foster, back down to Chicago, back up to Foster, then back down to the yacht club, for a total of 40k (24.8 mi). I am guessing this will take me between 1:30 and 1:45, depending on how much lollygagging I do. I am going to try to average 14-15 mph the whole time, but I may or may not. I don’t think I’ll be able to sustain any more than 16, and that would leave me with nothing left for the run. So we’ll see how well the plans work out.

T2 should be nice and quick since it’s just a change of shoes and hat, so that’ll probably be about 3 minutes.

The run is south along the bike trail to the south end of McCormick Place, then around and up Columbus to the finish. It’s a 10k (6.2 mi), which will only be my second ever 10k race. My first, last, and only previous 10k I completed in 1:24. Because I will be pretty tired from the bike, I’m estimating this one will take me, again, between 1:30 and 1:45 to complete. I’m going to try and do a 13:30-13:45 pace, which would put me at about 1:27-1:29, but I have a bad habit of going too hard on the bike and not leaving myself with much on the run, and of course I’m not that experienced with the 10k distance, so we’ll just have to see.

Best case finish time: 3:45, or roughly noon.
Probable finish time: Around 4:00-4:10, between 12:15-12:30.
Worst case finish time: 4:25, or 12:40 PM.

You can watch my progress on the athlete tracker, or as I like to say, The Niquitron! I have no idea how it works, if it’s accurate, or anything. They just gave me the URL and I am parrotting it. Look, it has a clock on it! And yes, there’s an app for that: iPhone and Android.

Anyone coming to spectate to support me, if you plan on hanging out by the finish, I would encourage you to find the Team To End AIDS group and hang out there. First of all, they’re going to be more experienced at spotting T2 runners coming through the chute, like me. Second, they’re going to go batshit crazy with cheering and cowbells for every single T2 athlete, and that is A WHOLE LOT OF FUN to do. They should be easy to find — they’ll be the crowd of people in bright red shirts.

Also, while you’re out on the course, cheer for any T2 athlete you see — not just me! Just yell “GO T2″ and woooo and shake your cowbell for them. They’ll appreciate it even if they don’t know who you are. We all worked really hard for this, so it is totally appropriate to cheer us all on!

And of course, if you have extra money burning a hole in your pocket — feel free to send it to the AIDS Foundation of Chicago by sponsoring me here! I’m almost halfway to my goal of $3000 and I would really love to make it a bit closer by race day. It’s all tax deductible, and gets you loads of priceless brownie points with me.

Last – THANK YOU to everyone who has supported me for the past year. This has not really been easy for me, not least the weekend mornings spent getting up at 3AM, Sundays running six-plus miles in the middle of the day so I can get acclimated to running in the heat, trying lots of different varieties of “nutrition,” some more gross than others, the learning about what IT band tightness, shin splints, and hip bursitis feel like, the learning that sweat in your eyes frigging burns… It turns out that this is hard work! And I think we all know, my idea of hard work involves reading a complicated lace knitting pattern. But it’s been worth it, I really have enjoyed this entire year a lot, I’ve met some really fantastic people through Team To End AIDS, and we’ve raised some money for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, which is a wonderful organization that helps people throughout the entire state of Illinois. And every time one of you sends me an email saying “Hey! Your race is Sunday! What’s your bib number so I can spot you,” it’s a huge boost of encouragement. So thank you, all of you, because every single one of you guys is awesome like a hundred billion hot dogs!