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I love the sight of nuns in the morning

Any morning that starts with a nun in full dress getting out of a huge work van at the tollway oasis can't be all bad, right? That's the way my Saturday began.

I was up at 4:30am (alarm for 5:00 but thanks neighbor coming home across the alley for yelling so the entire block can hear you) to load my bike and gear and head to the site of my upcoming race. I was to meet two very friendly locals who offered to show me the area. We rode about 13 miles doing the western portion of the bike leg then came back to the centrally located lake where the swim will be. The run is in the park that surrounds the they showed me the beach where the swim start/exit is, where the finish line will be, where transition will be. It was all very helpful. Especially to see the minor hilly spots, where the turnaround will be, we got a chance to see what the conditions are on the gravel section of the run.

We had to ride on the shoulder of a busy trucking road for a mile or so then turned onto a frontage road where there was probably half a mile of some of the worst road I've ever seen. Complete with dead frogs!  Chucks of the road missing, cracks, bumpy...but once that half mile was done, the rest of the course was brand new paved in the previous couple years. Smooth and nice riding. The area is surrounded by wetlands so it was also helpful to be able to advise Kelly to get some bug spray for the kids. The lake itself is nice...big  enough to have small chop from the wind and a small current. But it was reassuring...or do I mean terrifying? see how far out it was to the first turn buoy, the second buoy, then home. It's a triangle and the good news is that once you pass that last turn it's only 400m home. Of course, the lake is deep until the very edge where the shore meets the water so standing up early isn't an option. And, conversely, the drop when entering means get in and start paddling.

They were due for a fairly easy ride so I had no complaints about keeping up. But the sun was out when we finished and they pushed the run pace faster than I could manage so they left me in the dust. They're two fast ladies! I've been invited up next weekend again and during weekday swims in the lake. Not sure that's feasible. But they're both volunteering for Ironman Wisconsin and doing the 2014 race so it'd be nice to have friends to occasionally train with.

I was back in Chicago by around 11:00 and Kelly had already had the kids on a 2 hour walk. Go her! We'd been planning on attending the wine festival featuring in-state wineries, but we were debating back and forth. Turns out we made the right decision by making our own fun. We went to the store to buy ingredients for dinner and some favorite snacks and drinks for everyone and then were getting ice cream when it started pouring rain...which continued until late in the evening. We watched a movie on dvd, ate well, and stayed dry.

Continuing the busy weekend, this morning we were up to be at the arboretum early...before all the other families. It was only cyclists when we arrived. Surprisingly, Cole didn't want to go to the children's garden like usual. He wanted to see the "big bugs" again and we ended up wandering to a new spot which we had all to ourselves and we all had fun. The trail winds its way through conifers and talks about endangered trees all over the world. By the time we looked at the ground cover garden it was time to leave because we had to do our grocery trip in time for Kelly to leave again.

Peak workout week is coming up. I felt pretty good until the run yesterday so my trick is going to be watching my pacing. Especially in the excitement of the swim. The bike/run I will have a computer to read.

Tick tock. Race day approaches.