Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Swim

In my opinion there is only one good reason to be awake at 4:15 in the morning, and this was not it. But, the transition area opened at 5 and I was not about to waste a year of training to show up late for a day-long triathlon. So awake I was, quintuple and sextuple (tee-hee) checking my special needs bags (which I ultimately largely ignored), waking my body up, and trying not to freak out.

I was not the first person to the transition area, not by a long shot if the lines for the port-o's was any indication. Drop off my special needs bags, check. Ascertain the road worthiness of my bike, check. Join one of the port-o lines, check. The time counting down to the inevitable, but I am blissfully occupying a timeshare in denial land as I don my wetsuit, cap, and goggles and join the gaggle heading towards the water. Not sure what everyone else is doing here, must be cool. I reach the edge of the water, spot some of my adoring fans, the pro start cannon sounds, I hop in the water...

and reality hits me like only 61 degree water at 6:50 am can. Holy Shit, I'm about to do an Ironman! What am I thinking? No time to think now fool, move or get jumped on by 2,000 eager beavers.

From here on the worst part of the swim was the waiting. Because of the location of the swim event this Ironman had a floating start. Which is exactly what it sounds like. 3,000 people crammed up as close to the starting line as possible, treading water, and most of them doing a pretty terrible job of it. I'm having a great time though, this being my first time in a wet suit I find the buoyancy positively delightful. Almost zero movement on my part keeps me afloat, and the faces of nearly everyone else in the water (most triathletes are not as comfortable in the water as former collegiate swimmers) was priceless. The cannon goes off, and so do we. Avoid getting kicked in the face, check. Avoid getting kicked other uncomfortable places, check. Swim zig-zags to the turnaround buoy, check, wait...

It is real easy to lose your bearings in an open water swim. I learned this in my half ironman as I watched some poor soul miss the first turn by 500 yards or so, but it bears repeating. After some early corrections though I made a beeline for the turn buoy. And run directly into my training/racing companion Greg. Which is impossible. I can't see my hand in front of my face, but I can find Greg among 3,000 other competitors in open water. We exchange excited "Hey!"s and continue on. I don't run into a single person the rest of the swim and just cruise to the swim exit. There are a TON of bikes still in transition, that is a good thing. I realize wet suits live up to their name and I forgot a towel in my bike gear bag, that is a bad thing. But, thousands of screaming spectators make me quickly forget or not care about that as I run to the change tent in my banana hammock. Time for the real test of the day, the bike portion.

Time to get to work.

Miles covered so far:
Swim: 2.4

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