THE SWIM – 1:17:08 // 1:51/100 yards
The pro’s started, the Oh Canada played, and just like that it was ready, set, GO, time. Every blog I’ve ever read says this part goes quickly, but I had no idea how quickly those 15 minutes would fly. I tried to savor every one of them. I had aligned myself to the left of the middle and quite a few rows back. My plan had been to start even further away from the action but after a good warm up my confidence was doing well. I was ready to get the party started.
(I’m somewhere in the orange circle, probably)
An air horn blew, and it was time to start. The rows in front of me glided forwarded and started paddling, and before I knew it my face was in the water and I was swimming. The people in front of me were going slow, but in retrospect that was still the best place for me to be. Without feeling the anxiety of people blowing by me I took slow, long, even strokes with big breaths of air. Gradually the crowds broke up a little and I started to sight. One buoy, to the next, to the next. Stroke, breathe, stroke, breathe, and every 8-10 strokes I’d sight.
Almost to the first turn I got teary eyed in my goggles, my 2nd cry of the day. I did it! With about 11 hours of my day left I felt like I had made it. I hesitated for a moment about celebrating so early, but I couldn’t contain my mind and I didn’t care. I had overcome my biggest hurdle, a panic-free swim. Without a blip I had adjusted to the water. I was just fine and was holding my own. I would even say I was having fun.
The first turn was a circus with everyone trying to hold his or her spot and make a sharp right. I turned the corner and just tried to make it to the next turn as quickly as possible without making too much contact with others. After the second turn the crowds dispersed and I could finally see clear water in front of me. Strangely, this last leg of the swim – back to the beach to T1 – was the roughest part physically. When we were all bunched up I certainly got kicked and pushed some, but here in clear water I had people swimming diagonally over me and getting right up in my face! At one point I got smacked and my goggles filled with water. I sat up to fix them and moved too quickly; my legs seized from my feet through my calves and up my hamstrings. Rats! But I pried my feet loose and kept swimming.
Soon I saw the bottom of the lake and heard the fanfare on shore. I knew I had pulled off what was a really strong swim for me, but I had no idea what my time would look like. It always seems like the harder I work during a swim the slower I go. So I didn’t even look at the clock as I stood and jogged through transition.
T1 – 2:41
I ran to the wetsuit strippers and had a hard time identifying a free pair. But without any wasted time I ran to 2 women, dropped to the ground, and my wetsuit was peeled from my body. I made sure to thank them as I ran to get my bag. I arrived at my row and a volunteer asked my number. Knowing where my bag was, and not wanting to waste time fumbling, I told him I knew where I was going and grabbed my stuff. To the changing tent!
The tent looked like a refugee camp with clothes, chaos, and people everywhere. I took the closest seat I could find and dumped everything on the ground. A volunteer appeared out of nowhere and asked if I wanted help. YES. THANK YOU. I knew I could put my shoes on my body better than anyone else could, but my volunteer could lay everything out for me, shove my rubber banded Clif Bloks in my jersey, and spray me with sunscreen while I got myself together. I gave her my simple instructions and that volunteer had some serious quickness! I thanked her, she wished me well, and I ran off to find my bike.
Bike in hand, and dodging plenty of dilly dallyers and walkers, I ran out of transition.
(Disclaimer: Again with stealing Meghan’s pictures. Thanks for documenting the day, Meghan!)