Fast forward through months of chlorine, late night swims (uh 8pm late) and long lunch sets, and skin peeling off my face. My times improved on shorter intervals, my endurance grew, and my confidence with it. Pull sets became my favorites. My arms got stronger. My first OWS for CDA was mid-May, in a mid-50s lake. My 1:30 finish goal slowly edged down. So that said, here's the swim. Which ended up being the BEST part of my day.
The alarm went off at 2:45 (!!) and after a night of decent, albeit slightly fitful sleep, I got right up and got the coffee pot running. I immediately started putting together my pre-race breakfast. Two slices of bread covered in nutella and banana slices, coffee, and water. I started drinking on my Osmo PreLoad. Jordan and I worked on getting everything ready to go. Bottles from the fridge and freezer, nutrition in ziplock bags ready to go onto my bike, and into my transition bags. I showered, braided my hair, and finally donned my Coeur Ambassador Team kit! I was as organized as possible, even though I somehow misplaced a couple things (Osmo singles, car keys-both in my pocket) and had panic hunts for them.
|The amazing Coeur kit!|
With the earlier start time, we had a little less time to get ready in the morning, but fortunately we were quick and efficient, and got out the door in a very timely fashion, with my calm entact. On the drive down, I sipped on my knock-off Ensure nutritional drink.
We got to the dike road by City Park transition, and I jumped out with all my special needs backs and backpack of goods plus bike pump while Jordan went to park, and would bring my swim gear over to meet me. I got into transition, mounted my Garmin 910XT onto the quick release (already turned on), loaded my bento box, and proceeded to pump up my tires. The front, perfect... the back tire? Flat as a pancake. I had deflated both the day before due to temps. Panic ensued. I debated changing it myself, but in my nervous (and now teary) state, I grabbed it off the rack and ran to the tech tent. After waiting 10-ish minutes (the tech was awesome, but took his sweet time while I sweated and leered at him). As soon as my bike was on the stand for a change, I ran back to the rack, threw my SN bags over the fence to Jordan who reminded me to calm down, and he went with Nick and Sonia to turn in bags. I gave Erin a freaked teary hug, ran back, and retrieved my bike. Whew! I racked her again, double checked everything, took a deep breath, and handled my gear bags.
|From Triathlete Magazine's pictures of IMCDA (can you spot me waiting desperately for my bike!?)|
Finally, I made it OUT of transition and to body marking (I didn't exactly get this done in the right order, obviously). I got marked quickly, and then we walked to the bathroom. I was 100 kinds of frazzled, seeing different friends, wanting to take pictures, and Jordan kept me focused on what NEEDED to be done. Bathroom, bathroom again, wetsuit on, ALL the body glide, take part of my gu, deep breaths, walk toward the beach. We managed to snag someone last minute to take our pre-race picture and then I gave him a big hug, got a few final (much needed) words of encouragement, tried NOT to cry over these words, and I headed into the village to the beach.
|There really aren't words for how much he did to get me to this moment, and through the next 17 hours. xo|
On the beach I found a few familiar faces, and ERIN! She was looking about as emotional as I felt, and we got into the lake which felt perfect, and did some warm up swimming. It was so surreal to be on this side of the swim start. Staring at the buoys out across the lake, all the boats and other volunteers in the water waiting around the perimeter. It was my. day. I had some butterflies, and nerves, but the dominating feeling was peace and calm. I was so ready, and so excited. I hugged my different friends, but when we started creeping toward the swim arch, I found myself alone, which was perfect.
IMCDA has the rolling start, and getting into the water wasn't crowded or too stressful. I chose to swim without a watch, because I have about one speed in the water... so being able to look at a watch would do nothing to change the swim for me, other than to potentially add stress. I did glance at the time of day on the clock as I got in, so I would have a loose idea of where I was. I trotted into the water, and began to swim.
|Found on my phone-my sister took these-presumably I'm in here somewhere!|
At no point did I feel panic, or anxiety over the open water. I settled comfortably into my bilateral breathing (when I am anxious in open water, I will breathe only to the right every stroke until I feel calm) and just swam away, sighting occasionally. The buoys cruised by fairly quickly. I got caught up a few times between people (always men!) who would block my progress and as I'm not super aggressive, I tended to just settle behind them until there was clear water to move forward. The turns were a little crowded, but overall, the first loop flew by! I reminded myself of Sonia's advice "don't wish away the day" and I truly enjoyed the swim. On the way back to the beach for loop one I just watched Tubbs Hill go by until the resort dock, the hotel, and the stairs came into view. Then I would hear the music, the crowds, Mike Reilly every time I breathed and I got more and more excited. One loop done and I was feeling amazing!! I waited until my hands were grazing sand before I stood up and slogged to the swim out arch to turn and run back in. I glanced at the clock on my way back into the water which gave me some fun mental math to do for the beginning of loop 2. My math got me a number around 38, and my first lap was 38:25 (1:59/100).
Loop 2 was more crowded for me, and I would end up spending more time behind people. I would get trapped in groups, and find myself swimming further from the buoys and having to circle back in. My first loop was much tighter, and it shows in the swim time. I know the second loop is always slower and I expected it. Perhaps I could have been more aggressive, or found ways through packs of people but I didn't, and I truly enjoyed my entire swim so I am happy with how I executed it. I felt like I got knocked around a little more the second time, and drank a lot more lake. The buoys seemed to come a little slower on the turn and the way back to shore, but that was probably because I was veering off course a little more. I was laughing to myself during the swim with how many times I was accidentally waaaay too personal with some neoprene butts out there. Finally I saw the number on an orange buoy and realized I had two left to swim, and then the push to shore. As with the first lap, I was still feeling good, but maybe sighting too much (hurry up shore!!) and finally I reached where I could stand. My second lap slowed significantly for 43:51 (2:16/100).
I popped up, pushed my goggles up my head and started grabbing for my wetsuit zipper pull. I heard nothing but noise, and my name a few times (sister? friend? hello!) and apparently was one of the names announced as I made my way up the beach, but I didn't catch it. It was a buzzing sound but I was giddy and smiling the whole way in. I hit the transition area, spotted two strippers and ran over and hit the ground. They pulled my suit right off, handed it to me and wished me luck. I was beaming the whole time!! I easily spotted my transition bag with all the pink duct tape on it and it was off to the change tent. As I turned to head to the tent, I spotted my friend Bobby and said hello! I KNEW we were near the same speed. His swim was faster than mine but it was a delight to see him in transition. I heard Jordan and JJ yelling from the fence and I smiled and waved back. Sadly, Jordan remembers this as the last time I smiled at him the entire day.
I found a chair close to the end of the change tent, waved a volunteer over and while she mostly watched me, I did solicit her help on a few things. She sprayed me down with my Neutrogena kids wet sunblock (I didn't want to rub in lotion and have slippery hands, so I chose my own spray on). I got my arm coolers on, managed to shove snacks into my droopy wet pockets, dried myself off a little with a towel, shoes on, helmet on, cooling towel shoved into my back pocket for later, and it was all on for the bike! I left her my bag full of gear and ran out to the bikes. The volunteers were everywhere pointing me to my bike, though I remembered which trees were end of my row. I ran foward, ducked under the gap in the bar, a volunteer lifted my saddle off, and I ran up the outside of the tent to the 'Bike Out'.
|Still smiling!! Off to ride 112 miles!|
|why yes, my full pockets do make me look like a babboon butt! Also spotted: Sara and Brandon with the infamous Alphonse head on the left side!!|
I was only half hearing. I heard my family screaming, I saw Sara and Brandon with the Alphonse head! A few other cheers of my name and I was on the saddle, clipping in and heading out for the 112 mi bike ride, still beaming! (for now...)
Swim Time: 1:22:16 (2:07/100)
T1 time: 6:40
Gear: Coeur Team Kit; Roka Maverick elite wetsuit; Roka X1 goggles in dark amber/gold mirror; so much body glide.