The Swim 1:09:35
So this day had finally come…. over two years in the making, I was finally going to make it to the start line of my first Ironman. However instead of feeling a sense of excitement and energy, I woke up almost feeling sick to my stomach from being so nervous. I tried to treat it like a normal training day and go through my routine, but I still felt really anxious. I hopped in the shower to wake up, ate my two hardboiled eggs and a banana (which I had to force myself to eat, I was so nervous I could hardly eat), filled up my bottles to put on my bike, and started getting dressed. Although that was the most challenging part – I had trained in shorts that were two years old, but had assumed I’d wear the newer shorts on race day (don’t ask why this is a logical thought, nothing new on race day)….because I didn’t want to wear faded shorts (yes I know, vanity), I wanted to sport my bright non-faded ones on race day! I changed probably three times back and forth and finally went with the new ones, but stashed my old ones in my morning clothes bag just in case.
Finally a little after 5 we headed down to transition with my bottles, nutrition for my bike, bike and run special needs bags and pump. After a 10 min walk we made it to transition, however right before entering, I had a tri short freakout, and hopped into a porta potty to change into my old shorts. Old shorts won, they were more comfy and didn’t squish my stomach like the new ones did. As I entered transition I saw two good friends that were spectating, I was so happy to see them but it didn’t shake my ever increasing nervousness.
Once I gave them hugs and went into transition, I tried to focus on the task at hand, which was to pump up my tires, put my bottles on my bike, fill up my Aero bottle and add my nutrition to my bike and run bags (I was worried my gels and other nutrition would be pretty gross if I left it out there in the heat and overnight). But it wasn’t helping, I was so sick to my stomach. I saw my buddy that I met up with the day before to head to the swim start and he hardly said much, he looked like he was almost going to be sick to his stomach too. Oh boy, well at least I wasn’t the only one feeling this way!
I’m not quite sure what the deal was, but what should have taken me ten minutes at most in transition, took me over 30 minutes and before I knew it, it was a little after six by the time we were walking to get into the swim line. Yikes!! I had wanted to be in line around 6:15 which was not happening, since it was almost a mile away from transition. (Note: the swim is a time trial swim, aka first come first serve, so the later you start, the farther back in line you are and the less time you have to finish at the midnight cutoff, not that I was worried…but…you never know)
R walked with JMR and I to the swim line in his festive outfit for the day (more on that later), which amused me and also helped slightly calm my nerves. After passing bodymarking we were headed to the end of the swim line….the LONG line. I remembered last year when I came to support my friend doing IMLOU that the line was long, but she still got into the water no longer than a half hour after the start. So I kept taking deep breaths, and kept walking. And walking. And walking. As we kept walking, I really started to freak out… was it this far back last year when we met her in line? This was probably one of the tougher aspects of this specific race…the time trial swim start, and the waiting in line really messes with your mind. Finally we reached the end and I set up camp, sitting on a towel and making friends with the people nearby in line. I think I finally got in line around 6:35 or so.
Before I knew it, it was time to take my gel and the gun was going to go off in 10 minutes.
We kept walking…and walking….we watched the pro’s swim by near the island and soon I could see the dock where we would jump off into the Ohio river. Ohmygosh. This was it. THIS WAS IT. I’m not going to lie, I got teary eyed.
Soon, it was time put in my wax earplugs, get my swim cap on and give JMR my gear bag.
I gave JMR a kiss, put my goggles on, and walked down to the dock. Once I got to the dock I could hear people shouting my name and it was my mom, aunts and cousin!! It was AWESOME to see them! And also gave me a burst of energy. Before I knew it, I was jumping in!
The swim started off pretty calm, we were so spread out from the time trial start that it wasn’t a battle for space, I just focused on counting 1-2-3 breathe, and switching sides. Every now and then I’d come up to a swimmer that was slower and I’d have to doggie paddle to find clean water, but other than that, the swim along the shore/island wasn’t too bad and pretty sheltered from the current. However it was a different story once we left the island, which had protected us from most of the current…then it got tough. Not horrible, but I was also reminded that I was swimming in the Ohio River as I bumped into an empty gatorade bottle. Gross. The water in that area had a lovely funk to it too, as it was near the sewage plant. Finally we hit the turn bouy, to now swim WITH the current….however, that was probably the scariest part of the swim. I practically got dunked four times from aggressive men trying to make the turn. That was scary.
After the turn bouy it was all downstream. Really. I crossed the turn bouy at 36 minutes, which I was happy about, hoping to still get close to my 1:20 swim goal. As I swam I kept flying by the bouys going downstream (woah, what a current!), and before I knew it I could hear the announcer at the swim finish and I started to get really I excited…I finally hit the swim exit (I aimed well before the exit because I was told that if you aim for the exit you will miss and have to fight the current to get back to the exit), and once the volunteers helped pull me out, I took off my goggles and looked at my watch and I was shocked!! 1:09…what, what?!?! Wow, the current REALLY helped. Hooray!
Then I saw my mom, cousin, aunts, R and my dad (not seeing JMR was a theme throughout the day except for the run, he needs to wear a crazy hat or something) as I ran through the run chute to transition and tried to mentally prepare for the bike, the leg I was most nervous about.