Off I went, stroke, breathe, stroke, breathe…where the heck was I going? There was a sea of people around me flailing, kicking, stroking, but I had no idea where exactly the darn buoy line was. Not scoping out the swim course before the swim that morning, or taking a look once I was in the water (granted I only had 30 seconds or so) was a big mistake.
Sigh. I’ll just keep swimming. Eventually my two-stroke (left, right, then breathe) combination was leaving me winded, as I’m used to swimming four strokes then breathing. I just couldn’t get into a rhythm or feel comfortable enough to not sight every two strokes. At this time I also noticed that my goggles were fogging up and I was having trouble even seeing. Just keep swimming I told myself. Several strokes later I started freaking out. I stopped swimming and started treading water. I felt a huge wave of panick come over me and started hyperventilating. My wetsuit felt really tight and I wanted it off. I wanted out of the water. I was feeling claustrophobic. I started crying. I wanted to hang on to a kayak or a floaty lilly pad but both were really far away. I tried to calm down and took my goggles off and spit in them (which helps with fogging). I still stayed there, in the same spot treading water, feeling an urgent sense of panic. Son of a B this wasn’t how the swim was supposed to go.
Finally after several minutes I calmed down enough where I was able to try to swim again. I just could not get into a rhythm and once again the two stroke/breath combination was wearing me out. The wave of panic came over me again, but this time even worse. Tears flowed again. I really wanted to quit. Would they see my hands up in the air all the way over here if I waived for a kayak? Then I reflected on how my day would go if it ended it here. Trish drove 7 hours to come support me….we spent $1000+ on a hotel room for this trip…JMR has put up with my training for 9 months and supported me the entire way. I woke up early so many saturdays to ride, all of those hours in the stupid pool (I still dislike swimming)….all to DNF? In the swim? The first 5 or so minutes of my day? The thought of letting all of those things down made me REALLY sad. Sad enough that I put my head back in the water and slowly (really slow), started swimming again. I told myself to just make it to the next buoy. And when I reached that buoy, the goal was to make it to the next one. At IMWI, it is a tradition to ‘moo’ at the second turn buoy, however, I was just trying to survive, there was no moo’ing from me, but I did hear some moo’s. I just kept moving forward, hating every minute of the swim.
Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately) because I had swam so slow, I wasn’t getting as much contact as I had in the beginning and was able to find clear-ish water. I did have a few incidents with rough contact, but nothing like the start. Soon I could see the final buoy before we turned to head back to the finish. Thank goodness. I wanted to cry. However once we turned it felt like forever before I even got close to the arches to exit the water. I wish I had turned my watch on (I decided not to, in fear of someone bumping into it) so I could have seen how far I actually swam….because I know with how far to the right I started, I swam way more than 2.4 miles. Eventually I could feel the ground. I really did almost cry, out of relief and out of shock/sadness as to how horrible my swim went. I think I only missed three swims during this training cycle…I had really made a point to work on my swims and was sad it all went down the drain to a panic attack. I saw 1:24:xx when I got out of the water and felt defeated.
The wetsuit stripper helped me out of my wetsuit and I started jogging towards the helix. I forgot to mention, the IMWI swim to bike transition has you run up a three level parking garage into the convention center (transition), so it’s quite the hike. As I was heading into the Helix I looked up and heard Trish cheering my name with JMR. I smiled and waved and headed up the helix.
When I found Trish and JMR, I hugged Trish (JMR was taking pictures) and then I had another wave of emotion and started crying saying ‘I had a panic attack’, Trish reassured me it would be ok, and then I headed back up the parking ramp…walking. I just felt really defeated. What is the rest of the day going to be like?
When I got into Ballroom A, I grabbed my Bike bag and headed into the change area. Of course, suddenly the lights went out. Things are just going swell today. After a minute or so they came back on and I started dumping everything out of my bag, since there weren’t any free volunteers to help. I dried off my feet, put on my socks, got my shrug on for sun protection (I practiced putting this darn thing on multiple times as it took forever last year), put my helmet and sunglasses on and was headed to my bike. I hopped into a porta potty on the way out, and after putting on my bike shoes once I got to my rack (it’s such a far walk/run, it’s recommended to just carry your bike shoes), Lola and I were ready to ride the IMWI bike course.
Swim Time: 1:24:49
T1: 13:45 (ouch, that hike up the helix was no joke!)