I had an absolutely fantastic swim despite a rough start. I found that a beach start is much more aggressive and frantic than the floating start I experienced at IMWI. After 200-300 yards of sheer madness and a bit of panicking, things opened up and I managed to find some feet and hold a straight line. Other than the madness that was the start, it was an awesome lake for a race – clean, clear water at just the right temperature.
Time: 1:05:17 **PR**
Overall Place: 172/2097
AG Place: 18/83
T1 Time: 5:39
Our day started out at 4AM. I actually woke up at 3:55 without any alarm and was ready to go. Even though the hotel opened up breakfast at 4AM (rather than 6AM) for the athletes, I chose to cook and eat in our room to play it safe. I made some scrambled eggs, toast with PB&J, and had a banana and OJ.
This was the view from our hotel balcony on race morning. That bright light to the right of the Merrell banner is the finish line. Could not have asked for a better view.
After breakfast, I got dressed, applied my TriTats, took care of priority #2, and was ready to head down to transition. I met up with Jeff and Dave outside the hotel and we walked down to transition which was only about 100 yards away.
We even got the red carpet treatment! This carpet lined the entire transition and also ran from the swim exit all the way to transition (about 1/2 km).
We all dropped off special needs bags, loaded up our bikes with nutrition, and checked our tire pressure – some of us more than others **cough** Dave **cough**. Haha. I think Dave had a bit of first timer jitters but Jeff and I were there to reassure him and keep him calm.
After the bikes were ready, I headed back to the hotel to take care of priority #2 again and then proceeded to fall asleep for 10-15 minutes on the couch. Can you tell I don’t really get nervous about races?
I eventually woke up and we all met up to walk down to the swim start which was about 1km away. On the way over, we bumped into Steve. We each TriSlided and Foggled up and were ready to go.
Steve and I and Jeff and I.
Saying “Goodbye” to Jennie! At least for the next 11 hours.
We slowly made our way through the crowd to the beach. It was a bit crowded on the beach and they really should not have let any spectators on the beach. Unfortunately, there really wasn’t any other place for the spectators to be other than way down the road. Jeff and I lined up fairly close to the front and realized that Jon was right next to us. It was so cool having those two guys to start with. It took a lot of stress out of it. Our original plan was to start way to the left and then angle over, but when we lined up, we noticed that there was a lot of kayaks and boats on the lefthand side that would have required us to swim around. So, instead, we move about 50m to the right; still on the lefthand side of the start, but not all the way over as planned.
Lined up at the start. Jennie found a spot down the road to watch that gave her a decent view of the swim without the crowd.
At 6:50AM, we got a flyover followed by a cannon start for the pros. This was no puny cannon like IMWI, it was full sized military artillery. We could feel the boom reverberate in our chests.
Ten minutes after the pros started, it was our turn. However, anticlimactically, we didn’t get the cannon start. About 3 minutes prior to 7AM, Mike Reilly made an announcement that the spectators had to move away from the cannon or they would not fire it. As the clock wound to 6:59:58, 6:59:59, 7:00:00, everyone kind of paused, and then just took off. Mike Reilly started shouting “Go! Go! Go!”, but there was never a cannon. I assume that the spectators didn’t move out of the way, but never heard for sure.
The first 300 yards of the swim was a madhouse. It gave new meaning to flabby armed spanking machine. I was struggling big time and swimming entirely with my head above water. I wouldn’t say that any of the contact was overly aggressive or even intentional, it was just everyone trying to swim in a small space. I started to panic quite a bit at one point and realized that even if I was really in trouble, there was little anyone was going to be able to do for me. Thankfully, after 300 yards, it started to clear up a bit. I was able to get my head in the water, settle down my breathing, and start to focus on long, crisp strokes (lob shot). I eventually found some feet to hold onto for a few hundred yards. The water was so clear that I could follow right behind without ever having to sight. I checked my line a couple of times to make sure the guy in front of me was swimming straight, but once I got to trust him, I just focused on his feet.
I had a bit of trouble with water in my right goggle, but once the crowds thinned out, I was able to flip over, dump the water, and continue on without much trouble. I ended up emptying my goggles 3 times before they started to get a good seal on my face. I was thinking about it and they never leak on me during training. The only difference is that I always put on sunscreen before a race and that must prevent them from getting a good seal.
That is the village in the background with the colorful roofs.
When we hit the first turn buoy, I remember looking at my stopwatch and seeing 28:XX. Perfect! Right on target. After swimming the back side in another 5:XX, I knew that I was going to be right on schedule getting back to shore. On the return leg, I actually eased up a bit and just focused on a nice clean stroke and tried not to over exert myself. I knew that going easy I would still get in by my 1:05 goal and it wasn’t worth pushing hard to save an extra 30-60 seconds. There was still a lot of racing to do.
I can’t really complain about the crowds in the water. This is the crowd Jennie had to deal with getting from the swim start to swim finish.
When we got close to shore, the water got shallow very quickly. I decided to stand up and run in and managed to stand on a pile of sharp rocks. I dove back in and swam some more before finding some soft sand to run up. The clock ticked over 1:05 as I ran the last 50 yards in the water. I had to smile at a well executed swim despite the freakout at the beginning.
As I passed through the swim exit arch, I encountered my first and only bitchy racer of the day. I had a woman cut in front of me as we went through the arch. I tried to slow up but still accidentally kicked the back of her foot. Not hard and she didn’t even stumbled or anything, but she looked back at me with a scowl and said, “What the fuck???” Ok… YOU cut ME off. Anyways, other than that, the fellow racers were very friendly and polite.
The run to T1 was about 1/2km – so not close, but not too far away either. They actually had lined the entire way from the swim exit all the way to the transition tent with carpet. While there were wetsuit strippers at the swim exit, after my experience at IMWI, I decided to run to transition with my wetsuit around my waist. After swimming 2.4 miles, carrying a wet wetsuit is like carrying a ton of bricks.
I flew into the tent, grabbed my bag, and proceeded into the changing area. They had it setup so that you went into a large tent that had T1 bags on one side, T2 bags on the other and changing areas in the middle. It made for a great, streamlined setup. I found an empty chair and began to step out of my wetsuit. And then, before I knew it, I was ass over tea kettle on the ground taking out 3 chairs in the process. Thankfully I was not injured – except my pride. They had installed a plastic flooring and it got a little slippery when wet. In fact, Jeff said that when he entered transition about 5 minutes later, they had a volunteer yelling “Careful! Floor is slippery!”
After picking myself up and brushing off my pride, I slipped on my helmet, glasses, sprayed on some sunscreen, grabbed my shoes and ran out. On the way out, I ran past Beth who was volunteering as a sunscreen applicator. I said “Hi!” as I ran by and got a nice cheer from her. Because we weren’t allowed to start with our shoes on our bike, I carried my shoes to the bike rack, and slipped them on before grabbing my bike to minimize the amount of time I had to run in my shoes. Bike in hand, I ran out for a quick 112 mile bike ride.
Stay tuned for the bike report (tomorrow hopefully)!