Friday, September 12, 2014

Ironman Wisconsin 2014 Swim

This race is getting 3 posts because it lasted a LONG time and I have so much to share.  Where to even begin?

For a race, I felt like I was actually able to sleep in a bit. I got up just after 5 am and did the usual breakfast of toast with peanut butter and banana. Then I got dressed and braided my hair.  I was excited and a little bit anxious.  The day I had been waiting for was finally here.  I was going to be an Ironman.

I gathered up my special needs bags for the bike and run and my water bottles to put on my bike  At 5:30 am Kelly, Matt, and I began the short walk over to Monona Terrace. Kelly found this great apartment less than 0.5 mile from the race start on Airbnb for the weekend.  We referred to it all weekend as "Hipster Hideaway" or the "Humble Hipster Abode".  It was very quirky but the best part was we stayed for 4 days and the cost was like the same price we would have paid for one night at a hotel that close to the start line.

We dropped our bags at special needs and split up so Kelly could do look for her dad. I headed to transition to pump up my bike tires and put my water on my bike.  Getting into transition was a bit chaotic because there were people everywhere! People were getting body-marked and hitting up the porta-potties and milling around.  Once I got to my bike I realized I left my bottle of Perform behind somewhere (I later found it in the bike special needs bag). I figured it was no big deal and would just grab a bottle once I hit the first aid station less than 1 hour into the bike.

I hit the bathroom line where I once again found Kelly.  I was a little bit worried that I wouldn't find her again after we split so I was happy to have her back! We picked up Matt and started making our way down the helix to the swim start. Athletes were allowed to get in the water at 6:30 am and it was just getting light out at this time.  Kelly found a nice gentleman that let us use his wetsuit lube.  I
warmed up by trying to get into my wetsuit.  I have to take a break halfway through every time to recover.  It takes a little bit of body contortion to get that thing on.  From the two practice swims we did in Madison, I knew I needed to get the wetsuit pulled up high enough to be comfortable in the shoulders.  That makes swimming so much easier for me. After one last pep talk and good luck kiss from Matt I headed towards the swim entrance.  We got in line at about 6:40 and I am glad we did because it took awhile for us to get in the water. In fact, while the National Anthem was playing people were still lined up waiting to get into the water. As we were getting in the water I gave Kelly a final hug and told her that I would see her at the finish line! I swam out to just right of the boat (right of no. 4 below) and hung out while floating in my wetsuit.

At 6:50, the cannon went off for the pros.  Mike Reilly, the voice of Ironman, kept us entertained by announcing a few of the athletes that were competing.  We all cheered for the hundreds of volunteers and thousands of spectators! Before our cannon went off, someone sang the Star Spangled Banner and a whole group of athletes sang along.  It was surreal.  I was here and I was doing the Ironman.  I shed a few tears inside my goggles.  All the months of training, sacrifices, missing out on weekend social things. early bedtimes, and several fearful cry sessions were culminating right here. I let all of the doubts and fears go.  A strange boost of confidence came over me.

As the start time drew nearer, the area where I was treading water got more crowded.  I reminded myself to stay calm.  Before I knew it, the cannon was sounding and everyone was swimming. My plan had been to stay wide most of the way till the first turn buoy but the crowd I was in was pushing towards the buoy line and I just followed suit.  It was pretty crowded but it didn't ever feel terrible to me. Sure my arms and feet were hit a few times but I never got swam over.  A few times I would get squeezed between two swimmers who were converging but I would just stop and move to the inside of them and keep swimming. I am not a very aggressive swimmer so this worked well for me.

The entire terrace and helix was covered with people and since I breathe mostly to my right I saw them for a good portion on my way out.

Once I got to the first turn buoy I made sure to MOO! It sounded so cool out there.  The force of the crowd of swimmers just pulled me along.  I found some feet to swim on for a bit.  The whole time I just reminded myself to glide, breathe out, and just keep swimming.  The swim is in a big rectangle and on the backside as we were swimming parallel to Monona Terrace I hit a bit of a lull.  It seemed to take forever to get to the orange buoys that meant I was halfway done. But soon enough I was at the third turn buoy! I seemed to be passing a few more swimmers then which gave me a little boost of confidence.  My shoulders still felt good so I just glided on in to the swim finish.

I stood up once I got to the volunteers that had waded into the water.  Turns out they were there to help people step up onto the cement pad from the rocks because I slammed my big toe into the ledge of it and almost fell back over.  Ouch!  From there I ran to the wetsuit strippers as I pulled my wetsuit down to my hips! I dropped down on my back and the guy helping me had my wetsuit off with two big pulls!

The helix was packed with people! It is a long run from the swim start up the helix to transition, but the energy is insane! I heard Matt yell my name as I reached the top and I turned to wave! From volunteering last year in T1, I knew there was a huge rush of people coming into transition at 1:20 to 1:30 so my goal was to beat that rush. I picked up my bike clothes bag and ran into transition and I got my own volunteer.  She dumped my bag as I pulled off my swimsuit and pulled on my bike shorts. She helped me get my jersey on and stuffed my pockets with my nutrition.  I put on my socks then rubbed Aquaphor all over my behind while she stuffed everything back into my bag.  I grabbed my shoes and headed off to pick up my bike.

It is a long run through all the bikes so I opted to not put my shoes on till I got to my bike since I was near bike exit. As I was running I heard my name and saw Amy!  Did I mention I had superb spectators?

I yelled my bike number when I got close to my bike rack and a volunteer grabbed my bike while I put on my shoes! I ran with it to the mount line and began my ride!

Swim Time: 1:17:16
Pace: 2:00/100 m
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