Saturday, October 15, 2011

IMKona: The Swim

The swim AKA the good.....grab a cup of joe for the first installment of my race report!  If I wrote it all down in one post you'd need an entire pot of coffee.  

One week ago, I entered the water at the Kona pier to start the Ironman World Championship.  I couldn't believe that I was finally here!  That a race that I had qualified for 11 months before was finally here.  I woke up before the 4am alarm ready to go....but I was pretty nervous.  Everything was ready to go, we just had to wait.  I had my normal pre-race breakfast but was unable to stomach the bread and almond butter (about 400 calories).  Sonja and I made the decision to just get to the race and find a "quiet" place to hang out around there.  

As I got body marked, I had a moment - it was one year ago that I was in the place of the body marker- the volunteer.  I had yet to do an Ironman and Kona was really just a big dream.  I had no idea at the time that I would be back on the other side of the table just a year later.  Thinking of this I got a bit choked up and my lovely body markers gave me a hug and some wonderful words of encouragement.  By 5:45 I was body marked, weighed (yikes glycogen stores!), special needs bag checked, tired pumped, and had bottles on bike.  It was time to go.  Except it was 5:45.  Sonja, Jen and I did find a pretty quiet place to hang out and then made our way towards the pier to watch the pro start.  Boom....they were off.  
Race morning sunrise
It was time for 1800 age groupers to get in the water!  I entered the water with probably 20+ minutes before the start, looked around at all the spectators on the sea wall and swam out to the place I thought I wanted to be.  I looked up at Mauna Loa or Kea (???), it was a beautiful morning.  I looked at the pier.  I looked at the athletes.  I was calm and ready, gave Madame Pele a thumbs up for letting me be here in Kona and racing on this beautiful island.  

My swim spot - just left of the car - initially looked great - not many athletes around and I found pink capped friends.  But then again, I was in 20 minutes before the start.  With 10 minutes to go my little space got more crowded and I wondered how exactly this was going to shake out.  This can't be good.  All I could see in front of me were 2+ rows of blue caps.  I had tried to stay out front but it seemed to be impossible and there I was buried in a sea of blue caps....ugh.  Beth Shutt (blogger/twitter friend) was to my left and we wanted to stay together - I figured she wasn't going to intentionally beat the crap out of me and even if she did hit me she only weighs like 90 pounds so I figured I could weather that.  All of a sudden Nalani (swam with Nalani on Monday) was around too - she's a fast swimmer and another pink cap to my right, if I could come out even close to her I would be sooooo happy.  Oh please, oh please, oh please.......BOOM!  
Can you see me?  I'm in a pink cap middle to left!
And the race was underway.  It was chaos.  A whitewater washing machine.  I did my best not to swim over anyone or hit anyone but that wasn't the same idea for others.  I kept lifting my head up wondering when the madness was going to end!  A few hundred yards out, it seemed to get a bit thinner and I had just a bit of clear water - or at least I wasn't crammed next to someone and I wasn't right on someones feet.  That only lasted for a minute or two.  All of a sudden it was madness again and I had no idea why.  Then I figured it out.  The group I was in had swum right immediately to get on the buoy line and thus merged with a bajillion others.  Crap.  I looked up and the buoy was right there!!!  NOT where I wanted to be and I was trapped.  It was till a whitewater washing machine.  I just smiled since I wasn't getting brutalized too badly and kept swimming.  Probably halfway through to the sailboat, the whitewater ended and it felt like I was in a group of 10.  May have been 50, not sure.  And, I was trading places with a guy.  Our hands kept hitting.  I was all over his feet.  He was all over mine.  We really got to know one another because we literally swam next to each other the entire time.  There was a pink cap in there too and I thought maybe it was Mama Simmons (blogger/twitter friend) because her stroke was so pretty - I was on her feet, she was on mine.  As we approached the boat turnaround, I got stung on my left cheek!!  Must have been a little jelly and it hurt but I wasn't about to put a hand to my face to check and lose my group.  It stung for the next 10 minutes!

After the turnaround, I had hoped to pick it up just a bit. I had settled into a good pace after the initial sprint and my breathing was exactly what I had planned.  The swells were BIG though and I was taking in saltwater every few minutes.  Even though I wanted to pick it up, no one else in my group wanted to and the group also wouldn't let me pass.  Grrrrr.  The pier got closer and closer.  I started feeling a bit sick because of the waves and had to talk myself down (you're fine, don't feed the fishies).  What I didn't know was that the most violent part of the swim was coming up!  The funnel into the pier.  Soon, the peeps to my left were swimming me into the peeps on the right.  I took a right hand into my left eye and my goggles filled up.  Had to stop momentarily to fix that.  I was getting swum over.  It was full contact swimming.  Finally, finally, finally I saw the stairs and swam right up till my arms hit sand.  Whew.  That was done!!  And as bad as it may have seemed, I really enjoyed it.  
Me and my new best friend coming out of the water....

Up the stairs and to the shower.  And somehow I missed my time!  I heard Mike Reilly announce I was out of the water but I had no idea what kind of time that swim produced.  I found a chair in T1 - there weren't that many gals in there and denied the sunscreen (bad bad bad decision) since I thought what I had put on earlier would be good.  I ran around the pier to all the cheering volunteers and located my bike - and it looked like all the bikes from my age group were still there.  Yeah - must have been a decent swim!

Swim time:  1:00:53, 3rd AG

1 comment:

Michelle Simmons said...

I bet that was you I was swimming with on the way out? You were a little more on the inside (closer to the buoys?) I think at one point I decided I wanted more clear water so I rolled over a guy to my left and got way outside so I could relax more. That swim is like fighting a battle! But we won that one anyway. :)