Thursday, September 28, 2006

Redman - The Swim


Saturday did dawn clear, cool and calm. I made it down to the hotel lobby to meet my team and head out for the race. No one said much, either because we were still asleep or because we were scared to death. The early morning hours flew by as I got body marked, checked my transition bags in, picked up my chip and stood in the porta potty line over and over.

Then I heard, "ATHLETES IT'S TIME TO START MAKING YOUR WAY OUT OF THE TRANSITION AREA"

What! It's time already, but I don't have my wetsuit on and I have to pee again, and where is my friend with the Pam to spray on me so I don't chafe from the wesuit. I stood in line for the porta potty again while they continued to tell us to make our way out of transition. Everyone in line agreed they'd have a hard time kicking us all out so we stayed.

I quickly got my wetsuit on. I did find my friend with the Pam so that was a relief. It's hard to explain to people who aren't in the loop why I was spraying myself with Pam and putting on a rubber suit at 6:45 am.

I finally headed down to the lake and stood with my team waiting for the start. There was no turning back now. Part of me was completely ready to jump in the lake and go and part of me wanted to run the other way while I still had the chance. I started to worry about having to pee while swimming so I ran back to the porta potty with minutes to spare. Luckily some guy unzipped my wetsuit and I got back just in time for the start. I know there was music playing but I have no idea what it was, I remember someone singing the national anthem, I think someone said a prayer but I couldn't tell you what they said either.

And then the gun went off. No warning, no countdown, just a gun. And we ran. The water was pretty shallow for awhile so you had to run a ways to get to where you could swim. It wasn't too bad of a start, I'm sure nothing like an Ironman with 2500 people. It was still rough for a ways with people swimming over you and into you and feet in your face. I swallowed a lot of water early and had to stop and try not to choke for a minute.

I know I'm a good swimmer, I have great technique. But honestly, I think I panicked a little out there. For a minute I forgot that I knew how to swim and had visions of drowning in the middle of all these people. I couldn't get into a rhythm and couldn't get myself to calm down. I finally had to turn over and swim backstroke until I could get myself under control. When I looked out and saw the buoy I had to swim to before the turn I seriously considered doing one loop and trying to convince someone to let me do the half. Finally I just swam and before I knew it I had one loop done. I kept looking back to see if I was the only one left and was relieved to see at least a few people behind me.

The second loop ended up being even worse than the first. The sun was coming up and you couldn't see any buoys, just sun. Then the wind picked up and created some pretty big waves. I only breathe to the right side so every time I took a breath a wave would go over my head and I would swallow another mouthful of water. One guy in a kayak told me we were crazy and I told him I sure felt crazy right then. I found myself drifting so far out to the right that I spent the whole time fighting my way back to the buoys. Eventually I reached the last buoy and thought I may never swim again. I felt a little disoriented and had a hard time running out of the swim. I didn't even know what my time was. The best part of the swim was the wetsuit stripping. The pam must have helped because I think my wetsuit was off in seconds.

T1 was great. It was cool to be treated like an elite athlete or something. Volunteers got all my stuff out for me and even put sunscreen on me. I ran out to get my bike and was a little discouraged to see that there weren't many bikes left. Then I heard someone yell my name. It was someone from raceAthlete who said he would take pictures for me and wished me luck. It was cool to see someone I kind of knew and at that moment I felt very happy to be a part of raceAthlete.

Stay tuned for the bike and run.

1 comment:

Flatman said...

You ARE crazy! (but in a good way...)

Oh the suspense is killing me!