Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ironman Arizona - Part 3 - Pre-race and Swim

How many race reports start with "my alarm went off at 4am"? This one is no different. I slept pretty well, or as well as I could expect, waking up a few times of course. I had done a good job of staying hydrated. Although I didn't mention this in my previous reports, I did have a bit of a sinus headache on Saturday so I did hope it would stay away on Sunday. It did. I woke up and started to get ready. Get dressed, eat breakfast, prepare bottles, and load up the car. The nerves were engaged, but manageable. I wanted to leave for the race site just before 5am and I was mostly on schedule. (I stress when I am late.) I figured if I got to transition at 5:30 I would have enough time to take care of everything before the start.

Once I parked in the garage across from the race site, I was a person on a mission. I carried my load of stuff down to transition I made several stops.

1) First stop was transition to put my nutrition and bottles on bike, as that would take a lot of weight away from what I was carrying. I had UCAN in two bottles in the cages and water with an electrolyte tab in the aerodrink. Then I pumped up the tires and loaded up my clif bars that I had already broken into pieces in plastic baggies. One of my athletes, Carley, was racked a few bikes from me and she showed up. She was excited and ready to get this ironman underway! I also found Kelley Hess and said good morning.
2) Next was a  quick stop at the port-o-potty since the line was short. Good idea.
3) Headed over to the gear bag section to make some tweaks.
4) Then was the short hike to drop off my special needs bags.
5) Stand in line for the port-o-potty one more time before putting on my wetsuit. By now it was just after 6am and I had planned to put my wetsuit on around 6:20. The line didn't move as fast as I would have liked, but it worked out just fine. And it was a good idea to stop.
6) I put my wetsuit on (I went with the long sleeved), packed everything I had except my bike pump and some extra electrolytes into my morning clothes bag and dropped it off with the volunteers.

Now I was in line for the swim start! Carley found me again and we were ready to do this thing. We slowly made our way towards the start and chatted with a few other ladies around us. Carley wanted to be a bit further back, so I went ahead. I dropped my bottle I had been sipping with cran-razz UCAN, got on the dock and jumped in!
Jumping into the "lake" from the dock with spectators on the bridge above.
My half ironman swims are ~45 minutes so 90 minutes would be a good swim for double that distance. After I jumped in the water, I was ready to go. Time to make my way to the start, which was past the bridge. I worked forwards and found an open spot under the bridge. And then the gun went off!
Although a bit behind the line to start, I avoided the mass "washing machine" and fight for position. I also probably lost a couple minutes, but I wasn't concerned. I was here to enjoy the event and so I did. I swam along, bumping into a few people here and there, but I managed to stay really close to the buoy line. I had to stop once to let a small motor boat through (I believe he was race support) and yelled at a guy to stop for the boat. He asked if I was ok and once I pointed to the boat, he got it. Then we started swimming again and he clocked me in the back of the head. It wasn't hard and he apologized. I just kept swimming. Buoy to buoy.
A nice sunrise for the specatators

Swim start
I was a little cold and glad I had the long sleeves on. On to the next bridge and then a bit past it for the turn and then back. My left hip flexor felt a bit funky, like it wanted to cramp, so every so often I would do a bicycle kick to keep it loose. At one point I thought my calf wanted to cramp as well, but it didn't.
I really mostly thought, keep swimming and wow - you're doing an ironman swim! I was really comfortable the whole time and despite a few bumps into some people here and there, it was a good swim. I even got on someone's feet for a bit a few times.

View from the bridge at the turn around. We have to swim back under that other bridge in the distance.
Once I made the last turn I was pretty happy. Just a short swim back across the lake to the swim exit.

We had to climb these steps to get out of the lake. Volunteers were helping pull us out.
I was pretty darn happy to be done with my first ironman swim and feeling good. It was the longest swim I've ever done and I was glad that I was about to get on the bike. The wetsuit strippers did there thing (almost pulling a Justin Timberlake to Janet Jackson with my sports bra, but we got that fixed before I flashed the world!) I didn't bother with a space blanket and just walked/jogged with my cold, stiff legs to get my bike gear bag and get into the changing tent.
Total swim time: 1:36:37. Pretty close to target considering I was "behind the line" when the gun went off.


Terry Odell said...

Good to see your side. As a spectator, the swim was the most impossible to figure out what was happening. Looked like a mass of water birds. I shot about 15 seconds of video when people approached the finish ... and we could tell that it was tough to stop swimming and start climbing the exit steps.

Video clip is on my FB page ... this link might work if you copy and paste it. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10150369939871531&set=vb.575726530&type=2&theater

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