Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Swim

I woke up race morning with nerves so jittery that I could barely control my gag reflex. Food sounded disgusting, and it took me a good 10 minutes to down a few electrolyte tabs. I forced down most of a bagel and assorted tid bits, mixed up my energy/protein drinks for the bike and run, packed up my special needs bags, and headed down to the start with Elliott. It was effing WINDY (the days prior to the race we noticed that wind on the lake had to be pretty bad to make it up to our house. Race morning had the trees whipping around and grey skies. I might be an Iron-weather jinx. Suck.)

I managed to find my dad and brother in all the mayhem, who were quickly tasked with holding my stuff while I dropped bags off and stood in porta-potty lines. My brother made fun of me while I applied anti-chafe goo in some of my more sensitive areas (I was dressed, we are not THAT kind of family), I hopped into my wetsuit, and I jumped into the line of racers shuffling towards the entrance to the beach.

The line to the beach took FOREVER. Five minutes to go and there were still hundreds of people stuck on the walkway to the beach. I'm pretty sure I was on the sand for less than two minutes before we took off. Not a great way to stay calm!

I have no idea where I was along the edge of the lake because it was so congested, but I started a couple people back from the water line, figuring that would keep me from getting stuck behind the really slow swimmers and I wouldn't get run over by the fast people. In hindsight, I'm not sure it really mattered where I was.

The gun went off and everyone splashed into the water, just like we always do. My heart rate sky-rocketed, just like it always does. This time, however, I couldn't get a rhythm and couldn't call down. After maybe ten minutes (it's hard to be accurate when one is underwater) of hyperventilating I admitted to myself I was having a panic attack and sat up. It took like three minutes of treading water and "I should just turn around and go home" thoughts before I got back in a normal breathing pattern and was able to resume the race. Happily, I got punched/mauled/run over less as a person treading water in the middle of chaos than I did while swimming. I think a big part of the panic attack was due to the fact that there were sizeable swells coming toward the beach, so we got that lovely rising-and-dropping feeling along with all the insanity. Most of the time sighting was pointless because all you could see was the next wave.

Some first-lap highlights include head-butting a buoy post-panic (mental dialogue: "hmmm....wonder what that yellow rope is for? Crap!!!!"), kicking some dude in what I think were his balls after he wouldn't get off my back, having people moo as everyone turned the second corner, and feeling like a rock star riding the waves back in toward the beach.

After the first lap we had to run up the beach briefly (a la XTERRA) then run back into the water. There was a man curled up in the fetal position on the beach with a bunch of medics around him. SO not confidence inspiring.

On the second lap I managed to avoid the buoys and I don't recall having to kick anyone, but the wind was getting worse and the waves rougher, so going was slow. I remember having what I thought was a wave crash over my back at the second turn point, but I'm told it was the helicopter hovering low to get a good shot. Thanks for that, guys.

After all that, I took three minutes off my IM Wisconsin swim time, so that was pretty cool. I headed up to the wetsuit strippers, got stripped, grabbed my bag, and had a volunteer help me get dressed for a nice little bike ride....

1 comment:

katymoe said...

c'mon where's the rest?!?!?