The horn went off. In my mind, it was too late to turn back. I was already in the water. It was time for survival mode. All the girls around me seemed to really be freaking out. I put my face in the water and started swimming. It was COLD. My goal was to get out of the water as soon as possible. My hands were so cold that I couldn’t put my fingers together to form a cup/paddle to swim with. This made swimming somewhat difficult, but regardless, I really felt like I had found my rhythm until the first turn.
The swim course was a huge triangle. The first few waves of athletes did not have a problem with this, but after 40 minutes of boats swarming around the swim course plucking freezing hypothermic people up, the water was a bit choppy. I felt like I was in a washing machine. One minute I was next to the buoys, and the next I wasn’t. I swallowed a lot of water. While sighting, I noticed a few people just treading water with blank looks on their faces. I literally stopped swimming right next to them and asked them if they were okay. They replied yes, and I just kept going. It was a mine field out there. This went on until the second turn. It sucked.
The second turn was okay. It was the last stretch to the finish. The water seemed to get colder. The last third of the swim felt like it took forever!! When I finally did reach the end and climbed out of the reservoir, I noticed several people in stretchers with blankets over them. Holy crap. I survived!! I survived!!!
I couldn’t feel my hands, and no matter how much I told them to take my wetsuit off, they couldn’t even grasp the zipper. The wetsuit strippers were wonderful and ripped my wetsuit right off my body. I ran into transition, proceeded to take off my wet shirt, put an undershirt, arm warmers, and a jacket on. This took me 9 minutes. Ridiculous. Yes, I know, BUT MY HANDS WERE NOT WORKING!!!! Plus, I was out of it. It was probably a combination of the cold and a lack of calories. I was really wishing that I decided to keep my wetsuit on. I ventured out of T1 on my bike.
The road is really jacked up near T1. I kept thinking something was wrong with the alignment of my bike tires. I even got off my bike to check. It honestly felt like my front tire was going to pop off. I was so out of it mentally, that I just decided to take it easy on the bike just in case my tire did, in fact, decide to pop off. It turns out that road screwed a lot of people up, so I wasn’t the only one!!! The bike was uneventful b/c of this fear that my tire was going to pop off. I didn’t race it. It was kind of pathetic. I have no idea where my mind was at the time.
And do you remember how Lauren and I were joking about people wearing their wetsuits on the bike?? It actually happened!!!! Several pros and age groupers did wear their wetsuits on the bike, even one of the guys who won the race! This pic is of an age grouper (she is super fast) on my tri and running team. Honestly, that would have saved me 9 minutes of my extra long T1 time!
T2 came before I knew it, and now it was time for another wardrobe change. It was kinda hot out now. Crazy. So, off went everything except my sports bra and shorts, and on went my tank top. There were some spectators watching me in T2, and I’m sure they were wondering what this crazy lady was doing. I swear, I was not in race mode. I was like: la da da, da da! Then, I had to make a quick pit stop at the bathroom which took a long time because I happened to pick the wrong porta potty to stand in front of. Meanwhile, my husband was following all my times online was wondering what the hell I was doing in T1 and T2 for 16 minutes. I might as well have started shaving my armpits. I certainly thought I had enough time!!!
When I finally decided to start this “stroll” on this nice sunny day (what the heck???), I was still really out of it. I had absolutely no sense of urgency. I got about a quarter mile from T2 and realized that my bib number came off with all my other layers of biking clothing, and I turned around to run back for it. My friend yelled, “You are going the wrong way!!” I was so nonchalant about the whole thing and literally just stopped and talked with him.
Friend: What are you doing?!
Me: Well, I forgot my race bib. I should go back and get it. Calmly.
Friend: Um. You don’t really need it.
Me: I don’t want to be disqualified! (I wasn’t really even racing…)
Friend: You have your timing chip on. You are body marked. You have your Ironman 70.3 bracelet on. You are going to be fine. Go!
Me: Are you sure?
Me: Okay! Thanks for being out here!
I turned around and started running in the right direction. I realized then, that my head was not in this race at all. However, I needed to make sure my garmin was working and completely not even notice these kids. I promise, I’m not that jerk!
My plan (and by plan I mean, I made this up on the run course) was to take it easy the first lap, then kick it the second lap. The first lap seriously felt VERY easy. I took in some nutrition, and I started to become a little bit more rational. I began picking people off one by one. The pros passed me on their second loop while I was on my first. NICE. In my defense, they did start the race about 40 minutes before I did.
My stomach (of course! It wouldn’t be a REAL race without stomach issues) started getting really bloated because of all the reservoir water that I swallowed. Nasty. I started getting flashbacks of giardia but switched my focus to catching up to Team Blaze members. It was so great seeing so many of us out there! I think there were 40 members who signed up for it.
The second lap came way too fast, and it was time to really amp it up. My legs had a different plan. All of the sudden, they were done. My easy pace was now a pretty hard one to keep. I don’t know if it was a lack of eating in the beginning of the day or what, but I just felt weak. I still managed a smile on my face and lots of cheering other people on. This was not my race day apparently. I finally made it to the finish line.
I was just happy I survived the thing. I was also happy that I didn’t quit because it turned out to be a beautiful day. I don’t blame anyone who decided to quit though because the morning was BAD. My mind wasn’t in this race, and I know that I should have been stronger, but I’m not going to beat myself up over it. It was what it was. At least I did it!! Now, if I’m out of it for Ironman Lake Placid in a month, someone slap me!
** Thank you, survival guy (I don’t know he wants me to mention his name). You literally saved me. Trash bags are amazing.
** Lauren, without your stubborn stupidity bouncing off my stubborn stupidity, we would have never completed this race!! haha.
** Team Blaze. You have changed my life for the better. Thank you for getting me out of my comfort zone and forcing me to grow as a person every race I do.
** Coach Scott. You were with me the entire day, I know. Thank you for giving me the courage to do this race especially in the beginning! I could hear your voice behind me on the run, telling me to start picking people off.
** Babe. I will forgive the 5 angry voicemails that I had on my phone after the race discussing my times for each event including transitions. They were kinda funny, but you are right. I know I could have tried more. Readers, my husband has a tremendous amount of faith in my athletic ability. He has more faith than I do in me most of the time.
I will leave you with triathlete hotel bathroom post-race chaos…
Oh, and I’m volunteering (women’s changing tent from 7-10am and athlete catcher from 6-9pm) at a race for the first time tomorrow!! Ironman Coeur ‘d Alene!!!! Good luck to all my teammates! You are so strong. You are ready for this!!!