Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ironman Race Report: The swim

My plan was to stay to the outside left of the pack to protect my arm. I wanted to avoid contact and have a calm swim. Ironman Canada is the largest mass start in all of Ironman. 2800 people get into the water at the same time. That sounds scary. The three of us waited for the masses to go and then we got in and started our swims.

The swim course is a long, thin triangle. The route is marked every couple hundred feet by large orange numbered buoys. The turn arounds are actual boats, house boats. I was going to focus on getting from buoy to buoy and not get too worked up about how far was left.

On my best day, I figured my swim would take an hour and 40 minutes. Today, I would have been happy with a two hour swim. I put my head down and swam. It didn’t take long to get into a rhythm. I counted my strokes and stayed calm. The water was quiet, I was around a few people, but I didn’t feel crowded.

The buoys passed and before I knew it, I was at the first house boat turnaround. Just a bit further and then I hit the second turn. This turn put me towards home. Half way there. At this point, I thought about my friend Amy, who was doing a three mile swim in New Jersey that started around 8 am PST. I figured that was the time I would be making this turn, so I thought of swimming with her. I was having a great swim. A really great swim. The beach was getting closer and closer. I could see the bottom and finally decided to stand.

This part of the beach was super rocky and I actually slipped and fell back in the water. It was hard to keep balance. I looked down at my watch. 1 hour and 39 minutes. I couldn’t believe it. I had been so worried about the swim and it had turned out to be great. My arm bothered me a bit during the swim, just enough to let me know it was there and not 100%. I was wearing a compression sleeve, the dr said my arm would swell and that would help control it.

I walked into the transition area and saw the wetsuit strippers. Since my one arm wasn’t working, I couldn’t get my suit off my upper body. I looked around to find the ones who I thought would be most gentle. There were some guys that were way too aggressive and I knew I didn’t want them. I found a few women who started to help and they couldn’t get my suit off my arm. Someone had to come help, then I laid down on the ground and they pulled my suit off me.
I got up, someone handed me my transition bag and headed into the changing tent. I found a chair and dumped out my bag. A volunteer came over to help me. I had read so many race reports about Ironman and it was so cool to see it all for myself.

I put on my socks, bike shoes, helmet, gloves, sunscreen, sunglasses and arm warmers. My volunteer packed up my wetsuit and swim stuff, took my bag and said “have a great race”. I walked out of the tent, where more volunteers put sunscreen on me. Then I made my way to
my bike and walked it out of transition.

I was so happy to be out of that damn water, so proud of myself for doing it and ready to get on with the rest of my day.

Swim time: 1:42:06
Transition time: 7:16

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