Key West Triathlon (swim leg): race report

It is gorgeous down here in Key West!  But more on that later.  First, the tri!

We woke up bright and early to head to the race start.  I had decided to just swim in my bathing suit, since I'd heard the water was too warm for a wetsuit and there was no real reason to wear any kind of tri kit.  I bought a new bathing suit last week because my current one was suffering from some backside rot, but after seeing the brackish, gooey water I was going to be swimming in, I decided to swim in my old one.  Which was a good call, because now I can throw it away.
mandatory flexing body mark picture

After getting body marked, I left my awesome teammates in transition because I had to hop a trolley to the swim start.  I just wore my bathing suit and flip-flops to the start, and left the rest of my clothes in transition.  It was pretty chilly out that morning, and for a while I didn't see a single person that wasn't in a wetsuit.  I also heard a lot of, "ooh, look at her, no wetsuit, sucks."  Yep, I'm the sucker in the bathing suit.  WE'RE OVER IT.

When we got off the trolly, we were at a little sandy inlet.  The volunteer told us that we could hop in the water and swim to the buoy to warm-up, or just walk the 100ish meters to the start.  Since we skipped out on the Saturday-afternoon test swim, I decided to hop in and try and get the anxiety attack over with before the tri started.  I left my flip-flops in my drop bag and walked into the water.  HOLY CRAP was it cold!  I chatted with a few people - all who then swam away - and tried to calm down.  But.  It was cold.  Murky.  Stinky.  Little seaweed floating on the surface and where's my cookie I just want my jammies!

I got out and walked my frozen butt down to the swim start.  It was pretty awesome, watching the first few waves of swimmers start.  Some of the older women were in the wave before me and wow - I just hope I am still kicking that kind of ass when I am 55 years old.  It was also FREEZING COLD.  I would've sold my baby down the river for a wetsuit at this point.  Finally, they called my wave.  I sat down on the buoy to lick my goggles and when I looked to the left, I saw 4 other women also licking their goggles.  Great minds...!  When the race-starter-guy said, "30 seconds," I slid in the water...just as the sun broke the horizon to the right.  And we were off.

I swam the first 15 or so yards with my head above the water, but finally realized that it was going to be a very long morning if I had to swim 1500 meters that way, so I sucked it up and started swimming.  The water was a very disgusting green color and there was a lot of seaweed floating around.  Also, it tasted disgusting (I noticed this from the inevitable water drips when I breathed, not because I decided I was thirsty).  I swam a few hundred yards and it got a little more shallow - my stroke was pushing through some plants and I started to freak out.  I flipped over onto my back and the first thing I saw was someone doing backstroke right next to me.  Backstroke?!  A brilliant idea!

So for the rest of the swim, that's what I did.  Swam normally until I started to feel panic or just too grossed out, flipped over and backstroke until I calmed down, and on and on.  Sighting was tough because every time I looked at the shoreline, I was blinded by the glare of the sun.  I didn't realize how close I was to the end of the swim until I was about 15 feet out from the shore.
Getting out of the water

When I got out of the water, I realized how far away from transition we were.  We had to run up a sandy beach, across a cobblestone walkway, down some concrete, and then up in the parking garage where transition was being held.  
Liz was waiting on the second floor for the bike leg.  I thought that one of our competitors in the women's relay division was right behind me coming out of the water, but it turned out that it was actually someone from the coed relay division.  Still, as I was moving the ankle chip from my leg to Liz's, I was babbling, "Woman! Behind me! Hurry! Go!"  She took off on the bike leg, and I snuck into the hotel bathroom for a hand-towel shower and to change into dry clothes.  Reason to do a relay: don't have a wet crotch for 3 solid hours.

Liz had a solid bike leg and Amy surprised herself with a fantastic 10K.  I'll let them tell their own stories but I'll spoil the end: we won the women's relay division. 

Champions indeed.

We also wore the shirts that the poet made for me for my birthday.  
Beth did the sprint tri, and I'll let her tell her story as well - but we all brought home awards!

Off to celebrate - more on the rest of our vacation tomorrow!


  1. Great job! Hope you are celebrating your ass off

  2. woo hoo! Congrats!! SOunds like a great time!

    That tri was advertised here in Maine and my girlfriend and I were SALIVATING to go and do it (dang kids and husbands stopping us!!)

  3. That's awesome! Good for you for going sans wetsuit--you're tough!

    And can I tell you that it's 34 and windy as all get out up here? I am as green as that water you swam in with envy!

  4. Super Congrats to you!! You did AMAZING!!!

  5. Once again you have triumphed! Not only over adversity, but by getting to go someplace awesome and warm. Proud of you girl!

  6. I was gagging just as you were talking about that nasty water! Congrats on a great swim and the win! Such rockstars!
    Hope you're having fun!

  7. Well done ladies! Congrats!!!

    P.S. I got the ebby-jebbies when you started talking about the sea weed! Yuck!

  8. You are so hardcore swimming in that nastiness and without a wetsuit! Then going on to WIN it? Mercy. Congratulations!!!

    I need to come up to VA so you can give me swim lessons and lessons on how to NOT freak out in the open water. Consider charging extra because I am a BIG baby when it comes to seaweed or water that I can't see though!

    Way to go! So impressed!

  9. great job! you are much braver than me, i will never ever swim a tri in open water.

  10. so hard core! v. impressed. didn't realize swimming could be so gross!

  11. Awesome -- I think I would have cried during the swim. Awesome way to HTFU.

  12. Congrats CHAMPION! You totally kicked ass :)

  13. I'm sure the start was rough ... but really, isn't a medal better than jammies and a cookie? :) CONGRATULATIONS!

  14. You rocked that swim! So psyched to be part of Team Amazing Day!


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