Monday, August 19, 2013

I know what they say about curiosity

The first thing I did post-race, like before I packed up my bike and had a second shower, was to come down with a raging sinus infection.
After a day or two I hit up a doctor for some antibiotics, which did nothing except be my most recent contribution to creating super bugs that will one day wipe out the population, The Stand-style.  We drove back to Philly, we flew back to Boulder, and for the next several days the only reason I left my bed was to go to work and cough all over everyone (you're welcome).  I was inclined to blame the fact that I rinsed most of Mirror Lake through my sinuses while getting pounded on in the swim, but it really doesn't much matter why I got sick, I got sick and it whopped me good.  And you know what?  I had nothing to do, nothing to worry about, so I let it rage on.  It's certainly about a billion times better than what I did last year in the weeks after ironman.  I drank five thousand cups of tea and ate whatever sounded good and NyQuil'd myself into congested oblivion (obviously I will be wearing this hoodie in every picture taken of me for the next four months so just get used to it now).
August was always going to be a bit of a break and I embraced it.  I carried around some soreness for a few days, and some odd pips and tweaks popped up, but nothing really lingered.  After the first week of laying in bed, I spent another week happily paddling back and forth in the pool for 20-30 minutes before declaring all done! and climbing out.  I made sure to "help" my body deal with all the inflammation by living on ice cream and doritos and don't even twist your mouth to say granola bar to me for at least two weeks.  I'm always a bit torn after a race - on the one hand, my body feels like crap and I know that feeding it lots of fruits and veggies and good proteins will help it recover.  On the other hand, I just did an ironman for crissakes, pour me a beer and make it a big one, actually make it two or maybe even 14. 
And I'll say that in print, I think that's healthy and I think it's part of balance.  You can't just train and sleep and snort kale and count calories and stare at your Garmin day in and day out.  (Well, maybe YOU can, but I sure can't).  As someone who lost a lot of weight quite a few years ago, there's always some lingering fear in the back of my head that if I eat this or that or the other thing, I'm going to gain it back.  But somewhere along the way, I figured out that my weight is not a permanent state of being, and man alive was THAT a revelation to me.  So for a couple of weeks, I hoovered up the crap that I usually avoid, and if I'm carrying a few extra pounds because of it, then so be it.  I'll start training again and I've already reintroduced vegetables to my diet and the pounds that are mine will settle happily on and about my oft-photographed ass and the rest of them I'll leave in a puddle under the trainer or trailing in my two-beat-kick'd-wake in the pool (damn you, two-beat kick, damn you straight to hell).
I'm hoping that I nailed the mid-season break this year.  Last year I came back a little too quickly from ironman.  I had a great race in September but after that I was done.  Kaput, toast, no more bicycle for me, and I wasn't lucky enough to realize that before I stood on the line in North Carolina.  I've made sure over the last few weeks to turn off my training brain and just live life for a little while.  I've gotten to see my husband when the sun is up and hang out with friends without goggle eyes sometimes after the late late hour of 8pm and I even managed to get myself down to Albuquerque this past weekend to get drunk judge the New Mexico IPA Challenge and get drunk some more eat anything I could find covered in green chiles.  Which, if you've ever been to Albuquerque, is just about everything that you can put in your mouth and maybe a few things that you shouldn't.  My weekend was brilliant, I got to see one of my closest friends and pretend to be wise about a kind of beer that I don't even really like and, as a bonus, spend face-to-face (or face-to-ass, trail running being single file) time with a couple of my athletes.
And that, to me, is a delectable treat.  People that I generally only communicate with over texting gChat Skype FaceTime Facebook Twitter email, people that both make me laugh and want to bang my head against the wall on a semi-regular basis, to instead get to see their faces, hear their voices, have sincere conversations about the state of being of all things, that is so valuable to me.  I'm lucky that these relationships have found their way to me, that coaching has added this dimension to my life, coaches say it all the time but I have learned so much more from this wacky family I've created than I could ever hope to pass along to them.  They have given me a place, space and opportunity to learn and to grow, even if growth is sometimes disguised as a 600-comment thread about boobs.  I feel like it's likely they have no idea how precious this really is, I'm the person on the receiving end of all the questions and thoughts and snarky comments that cross their mind as they make their way through their own journeys, but they fill up a part of me that I didn't even realize was empty.
I still can't tell you why I ever wanted to do an ironman.  People ask me why I signed up for Coeur d'Alene for my first ironman and I tell them well it seemed like a good idea at the time.  I wrote about it when I signed up, that race was haunting me for weeks, I was tossing and turning at night trying to talk myself out of wanting to do this thing.  I still don't know why, I still don't know what it is about the distance or the place or the day, but my desire overwhelmed every piece of logical reason, every person that said, It's actually kind of far maybe you should wait a few years.  Sitting here on the couch typing away after ironman number two, I am glad I didn't wait.  I am glad my life has taken the turns it has, even the ones that I haven't been able to understand at the time, I am glad that I've had people in my life to push me and pull me and sometimes shove me over uncomfortable barriers, kicking and screaming and cursing like the foul-mouthed sailor I must have been in a past life; but this life, my life, what it is, I am lucky.
I do know that part of the attraction is that being able to stand at the starting line of an ironman is such an opportunity.  A few days before the race, I had a chat with Sonja, and when she asked how I was feeling I told her, I am feeling curious.  In a year, in a lifetime, how many chances do you get to rip away all the crap that you've put up to protect your heart and take a peek at who you really are?  So far in my lifetime, not that many.  I was curious about the thoughts and questions that would pour into my mind in some of the darker moments of the day.  I went, and I stood, and I swam and biked and ran (and pooped) but more importantly, I listened.  Everything that I can remember from the race, I stored it up inside me and let it simmer for a few days and then I dumped it all on the ground and poked through the smoking heap.  And after I was done sifting through all of it - and there was a lot - I wasn't sure if I ever wanted to do this to myself again.  So I let myself be for a while, knowing that desire would rise to the surface.  And now it has, and that's a damned good thing, because way back in May another race climbed into my brain and sank its stupid little ironman teeth into me and instead of shaking it off, I said what the hell, why not and signed myself right up (and now I see that I need to change my registration name so I don't listen to people yelling Go Katrina! for 26 miles and think to myself, who the fuck is that?).
Desire is an emotion that I may never completely understand.  I know very little about life, only having reached the grand old age of 32, but I've learned that there is a need within me to chase things that I don't understand, to search for extremes inside myself even if the clock will never reflect the demons I fight.  One of the many race reports I read before I signed up for Coeur d'Alene talked about this sport, this distance, this journey, and came the closest to describing it how I really feel, how it is a fever that just will not break.  So come December, I will swim (GAH jellyfishes), I will bike, and I will run, and I will be blessed to stand on the line yet again, curious about the ugliness that will rise up to greet me.  Curious about where it will take me next.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Ironman Lake Placid Run: race report

The first mile of any run off the bike, I try not to do anything.  Don't eat don't drink don't look at the watch don't think.  Just run, just get to the first mile marker and THEN start doing work and making decisions.  (No idea what's going on here, probably something along the lines of fuck yeah I'm about to run a marathon!).
So I didn't think, I just ran.  And my legs felt like crap, but my stomach was the bigger problem.  I made it about eight minutes before I dove into a porta-potty.  I spent about one ugly minute in there, hopped out, slammed the door, and kept running.  One of my process goals for the day was to run the entire marathon, no matter how slowly I was moving.  I knew after that stop that I still had some problems to solve, but I was determined to run while I was solving them.  So I ran through the first aid station without taking anything.  I still was holding my bottle of EFS, but I didn't try any sips quite yet.  Mile two clicked by without another potty stop, so I took a piece of ice at the aid station.  I only made it a few more minutes before I turned around and ran back to the porta potty.

Came out, slammed the door, kept running.  I decided to not try anything at all, not even ice, for the next two miles.  I made it past the mile three marker before my tummy struck again, and this time I sat there for a minute (yes, I put TP on the seat even during a race, it's gross).  I looked down at my shoes and said out loud in that stinky little room, self, we are going to figure this out.  
I got to the mile four marker without a stop, then mile five, then mile six.  And I wasn't thinking about anything other than the mile that I was in.  Just get to mile five, just get to mile six.  I saw a lot of my friends in here, and we all waved and cheered for each other and Yasi said I love you, it's okay as she blew by me.  I grabbed some sponges as I came through aid but otherwise took nothing, and I ditched my bottle of EFS at some point.  I was headed back towards town, still moving slowly and cautiously, and my tummy struck again.  By now, there had to be nothing in my intestines at all, but I knew if it was still reacting I couldn't put anything in.  

Miles 10-15, looking back, were the worst of the day.  My stomach was vibrating with anger, and all I could do was talk nice to it and stop in the porta potty to try and let it empty out.  Run, stop, run, stop, run, stop, those middle miles were really rough and slow.  I was starting to feel pretty low, as it had been over two hours since I had taken any calories or fluid in, but it wasn't hot out and I wasn't worried, I was just thirsty.
At some point after mile 11 or 12, I saw Hillary riding around on her bike.  I was really confused about how she had finished the race and already headed out to check on her athletes (I found out after the race that she hadn't started because she was sick).  She asked me how I was doing, and I said, Honestly, Hillary, I'm shitting my brains out.  I had taken a few tums from my ziplock bag but they hadn't helped, and I had nothing else, so I was just waiting it out.  And Hillary, the angel of my marathon, pointed out a few minutes later that there was a lonely little bag with two immodium in it, sitting on the ground, belonging to no one, perhaps that had fallen off of a bike, maybe one that looked just like hers.  I picked them up and took them both with a tiny sip of water and headed back into town.

The miles coming through town were the bottom of the hole.  I knew the immodium needed time to work so I didn't want to send any calories down quite yet, and at that point, I was hitting a pretty serious calorie bonk and my running was looking more like the zombie shuffle.  I saw Yasi on the way back out for her second loop and she stopped and hugged me and I was so confused about what happened to her shirt.  I also knew that my family was going to be worried about me based on my splits, so when I ran by them the first time, I didn't say anything but I pointed at my butt in hopes that the poet would understand what was going on.  (In hindsight this is hilarious, but my brain wasn't working all that well in the moment).
I stopped at special needs for my handheld, mostly because I didn't want to lose it.  I did the small out-and-back with only one stop (it's pretty awful when people are yelling your name at the moment where you stop running and step into the porta potty) and when I came back through, stopped to tell the poet what was going on.  I've had bad nutrition days before, but my attitude was still pretty positive and I remember telling him over and over, I'm going to figure this out, I'm not mad, tell Sonja I'm not mad, tell her I'm fine, I'm going to figure this out, it is just going to take me longer than I planned to finish, but I really am doing fine.
I handed off my handheld, all my gels - I won't need these, here, you take them - and my heart rate strap because it was bugging me.  With all my stops, it took me well over three hours to cover the first half marathon, but I jogged back out of town knowing that even if the second half took me three more, I still had plenty of time to get to the finish line.  As weird as it sounds, I wasn't panicked or angry in the moment, and I was still trying to stay in the mile that I was in, that was the thought that I had with me all day.  Don't think about all 26 miles, let's just think about looking for the mile 15 sign. 
And mile 15 is where it started to turn around.  I figured at that point I had given the medicine enough time to work, so when I came through aid, I took a few sips of water and then forced myself to walk for two minutes.  No stomach problems, so I jogged to the next aid station, took another cup of water, forced myself to walk for two minutes, still good.  I jogged to the next one and ate an orange slice, and until my dying day I will never taste anything that tastes as good as that single orange slice tasted in that moment.  It was like someone milked a unicorn and then mixed it with chocolate peanut butter cup ice cream and whatever sunshine must taste like and how your legs feel when you take off high-heeled shoes.  I forced myself to walk two minutes again, hoping that the walking was helping with digestion.  At the next station, I ate 2-3 slices and a few pretzels and did one more two minute walk.  I think that was roughly mile 18 or 19.  When I realized my nutrition was staying down, I started looking at my watch and doing calculations again, and I started to get excited when I realized that I could still pull it together enough to PR the run - maybe only by a tiny bit, but a bit.  At the next aid station I ate an entire cup of pretzels and pulled out three PreRace pills - a pretty serious dose of caffeine.  I put it all down, with a big cup of water, and then I took off for the finish line.
Now, "taking off for the finish line" at mile 20 of a pretty rough marathon doesn't mean I was breaking any speed records, but my splits were finally back in the 10/11 range, including the walking I was forcing myself to do.  I had a few odd burps and took a couple of 20-second walk breaks following those, just to make sure that my stomach wasn't going to erupt, but the course was full of people who were walking and just by running at my plod-along-ironman-pace, I was passing them by the dozens.  And I remembered Sonja telling me if you are running 11:00 pace at the end of an ironman you are going to be passing a lot of people.  

I spent a lot of time in those later miles just trying to hold my shit together and get down any calories that I could.  I took cups of coke when I came through aid but didn't stop.  When it started pouring around mile 21 and everyone stopped to pull on trash bags over their race kits, I didn't stop.  (You've been racing for 12 hours covered in lake water, pee, sweat, dirt, and spilled nutrition and now you need a raincoat?)  I tried not to walk on any hills and did a lot of okay, run to that stick.  Now to that hole in the ground.  Now to that crack. as I came back into town.  I did a little bit of walking up the big hill, sure, but I started running again as soon as I made the turn.  I saw the poet waiting and flashed him a big happy smile with two thumbs up.  
I hit the turn-around and knew that I was headed into the finish.  I flipped my watch over to the lap screen because I wanted to see where I was when I hit mile 26, and the guy next to me (on his first lap) gave me a lot of shit for it.  You can see the finish line from here, he said, why are you looking at your watch?  And I looked at him, and I laughed, and I unstrapped my watch and flung it into the air towards the poet, who was jogging along behind the spectators yelling my name in his extra-loud spectating voice.  He caught it, yelled I love you and took off for the finish.  
When I made the turn where FINISH was taped on the ground, I ran under a blow-up archway and saw a clock, and my extremely weary brain thought that I was done.  So I stopped and looked around.  Where was everyone?
The spectators waiting on the sidelines started yelling at me.  Keep going it's over there!  And I realized I still had to run around the oval, so I started running again.  What idiot doesn't realize that she isn't at the finish?  Other than an idiot exhausted from thirteen plus hours of racing.
So I ran around the oval, I let my face split open with a smile, and I finished.  Marathon time: 5:30:24 for a huge negative split (oh, THAT'S how you negative split the IM marathon) and 13:19:28 for the day.  A handful of minutes of a PR on the run and a 40+ minute PR on the day.  
I had a moment where I realized that I wasn't going to break the run time that I had planned, and I had a second of mourning for it and then let it go into the universe.  The same thing happened, just for a split-second, when I realized that my time for the day wasn't going to be even close to what I had hoped, and I paused, mourned, then set those thoughts free.  Those thoughts can't hurt me if they are free, and days later, after the race, I don't feel haunted by them, by any decisions I made.  I don't feel smart or stupid or happy or sad or frustrated or powerful or disappointed.  I feel content.  Satisfied with my choices.  Peaceful, just how I have felt all year.  
I don't have a lot of "final thoughts" on this race.  When people ask me how it went, I don't really know what to say, so I smile and say it was great, thank you for remembering to ask about it and to some I add, I PRd every leg.  I don't talk about getting punched in the head or the rain or how soggy my feet were or how chafed I still am or what turned out to be fifteen separate porta-potty stops on the run (thanks, Garmin).  I don't talk about what I "thought I was going to do" or what I "think I can do next time."  I just say, I got to do an ironman.  
And I'm pretty happy about that.  

Monday, August 5, 2013

Ironman Lake Placid Bike: race report

The first thing I did after clipping in was to shove some calories down the hatch.  It was raining, and it felt like it was coming down pretty hard, but when you're on the bike it always feels that way.  I didn't want to drop my large bag of nutrition, so I pulled out about 100 calories of chews and sent them down, then started working on a bottle.

I hit the first little incline about two miles into the race.  I geared down to spin easy up the hill, and while I spun up, about three dozen men wearing white spandex on flashy bikes with noisy wheels went by doing 6000 watts, and, amused, I turned to the guy next to me and said, We're only at mile 2, right?  I know this happens at every race but it never fails to make me laugh.
I caught up with Caroline a few minutes later.  By this time I was soaked and I reminded her that this was HER crazy idea.  She was pretty chipper, and it was nice to chat for a few minutes as we traded places (legally) back and forth.  We were together until the top of the big descent, and then I took off.  See, Sonja has been busting my balls all spring about being a chicken descender (rightfully so, it's true), and I've spent a lot of time working on it, listening to her voice in my ear telling me where to lean, where to put my weight, sit my butt down, stop touching the brakes, STOP TOUCHING THE BRAKES.  There was a ride I did a few months back with my awesome cycling buddy, where we climbed up to Ward, and the last two miles of the climb were in the rain, and when we were in the store grabbing a snack, it turned to hail.  I descended from Ward in hail, sleet, and pouring rain, all the way down to 36 where the sun suddenly came out to warm us.  And I wasn't too thrilled about it that day but as we started down the descent in Lake Placid, I was grateful I had done it.  I still descended slower on the first loop than on the second, and tapped my (useless in the rain on carbon wheels anyway) brakes more than a few times, but I wasn't afraid, and when we popped out in Keane into the sunshine, I exclaimed Good girl! out loud to myself, just like I do when Sofie poops in the backyard instead of in the dining room.  And then I settled into the work.

From the bottom of Keane, there is a long stretch that's just a little bit rolling, and it was easy to stay in aero and work my calories, my drink, and keep an eye on my effort.  After a while we were able to see everyone coming back from the turn-around, so I kept my eyes peeled for all my friends and got to wave and holler at a few both on the way out and on the way back.  It's probably a waste of energy to talk about how much drafting I saw on this stretch, so I won't.
I was somewhere after mile 30 where I noticed I was feeling a bit low.  The answer to just about anything in ironman is either to eat or to stop eating, so even though it wasn't on my plan, I ate something.  Part of a bar, to be exact, followed pretty quickly on the heels of the planned bar I had eaten only 20-30 minutes earlier.  I went right back to working my bottles after the bar, and made sure to leave some space before eating anything else to let the calories digest.

My effort felt pretty steady throughout the first loop, and when I turned left in Wilmington to head back into town, I felt okay.  I made sure to back way off on my effort while climbing, and it wasn't too long before Caroline caught up with me.  We climbed together for a while, and we were up and over two of the "bear" hills before I even realized we had hit them (I puzzled for a while about the MAMA BEAR painted on the ground.  Dope.).  Caroline and I were working our way up the papa bear hill when she realized she knew someone next to us and started chatting, and just like I've done on training rides galore, I yelled This isn't a cocktail party, Caroline, shut up and ride your bike!
We turned right at the top to head into town and Sarah was there, and it was perfect.  These few miles that we rode together stand out as the single best part of my day.  We were storm troopers swooping in, we were riding together again, we were all riding our own races but managed to come together for a few minutes, long enough to joke with each other, How long do YOU have to run off the bike today?

I stopped at special needs to swap out my bottles and pick up my second bag of snacks, and Caroline didn't stop and Sarah stopped behind me, so we lost each other for a while after that.  I missed my family but saw the poet, who yelled something to me at the same time I yelled something to him so neither of us heard each other (sigh, marriage).  I caught up with Caroline again on the way out of town, I think in the same place we had been chatting the first time through, and this time the descent was dry and I bombed down it, I didn't touch my brakes once, I stayed low and tucked and I felt no fear.
It started to get a little tougher to keep my effort up on the middle stretch and my soggy aerobar pads were chafing the shit out of my forearms.  And while we're talking about chafing, there is no way to describe what riding in the rain had done to all of my carefully applied ride glide, but I passed another girl just as she lifted off the saddle and groaned, and I said over my shoulder to her, Me too, girl, what's going on in my shorts is an actual crime.

I was hanging in there, doing okay, there was a some more wind on the second lap and it was a bit quieter, but at some point after mile 80 I noticed that my stomach was aching.  It was the "too much is in here" hurt, so I decided to wait 40 minutes and not put anything in.  I spent a lot of time in CdA last year getting on and off the bike, and I didn't want to get off at all during LP, so I reminded myself how close I was to the end of the ride (30 miles to go seems awfully close) and tried to manage it.  And just like last year, I heard the sound of the motorcycle and turned to see that my hilarious mother had yet again talked her way onto a course moto to take photographs.  I managed a smile but then waved her away.  It's really hard to be happy at mile 87 of an ironman.
I was just past the 90 tape on the ground when I took a sip of my bottles and got the warning shot, the rumble of distress.  I managed to ride a few miles sitting up to the next aid station where I hopped off my bike and clacked straight into the porta potty.  It wasn't pretty but I felt better after that and hoped that I could turn things around by the time I got off the bike.
I didn't put any more calories down for the rest of the bike - I took a few sips of water before leaving that aid station and a few more at the last station before town, but there was a lot of grumbling going on and I knew I was better off just leaving things alone for a while.  So when I rode into town and back to the oval, I was feeling a low.  I still had one full bottle of EFS on my bike and when I swung off my bike, I grabbed it and brought it with me into T2, knowing that I would need the electrolytes once I was able to take in calories again.
That morning when the poet and I were talking about his spectating plan, I said to him, There's no reason why I shouldn't be able to ride a 6:30 on this course.  I lost a little more than a minute at special needs and about three minutes at my porta potty stop, putting ride time at roughly 6:25 (someone please remind me to turn off auto-pause for my next race) with a final bike time of 6:30:14.  26 minutes better than what I rode at Coeur d'Alene last year, true, but how I approached the ride was different.  The first loop felt relatively easy, the second loop got hard near the end, especially on the last climbs into town, but I felt like I rode steady and that is exactly how I think it should go.  

Sarah hopped off the bike right behind me and we joked about getting margaritas instead of running a marathon as trotted into the changing tent.  I was a little worried that I rode too hard, but I've done a lot of training days this summer where I got off the bike feeling exactly the same way.  So I loaded up my pockets, snapped on my visor, and jogged out of the oval and onto the street.  
T2: 5:17.  Only a marathon to go. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Ironman Lake Placid Swim: race report

I've heard from so many other athletes about how wonderful Mirror Lake it.  Calm, beautiful, cool, delicious, there's a magic cable and maybe unicorns live there too.  I did a practice swim on Friday with my girls, and we laughed and swam and did flip turns and backstroked and I felt at ease.  I wasn't worried about the swim, the swim is my happy place.
Sunday morning went just like race morning goes.  It was raining when we drove into Lake Placid from Wilmington but dry in transition, and other than an extra-long porta-potty line, the morning rolled right along.  Yasi and I had only a few minutes to squirm into our wetsuits, and I nibbled on one more bite of a bar, kissed my husband and waved to my parents goodbye, and then headed into the scrum to line up.
A couple of months ago, I had a dream that I swam a 1:08.  Just a dream, but when I talked through my race plan with Sonja, I told her about it and said, I'm going to swim a 1:08.  That made it easy to line up in the right spot - a little more than halfway back in the 60-70 minute corral.  I actually had no idea what pace a 1:08 is (I still don't know but I do know it's faster than the 1:12 I swam at CDA last year), but that's what my cranky little subconscious picked out of the air.
When Ironman announced the new swim initiative a few months back, I had a lot of loud and rude things to say about it.  Then I had several friends do Coeur d'Alene, and they all loved it, so I changed my tune and was ready to rock and roll.  After this weekend, I'm back in the first camp (I'm sure everyone at Ironman has been holding their breath waiting for my opinion).
The cannon went off and we all splashed into the water.  I started swimming right away, nice and relaxed and easy.  I got kicked and smacked a few times but I figured that it would settle down (cue the foreboding shark music).  I went wide of the cable line because I didn't want to fight with anyone about swimming on it, and the big numbered buoys made sighting awesome.  But the swim never cleared out.  In truth, I have never experienced such a violent, disorganized mess in my life.  And the hilarious fact is that I have several friends who also raced, and some of them had a great empty water experience and some of them had a day identical to mine.  So that goes to show how different your race can be in the water, even from 50 feet away.

I went far around the turn buoys but at the second turn on the first lap, I took a punch to the temple that rattled all of my teeth in their little tooth sockets.  I stopped to breaststroke for a minute and the thought that I might DNF the swim flashed by.  My vision cleared and I kept swimming, but went even wider as I did the "back" part of the course.  I was anxious to finish the first loop in hopes that things would be more clear on the second.
I wasn't wearing a watch, and it took me a few minutes after seeing the clock when I ran through to figure out that I roughly swam a 34 on the first loop, which I was pleasantly surprised to estimate.  And I'm not complaining about it because this is part of racing in open water, just trying to detail my experience, but the second loop was worse.  I had my ankle deliberately yanked on multiple times, I swam into packs of breaststrokers, I got kicked in the nose and punched in the calf so hard that I have bruises, men (green caps, I'm not being a sexist asshole) pushed me down underwater on my back and swam over me, the aggressive contact and blockages never stopped and at the second turn buoy one guy near me was so frustrated with the mess that I heard him sit up and yell if you can't swim get the fuck out of my way. I felt like I was surrounded with aggression and anger the entire time I was in the water. 
And that made me sad, because the swim is my favorite part of the day.  I stopped caring about time or effort or breathing or anything except getting the hell out of Mirror Lake.  I swam as hard as I could until I got boxed in, sat up and made my way around, swam hard, boxed in, and repeat until I finally pulled up to the dock and could run out.  Based on the clock and my rough math, I thought I swam a 36 on the second loop.  I filed that away in my brain and then let the swim go (everyone should hope to look this good ten seconds out of the water; TYR, call me!).  
And I laughed, sitting at the finish line hours later eating orange slices by the bushel, when the poet told me my time.  1:08:57, a 3+ minute PR but more importantly, the time I picked out of the air based on a stupid dream.  
Swim out to transition is long at Lake Placid, but the entire funnel is covered with screaming spectators so I felt like a baller running through.  It had started raining again while we were in the water, and the volunteers were great about pointing out slippery spots as we worked our way through the bags and into the changing tents.  I put on my shoes and helmet, opened the extra bag of chamois cream that I had packed in case it was raining and shoved the whole giant glob down the front of my shorts, then thanked my volunteer and ran out of the back of the tent.  Volunteers were calling numbers out but the poor girl working my row pulled out the wrong bike, so I ran down the aisle and then I couldn't find it either, but another volunteer came over, put my bike in my hands, looked me in the eye and steadied me for a second and said be safe out there.  I told him I would, squished back down the aisle, to the mount line, clicked in and rolled out.  5:37 in T1.  Here we go.