Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Ironman Coeur d'Alene Swim: race report

The day before was a bit more stressful than usual.  And it wasn't until I was laying on the ground hidden in my earphones an hour before the race started that I was able to pinpoint why: I was fucking terrified.  I'll admit it.  I know how much ironman hurts.  I'm well-acquainted with the level of suffering it brings, and after volunteering at IM Vineman and IM Boulder, it was fresh in my mind.  I've never gone into an ironman even close to as underprepared as I was at Coeur d'Alene, and it left me feeling a bit at loose ends in terms of what to expect on race day.  
Race morning.  I got in and out of transition early and quite quickly and then hot-footed my way up the hill, away from the madness.  My best races are the ones that start with some quiet time, plugged into a mellow song on repeat, just breathing and emptying my mind.  I made several porta potty trips and chased them all with swigs of Pepto - being worried about my recently-trashed-by-antibiotics GI tract - and ate my snack and pounded my fluid and generally went through the motions with as little fuss as possible.  I squashed into my full-of-holes wetsuit - at three years old and resembling a sprinkler, this was likely its farewell race - and got down to the water with about five minutes to go.  I belly-flopped into the lake just to feel the temperature and then wiggled my way up near the frontish of the pack.  In hindsight, this was a mistake based on the effort level I was planning on swimming but I wasn't thinking about any of that, I simply fell back in the rhythm of the day of ironman and that's what I would normally do.  When the announcer yelled out, who is going to be an ironman today? I took a moment to close my eyes, there on the beach, and I thought of my grandparents and what I wanted to do.  For them.  And when I opened my eyes and looked out on the lake, I was smiling, thrilled that I was there, that I was going to start, that I was going to try.  There are not a lot of these moments in life, but this was one: across the entire universe, I felt strongly that I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing, and my heart felt huge, happy, full.
All I wanted from the swim was to get through it with as little damage to the rest of the day as possible.  I had a pretty honest grasp on where my swim fitness was (or was not) and knew that it was not the time to throw my dick around in the water with the super-aggressive men that I usually swim next to during ironman.  It meant that the entire first loop felt like I was holding back, big time.  I kept repeating in my head, patience, patience, patience and easy, easy, easy.  Every time someone would pass me or pull around me, I would instinctively respond and go with them and then have to slam on the brakes (sorry to all the people who kept trying to hop on my feet and then crawled halfway up my skirts).  

There was some good chop right before the first turn, and then at the second turn there was a huge traffic jam.  I went wide to get around it but managed to get kicked - hard - in the nose by someone big in a green cap.  I felt a crunch and as I kept swimming, I could taste that my nose was bleeding (triathlon, as always, so fucking classy).  I couldn't tell how bad it was so I kept cruising my way back to shore.  Before I hopped out, I scrubbed my face hard and blew my nose into my hands as to not alarm anyone with a face full of blood (I prefer to do that on the bike).  I heard my name from somewhere as I ran across the sand but it all happened so fast and seconds later I was back in the water.


The second loop is always a bit longer as you swim a tiny diagonal back out to the course.  The swimmers had spread out quite a bit by this point.  The chop was the same near the first turn, and there were two men swimming on either side of me that kept trying to pinch me shut and then I would swim hard to drop them and then remember that I was supposed to be swimming easy and slow down and then the whole thing would repeat and that's the story of my entire second lap.  When I stood up to run out of the water, I felt fine, I knew that whatever my swim time had been, my effort was right on the button because I wasn't even a little bit winded.
Swim: 2.4 miles, 1:09:02 (33:27/35:34), 16th AG

I had debated changing into a cycling kit but the day before the race I was feeling stressed about the tiny details and decided to wear my tri kit out of simplicity (a decision I would end up regretting due to both monster chafing and vanity i.e. race photos).  I got most of a bottle down while wrestling into my sun top, which always feels like it takes forever; my tri shoes are falling apart (this race sponsored by maybe it's time to update some of your gear) so it took a few tries to get the velcro strap to stay closed.  There were kids with spray sunscreen right outside the tent; I stopped to let them spray me and started shaking my booty and dancing around while they did it, they laughed and it was good mojo all around me.  I snagged my bike off the rack, took a few more seconds at the mount line to adjust my way-too-tight spandex and rolled on out.  Time to do work (for sure never done an ironman with this much boobs on me good grief).
T1: 5:06