Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Part 1: Pre-Race and The Swim

I'm going to copy several other bloggers and split up my IMAZ race report into sections. It's easier to read, easier to write, and maybe won't seem as long this way. Since I am really writing this for myself, it will probably turn into a novel. If you want the condensed version: I swam, I biked, I ran, I had so much fun (#1 goal), and I finished (#2 goal).

If you want the full version, continue on. This entry will cover my pre-race routine and the swim.

The night before the race I finished packing my special needs bags, laid out all of my morning clothes and swim gear, and got bottles/nutrition ready to be mixed. I ate a smallish dinner (probably huge by normal people standards), visited with friends and family for a short while, took half a Benadryl, played a game of cribbage with Mom (I won), and went to bed around 8pm.

Despite setting 3 alarms to go off between 3:15am and 3:30am, I woke up around 3am and couldn't go back to sleep. Since I'm not much of a morning eater, and I have a particularly difficult time eating before an event, I went right to work on my pre-race nutrition:
2 high-protein vanilla Ensure drinks
1 bike bottle GE
1/2 banana
2/3 vanilla power gel
lots of water
This is less than 1/2 of what I was supposed to consume, but if I puked, I would be even further behind. So I just went with it and figured I could catch back up on calories once I was on the bike.

Ken drove me to the race and parked in the US Airways garage, which was pretty close to the transition area. I dropped off special needs bags, put nutrition on the bike, and aired up the tires. Then stood in line multiple times for the porta-potties.
Side note: a gal asked to borrow my bike pump and since I don't want bad race juju, I let her take it. I finished lubing my chain, looked up, and she was having a dude help her with her tires...using a different pump. I walked over and asked for mine back and she just stared at me. I was like "um, you just borrowed it, what did you do with it? I would like to leave now and need it back." She didn't know what happened to it, so I asked her to help me find it. She just gave me a dirty look and walked away. She was a total bitch and, sorry, but I do hope that the karma gods took care of her. Thankfully a really nice gal, also named Sarah, saw my frustration and was able to locate it for me. Thank you!
I also got body-marked by my Mom and Debbie, which was awesome. Thanks Duane for the photos! Then it was finally time to start getting into the wetsuit. I found Jon and Tom, we got dressed, then filed through the "swim start" arch to activate the timing chips. The pro cannon sounded at 6:50am. 10 minutes before the age-group start.
Ken took this pic of the swim course from up on the Mill Ave bridge. The turnaround is a little ways past the bridge that you can barely see in the distance at the end of the river/lake.
It was now our turn to jump off the dock into the water. I did a cannon-ball of course. :-) Then swam about 150 meters, directly in front of the Mill Ave bridge, about 25 meters behind the start line. This was by far one of the coolest parts of the entire day. I treaded water and did slow circles taking in the view around me. Thousands of people in the water, thousands of people on the bridge above us and the river edge next to us. Helicopters flying over head. Mike Reilly on the microphone telling us "today, I WILL see you at the finish line, and you WILL do this." The national anthem was played. I covered my heart with my hand under the water and sang along silently. Reminded myself to BREATHE. The cannon sounded for the second time, and we all slowly started moving forward.
The start of the race was so much more mellow than I anticipated. I had clear water for about 500 meters. It started to get congested, but not any worse than previous races. Time was flying by and soon I was near the Rural Rd bridge. As we neared the turnaround on the other side of the bridge, I found myself much closer to the buoy line than I wanted to be. It started to get VERY crowded. My hands made contact with someone every other stroke. My legs were getting pulled down, I got groped multiple times, and my head kept getting dunked. One person even pushed off my shoulder to move forward. But somehow I got through both turns and was headed back to Mill Ave.

This is where things went from "yeah, this is awesome!" to "holy hell, just get me out of this damn water!" I could not get into clear water no matter how much I zigged to the right or zagged to the left. I was smack dab in the middle of about a dozen big dudes. One who could not sight without doing the breast stroke. I took his size 13 foot smack in the gut. The air was pushed out of my lungs just as someone else pushed my head under water. Air! I need air! I got my head up and was promptly kicked in the goggles so hard that I was sure that my eyeball was going to pop out of the socket. I looked up at a kayaker and briefly thought about swimming over and hanging on. But then I took an elbow to the jaw which knocked me silly for a few seconds and I forgot all about the kayak. Even as I write this 3 days later, I have a bruise and bump on the side of my face. With about 1000m to go, it started to open up again and I had mostly clear water until the take out. I was able to enjoy myself again and go through my mental checklist for T1.

Swim time = 1:25:37 (2:15/100m pace)

I swam up to the stairs on the edge of the lake, was hoisted up by my armpits by an awesome volunteer, started running up the steps....and promptly face planted back onto them. Someone lifted me back up, someone else unzipped my wetsuit, and I ran to the wetsuit strippers. Was pushed onto the ground, my suit yanked off, was pulled back up, and pushed towards transition before I even knew what was happening. So much fun!
Next up: LONGEST TRANSITION ROUTE EVER. As I ran along the pathway towards the transition bag field (yes, field), I called out my race number but arrived at my bag before a volunteer did. Then ran to the change tent and saw how crowded it was, and decided to put my shoes and helmet on outside. A volunteer packed up my stuff and I ran through the tent (naked boobies and butts everywhere!) to the sunscreen volunteers, ran to my bike (again I got there before the volunteer did), ran to the bike exit, passed the mount line, and climbed onto the bike just as I spotted my Mom and Debbie cheering about 10 feet away. Alrighty, 2.4 miles down, 138.2 more to go.
T1 time = 5:47

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