The morning of Ironman Canada was pretty surreal. I was having pre-race nerves the night before, but I awoke to sheer excitement. Everything was ready to go so I headed out of the condo with Troy. We walked down to the starting area and I dropped my special needs bags into big bins with my number range on it. Getting body marked was the same normal endeavor, but felt extra special. My number, 2146, had already become ingrained into my mind as lucky.
After entering transition I visited my bike. She was happy with her overnight stay and notified me that there was no partying in the transition lot and that all the other bikes got to bed early. I pumped up her tires, told her to focus on keeping air in those tires and said I would see her in an hour and 15 minutes.
You entered onto the beach under a huge arch, my timing chip beeping along the way and suddenly it was very real. In a few short minutes I was going to start swimming with 2600 other people. I was one of the first onto the beach, and I knew exactly where I wanted to line up. All the way to the left, that way I had plenty of space if I was feeling crowded to swim left (clockwise loop). I got into the water and I swam out into the lake. It was warm, but not too warm. My stroke felt even, and I felt good. After a nice little warm up I swam back and crazy as it was I found my mom! I crawled up the fencing and gave her a big hug. It was great to see her before the race.
After that I stood back in line and I glanced over to where I wanted Troy to be and there he was. I got his attention, blew him kisses and waved, and he took my picture. Can you find me (It's like Where's Waldo)??
Troy took some really cool pictures in a sort of timelapse way as the swimmers populated the beach. They are pretty cool, so I'll post them here.
Soon enough, 15 minutes after the pros had taken off they got us lined up, and let us loose.
The water was shallow for quite some time so the first 20 seconds were spent walking out into the water until you could swim. This was AWESOME. It allowed everyone to space themselves out a little bit. What I thought would be a chaotic start ended up being a nice walk into the water with everyone calmly starting to swim when they felt like it. I didn't get kicked, or hit, or even touched really.
So right away I'm realizing that I have worried way more than necessary about the swim. It was SO stinking fun. There were a few times where either I was swimming across traffic or someone else was and there was some body contact, but for the most part, if you kept swimming straight, there were no problems. I loved the fact that there was always a pair of feet to hop onto, and those feet were never too fast or too slow. After 20 minutes or so the only people around me were the ones that were swimming my pace. That was WICKED cool.
I swam mostly to the left of buoys on the way out. The turn buoy wasn't a buoy, it was a BOAT. That was a little weird because rather than making a sharp turn, you made a gradual arc around a large sail boat.
On the way back I ended up swimming right in line with the buoys. There was a lot more traffic in this area, but since we were all generally swimming the same it wasn't a problem. For some reason I was sighting WAY to well, and swimming WAY too straight because I ran into not one, not two, but five buoys on the way back. And by running into, I mean I ran smack dab into the buoy, swam under the darn thing fishy style and resumed swimming on the other side. Dork!!
On one of the buoys as I was swimming under it in a one-arm, bat ray sort of flapping style I glanced down and there was a SCUBA DIVER. It freaked me out a little at first but then I got a big smile on my face and gave him a little wave.
The last 25% of the swim I could barely breathe because I was smiling from ear to ear. I was having so much fun and it was so enjoyable to swim with all those other people. I loved looking at people under the water. Several times I swam next to someone for sometime and we would look at each other every breath. It was like we were having a private conversation without words.
The amount of electricity in the water was insane. You could just tell that all the nerves and apprehension was being left behind as 2,600 people made their way through the swim course. As I got close to the finish I didn't want it to end. I was really enjoying it and the idea that my first Ironman swim was about to be over was a little sad. But, I had other things to do, like bike and run, so when the beach came upon me, I dredged myself upon the shore and ran into transition.
I took a glance at my watch and saw 1:09. WHAT? I was hoping for a 1:15. I was already smiling from ear to ear before I glanced at my time, but boy was I enthused to see that swim time. My official time was 1:09:29.
I swore I wasn't going to use those crazy wet suit stripper people. I watched them last year and it just seemed like a painful process the way people threw themselves down on the ground and got de-peeled. But, sure enough right when I got into transition and gazed upon all the helpful volunteers begging to de-wetsuit me, I went for it. I did try to find some nice calm looking ladies to do the job. It was uneventful and in what seemed like 3 seconds I was back on my feet, wetsuit in hand searching for my swim to bike transition bag.
Found the bag and hopped my way over all the other bags to the change tent. There were TONS of women in there. Although a 1:09 was a great time for me, there are lots and lots of ladies that are faster and thus the change tent was packed. I was happy to find a chair and a volunteer to help me. I pulled my tri shorts down to my ankles, sat my wet butt on a chair, and dumped out my bag on the ground. I planned to change to a pair of biking shorts, but I decided not to at the last minute. I pulled my wet tri shorts back up, put on my socks and cycling shoes (not allowed to leave shoes on bike unless you are a pro), put on my helmet and sunglasses and got the heck out of there. The lady helping me shouted that she would pack all my stuff up as I ran out the tent door.
I grabbed my bike which was in the most awesome spot on earth, right on the end, and I skedaddled out of the transition. Most people spend about 5 minutes in transition, I was there for 2:34. And although they say it doesn't matter, well, I jumped up quite a few places in my age group due to that speedy T1, so I'll take it.
I mounted my bike and off I went...