We left our little house at 4:30am because I was nervous about finding a taxi that early in the morning. 5 minutes later we were in a taxi (needless worry) and we arrived at Chankanaab (swim start) at 5:00am...30 minutes before transition even opened. Well! I didn't know it would all be so easy!!
Troy, Annie and I hung out, I was really calm, not flustered, just mellow. At 5:30 transition opened and I aired up my tires. I also helped a few guys air up their own tires. They had this tiny little pump that worked really well but the pressure gauge was too small for either of them to read, so I was their eyes.
I got body marked...SUPER COOL here, instead of age on the calf, they write a letter that corresponds to your age group. I was "Q." I turned in my morning clothes bag, got down to the swim holding pen and realized I still had my crocs on, and also that I had forgotten a gel, my Prerace/EFS combo or even some water. I completely forgot to pack nutrition for before the swim. Doh.
I flagged Troy over (minor miracle this happened) and handed him the crocs and stole some Gatorade off him. I saw Michael Lovato (who won the whole she-bang) and Amanda. I met Sarah Piampiano for the first time (nice work on your first pro race, takin' home the bacon) and I snagged some sunscreen off of Tami Ritchie (because I forgot mine), at least that's who I think it was. Thank you!! This is my "I'm a mess this morning" face.
Before I knew it we were headed on the dock and instructed to get in the water. I knew exactly how I wanted all of this to go down thanks to the super trusty advise of Kim Schwabenbauer.
I was one of the first 50 people in the water and I went straight over to where I wanted to be on the line and then grabbed onto the underwater fencing (AKA dolphin cage...no comment here). Lots of others did this, but my spot was the bomb. I bonded with the folks around me as we huddled together shivering in the 84 degree water from nerves.
They said "ocho minutos" and then 5 minutes later "siete minutos" (??) and then thirty seconds later "tres minutos". I got off the fence and swam to the front line. I got wicked stung by a jelly treading water there. These are seriously phantom jellyfish, you can not see the buggers. And then the horn.
I was not touched for 10 minutes. Not once. Totally calm clear water for some time. The current was opposite years past with easy northbound, hard southbound. I got into my rhythm the first section, the turn buoys were pretty mellow. I found some great feet for the long haul southbound and hung on for life defending my territory. The new stroke I have been adopting has a wider entry and I love it for open water racing because you defend your space better in the pack.
At the third turn buoy we had a major snafu. For some reason, in the span of about 20 yards the entire group got pulled 50 meters inland. It was odd, all of the sudden we all had to make a right hand turn and swim straight away from shore to make it around the third turn bouy. Once we made the turn, the current was so strong that it only took a few strokes to get to the fourth turn buoy.
Race staff getting a bit too close to one of the pros in my opinion...Troy said this was a big issue the pros had to deal with.
The last quarter of the swim went pretty well for me. I got stung by quite a few jellies. Also, I was swimming on a girls feet and she had used a safety pin to help keep her timing chip strap on, well the safety pin had come undone and I hit it and it ripped a slice down my pinky. Not that big of a deal but I did spend a few minutes wondering if there were sharks in these waters, and then I reminded myself that they can smell fear.
Back into the dock they had built a set of stairs for us. I plopped myself up on those bad boys and crawled up them. I saw 58 minutes on the clock and got a big grin from that (official: 58:22). Okay, folks, this is a notoriously fast swim, and this year was no joke. I don't know if it's the current, or it's just short, but every year it's fast. Still, a fast swim is a nice treat, and I'll take it!!
Into T1, I didn't anticipate needing to communicate in Spanish, not sure why I didn't think of this. I thought it was odd that there was only one other girl in the tent. That's never happened in my life, usually I can't even find a seat after the swim. I forgot the word for "help" in spanish (ayuda) so I was left to my own devises. They made me pack my bag up and take it with me to my bike rack, that was new, usually I just leave all my junk in T1 and run out.
I apologize, the "TYR" on the front of my swim skin came off, but I am indeed in my TYR Torque, and I love that thing, so fast!!
I grabbed the bike, ran through the MAZE, and got to the mount line. My shoes were on my pedals and they had hit a few bumps and spun around on the run through T2. I went to get on my bike and my chain was off. I put that back on, got the bike sorted out, got on it, and off I went. Small mistake...but they add up!