It's Tuesday night (IMFL 2011 +3 days) and I have had a couple marathon work days, some recovery, cleanup, and reflection. Well, the wetsuit is still in the T1 bag from Saturday (eww). I am gonna wash it tomorrow afternoon. I promise. No I really promise, OK? It was a gift from someone, so I can't treat it like crap.
So, I guess it is time to get down to the real meat of this post, correct? I think what I will cover is the pre-race through T-1 in my first post, and then I will post the bike through the finish on either Wednesday or Thursday. Well get your cup of Joe or your nightcap, depending on what time of day that you are reading this and let's get going!
Pre - Race
Most of the week leading up to the race I had been going to bed early and getting up early. In the past, and not just with long distance triathlons, I will tend to stay in my sleeping habits, and this results in 2-3 hours of sleep before a race. It has nothing to do with being nervous, however, it kind of messes with me in the mornings if I don't get a least 4-5 hours sleep before a race. As I have talked about before, my friend Mike conned me into doing this race the year before, and his wife and parents were in town to watch him compete in his first Ironman. Since I really had no family in town (except for Wes and Dee Dee), I decided to have dinner with them prior to going to bed. We had the traditional pasta meal with salad and garlic toast (yum). I skipped the wine with dinner, which would not have been a problem, actually, I would have fallen asleep faster.
After dinner, I worked on my two blog posts prior to this one, and then got everything ready to go for the next morning. Suit laid out, nutrition bottles, and bike nutrition packed, and got all of my swim stuff together. Rolled out and foam rolled my body before I went to bed as well. I had been doing this every night during the week as well. It helped A LOT. In bed by 10pm. Sweet, just like I had planned. I had set the alarm for 4:15am so that I would have time to wake up and get things going early before the race. For those of you who have not read some of my posts from earlier this year, I have had a curse for about the last 14 months regarding GI issues prior to a race...
I think I woke up one time around 1:30am and went to the bathroom and got some water and was back in bed. 4:15 rolls around and I hit the snooze button, and get 10 minutes more rest. Then I jumped out of bed and got my routine started. First things first, COFFEE and FOOD! On Thursday morning I was fairly regular when shopping down in PCB for food for the weekend, I remembered that I had a fair bit of caffeine which I believe helped things along that morning. Tall cup of coffee, about an apple and a half worth of apple slices with peanut butter, a banana, Greek yogurt, glass of OJ and a Nature Valley fruit and nut bar. Oh and a few good luck gummi bears. Yes, I did that and they were Haibro as well. Afterwards I finished packing up my stuff, brushed my teeth and washed my face, put some Dermatone on my face and neck, and the put my suit on.
After that I was in a holding pattern, packing up a few things that I was not going to need for the rest of the weekend. And then it finally hit me! Number One! Hooray! I was really excited. And then about 20 minutes later, Number Two! Friggin Sweet! I am so glad that I got that 800 pound gorilla off my back from the past 14 months. Around 5:30 Mike, Melissa and I headed towards transition at the Boardwalk Beach Resort to drop off our morning clothes bag, fill up the bikes with our nutrition, pump up the tires, and get to the start line.
I got to talk to a few random athletes near my rack, one of which I helped pump up his tires with the "crack pipe" adapter, and then in turn he let me use his pump for my bike. All of the bustling, everyone in their own head thinking about the day ahead, checking and rechecking their bike setup, the rustling of the plastic bags coming off the seats and the handle bars, long lines at the porta johns, the noise of zippers everywhere from wetsuits being donned. As I was walking to drop off my morning clothes bag and put on my wetsuit, I even heard a couple loud booms. People's tubes exploding from being blown up too much or a pinched tube while it was being inflated. And then the cussing that followed.
I got in line with about an hour to go, and I am glad I did, because it took me 25 minutes to get through the line. Good thing my wetsuit was partway on, kept me warm. Speaking of warm, the weather on race day was GREAT! Sunny skies all day long, and a high of 74, and it really did not start cooling down till about 9:00pm at night. At this point I was separated from Mike and Melissa as Mike had to go and drop off his special needs bags before the race began. I decided to head down to the beach and at least watch the pros begin before my day would. I saw Wes and Dee Dee near the swim corral and talked to them for a few minutes before I headed in with the group. Wes looked so amped to be there, even though he was not participating. It reminded me of the year prior where I was in the same position, and I remember the smile on my face prior to it all beginning.
As I made my way into the corral, the pros, both male and female, were about to begin. I took a look at the water. The wind was out of the Northeast, so the water was like glass. No waves, and it was low tide to boot. Next thing I know, the gun goes off and they pros are at it. Shortly thereafter, the national anthem was sung by a couple people over the PA, and then there were about 5 minutes to go. Now I am in my head, by myself. 365 days ago I was standing just on the other side of the corral looking in, and now I am standing on the inside. Goggles... check. Swimcap on right... check. Visualizing the swim with my toes in the water. And then the gun goes off.
The first 40 meters or so of the swim was actually wading into the water where it was deep enough to actually begin swimming. It was humorous because after about 50 meters of swimming we hit the sandbar and hand to stand up again and walk another 25 meters or so before it was deep enough to swim again. Ah yes the human washing machine that is the Ironman swim start. I am going to try to keep this section as positive as possible, because there are just some people who seem to be in it to win it during the swim, and so they will swim all over you regardless of your time, or if you pass them at some point down the road.
Around 400 meters into the swim, I put my left hand into the water to pull, and what do I grab but a timing chip. Obviously someone did not put their timing chip under their wetsuit when preparing for the race. For some reason I felt the need to hold onto the chip for the remainder of the first lap so I could hand it in to someone. At least that way they would know whose chip it was. Not to long after this I got my goggles kicked off my face, thank goodness they at least stayed on my head, I had to stop and put them back on. Normally this would not be a problem if I was by myself in salt water with a wetsuit on, however, I had around 2000 of my best friends trying to swim past me. I got them back on and continued. As we got to the first turn bouy, we began to see the jellyfish. Most of them were sitting about 8-10 feet below the surface, although they knew something was going on.
After making the crowded left turn, it was swimming directly into the sun for a couple hundred meters till we turned left again. Still hand the extra timing chip with me, and had already switched hands by that point while I was swimming. Jellyfish were still all around. We finally made the next crowded left turn to head back in to finish the first lap. The jellyfish started to thin out, and I saw a couple schools of fish swim by as I was headed back in. Since the sun had already started coming up over the horizon, I could see deeper that I could on the way out. I even saw a few stingrays on the ocean floor. Around halfway back into the beach my collar on the back of my neck began bothering me so I stopped for a brief second to adjust and then continue on. Eventually I hit the sandbar and then got back to shore to run over the timing mat and back into the water.
I handed off the extra timing chip to a volunteer and quickly told them what happened as I started jogging away from them. Grabbed two cups of water before I got back in. Man fresh spring water never tasted so good when you have been swimming in water for 1.2 miles. As I dove back into the water there were a diagonal line of buoys that were taking us back out to the main buoys for the second lap. If this seems weird it is because they race director did not want us running the couple hundred yards back down the beach to where we started, so we just swam back over to the original line of buoys headed out. It was great because the water was headed away from shore in that same direction, so everyone was getting a quick swim back out where we needed to be.
The second lap had thinned out, which was good, except that there were some horrible sighters, and for some reason, they are all men. Every person that was zig-zagging back and forth was a man. Could not figure that one out. There was a girl that was about 2 meters to my right and we were swimming at the same pace and kept the same distance from each other, and that seemed to also help us swim straight. As we got close to the initial turn buoy again, the jellyfish were still out there. This time though, they had sensed that the crowds had thinned out and started coming closer to the surface to see if they could make a meal out of us. Or at least sting the bejesus out of us. There were a couple that I literally had to dodge as I was swimming, I kinda felt like Neo from the Matrix movies, not only because I was making weird maneuvers, but also because I dodged all the jellyfish that were in my way. I made the final left turn and as I was heading back in, the jellyfish thinned out and eventually disappeared.
I was occasionally looking at my watch and saw my time on the way back in and I did not think I was going to make it in under 1:20:00 so I stepped on the gas and negative split the last 500 meters of the swim. I was pretty impressed that I made it back in that fast, and that I also did not cramp up.
Swim Time - 1:21:16
As I got out of the water I already had my wetsuit down to my hips, my goggles and swim cap were off, and I was jogging up the shore to the wetsuit strippers. Ah ha, now I am on the other end of the stick here. Not stripping, but getting stripped. Since I had figured out the technique of how to properly get stripped the year before, it came off very easily. And then I was back up and off in a hurry to try and get through T1. I got my bag fairly quickly, and then they corralled us into the ball room area, half for girls, half for guys.
I feel that I am going to want to try to get faster on the swim, not only for time, but also to miss the crowd for T1. I spent probably 2-3 minutes just trying to find a place to stand so that I could do what I needed to do and get out of T1. I hit up some Gatorade I put in my bag so I would not have a saltwater mouth after the swim, and I also had half my PBJ. I opted for the arm warmers (good choice) and decided not to wear the gloves or the bike jersey (also good choice).
Once again this year WTC has sucked it up and applied for waivers so that they were allowed to tell AG'ers that they could not put their bike shoes on their bikes in T1, but they could dismount and leave them on their bikes going into T2. That is so dumb. I think it is a liability issue for them. Here is the thing, people are not gonna do it unless they have practiced to do it and know they are not gonna fall over or anything. Add to that you can't really run on pavement with Speedplay cleats. And once again I had one of the worst rack positions, and this is based off the fact that I was running around in my bike shoes. Had I been in a triathlon where I transitioned at my bike and got to have my bike shoes on the bike before heading into T1, then I would have had a pretty good spot.
After grabbing my bike, I was headed out on road for a few hours
T1 Time - 10:36
I am gonna stop here for now, and then have another post (maybe two) for the rest of the race. Just depends on how long the bike, run, and T2 portions of the story are. Till next post,