Time to Swim:
I'm a swimmer at heart. I started swimming competitively at age 8. I know the water. I love the water. I have total comfort there. During the pre-race craziness, I went for a 20 minute warm up swim. It was so peaceful. My face was under the water and all sounds were blocked. All sights were blocked. I was alone with my thoughts. Swimming is my strongest piece of the race I believe, and I was ready to go for it.
I crossed over the timing mat onto the beach. The lake area was remarkably quiet given what was happening. Maybe it was just that my brain was numb. I was in my own moment. I had dreamed of this moment. Visualized it. I remembered watching IMLP '08. I cried at the start of that swim...just imagining what they were all feeling. And how I would feel. Now, it was my turn. I worked so so hard all year in the water. I felt strong and ready to pull out a good first leg. Jeff (my little bro) had asked me only 30 minutes before..." Are you going to go fast here or ssave your energy?" I told him I was going for it. I'd go as hard as I could hold for an hour. That was the plan.
So I crossed the mat..beep.... a sound I grew to love during the day. Crossing the mats. It meant I was there. No turning back. I'm on the other side. Mary and I hugged, barely uttered a word to each other and headed to opposite sides of the lake. We had our own individual plans.
I swam out towards the line. I was going to get far left and in front. Kind of pushy of me and kind of brave. I thought I could hold my own.
Well, I held onto the dock that stuck out. Many others were already holding on so I joined them. The plan was simply to save energy for 10 more minutes. Sort of a funny thought. We were in a lke with wetsuits. I really could have just floated. Would have been muuuuuch better.
So the sounds of Ironman are swirling around me. Music is blasting. Don't STop Believing by Journey is in the air. Love that song. My sons love that song and sure enough, they noticed it and were all excited for me. I was getting really nervous. Excited. And then,
My foot rubbed something underwater ever so slightly. I pulled my left foot above water to find a 3 Inch piece of METAL stuck in my toe!?? OH NO! I yanked that rigth out but the worst part was the bunches of little shards still stuck in the side of my foot...little shards. I was Freaked! Paniced really. 5 minutes to Ironman. Never mind the partially torn tendon in my ankle....I had Metal in my foot!!! Men around me held me up while I dug and dug with my fingers. You see, there was a cable running down from the dock to the ground. It looked like a rope. Small pieces of it tore off and into me. Lots of muttering behind me took place, "She got it in her Foot! look out. I just got some in my hand....blah blah blah." All I knew was I had to get it OUT! This could kill my race. I was desperate. 3 minutes to go. A guy on the dock handed me his jackknife. I had a big knife in my hand, digging at my foot, under the flags of an Ironman, 2400 people behind me, with minutes to go. Those tears I expected at the start....were for a different reason. The knife wasn't working. I thanked the guys for helping me and pushed off the dock. And prayed. Time would tell. It didn't hurt...and that was a good sign.
Men behind me were cool. "OK everyone. Easy at the start. Easy with your kicks. We'll all get out of here. No pushing." They were saying stuff like that. I was directly under the flags. Some were trying to get ahead...the kayakers were shoving them back to the line. A referee threatened to take numbers. I couldn't believe it...it's an Ironman. Why are they trying to get an extra 5 seconds by pushign ahead of the line. I floated and floated and prayed and prayed that that metal wouldn't come back to haunt me. And ruin me. It couldn't. I worked too hard all year long to have something like that take away my dream.
BANG! All of a sudden the gunshot! I screamed. More of disbelief that it was starting. I did hit my watch...glad I was in my right mind enough to do that.
Ok...reality. I thought I'd be ok out in front. NOPE!!! I WAS KILLED! I was clobbered. It's hard to desribe this part! Within 2 minutes I think I almost quit. I almost swam to the side and escaped. People attacked me. My goggles were gone. I choked and swallowed TONS of water. I gagged. I was honestly really scared. There's not much more to say. I wondered if it would improve and figured it wouldn't. I was face out of water...dog paddling....stroke stroke...gag....dog paddle...cry...panic..... for a while. Finally I got off to the side a bit and could sort of swim. After a little more time, I was ok. I was swimming. I had "clean" water. As much as I could hope for anyway.
After that....just go. go go go go go. I swam hard and felt great. No soreness. No fatigue. I hadn't felt that in a while! it was great.
As I got close to shore and ready to exit and make the quick jaunt on the beach for lap 2, I heard the crowd. I saw the swim arches. I love that. I live for it. The hoopla of it all really fires me up. I swam in far, stood up, and checked my watch.
27 minutes. Awesome. I was shocked! How did I go that fast after dog paddling and nearly dying? Whatever, I'll take it. I'm pretty sure I heard my name and cheers from friends. I knew they were there. That's all I needed.
Back in for lap 2. My eye hurt. My goggle was too tight. I hadn't put it on well after getting hit early on. I was stroke for stroke with another girl and a guy. I had to stop and fix it though. I knew I was ok. I caugth right back up and swam and swam. For a few minutes, as I headed back towards the beach, I found myself spacing out a bit. I wasn't focused. I felt sort of lightheaded. I had a little chat with myself and gathered myself together.
From there it was uneventful. I pushed hard to shore. I heard the crowd. I was a little sad the swim was ending. The rest of the day would be much harder. I was ready though....one down , two to go.
I climbed onto the beach and checked my watch: 57 min. Perfect.
I heard my name hollered and smiled. AFter getting my wetsuit stripped, I picked it up and started the loooooooong loong run to T1. Down a long long hallway of people...across a road and into the tent. The aisle was 10-15 people deep. Smiling, energetic, enthusiastic, supportive people. I Loved that moment and felt myself smiling too. I was going to have fun today. I was going to savor my moment I worked so hard for. This was party time.
down the long row of bags, grab the one with the pretty party ribbon, and into the tent.