I get pretty fired up for races. I am nervous, excited, anxious.....ready to put my heart and soul into whatever I am doing. My performance at races is important to me. It's where I get to put all the training out on the line. Many many hours/week are spent preparing for those few hours on the race course. You better believe I am going to give every ounce of myself every time I toe the line.
I stood around in my wetsuit for 45 minutes. I was sweating. It was so humid outside and I was really uncomfortable. The water temperature was so warm that the pros weren't allowed to wear wetsuits. I was jealous. Very very jealous. I chatted with my friends. I realized I was too chatty (that's one way my pre-race anxiousness shows through) so I decided to take a walk to find my own focus and game face. I saw Nat and chatted with him. And then I saw my husband. I hadn't seen him yet since he stayed out of town at his sister's house. I ran over to hug the kids and saw Tommy (middle boy) off to the side with a huge amount of blood running out of his nose. I felt sad for him but wasn't worried. He gets nosebleeds. I assured Mark that missing the swim start was Not a big deal that he Needed to go take care of that with Tommy. I hugged them all and headed to my corral.
This was the start of a new phase for me. I am in a new age group now and as a result, I get to start Last. In the last wave. I knew this and decided it would be fun to try to catch the women in front of me. I would enjoy that rather than being chased down by them.
Finally..we entered the water to our ankles and prepared for the odd beach start. For some reason, that just feels strange to me. Everyone in the field was in the water except us. I felt left out. I wanted to Get in that Water!!! The gun went off and I began dolphin diving. I think I did 2 or 3 and then was able to swim. I pushed very hard from the Go to get out ahead of the group. I felt a little light...almost like I didn't have total control of my arms. It was almost as if I was lightheaded. I ignored it, put my head down, and found my stroke. I focused on the front of my stroke..lats lats lats. I watched my pull under the water and focused on catching hard and pushing. I spoke to myself---Use your arms Ange. USE them. Be strong. Pull Hard. They don't need to do Anything else today. PULL PULL PULL---- I talk to myself when I race. Sometimes out loud.
And then the strangest thing happened.
I got clobbered.
No big deal right? It happens all the time in Triathlon swims. I had already caught people from the wave in front of me and it was momentarily crowded. At least that's how I remember it.
So--it's not usually a big deal. But the last time I raced in open water was in Kona last fall. I was traumatized during that swim and felt like I was going to drown. I was truly scared for my life for a while in that swim. And while I have talked about that many times since, those deep feelings inside have dissipated.
They came rushing back at that instant I was hit in the water yesterday. I had a visceral reaction and began to panic for a moment. A flood of emotion and fear ran through my veins. This was the most unexpected reaction. I am a swimmer. I grew up in the water. I love the water. It's bizarre to have those fearful feelings doing what I love to do most.
I recovered and swam harder to escape the person who was trying to drown me.
I swam strong and steady but never felt like I was pushing the red line. I usually feel like it's harder. I never know my pace while out there so I just hoped I was doing what I needed to do. I knew I had a tough day ahead of me so I was trying to be smart. "Just swim strong. Hold your stroke. Long arms. PULL hard. Easy legs. Pull. pull. Dig. Reach." This is what I say to myself. I had moved through the pink caps--the wave in front of us. I swam by some blue caps. I saw grey. Black. More pink. A few orange. I just continued to site and look for holes to get through. I did not want to be touched. At one point, someone grabbed my leg above my ankle. It wasn't a brush or a hit or even an accidental swim over. It was a Grab. A solid hold on my leg. WHY??? What on Earth was that person thinking he/she was going to do? Hook on for a ride? I don't think so! I lose any ounce of kindness in situations like this and I suddenly become joe-swimmer and I kick like I know how to kick. There! I took care of that.
Throughout the swim, I was stroke for stroke with one other red cap. A woman in my wave. Hmm... a swimmer. I wonder if she can ride. Or run? Can she run? Cause I can run. I bet she can't. She can swim and that's it.
I was convinced. So I let her swim stroke for stroke with me without worry. We took turns drafting off each other. Occasionally we'd separate to go around multicolored cap groups and then we'd end up next to each other again. We really had the same stroke rate and pace. It was kind of fun.
We were heading for shore now. I was siting off the big yellow marker buoys and waiting to see the Huge Brown Arches on shore. (why brown? Ick...and hard to see!)
I was just cruising along and then OUCH!
HEY! WHAT the....?????
I had Crashed into a DOCK! How pathetic. In a matter of 10 strokes or so without siting (see you have to site) I had veered to the left just enough to go off course and run into a floating dock anchored off to the side. My left hamstring seized at that moment but I stopped kicking again and let it loosen. I laughed at myself. I'm such a dork. I bet I'm the only one who swam into that dock. And at that moment I lost my red cap partner and became 2nd out of the water in my division. Darn. Not that it matters in the end, but I had a plan. I was going to beat her out of that bath water lake and grab 1st for a good start to the day. Instead... the dock.
2nd out of the water. 28:05. A decent split for me. Good for 2nd in my division and 7th overall--and that includes the Pro women. That makes me feel pretty good I must say.
I ran out of the water and up the hill (theme of the day) towards the bike. I was in control. I saw my family and Mary. I accidently dropped my cap while running to T1. I later learned that little Nick was terribly worried I'd get in trouble for that. That was just a sign of things to come---a sign that I was slowly losing control of my motor skills...dropping things, running into things....
I found my bike and methodically went through T1. Nothing too interesting to note. Except most of the other bikes were still in their racks. Cool.
56 miles of riding...here I come.