Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Kona-- Part 2- The Swim!

It might be possible for me to write a short book about what it took to get to Kona.  There is no easy way to describe everything that goes into qualifying for and then preparing to race in this Ironman.  To just say, 'it was hard' or 'it took a lot of personal sacrifice' doesn't begin to touch on it.  I'm staring at my keyboard right now thinking, " Should I try?"  Not today.   I'd like to talk about my time in Hawaii for now.  All I will say about my preparation is this:  I committed myself 100%. I never missed a workout. (well.. not more than 2 or 3 all year, that is for sure. )  I never made excuses for myself and I never gave up. I was nearly run into the ground a few times but I fought my way back and climbed on that airplane on October 5th in the best shape of my life. I was healthy, the injury was absolutely under control, I was fit as a fiddle and I was confident in my ability to nail the race.  

Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
October 5-11th: 

We landed in Kona on the Sunday before the race. We had nearly an entire week to settle in and 'acclimate' a bit to the heat and humidity before my big day. It was perfect. I absolutely loved being there that early.  We stayed in the same condo complex as 2011. There was a beach across the street ( Kahaluu Beach Park ) that has Amazing snorkeling.  The boys could go over alone to play soccer on the sand, or just walk back and forth with us for a short swim to see the stunning tropical fish. We were all feeling happy and very lucky to be back to this place we fell in love with several years before. 

I swam each morning at Digme beach ( the swim course) & took the boys for a swim with me there one day, enjoyed a brief stop at the coffee boat out on the course,  I swam one morning with a rockstar Pro from NH, Amber Ferriera, and enjoyed staying fairly close to her for that, I did some easy workouts down Ali'i drive and the Queen K to keep the body ready and sharp, we cruised the expo and had fun collecting 'free stuff',  ate at Lava Java, munched on fresh mangos and pineapples,  I had a heart to heart chat with 4x World Champion Chrissie Wellington, ran in the Underpants Run, the boys drove over the Saddle road to get a clear view of Maui and explore volcano vents and lava tubes, snorkeled with tropical fish, sat on a stunning beach and read,  You know, everyday normal things. :) Seriously... we did pinch ourselves a few times!!!  The race was one thing, but just the time in Hawaii was priceless.  A real dream for the family. 

A little photo tour before I get to the swim; 

a local market -- 

We enjoyed several yummy Lava Java breakfasts of course!!  

mark and the boys snorkeling-- the picture didn't come out but who cares

Delicious & fun meal at the Sheraton --  We sat at a fun fireplace table overlooking the Pacific & as the evening wore on, we could watch the Manta rays feeding next to the rocks. 

No words needed...

I was  a Lucky Mom to have my guys with me for this. 

The giant Banyan tree on ali'i...can't rotate it! ahh

So much fun in the waves for the boys... 

Soccer even in Hawaii-- gotta stay sharp for tournaments upon return! Though I'm not sure what this move was. :)  

We all participated in the UPR-- Underpants Run. :) I know, they have bathing suits & shorts on. They are kids after all. And I'm a Mom WITH her kids, so I simply wore running shorts and a jogbra. Nothing crazy for the Bancrofts. But we were there! 

There's my name! A few spots above Tommy's finger...
This little kid had the Biggest fishing pole. cracked me up. 

Gear Bags packed and ready

I managed to stay relative calm all week. (I think so at least. Maybe Mark would tell you otherwise. :)) I do allow myself to get revved up a bit, that's how it works for me. It's my way of getting into that pre-race state.  But, as Mark loves to tell me when I get stressed about being stressed and nervous, "I have never seen you do well in a race you weren't nervous for." He's right! It means I care. It's not just a regular day of grocery shopping, laundry, driving kids to and from everything and a training run. It's Race Day! It's THE race day of the year. And so, a bit of nerves and anxiousness is good for me!  I hate it, the day before makes me somewhat insane, but It IS part of the process.  

Bike is ready to rock--(or as it turned out, ready to sail away but that's for another post  :)

Everything was going very well. I did next to nothing on Friday besides a quick (literally 5 minutes  ) swim across the street to test my new TYR speedsuit ( yes, a little last minute to test it but I knew it would be fine), stuff myself with pancakes, drink bottle after bottle of nuun or perform, read and lay on my butt.OH! I also had a Surprise Face Time call from a few of my best friends from College!! Gina, Wendy and Brendan! I haven't seen Brendan in over 20years and the next thing I know I'm staring at their faces as they are  laughing and smiling at me from Burlington -> Kona! What a riot! Our connection dropped after about 20 seconds but it was still a huge huge smile for me that day.  I racked the bike in the afternoon but that was quick and easy.  I was in bed by 8:00 and miraculously, slept great!  

The 3:30 alarm was actually no big deal. I was up and ready to go. I ate my pre-race meal, took a quick hot shower and by 4:15, all five of us were heading to the jeep to drop me off  at body marking and for them to get their spot "on the wall."  They sat there from 4:30-8!!! It's like getting a good seat at a concert with no assigned seats.  They had to get there early and hold their spot if they wanted to watch the swim. 

blurry one of the boys but at 4 am, I am guessing they were feeling a bit blurry anyway. :) Flying the TriMoxie Colors!  Thanks guys!!! 

I stood in line behind the King K waiting for them to open the Transition / Body mark tent. At precisely 4:45, all the volunteers in the tent gathered together and clapped for us as we walked in. It was very cool.  Thankfully, I was on Small-time ( aka: early - to also explain, my maiden name is Small) and was one of the first to get marked.  WTC used stick on tattoos for our numbers ( mine was 4 digits long ) and mine didn't work. It wouldn't stick.( see, good thing I was early! )  I had to go to a 2nd line "Corrections" and wait there for my turn again. As a result, my 1375 was a bit of a sloppy mess with #s that didn't match. I chose not to care. I would never notice the # again that day, I was certain of that. On to get weighed ( don't look-- # is Not the same as when I left home ) and into T1 to pump the tires, fill the bento and then head to the swim..... 
I was calm and methodical. I got it all done and then I crowded over by a fence to hear, but not see, the Pro Men and Women start. I was sad the pier was set up in a way that prevented most of us from seeing the water while we waited.  But I did find Karen PM, a friend I made while at a Texas training camp that I saw again for IMTX and in Cozumel. We chatted and kept our minds off the craziness that was about to begin.  Everything was good.....  

Age group Women waiting for the cannon

The swim start was different this year.  Pro men at 6:30, pro women at 6:40, Age Group men 6:50 and Age Group Women last at 7:00.  I was Ok with this since the women were all together. The mass start is dramatic and amazing and yet, very scary.  I have had a few rough starts so I had hopes that this would allow me to truly SWIM and not feel trapped and scared for 1/2 the distance.  

I swam out and wiggled my way to the front.  Why not.  I was feeling brave. However, in the final 2-3 minutes, a few women pushed their way in front of me. One even put herself flat out so she was laying on the water, totally ready to start in prone swim position.  Good for her. But her feet were in my gut and I was a little ticked. I couldn't get to any other spot etiher. I shouldn't be surprised really, I was amongst some of the toughest women in sport at that moment, but things were a little bit rough right before that cannon blasted. 

Warning: Do NOT mess with these women! Some of them were ROUGH! 

The swim started off well!!!  I did get punched and kicked and hit and clobbered for a bit, but, I also escaped to relatively clear water pretty quickly.  I had a nice pocket and I was swimming hard.  There was one woman right off my right whose hand kept whacking me and that was bugging me but I found a way to move and avoid it after a while. She did haunt me for that entire swim however. 
I felt really strong and positive as I swam.  I knew that if I could just stay steady and push through without getting blocked, a decent swim time would happen.  I was feeling excited about the broken up start and really hopeful that I could make my way around that course without much trouble. It did feel like a long ways to the Body Glove turn around boat and during that first half, I noticed huge swells taking us for a ride. It wasn't bothering me. It was actually fun to ride them up and down and up and down.  I smiled a lot ( in my head ) and  I was still pushing hard and feeling strong. 
Step by step. My mission all day was to take it all step by step and focus on the moment I was in at that time. I thought about my stroke, pulling hard with Both arms, engaging my lats and not getting lazy.  Over and over-- I just repeated my cues and kept working. 

I finally got closer to the boat and felt the waters getting congested.  I knew it would happen, but hoped it wouldn't be too crowded. I was catching up with the men and knew that would make the way back a lot harder.  After all, you are only as fast as the person in front of you if you can't find a way around them.  I checked my watch and was at 28:xx as I was making the turn.  I was happy with that and Hoped I could keep the 2nd half strong for a good swim time. One I knew I was capable of doing. 

The swells grew bigger and I began gulping water down. I tried so hard to avoid that as I feared it could cause some stomach distress later. Some things are unavoidable when you're swimming in a crowd & the water is churning! Clearly, the swim  back to the pier wouldn't be quite as smooth as the way out. 
And That is Ironman!  A day full of challenges you need to deal with. 
I blocked out the intense eye socket pain I was feeling from my goggles. ohhh if I could just stop and take them off my eyes for 15 seconds! I couldn't. I promised myself not to waste precious time with something like that!!  I just continued to swim hard and weave my way through swimmers ahead of me. I think I swam a good line and only went in a little too far to the right one time.  
Boy that last leg was lonnnnnnnnng though!!! I got really sick of swimming. It seemed to take ForEVER to see the pier and hear Mike Reilly's voice! 
At last, I did. I was next to the pier, trying so hard to push to the end. I hoped the boys and Mark were all close enough to see me. ( I know... I'm the one in the pink cap and the black skin suit! ha. oh well... )   But as I wobbled my way up the stairs onto the pier, Mike R DID say my name! Angela Bancroft from Paris, Maine! And I smiled..  I was there. Racing in the World Championships. For real.  Even the 3rd time it feels Just as special.  

Then I saw the clock, or my watch, not sure which I looked at.  1:04. What?? I wasn't happy  and started doing math to try to figure out how that was wrong. It wasn't.  It was just a long swim back from the boat. As I suspected.  

Ok! It's a LONG day and the swim is OVER!  Time to hit the tent and get off on that bike for a few hours....   or 6.     

1 comment: said...

I love the photo that you made under the water! It is impressive and from a very interesting aspect.