Sunday, July 8, 2012

Ironman CDA 2012 Swim

Couer d’ Alene Idaho is an amazing place with the lake sitting at the bottom of all the pine trees on the hills edges it’s a place that feels magical.  When I arrived the city was alive gearing up for the Ironman Triathlon that was about to happen for the 10th time.  CDA has more volunetters that sign up to help than athletes that show up on race day.  Some years is has nearly been a 2-1 ratio making it the best run race to date.

Anne and I at the swim beach at Lake Couer d' Alene
Nicole, Anne, Michele and Nancy were the best support crew EVER.  Beth and Keith were my constant training partners that I was very excited to spend the race day with!
My calm before the storm!  I was checked in and ready to race.

The days leading up to the race were spent working on last minute race plans, testing the water (which was really cold both times that I tried swimming in it) and getting myself in a mental place that would allow me to spent almost an entire day racing.  It was a sun up to sun down challenge that could not last longer than 17 hours.  I was gearing up for my first try at the Ironman distance triathlon.  Anne arrived the day before and she went straight to work making my life easier and doing everything she could to help me get ready.  We were staying in a house with the 3 others that arrived at Panera Bread Company 1 year before and signed up together.  We also added a few to bring the total racer count to 6. 

I was able to sleep really well the night before and I was able to get my transition set up just the way I wanted.  I went for a jog and made sure that all systems were a go and then headed to put on my wet suit with 2300 fellow racers.  The cannon was set to go off at 7am as a signal to start the day.  2300 people were placed on a very narrow beach front for a two loop swim both being 1.2 miles long.  Michele, Keith and I made a mad dash for the right side of the group and placed ourselves right up front.  We were going to swim the longer distance to the turn buoy but felt we could have clearer water doing so.  I WAS WRONG. 

The second the cannon fired I was off pushing the pace pretty quick from the start to get away from the masses.  I had practiced my swim start a ton of times over the last few months.  The problem I had was 500 others were trying to follow the same plan I was and I had no breathing room and was getting kicked, hit and pushed around just like I was told, read about and saw on TV.  I felt that they exaggerated the feelings and it would not be that bad.  I was a good swimmer and should have no problem finding clear water but not today.  I made the first turn, second turn and still had to fight to swim smooth and fast. 
I kept calm and did not even feel the temperature of the water the entire race.  All the stress over cold water and I could care less, I was trying to get away from the other crazy swimmers.   The sound of the announcer was loud even several hundred yards from the beach and I was getting pumped up to start the second lap.  I touched sand and was up on my feel running to around the turn and off to the second lap.  I looked at the clock and saw that I was done in 32 minutes and was jazzed.  I could hear my name being yelled but could not place it. I found out later that Anne and Shannon were at the turn and it was her yelling my name.  My race plan after a quick start was to go at a steady, medium effort and today that felt pretty fast.  The second lap was just a repeat of the fist with the one exception being that on the last leg back I was able to swim without getting touched.  I hit the sand again and was up and trotting to the transition tent. 
 The amount of people cheering at the swim beach was unbelievable, thousands of people cheering and yelling.  As I made my way up the beach I heard my name again and was able to focus this time on Nancy and Michele and gave them high fives and then headed over to the wet suit strippers.  Rather than going straight to transition I ran to the T1 bag area and yelled my race number to several volunteers.  They had my bag held high in the air by the time I made my way down the row and I was moving into the changing tent. 

These are the bags you grab before heading to the changing tent in T1

This was the first race where they have separate male and female changing tents to get ready for the 112 mile bike journey that I had ahead of me.  I took a few seconds to look around at the mass of people coming into the tent and changing.  What a day it was turning out to be.  I was loving it at this point and was ready to take on the rest of the day with excitement.
I finished the swim in 1:07:27 feeling really good and excited about the rest of the day!

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