I've tried to collect my thoughts over the last 24 hours and have still not come to terms with everything that I experienced and saw yesterday. What most people might think is a long day, seemed to whiz by me as a collective stream of cowbells, yelling and aid stations. While I did take some time to enjoy the experience, I was also very keen on staying focused mentally throughout the day to ensure I accomplished my primary goal.
For the sake of keeping this manageable, I'll break this into three parts.
Honestly, I'm not a fan of open-water swimming let alone a mass-start with 2700 other determined and hungry triathletes. My plan was to start in the back part of the field close to the buoy-line to ensure I wasn't swimming any further than I needed. I jumped in about 5 minutes before the pros were set to take off.
Cold. Cold. Cold. 61 degrees will make anyone's pieces-parts shrivel just a little...
I personally take a while to acclimate to the open water, the pressure of the wet suit and the general uneasiness of not being able to see your hand in front of your face. If that alone is not daunting enough, actually seeing the distance you have to swim put a small amount of fear and doubt into my head...can I really swim that far? At that point in the day however, you really don't have a choice...
At the sound of the cannon, the "washing machine" begins. If you aren't familiar with that term, check out this Ironman video. 2,700 bodies jockeying and fighting for personal space is an amazing site - except when you're an average swimmer like me and are caught in the middle of it.
After about 15 minutes of struggling through the field, I was finally able to get some open water and get into a rhythm. The crazy thing about open water swimming is that just when you think you've found your pace and a good stroke, someone comes cutting across the water at a 45 degree angle to you and smacks you in the head. Someone probably blogged about me doing the same thing several years ago when I started triathlons as well. Oh well. You pause, collect yourself and keep going.
I was just about to the Rural St bridge (the turn-around point) and thinking to myself, "sweet, half-way done". Only to discover that once you go under the bridge, there are probably another 200-300 yards before the actual turn to head back to the Mill St. bridge (start/finish). Oh well. Just keep swimming, right?
Three-quarters through the swim, it dawned on me that I had some pain on my neck from the wet suit rubbing and chaffing. There was little I could do about it since it was already in the advanced stages. I tried alternating my breathing from left to right but that just aggravated the suit even more and twisted the Velcro to be flush on my skin regardless of which direction I turned my head.
To add to the fun, my goggles started leaking. Not bad, but enough to be annoying. I noted it and told myself that I'd stop and fix it if I couldn't see where I was going. Fortunately, it never got that bad and I was able to make it to transition without any other incidents.
I was super happy to be done with the swim. My fitness felt good. Even though I was a bit wobbly coming out of the water (which is normal from being horizontal for 1.5 hours), I managed to make it though the chute and into the changing area to prepare for the bike.
Time = 1:30
More on T1 and the bike ride tomorrow.