So we left for PCB on Tuesday. We knew that we were going to drive the whole trip in one day because we were super excited to get to the beach. It's a long drive - took us 14 + hours. BLAH! Wednesday we checked in at the race -the expo is always fun and probably not nearly as crazy as the following days. After mom and dad made their sign, we took some pictures, I bought a shirt, etc., went grocery shopping and then plopped ourselves on the beach. It was heavenly. We went for a short run that day and my legs felt encased in cement. I wasn't nervous at all which I thought was bizarre and should have been foreshadowing for the days ahead, but whatever. The view and location for this Ironman is the best!!!Thursday we went to the Gatorade swim. They let you swim the course which I like to do because of the salt water and well, because I'll admit that I hadn't swam in the open water since September. Yikes! The water was cool, clear and REALLY salty! :) I forget how much that stuff burns if you swallow it or it goes in your nose! My goggles were leaking which was something new. I panicked. Luckily the day before I noticed that the expo was selling the ones I use so I went and bought new ones and told Tom that I needed to come back on Friday and test them. #1 rule with the Ironman is don't use something new for race day. Since I had only tried my new wetsuit on Thursday, I figured swimming with new goggles on Friday would totally make up for that rule! :)
Friday I woke up with a full panic. I don't know if it was because of the swim the day before and the goggle fiasco or what, but that morning I tested the new goggles (which I must say is one of the best things ever... new goggles - no scratches, a good suction). I felt much calmer in the water without the salt water burning my eyeballs so I was happy. How can you not love swimming when the scene looks like this???We then went to the pancake breakfast (gotta love free pancakes). We were sitting outside and I went up to a girl to ask about her bike (she had an Orbea Ora too, but it had a great paint job). As we were talking, she said "do you have a blog?" Come to find out that she reads my blog!!! So Jen, if you are reading this, it was great to meet you and I hope you had a fabulous first Ironman experience!
We checked our bikes and bags on Friday afternoon, had an early dinner and then hit the bed around 8pm. It's amazing how tired you can be the night before the Ironman. Tom was freaking out a little with nerves, I was beyond that point and I think our bodies were just done. I slept like a baby!!!
The alarm went off at 4:20. It was dark, but you could hear the waves crashing on the beach. My stomach flipped. I cried (it's a morning ritual before a race... I'm a girl, what can I say). Oh, did I mention that I started my period on Friday night - total emotion overdrive! Sorry guys for the TMI, but a girl needs to just bitch about this a minute. I totally think women doing the Ironman on their periods should be given a special award because it sucks. I'm just throwing that out there. We made breakfast, grabbed our sodas and head down to transition. It's like another world down there! Got marked, finished last minute checks of our bikes and gear, found the potties, and then sat and waited. I honestly think this is the worst part of the morning. It's knowing what's ahead and just waiting for the time that you have to walk to the beach. Nerves can get the best of you.We started getting suited up around 6:15 and made our way to the beach shortly after. The water was definitely a little rougher than last year, but because of daylight savings being a week early, we could at least see everything. Somehow at somepoint on the beach, the nerves just disappear. We said a quick goodbye to my mom and dad, walked to the starting coral, listened to the National Anthem and out of nowhere, the cannon sounded. It comes so fast! Tom kissed me goodbye and we made our way into the washing machine.
If you've never experienced an Ironman swim start, you can't fully appreciate the utter chaos. There are arms, hands, feet, bodies flying everywhere. You look up to sight and all you see are heads - where are the buoys? You can barely put your head in the water and when you do, you worry about your goggles getting hit off or your face getting punched. It's a brawl. The first lap of the swim in Florida you just kind of go with the flow. I felt like I was in a dirty nightclub. People would grab my body and hold on as they swam over me. Their hands would land on my neoprene covered butt and they'd push it down as they tried to complete their strokes. You have to be a confident swimmer to do the Ironman. I may not be fast, but I can hold my own. The water was rough. Lots of waves, even more mouthfuls of salt water! I got out on the first lap in 40 minutes. Right on track. I stopped to tighten my chip (it felt loose) and realized the second lap would be much more rough than the first due to the waves. As we entered the water on the second lap, people were getting knocked down by the waves. I found my groove quickly, but it was a lot of up and down. I couldn't get a good rhythm with breathing because inevitably right as I would breath, a wave would get me. I had a hard time sighting the buoys and timing the waves. The second lap seemed to drag a little. I got out at 1:27:24. I was happy with that. I knew it was rougher than last year, and they didn't let us cut it as short this year (teehee) so I was happy. I got my wetsuit peeled, saw my parents and ran to T1. The madness had just begun!