Race Day – Pre-Race
Aimee and I left the hotel around 5:00 AM. We watched one couple get into a cab for the short drive. I mean come on…..what’s a one mile walk compared to the rest of the day. Our short/private walk to Monona Terrace was a nice time for us to spend together before the long day ahead of us began. A quick stop to drop off the special needs bags and we continued to the Terrace.
I got body marked quickly and made my way to the bike racks to load my nutrition and pump my tires. I let someone borrow my pump for his tires then went to wish Tim Walsh good luck. Tim was a couple of racks away and ready for his first Ironman. We saw Rosana waiting for Alan so we all waited together for him to come back out of the bike area.
Alan and I then went inside to check on our transition bags. I put the MyAthlete.biz race belt in my T1 bag and reviewed my path to retrieve the bag. I also went over to the T2 room to spot check my second transition bag. I’m glad I did because the bags were placed slightly different from what I expected. It’s always good to review the transition layout.
I hit the porta potty then joined Aimee, Alan and Rosana to wait out the remaining minutes before heading to the swim start. We were at a good spot to see other Cleveland friends and wish them good luck. We enjoyed each others company which helped us stay loose and relaxed.
Alan and I finally slipped into out wetsuits before heading down the helix with our girls.
I was excited to get into the water. I had no problems with getting in and either treading water or floating on my back. I made sure my goggles weren’t leaking and got into position. Coach and I agreed that right of center and 5 rows back would be a good starting position. Tom Zeibart sang the National Anthem while I floated on my back with my hand over my heart. We got in position and the cannon was fired. It was time to be Iron again.
I tried to get into some sort of rhythm but the congestion wasn’t helping. I soon found myself surrounded and feeling anxious. Anxiety soon bordered on fear as I started to fight the feelings of panic. The heart rate and breathing were out of control. I was swimming with my head out of the water trying to find open water and keep from getting pummeled.
At one point I swam across the legs of four swimmers as I headed to my right searching for less traffic and some space to swim. I don’t know when I regained control but I was finally able to get my face in the water and actually swim. To the first turn buoy I was breathing each stroke to the right watching the people around me, getting as much air into my lungs as possible and avoiding the rising sunlight to my left.
As I swung wide around the buoy I was able to start swimming with my normal race stroke, three strokes/breaths one side then switch to the other side for three strokes/breaths. During the return trip of the first loop I got too close to a foot and caught a toe to the left eye. Fortunately it pushed the lens into my eye instead of off. I got away from that foot to avoid another kick. At some point I also received an elbow to the head. It wasn’t hard but I thought to myself, “should I be wearing my bike helmet out here?”.
I stayed wide for both loops of the swim course. I could judge my distance to the buoys and I seemed to be holding a good distance. My sighting was working well for me so I didn’t feel like I was zig-zagging too much.
As I rounded the final turn I spotted the exit and tried to pick up the pace just a little. My pace to that point was solid and felt just at the edge of too much. I swam until my hand dug into the small pebbles at the exit and stood up in barely a foot of water.
I didn’t see the clock but hit my watch button to record my split. I didn’t look at my watch but felt it was a good swim time. I quickly started to peel off my wetsuit. I raced past several volunteers and made eye contact with one of the last volunteers. I slipped as I stopped and landed a little hard on my butt. No damage and they had my wetsuit off with two pulls, it’s hard to get the legs off with my ham hock calves.
Back on my legs I ran towards the parking ramp known as the Helix. People were all lined up along the side as we ran by to transition. Reaching the top of the Helix I saw Aimee along the fencing and ran to her for a quick kiss.
This is the bike exit. We had to run up this same spiral after the swim at the other end.
Entering transition I stood in the door not remembering which aisle to go down for my bag. Some volunteers were asking my number and I just shook them off and saw the row number I was looking for. I ran down the aisle and grabbed my bag. I had the MyAthlete belt sticking out the top so it was easy to see.
I found a place to sit and started getting my bike gear on. I put on my….Helmet…..Sunglasses….Socks….Race Belt. There wasn’t a volunteer to help with my bag so I stuffed my swim gear into the bag and tossed it along the wall. I grabbed my shoes and headed out the door.
Outside the Terrace the sunscreen girls were all lined up with gloves covered in white stuff. Three girls covered my arms and back with sunscreen as my mom yelled for me. I looked her way and acknowledged her cheers. I ran towards the entrance of the bike racks. I waved to Aimee again and went to my bike.
Stopping to get some sunscreen
My rack was five rows from the entrance. I had to run the entire length of the bike area with my bike. The volunteer helped pull my bike off the rack with me and wheeled it to the aisle for me. I ran with my shoes in hand pumping my arm in the air encouraging the people watching to cheer for all of us. As I approached the end of the bike racks I handed my bike to a volunteer so I could put my shoes on.
This the only HALF of the bike area. My bike is at the far end of this picture.
I thanked her and headed towards the mount line. I heard Eric Hodska yell my name and I pointed to him in response. I mounted my bike with the smoothest cyclo-cross slide onto the seat I’ve ever had and heard a spectator say “suhweeet”. That’s right baby….that’s how I roll. I rode down the exit ramp and was on the bike course.
Swim time: 1:06:57
T1 time: 6:05