Riding with the wind. When I'm sad, she comes to me.
With the thousand smiles, she gives to me...

Fly on my little wing.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Start and Swim: Entering the Asteroid Field

Watching the pro start was sweet, with Mike Riley announcing and helicopters overhead and the cannon booming their start. As soon as they were off they started letting age groupers (AGrs) down the stairs to the “beach” area. The actual staring line is about 80yds out in the water so you have to tread water before the start. It took about 10 minutes to finally make it to the steps and I was in the water…good because I had to pee. It was about 20 to 7 and I did a short warm up swim out to the start line and then back to the beach. After standing there for about 1 minute I decided to slowly head back out to the start to wait for the cannon. Not the best idea I’ve ever had, having to tread water for 15 minutes surrounded by a bunch of other athletes. Everyone is bumping into each other as the swells move us and the lifeguards try to keep us behind the line. It’s almost claustrophobic as I lined up in the middle about four rows back. Mike Riley’s blabbing on the microphone about this and that naming off the oldest guy and the youngest person and stuff, names I’ve heard him say about a dozen times already this morning. He says something about one minute and I don’t really hear anything but splashing and background noise of the crowd and helicopters.
There’s no countdown, no indicators just BOOM as the cannon goes off. No one really was ready for it and it just so happens there were two lifeguards on surf boards directly in front of me. As it works they all turn a face the ocean and we’re supposed to swim around them. Instead it was more of us crawling over them and each other as everyone goes from vertical to horizontal and the ocean goes from blue to white foam. I keep my head above water and flail with my arms catching little water, mostly bodies and feet for the first several yards. Since swimming isn’t my strong suit I just focus on staying relaxed and not getting into oxygen debt. It’s still a washing machine on “aggressive wash” for the first several hundred yards, and settled down to “regular wash” for the next several hundred. The course was an out and back and it took forever to get to the turn at the boat. 

I felt pretty relaxed and smooth for the first half and just tried to stay out of the big packs of people. I think I got stung by a jellyfish as I felt a slight burn on my arm and again on my shoulder on the way back. Interesting since I’d never experienced that before, it wasn’t a big deal and only crossed my mind for about 5 seconds after it happened. Things bunched up at the turn and I was on my way back, where it seemed to spread out. It also seemed like I lost my form a bit and didn’t feel as relaxed, probably due to my lack of swim training. I didn’t get into oxygen debt but I felt my form break down. The sea wasn’t particularly choppy but I did swallow a fair amount of salt water due to the splashing in the start and bumping into people. I decided I can’t swim straight for the life of me. Got near the pier and was relieved the leg I was least comfortable with was over. I exited the water with a 1:07, the same time I swam in Idaho, which I didn’t think was a great swim. I wasn’t unhappy with my time but I wasn't  pumped either. 

Going through T1, there’s hoses to rinse off and you grab your bike bag and enter the changing tent. There were bodies everywhere but I found a seat and didn’t hurry to fast getting my bike stuff on. Top and shoes donned, I grabbed my sunglasses and put my flask full of Roctane in my back pocket. Doing a speedy application of sunscreen I jogged out to my bike, grabbed it and exited transition. As I hopped on my bike and headed out I reached back and didn’t feel the Roctane. Apparently it had bounced out somewhere in T1. That didn’t make me happy, but I still had my Vanilla Bean Gu in a waterbottle but I was a big fan of the Roctane for the caffeine and protein in addition to sugar. 

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