What a crazy weekend. We are just settling back into our place in Los Angeles and I am both highly caffeinated and exhausted at the same time. This past weekend, I raced my first half Ironman race, which is 70.3 miles consisting of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 miles on the bike, and finished with 13.1 miles running. I know, “why do people do these things, it sounds awful!?” The short answer is because we’re crazy and crazy people like doing crazy things.
Fortunately I’m not alone and on Sunday 2,354 other people lined up on the banks of Lake Cahuilla in the chilly 48 degree weather to embark on the journey.
My swim started in the changing tent where our wetsuits had to be checked overnight due to a decontamination procedure. When I got to my wetsuit I noticed something was missing, minor panic set in – my hood was gone. For this race I planned to wear a wetsuit thermal cap to keep my head warm due to the unseasonably cold temps but on race morning it was nowhere to be found. I looked around for about five minutes and finally, three racks away I found a hood all by itself covered in mud and grass. Little rinsing, good as new, but cold now from being wet.
I forewent my usual warm up because the air temps meant I’d likely be freezing waiting my turn to start, so a couple arm swings and light jog was what got me into the water. I hugged my wife and parents. Time to swim!
The rolling swim start means people line up based on their predicted finish time and go out in groups of five every four counts of a beeper. Beep, beep, beep, BEEEEEEEP! Go time. I jumped into the water clean, actually passing the group who went out ahead of me. My lips caught the cold as did my fingers and toes going numb before I even reached the second buoy. The L-shaped course meant that we’d have three major turns before heading into the finish. I made the first one, no issues, but as I rounded the corner the beautiful desert sunrise lit up my field of view. Blinded by the direct sunlight, I resorted to swimming with the pack, which worked except I had to keep finding new people to rely on to keep me (hopefully) heading in the popularly decided right direction. This worked through the second major turn, but the third turn I found myself much inside of the buoy and for fear of penalty spent the time to backtrack and swim around the course marking.
Frustrated and still numb through my extremities I focused on getting back to the shore, the familiar beeping now in earshot. The rhythm of the beeps synced to my stroke and I powered my way to the sand until my fingers touched ground signaling my pop-up and exit from the water! I’m out! High knees splashing through the water and cheers from my wife and family on the sidelines spur me on. I look at my watch, 31 minutes, shit. Not what I was hoping for, but it proved to be a tough swim for everyone, and good enough for 11th overall in my age grouping of 255 racers.
I got kicked, pulled and all of the other usual swim race fare. If you’re not used to it, it can be jarring at first. I’ve come to appreciate that it’s part of the experience and history has shown that it’s rarely intentional. The swim would be the strongest part of my overall race and as I headed into the first transition (called T1 in triathlon parlance) I stopped for a second, choked back puke and then continued forward onto the bike stage…the race was just beginning!
|Goggles||Wetsuit||Thermal Cap||Tracking Device|
|Speedo Vanquisher 2.0||ROKA Maverick Comp II||Blue Seventy Thermal Cap||Garmin 735xt Watch|