2 am. I roll over and peek at my watch to see the time. I still have just over an hour until my alarm is supposed to go off. All of a sudden my brain says, “I’m doing Ironman today!” And that is it. My brain starts whirring and there is no going back to sleep now. Instead I lie in bed until the alarm goes, then I jump out and get in the shower. I realize the shower is a bit of a moot point, but I like to start my races fresh and clean. I put on the clothes I plan to wear for the first two segments of the day – my Zoot cycling shorts and my Team Tri Life top. I throw on some warm clothes that will eventually go into my dry clothes bag, grab my stuff and go. My friend Tara was staying with me at my parents’ place in Kelowna so we head off in the car together, with the Boyfriend driving us to the start. My parents will arrive a bit later. The roads are dark and quiet and the drive goes by quickly. I manage to eat my peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwich along the way and drink some coffee. Boy the coffee tastes good!
We find a parking spot along a residential street, fairly close to transition but away from the road closures. We arrived at Main Street pretty quickly and I had to say goodbye to the Boyfriend as we entered the athlete only area. I expected it to be harder, but we just said goodbye and perhaps “I’ll see you soon.” As I walked away I realized I could still see clearly and I had forgotten to give him my glasses! Oops! Luckily he wasn’t too far away and I passed them off to him. I’d mostly need my prescription sunglasses during the day and I didn’t want to risk losing my regular glasses. Luckily I can see well enough without them that I can make do.
We dropped off our special needs bike and run bags into the appropriate cardboard boxes, then made our way to transition. I found my bike and started loading nutrition on it – one bottle of regular strength Infinit in my aero bottle, one four hour bottle of concentrate in a bottle cage. Peanut butter wraps and pretzels in the bento box. I gave the tires a squeeze and they felt fine so I didn’t bother taking them over to bike support to have them pumped. Tara’s tires hadn’t lost any pressure overnight so I was sure that mine were fine too. After that it was time to start the porta-potty dance! I kept finding friends and teammates in transition. I also ate a banana and sipped on a bit of Infinit to make sure I would be properly fuelled. After all, it would be a long time between my peanut butter sandwich and when I’d first be able to eat on the bike. Pretty soon it was 6:15 and it was time to get the wetsuit on. My friend Kelly and I made our way onto the beach together and right away I spotted the Boyfriend, right up by the railing. I ran over and gave him a hug and then I was almost ready to cry. I got in the water, got wet, checked the goggles were working and then the pros were off at 6:45. The final 15 minutes until the age groupers were to go flew by. All of sudden it was 7 am and it was go time!!
Swim (2.4 miles)
I walked through the water and underneath the flags signalling the start line. A lot of people were still walking so I followed suit as I didn’t want to swim into a bunch of legs. Finally more and more people ahead were swimming so I started swimming too.
I quickly found a rhythm, bilateral breathing. I kept repeating in my head, “slow is smooth, smooth is fast” over and over again. I just needed to focus on swimming and nothing else. I started around the middle of beach and I wound up swimming quite close to the buoys. Inevitably folks would reach the buoys, pop their heads up and start breast stroking. I had to be careful not to get kicked in the face. A couple people were a bit aggressive out there, pulling arms and legs, but as we spaced out it got better.
The buoys were all numbered…13 out to the first house boat I think? At the house boat there were all kinds of folks on board cheering and it was awesome!! I turned the corner and swam to the second house boat with more people cheering. It went by so quickly. It looked like the folks on the house boat were having a BBQ? I bet it was yummy. As I turned the corner I spotted a diver below. I tried to wave at him or her but I don’t think they saw me. At this point I decided to take a peak at my watch. I was floored, it was way earlier than I anticipated. On the way back I was having trouble sighting and found myself veering of course a bit. Luckily it wasn’t too bad, I’d just notice from time to time that there wasn’t anyone beside me. Finally I was past the last few buoys and the water was getting shallow. I could touch the bottom, but the bottom consisted of big huge rocks. People around me were walking but I didn’t want to walk over big, uncomfortable rocks so I just kept swimming until the last possible moment. I stood up, stumbled over the rocky bottom and made my way up the beach. As I walked out of the water I unzipped my suit and had it down over my arms and at my waist to make things easier on the wetsuit strippers ahead. The crowd was amazing! People were standing in the water, cheering us on and it was so loud. Steve King said my name as I crossed over the timing mat. Ironman swim done – check!
3800 m swim – 1:33:56 – a good 10 minutes faster than I figured it would take!
I had checked my prescription sunglasses in at the table right at the swim exit. They had marked my left cheek with green zinc sunscreen and as soon as the volunteers saw me they had my glasses out and handed to me. I pointed at two wetsuit strippers and they had my wetsuit off quickly. They helped me up, handed me back my suit and I ran to find my bag. Luckily I was very near the front of my row for bags so I grabbed it quickly and ran into the change tent. A volunteer came over right away, told me where to sit and proceeded to go through all of the gear in my bag. Helmet, socks, bike shoes, Garmin. I had a wet washcloth in a Ziploc bag to rub my face with (and to make sure I could rub that green zinc off). I had a small towel in there to dry my feet and get rid of any grass before I put my socks on. I decided to forgo my arm warmers. I sprayed my face and shoulders with a small bottle of sunscreen, then I was outta there! Luckily my bike was super easy to find as it was at the very end of its rack (and well, let’s not kid, a lot of the bikes around mine were already gone). I turned my Garmin on, grabbed the bike and walked out. Overall a pretty efficient transition I think!
T1 – 5:37
Up next…the bike!