Thursday, September 4, 2014

Ironman Louisville...Race Report - The Swim

The alarm was set for 4:30, but I was wide awake at 4:00 am.  I laid there for a few minutes and was afraid to try to fall back asleep and wake up really grumpy.

I had a little coffee, got dressed, and we were on our way.  I ended up getting some glazed donuts for breakfast and I tried to eat as many as I could on the way to downtown.  I only managed to eat 1 1/2.  It is tough to eat that early in the morning!  A quick pit stop at Walgreens for allergy medicine for Ken and we were on our way.

We parked and made our way to the transition area so that I could drop off my nutrition and my special needs bags.  I had forgotten to bring a pump with me, so I borrowed one from a lady next to me.  I couldn't figure out how to use it and was starting to panic.  Luckily, a man walked by that was some sort of race official, so I asked him for help.  He aired up my tires and I was good to go!

I found Deb and we made our walk to the swim start line, along with Ken and Abby.  It is about a mile walk to the docks, but we enjoyed chatting and talking about baseball and different things.

Deb and I both got body marked and soon it was time to make our way to the end of the line to wait for the race to begin.

At the swim start with Abby the IronFan!

With my number one IronFan!!!!

Once again I teared up giving Ken a hug good bye.  I guess just knowing that I am going to be out there all day with no real way of talking to him really upsets me.  I was very grateful that I had met Deb the day prior and was able to sit and chat with her while we waited.

The swim start, we jump off of the docks.

The lines for the porta potties are super long, but we were lucky enough to be waiting closer to the boat docks and were able to get access to a private bathroom on the docks.  It was nice not having to pee by a tree like I did last time.

When we made it back to the swim line, it had started moving.  My nerves were kicking in as we were watching the pros swim by.  The current looked strong.  As in so strong I am not sure if little me can make it up the channel.  I knew the rain from the last two nights did not help with the current situation.

As the line continued to move, the song "Call Me Maybe" came on.  Of course I started singing to sooth my nerves and was just imagining that this would end up what I would be singing in my head for the next two hours.  Lucky me.

The whole swim start thing is really kind of stressful for me.  The volunteers are trying to get the swimmers into the water as quickly as possible.  This involves a lot of hurrying and shouting.  As I made my way down to the dock, I looked for Ken and Abby but could not see them.  They did see me, along with my dance moves as I was singing my heart out before being cattle called into the water.

I am snapped my fingers and dancing in this picture

It was suddenly my turn to jump in and without hesitation I leaped into the water in a way that would remind you of a cat being tossed into a full bathtub.  I went completely under and my heart was racing.  I was trying to gain my composure, but all I could hear was the shouting of the volunteers to people to GO, GO and to not stop on the dock, and to swim!  Suddenly, I was once again brought back to the Titanic and hearing Jack say, "Rose, Rose, I need to swim!  Swim Rose!"

I am in the pink cap right by the volunteer that is shouting and moving her hands.  Yes, my face should be in the water, but you know...

I started swimming a few strokes and just could not get into a groove.  I was being knocked all over with the current and really thought that I might drown.  The verse of "Call Me Maybe" kept popping into my head and I was hoping that song would not be the last thing I heard.  I kept swimming without my face in the water and was trying to calm myself down.  It was then that I saw a beam of hope.  We will call him Bob, and Bob was the first kayaker that I met for the day.  Yes, I said my first.

I swam over to Bob with the same urgency in which I swam to Ken's kayak during my very first open water swim.  I grabbed a hold of his kayak with a death grip.  I assured Bob that despite how it may look, I do indeed know how to swim.  I chatted with Bob for what seemed like an eternity.  During that time someone else grabbed a hold of the back of Bob's kayak.

I told Bob I was counting to 10 and going to go on and swim.  I did not start counting.  In that moment, I am pretty sure Bob thought I was not going to leave.  I told him again, I was leaving in 10 seconds.  Finally I started counting and left.  Bob wished me good luck, but I am pretty sure he planned on me either coming back or me being removed for the river.

The moment I let go of Bob's kayak, I regretted it.  I wanted to swim back to dear Bob, but instead, I flipped onto my back and was trying to swim the elementary backstroke.  Yeah.  That worked out really well.  I was exhausting myself.  I saw the side of one of the docks.  Yes, I was still inside the island, and had maybe made it 150 meters from the start of the swim.

I swam over to the dock in a panic.  I had fantasized that there were stairs on the dock for me to just do myself a favor and get out of the Ohio River before I drowned.  I was in full on survival mode at this point.  Alas, there were no stairs.  Just a 16 year old life guard that asked if I was okay.  I am not sure if it was sheer look of horror on my face, the f-bombs I was dropping or my fingernails digging into the side of the dock that made him question my well being.

In the calmest voice I could muster, I told him I was just resting.  Ha, resting my ass, I was just trying to live!  I gave myself the best pep talk I could and peed.  I kind of thought that might make me feel better.  You know, focus on peeing and less on drowning.  I finally told myself to move away from the dock and keep swimming.  I started swimming the backstroke for a few yards and then flipped over to swim freestyle.  The minute I flipped over, I felt sea sick.  For any amount of time that I was on my stomach I thought I was going to vomit.

Suddenly, I had a vision of me vomiting and choking.  I now had to worry about not only drowning, but vomiting as well.  To my back I went and I was backstroking.  I kept splashing water into my face while I was backstroking, because you know, I practiced it so much in the pool that I was super efficient.

I was getting exhausted and started to wonder if I would ever make it to the main river.  I had decided I would backstroke the entire thing if needed, but I knew it would make me exhausted and it would most likely cause me to miss the swim cutoff.  I kept moving and stopped at another kayak.  We will call him John.  While I am sure John was a super nice guy, he annoyed the hell out of me and I only stayed for about 10 seconds.

I put my face in the water and tried to freestyle again.  I still felt sick, but made myself swim 30 strokes before I flipped over to my back.  This went on for awhile and finally I put my face in the water and started counting.  1, 2, 3; 1, 2, 3; appeared to be swimming.

I tried not to celebrate too much, but I was swimming!  I was swimming out of that horrible current and getting away from the island!  I kept going and thought for a second that I might just make it.  I encountered a few areas that were freezing cold.  They were so cold that they took my breath away.  I flipped to my back to calm myself down for a few seconds and then was swimming toward the turn buoy.

I really started getting into a groove and was passing people.  There was some drama at one of the turn buoys with a lady yelling at a man.  I was not sure what that was about, but I laughed and made the turn.

The minute I turned I started flying!  Apparently I was in the right spot for the current to take me down river.  I was passing every person in site and was feeling so much better!  I tried not to look up at the bridges, because I did not want it to seem like it was taking forever to get to them.

I had no contact with any other people and was seriously just flying down the river.  I didn't know it at the time, but Ken and Abby were on one of the bridges watching the swim.  They never really could identify me, but they did see one of the kayakers flip her kayak.  I guess she was also running into swimmers too.  That made me laugh!

Ken and Abby's view of the swim

My goggles did not hurt my eyes like they sometimes do when I swim non-stop for so long.  I was really wondering how long I had been in the water at this point.  There were several people behind me, so I was sure I was not going to miss the cutoff, but I wondered if I would be close and chasing my tail the rest of the day.

The next thing you know, I hear music and I know the swim exit is near.  I kicked it in high gear and passed a few people and went to the far right of the exit.  There were two men there and I popped my head out and asked if they would mind helping a lady out.  They picked me up and put me onto the stairs.

I have never felt so relieved in my entire life!  I survived!  I did not succumb to the Ohio River!  It did not defeat me!

The announcer called my name and I started jogging to get the hell away from the river.  I was looking for Ken, but I did not see him.  I figured I must have taken a super long time to get out of the water and he and Abby probably thought they missed me.

I went onto transition and grabbed my stuff to get ready for a 112 mile butt whooping, still grateful to be on solid ground.

Swim Time:  1:39:22

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