There's a funny thing that happens at the beginning of an Ironman swim. You have 2900 closely packed, mostly vertical objects (floating swimmers) that rapidly turn into forward moving horizontal objects (swimming swimmers). Space runs out. Quickly.
You may have heard that swim starts are analogous to being in a washing machine. This is absolutely NOT true. Washing machines have a gentle cycle. Now, I know that there aren't any athletes out there that are TRYING to injure other swimmers, but that's cold comfort when you're getting punched in the head, kicked in the face, pulled backwards and subjected to impromptu (and uninvited) prostate exams.
|Believe it or not, this is one of the calmer photos.|
|Remember the ski ramp from yesterday's post? The green horizontal arrow would be sitting right on top of it.|
The most violent part was the stretch leading to the first buoy. The worst of it came when I was kicked in the left eye just before the turn. Fortunately, I had my goggles strapped UNDER my swim cap, so they weren't knocked off. If anything they were forced deeper into my eye socket.
In fact, at the end of the day, back at the hotel, I was looking in the mirror and had to do a double-take. Was I wearing eyeliner? Nope. It was just the world's weirdest bruise.
|Now that just ain't right.|
Anyway. Back to the race. I rounded the first buoy and participated in one of the more unique racing traditions. As swimmers make the first turn they all let out a loud 'MMOOOOOO!'. It sounds awesome and hilarious all at the same time. I did my best to join in, but I have a feeling my effort sounded more like 'MMOO-gurgle-glubglub-gurgle-ackackack'.
As I crossed the far end of the course and rounded the 2nd buoy I encountered one of the last acts of violence for the swim - a swift heel to the um...'Captain's Privates'. I'm not sure how someone could catch me between the legs and through a rubber suit, but the assault on my 'low hanging fruit' was hard enough to knock all the air out of my lungs. Fortunately, I didn't inhale any of the lake trying to catch my breath.
I tried to shake off the pain in my 'family jewels' and get back into a swimming rhythm when I experienced what would end up being my FINAL act of violence on the swim - another firm kick to the 'twig and berries'. Okay. This is getting ridiculous. It better not be the same guy (or gal) who is intent on relentlessly pummeling my 'speed bag'. I stuck my head up over the water and yelled 'NO MORE KICKING IN THE SEEDS!'.
But I digress. The back stretch of the swim course was much more peaceful. For one, with so many swimming abilities, the pack had already stretched out considerably. Also, with such a long stretch to until the next turn, I could afford to take the course wider and get into a nice rhythm. I like a nice, long, smooth stroke (get your head out of the gutter - I'm looking at you, Mom).
I kept my line a little bit wider heading into the 2nd lap and really got to stretch things out. I never pushed the pace and kept things easy and relaxed. But, I could tell that I was making up ground on those that chose to swim in the pack. I'll take it. On the 2nd back stretch, I pushed the pace a little more, but never stopped being relaxed. The only time my heart rate started to climb was when I could start to hear the crowd on shore.
Honestly, the swim felt great, despite my aching Honoré de Balzac, I could have gone another couple of laps. But that crowd was too hard to pass up. I picked up the pace and trucked it towards shore. As it turns out, I ended up finishing the swim in the top 25% of racers. Not bad for a noob. I was just over my goal of 1:12 with a time of 1:14. I'll take it.
|On the left.|
|On the left again.|
I hustled onto shore and over to the strippers. No. Not THOSE kind of strippers. These are the nice folks that whip your wetsuit off quicker than a coed's top at Spring Break. They literally sit you down on the ground and peel off your suit while you sit there with your legs in the air hoping that your tri bottoms don't come off with the rest of the outfit.
I trotted through the crowd and caught a glimpse of Doc - one of our friends visiting to watch me race. That meant that The Wife was close by. Nice. There wasn't time to talk though. I jogged up the helix at the Terrace and into the conference rooms. The T1 bag was easy to find - right on the end of the row, remember? Then, I found a seat in the changing room to get my cycling gear together.
One of the volunteers, Mike, upended my bag and its contents spilled out. He actually said 'That's the most organized transition bag I've ever seen'. That made me feel good, especially considering how meticulous I was in packing. I threw on all my gear, while trying to avert my eyes from all the nude dude around me. Seriously, that place was a sausage-fest. In hindsight I should have taken a couple extra seconds to apply some Body Glide to my 'baby factories'. I would live to regret this later on in the day.
I hoofed it outside again and down the concourse towards my Rusty Steed. Another volunteer de-racked my ride and pointed me towards the start of the course. I strapped on my shoes, hopped into the saddle and descended down the helix. There were only 138.2 miles left to go.