I'd have to say I slept "okay" for the night before. I was up before the alarm went off at 4 tho. My family wanted to have a good view for the start, so we planned to leave the condo around 4:45. I got dressed, ate my oatmeal and toast, grabbed my pre-swim bag and we were off. There was some traffic, but not bad. I got booted out of the car as my relatives jumped out to find a spot along the sea wall to watch the swim start. I made my way to the special needs bag drops, through body marking...no sharpies here! No sir. They use ink pads and number stamps....very neatly stamping me with 1387 down each arm. I wandered out of body marking towards transition and stopped to check my weight on the scale. Coach Liz had said I shouldn't be surprised if I saw I had gained *another* 5 pounds since registration. A little niggle of worry entered my mind when I saw that I had actually *lost* 4 pounds since then, but was too caught up in the events of the day to really think about it.
Off to find Ruby,
pump up the tires, and stock the bento box with my picnic lunch. Again, a little intimidating to see so little food on the ladies' bikes next to me. Obviously they weren't planning on spending quite as much time out there as I was. "Lucky to be here, lucky to be here, just enjoy it as much as you can!" I putted around for a while with my bike. Got her all ready to go, put on my PZ3 speed suit, liberally applied the Body Glide to my neck and arms, packed up my pre-swim bag and dropped it off at the bag drop. Then I headed over to the water entry just to see if I could see my peeps. I saw a group of pink that *had* to have been the awesome t-shirts my mom had printed up for my support crew.
I saw Jeff's signature hat and waved and waved. I willed him to look over at me....but he didn't get my vibes. I put my head down for a minute, got a little choked up, and thought to myself, "You're really here! Enjoy it as much as you can. Take it all in. You *will* cross the finish line eventually. Soak it up." It was a feeling unlike any other, I have to say. A day unlike any other.
It was getting close to 6:30, the time Liz had said I should work my way into the water. The sun was up.....the Navy Seals had parachuted into the water.....and the pros were soon off on their journey. I took off swimming along the sea wall to warm up and yell up at my family. I was so glad to have people there looking out for me. I smiled up and told Jeff "I'll see you in about 16 hours!" A guy sitting next to him yelled back at me something like "Race hard! Go hard! Go for it!" The water didn't seem bad to me, although I've read other people say there was moderate chop. It felt just like the practice swims I had done...except for that I was out there with 1800 or so other folks, there was excitement buzzing in the air, and there were spectators as far as the eye could see.
I headed out towards the swim start, sticking to the left as planned. I was here....in Kona....ready to start the biggest event of my life. I chatted with some other participants and realized I had somehow gotten a bit too close to the start line. I definitely didn't want to be in front! I overheard someone say they were hoping for a 1:30 swim and felt like I was in a good position sticking in that general area. Before I knew it, the countdown was on and the cannon went off. I put my head down and started swimming. I was pretty calm. I felt good.
At some point I had drifted close to the buoy line and it was pretty crowded, but people were surprisingly polite. My only 'major' contact was an elbow to the head, and the guy that delivered it immediately said "Oh! I'm sorry!" "No worries," I said and put my head back down to start swimming again. Sighting wasn't too much of a problem, as there were always quite a few people around and the buoys were easy enough to spot. I was able to latch on to some feet for at least part of the swim and before I knew it the turnaround was there. A right turn, swim a little, and another right turn and I was headed back to shore. Just after the turn around, I felt something under my arms, and realized that I was starting to chafe. Lovely salt water. I wished I had grabbed some of the Vaseline for my arms, instead of just using Body Glide. It felt like the swim back was shorter than the swim out, but that may have just been anticipation. I found some feet that were slightly faster than me and hitched a ride. I stayed with those feet almost the whole way back. I swam until I could touch sand, then popped up and pulled off my goggles. The spectators were still everywhere and it was amazing. Out of the water, up the stairs, under the freshwater showers to rinse off and then into the changing tent.
Just like everything I've heard...the changing room volunteers were awesome. Pulling everything out of my bag, helping me with my clothes, my shoes, my sunscreen. Taking my sunglasses out of the case and handing them to me. Then when I was ready to head out, packing up my stuff into the bag for me to pick up at the end of the day. And so encouraging. And cheering. And it was just....awesome.
Time for.......a wee bike ride!