Swimming is a work in progress, just a slow one. My mom swears when I was 3, I used to look at her wedding ring and dreamily state "Someday (exaggerated pause) I'll have a ring." I'm not so sure what that was about but I now proclaim with a dreamy sigh "Someday (Pause/smile) I'll be a swimmer."
6:45 I headed down to the water and hopped in at 6:50. I wanted to swim a little before the gun went off at 7:00 a.m. I expected to swim the same time as last year but would have been thrilled with more. I knew the swim would set the tone for my day and wanted to do what I could to make it a positive one.
Last year I started way back and swam way wide. I was in the water ready to go and realized there were still at least 1000 red (male) caps standing on the wall. I realized that many of these folks were not going to get in and warm up. They were going to jump in after the gun sounded. That happened last year. In addition to the usual mass start cluster, men jumped in on top of us (Jess, Tina, Elaine and I). I never want to get in the way of a faster athlete but given there were 2888 athletes, I would be in someone's way for sure. I was near the back and started to get cold just floating. I knew the way to get warm was to keep swimming. There really was only one place to swim, to the front. One last look up at the red caps standing on the wall and I started swimming forward. It was such a solid decision. I knew it was gutsy to swim close to the front. I also knew that it was wear I needed to be to give myself a chance to succeed. As I swam towards the front I took ownership of my choice. I accepted any blows, kicks, or trouncing I may encounter.
I have some really, really fast friends and to them I apologize with all my heart for being one of the slow mo's who clogs the way. I do respect you. I promise you I was nothing but the best white cap to plant off . I swear on a stack of "Triathlete" magazines that I did not breast stroke kick or flail once. I am slow because because my swimming is the equivalent of a cyclist pedaling in the smallest chain ring downhill. I promise you though that once you pass me, I'm history. I also never stop swimming when I sight. Well, except for when I am in the cove alone and don't want to swim out to sea.
I started fairly close to the front and to the right hand side. Then I swam to towards the buoys and followed the buoy line all the way up instead of the wall. It was no worse than last year Because I owned my choice of line I really didn't care about any of the blows. There are good and bad people in the world, but for the most part good. It probably some toddler's mommy or maybe your best friend. It is probably not the villian you created in your head to blame.It's also probably 1/2 as bad as the worst thing I have inadvertently inflicted. On the way back I swam right on the buoys. It was strange. Everybody else was taking the buoy line 2-3 feet wide. I had a clean non chundered swim back. Not much draft but I figured it was more energy efficient than getting tossed about.
As I made the turn and headed towards the exit I visualized the clock saying 1:18. My watch was under my wetsuit so it was just a guess. It's funny how well you can know yourself without any guages at all. 1:18 was on the clock.
I know this is slow for most people. For me it is reason enough to celebrate. How could I be dissapointed when I never swam that fast before. I was totally excited. Exuberant actually. That was 5 minutes off of last years time and 5 minutes off the time before that. All my mermaiding around in the La Jolla Cove had dividends. Coach Sickie was right! There is a swimmer in me. It's just bursting to be let free. Woo hoo.
Ironman is like basic algebra. I love basic algebra. Balancing equations is fun. A five minute faster swim changed my equation.....now I don't need to run so fast to meet my goal time :) Now it is my goal to take 5 minutes off every IM swim. Three more Ironmans and I swimming like a fish. I know it is not that simple. But I can have goals. Let me play!
The above was my internal monologue as I ran to my bike. I was running to my bike with bike shoes on. The cement was wet. I repeat "bike shoes on, running, me. I slid and bashed my arm on a bike rack. I kept running. I took that as a sign it was my lucky day. Lucky day? Yup, if I wasn't so lucky I would have fallen and cracked my aero helmet on the cement. So there. Lucky. Now that would be a rough way to start the day. I remembered Marit's blog of how she ran with her bike shoes in her hand to her bike. Smart. I love reading blogs.
I grabbed my bike and was off. I hoped Tim saw me as just like last time I was 5 minutes ahead of schedule.