If someone asked me 4 weeks ago how I felt about the prospects of swimming 2.4 miles I would tell them that I do not even float well, let alone swim decently. I was horrified at having to swim such a distance. Add in the hundreds of people, the chaos, the choppy water and current, and I was more scared than a 4 year old is of the boogey man hidden in the closet.
How did I pull it off in 1 1/2 hours? First and foremost, again my mentality. I prepared for the worst : choppy water, absolute bedlam, tired arms and legs, leaking goggles, and veering way off course.
Secondly, the only training (if you call swimming in a lap pool 3 times training) I did tried to simulate race conditions as best as possible. I never kicked off the wall (i would touch it and turn around), never hung on to the lane dividers, and never stopped to adjust my goggles if they started leaking (I cannot tread water without my hands and I cannot adjust my goggles without my hands so it was a pointless exercise for me to try to adjust my goggles in the water). I just kept going.
There were three specific occasions in the swim I would like to share. The first one took place in the beginning part of the swim where I got smashed in the face by someone’s leg (it felt like Jackie Chan did a roundhose kick to my nose). After letting out a couple choice words, I kept my distance a bit better even though one could not see anything in the water.
The second event also took place in the beginning part where I went horribly off course. If you haven’t seen the swim course it resembles an upside down triangle. Not wanting to disturb my rhythm (or what I thought was rhythm) I did not pay much attention until I looked up and could not find a booey or person with a 180 degree view. Only when I turned completely around did I see I went a good 100 yards past the booey that I was supposed to turn at. Sweet.
The third event was in the end part of the swim where my arms weighed more and more after each stroke. They stopped reaching out of the water on my strokes. I thought I was in trouble but I realized I had two options. 1) stop swimming and either drown or receive help and consequently disqualify myself, or I could grin and bear it and keep moving along.
Going in to the Ironman I thought if I survived the swim I would finish the race. I felt great after the swim (ahead of my 2 hour goal) and thought the bike and run would be a cinch. Little did I know that the bike would be the most excruciatingly difficult physical task I would ever attempt.
Keep reading on for Part 2 : The Bike