Friday, May 22, 2015

Ironman Texas 2015 Race Report: The Swim

Let's all just take a minute to remember that prior to 30 weeks ago, I did not swim, nor did I bike. I just ran, and I'd only been doing that consistently for a few months. Jumping straight to an Ironman was straight-up crazy. I like crazy.

In that sense, I actually sort of secretly like the crazy that comes with a crowded open water swim. It is *much* more interesting than just logging laps! That said, I definitely could have done without the nausea-inducing dirty-lake drinking, but oh well. (Guys, the water was so gross that it dyed my white sports bra brown -- and it won't wash out. No wonder swallowing so much made me sick!)

Ironman Texas was changed from a mass start to a rolling start this year. That meant we all lined up on shore in order-ish of when we thought we might finish instead of treading water and starting all at once when the cannon went off. I lined up around the 1:40 swimmers and slowly shuffled toward the start line, then waited for my turn to hit the water.

The practice swim had been perfect for working out any potential "Can I even swim in this?!" panic, so I was fine with the conditions of the water from the get-go. I started out just breathing to the left (buoy side) like had worked the day before, but eventually abandoned that for the bilateral breathing that I'm accustomed to. I would start to get into a nice rhythm, when I'd get elbowed in the head or swam over by a wetsuit and have to start again.

You all know that swimming is far, far out of my comfort zone. Especially 2.4 miles. In a lake. Without a wetsuit. So normally, that whole everyone-is-accidentally-trying-to-drown-me business would freak me out, but the words of a scripture I'd read the night before kept coming to my thoughts: "Be strong and of a good courage... For the Lord thy God is with thee..." (Joshua 1:9). That triggered the second verse of the hymn How Firm a Foundation, with the lyrics: "Fear not, I am with thee, oh be not dismayed. For I am thy God and will still give thee aid..." It's certainly not what I'd planned on thinking about during the swim, but it was familiar and comforting. Every time I got knocked around, I'd sing that verse in my head and stroke to the beat to get back into it. That simple little trick kept me totally calm the whole time. (Although next time, I may want to consider stroking along to a song with a faster tempo than a hymn...)

As I mentioned before, I felt like puking by the time I got to the first turn buoy. I was therefore quite relieved when the yellow buoys turned to orange -- signaling the halfway mark -- and infinitely more relieved when I finally made it to the canal (just 1000M left!). I felt so stinking sick and never really got into a groove that lasted, so at that point, I started to worry I was pushing time limits.

Just after I entered the canal, someone all but ripped my swim cap off. It was barely hanging on, so I spotted a paddle board, swam over to it, and held on while I redid the swim cap. When I stopped, I glanced at my clock and saw a 1:17-- I was actually doing just fine! The volunteer said I had about 900M left at that point. So since I felt sick and wasn't particularly enjoying life at the moment, and knew I was safe time-wise, I slowed down and took my sweet time bringing in the swim finish.

In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have looked at my watch so I would've tried a bit harder on the home stretch, but I'd said a 1:45 was an alright swim time in my book, and got a 1:44 so that is good enough for me! Especially since I actually swam 2.69 miles of zig-zagged awesomeness.  It was about surviving that dang swim more than anything. Mission accomplished! 

There was a definite feeling of relief when I hit those stairs at the end of the swim. But the prevailing emotion was a special kind of joy and satisfaction that came from accomplishing something that seemed so impossible not so long ago. Was it an impressive swim? Not at all, not even for me. In fact, I was the 2,144th person out of the water. But I did it! And now I'd get to spend the rest of my day catching up: I would end up passing 835 people on the bike and another 458 on the run. The fun was about to start!!

SO happy to be done!!!
Waving to my people.

PS: While swimming, I thought quite a few times that I never wanted to swim again in my entire life. Then about a half hour into the bike, I thought, "Hm, I bet a swim will feel really good next week." And then I realized how quickly I'd just flip flopped, and I laughed.


  1. So awesome!!!!!

  2. Thanks for the report ...I do the same sometimes, that is, sing a hymn in my head when things get a little rough out there...God Bless.