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Ironman Couer d'Alene 2012 - The Swim

I got up at 4:15 a.m. on Ironman morning and did my best not to wake the kids, get my stuff together and leave the hotel room without much noise. Success! Kids still sleeping and me out the door.

I have said (multiple times) how having lots of friends in this race has really helped me along, and race day was no different.

I think inward anxiety was mounting as I went down to the race start. There saw Beth and Cory, some tension relieved. Walked into T1 to pump up my bike tires and saw Jeannette and Carla - could you ask for two more "mother birds" on the trip? I immediately went over and got hugs. Pumped my tires and ran into Beth. She asked what was wrong, I could tell she wanted me to tell her so she could say something to "fix" it, but I couldn't, I didn't know.

After getting all set up, I retreated to the basketball court where people were hanging, waiting to put on their wetsuits and found Yon and Dave. Dave, too, asked me how I felt and the best I could explain was: If you could have shock before a big event - that was what I was having. I just needed the gun to go off. That was good enough for him.

Having them, plus Nick, Justin and later Tim and Nina, was just awesome. We sat around, talked and later put on wetsuits together. In particular, Dave is a bit of a goofball and having him around just made me smile. When it came time to put on our wetsuits, well, it occurred to me that I hadn't "glided" with men before and there conversations were.... well... it was just awesome. Pure comic relief. THAT is what I needed to start my day.
Yon looking sassy and Dave striking a pose
They thought I looked like Amelia Earhart with my 4 swim caps.

Soon it was time to make it down to the water with 2800 of my closest friends. I stuck close to Yon and Nick. I was fairly certain they would keep my nerves at ease.

There is something so raw about an IM mass start that is just so.... intense. In a regular tri, they limit the start to 150 people/wave, so... 14x as many people as is deemed "safe" to start with. Great...

And this one was even more intense than any I had experienced. It was a beach start, which means you run in from the beach, on a somewhat narrow beach, into the water and start swimming. It is arm over arm, full on body contact, and it was CROWDED. Add to that I am not the fastest swimmer and oy vey!

The air horn went off and off we went. Now,  I have had anxiety in the past and it is not because I am mentally freaking out in the water. I am a strong swimmer and feel like, if my life were ever in danger, I could tread water, get to the outside, stay afloat, etc. etc. (Thank you, mom and dad, for all the lessons as a kid.) Additionally, I am not going to be taken down by someone clinging to me  - lifeguard certification will do that to ya. What I have learned is that my anxiety comes from me getting my heart rate UP too fast, so I made sure to go out strong, but not fast or beyond my ability. It is easy to get caught up in a start like this and just swim the rate others are swimming in part just not to not get swum over. I was happy I was able to swim consistent and not have too much to worry about.That is not to say I didn't have my share of contact, it is just par for the course.

So, I swam and swam and swam. Being in the middle of the pack leaves you little that you have to site for and makes the job easy. The swim was 2 laps, so as I rounded the first lap, I just thought, halfway there!

Out of the water and back into the water for lap 2.  
This swimmer (orange cap) opted to take off his leg for lap 2
Now lap 2 had challenges of its own. Mainly the choppiness in the water. I thought to myself, this could be two things: (1) rescue boats - meaning someone was in danger or (2) the wind picking up. I weighed the two and decided (albeit I DIDN'T want wind on the bike), I was hoping that was it.

I remembered something my friend Tyler had said to me about IM being just "more of the same". So lap 2 was about that. More of the same: keep consistent and strong.
Lap 2: Home Stretch!!!
But soon enough, lap 2 was coming to an end - thank goodness! I saw the red arch and I was darting to it! I was so happy to be out of the water and on the way to the bike!!!!