Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Post You Have Been Waiting For...RACE DAY--Ironman 70.3 Switzerland

When the alarms went off at 5:40 am, the sunlight was streaming through the windows. It felt odd sleeping in that late on a race morning because we are programed to be at the transition area by 5 am or 5:30 am. Lauren and I ate a quick breakfast and got our gear on. Ryan had already ridden out to the race venue because he had to get his bike checked in between 5 am and 5:45 am. We hit the road at 6:30 am loaded down with all of our gear to pedal the 6.5 miles to the race venue. The roads were pretty empty and I did not see a car until we got into Rapperswil.

Once in the transition area we stopped and looked at each other and quickly realized that there had been no body marking. That was odd. We were asked for our race number, our wrist band, and to see the timing chip on our right ankle, but no body marking. WEIRD! Lauren's spot on the rack was in the shade, but mine was in the sun and I would soon take off my wind vest as it became too warm. All the bikes around mine were either covered with tarps or just sitting there without any other gear near by. That was odd as well. Where were these chicks??? We only had about 40 minutes to set our gear up and with 10 minutes to go, most of the people who had bikes around mine were still not there. Some people were setting up and then walking off and leaving their wetsuit and caps behind. What's up with that? I was feeling like we needed to be getting out of transition and I was waiting to hear the announcement that transition would be closing soon. I never heard that announcement. Lauren and I met the Power Bar Team from California and a lady that had done her first triathlon at St. Anthony's with Team in Training. That was pretty cool. We got some pictures with Ryan and then it was time for him to be heading out to his swim start. Still, transition was open. Lauren and I had nearly 2 1/2 hours before our swim start, so we put on our race belts and wandered out of transition leaving our wetsuits behind at our bikes. I was starting to get freaked out by this. I felt totally unprepared and anxious not having my wetsuit and swim stuff with me. Finally after a good 30 minutes I told Lauren that I had to go in to transition to go get my wetsuit and that I would be more at ease if I had it. I heard the gun go off for the Pro racers and I hot footed it into transition because they were sure to close it up now, but there were still tons of racers milling around in there. WEIRD!!! I found Lauren and brought her wetsuit out to her and we started walking down towards the swim start. We got down to the area where everyone would be running in from the swim when I realized that I had left my inhaler in transition. I ran back in there and inhaled my albuterol and dropped off my flip flops and as I was getting ready to leave my bike for the last time, the Pro racers were running out of T1 with their bikes and the athletes still in the transition area had lined the runway out to the bike course and they were clapping and shouting out messages of encouragement. What the HELL am I still doing in transition??!!?? I make it out of the transition area, meet up with Lauren and we start making our way towards where we can line up on the fence at the swim exit so we could catch a glimpse of Ryan before he ran into T1. Since his wave start was right after the Pro field, we did not have to wait long to see him dashing down the ramp from the swim exit. We gave him a shout out and we could see that he was looking around to see where we were.

After all that excitement, we started thinking about starting to get our wetsuits on. We had a good hour before our wave start, but we also knew that the water temperature was 15 C or 59 F. The more time we spent in the wetsuit "cooking" the cold water would feel good. We started seeing the majority of the men start to move towards the swim start. I got my suit on and ventured down a boat ramp at a small inlet in the harbor where some boats were tied up and got my feet and hands accustomed to the water temperature. I watched other people swim a bit, but I was not quite that ready to get my face in the water. Pretty soon, the last men's wave was off. It was now time to start moving to the dock and getting in the water.

Once in the water, I moved out to the start line with the couple of hundred other women and began dunking my face in the water to blow bubbles. At first, it took my breath away but the more I did it over those 5-7 minutes, it got easier. The sun was pretty high up in the sky by now so I would not have to deal with the early morning sun blinding me from seeing the swim markers. The gun went off and we all started thrashing. I expect this early on, but the thrashing never seemed to thin out. I was getting kicked, shoved, slapped, elbowed, swam over, pushed, and knocked about with no free water in sight. The chin strap on that dang neoprene cap was digging into my neck and I had my first SWIM FREAK OUT in 5 years. I flipped over on to my back and took a couple of good deep breaths in and tugged at that chin strap. Damn it!!! HTFU!!! Come On--Get it together!!! I flipped back over and got back into the fight. And it was a fight almost the whole way with this aggressive group of gals. I am usually able to swim out of that stuff and find my groove, but it seemed like everyone was my speed that day. Nice--NOT. The water was cold, but it felt good and I could see the bottom of the lake which was pretty neat. It was a straight shot out, a left turn for 200 meters and then another left back in. I kept going and did a few under water screams when I would get kicked on my hip or hit on my ribs or elbow that I landed on the day before. S--T THAT HURT!!! As I made my way into the harbor and I saw the exit ramp, it was time to heat the wetsuit up (if you get my drift) and start running in my head my T1 plan. Swim Time--39:15, not bad with a freak out and full body combat the entire way.

I swam in as far as I could and got yanked up by the arms by the volunteers...ARRRGH!!!OUCH!!! Man, would my poor right arm ever get a break? I got the zipper down as I was climbing a flight of stairs and started to pull that Orca off of me. Whoa! get that stupid neoprene cap off A.S.A.P. for the photos girl!!! O.K. cap and goggles off and now to strip off the other arm as I was running down the ramp towards the soccer fields and where transition was. Photographers passed, and I was looking sharp! Once in the Transition area, I peeled that suit off and tried not to let the arch of my foot cramp up. Glasses on, NEW LG ROCKET AERO HELMET on, grab the bike and go! I left all these other chicks fumbling with socks and shoes back at the rack--Chicka Chicka Whaaaa!!! I hoofed it to the mount line out on the street. The spectators were going nuts with those goofy thunder sticks. I had a mild slip up getting off as one of my shoes tangled with the pavement, but I was off and rolling. T1--2:36, nice job for a HUGE transition area.

So now I am zipping along the roads and manuevering my way through cobblestone sections and round-a-bouts in the intersections. I am soon passed by the Pros and lead males who are starting their second loop. I settle into a nice pace and start to drink and eat because I know I have some climbing to do after mile 6. Around mile 6 I caught the sight of athletes screaming down the side of the mountain running parallel with me and then having to do a fast U-Turn at the bottom to start heading back in. CRAP! Note to self, take it easy on that downhill!!! About 500 meters after that I saw volunteers in refective vests and waving flags to make sure we slowed down to make a left hand turn. I had been doing a nice 21 mph or so and after that left hand turn and across an intersection...BAM!!!...7 mph uphill and around a corner. HFS!!! As quickly as I can I am out of the big chain ring and moving to the big 27 tooth cog. I had hit Witches Hill and the throngs of spectators lining both sides of the climb were clapping, ringing cowbells, and shouting "HOPP HOPP HOPP HOPP HOPP HOPP HOPP!!!!!!!" as we inched our way up the hill. There was a posse of 20 witches all dressed up in burlap tunics and capes with hag masks and long grey patchy wigs on trying to give us the Hoo-Doo Voo-Doo. I saw a bend in the road and momentarily thought that it might level out...BUT NO!!! kept climbing. F--K!!! Come on, you're passing people, that is good. Don't look up the hill, just keep an eye on the road 12 to 15 inches in front of your wheel. "HOPP HOPP HOPP HOPP HOPP HOPP HOPP!!!!!" Another bend in the road...and it still keeps climbing. OMG when is this going to end??!!?? The street lined with houses turns to a country road lined with cows and I see an aid station up ahead. Would they have crash paddles? Oxygen? Black Current flavored Power Gel??? The volunteers were cheering and doing the wave and trying to hand me stuff. NO! If I take my hands off the handle bars I may just fall over!

ARRG!!! I have to leave you hanging!!!
OK, off to work...more in a bit.

Later Gators,



Jeff said...

What? Waaaaa. Holding on for dear life. Don't let us wait too long!

Benson said...

Really good so far.
I had the same swim experience on the other side of the lake at IM Zurich 2007. Like a no holds barred polo match. Ouch.
Your T1 time is awesome.

Spokane Al said...

Very intense!

JohnnyTri said...

Nice Helmet!!!


Viv said...

Looking sharp in the pictures. That swim sounded brutal way to tough it in the smackdown lake.

I can't wait for what's to follow.

Steve Stenzel said...

CRAZY swim!! And nice (speedy) job in T1!

Thanks for the advice on my recent post - Pharmie and I were talking about that exact same thing on our way back from camping.

mistylee01 said...

You are keeping me on my toes... Can't wait to hear the outcome.

greyhound said...

ARRGGGGHH! MOre. Wants more.

I need to get myself ready for a cold swim too.

Rainmaker said...

Sounds like an awesome early start to the bike, anything involving cow-bells and people yelling "HOPP" (kinda like iHOP the way I see it) is good.

Looking forward to the rest.