Monday, December 21, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
Or, Dante’s Inferno...
or, The Bataan Death March...
or, How I managed to make my run leg almost as long as my bike leg.
I had dodged into the change tent and found a chair to sit in while I got some socks on my sweaty feet. I stuffed my helmet and bike shoes in the bag and grabbed my Fuel Belt and made a quick trip to the port-o-can. I had not been able to take a whiz on the bike and I was concerned about that. I had gone through over 100 oz. of fluids on the bike but it was not enough. I managed to emerge from the can with the mission accomplished and spied an open jar of Vasaline. I dug out a glop with my fingers and shoved it down my tri shorts where the salt had rubbed my upper leg raw. I also smeared it on my left hip where the tag on my shorts had left nice slice marks on my skin.
I ran out of the change tent and over the timing mat in less than 5 minutes around 2:30 pm in the afternoon and started cursing myself for running. The plan was that I was going to walk for the first 2-3 minutes to get the heart rate down. My stupid pride would not let me walk in front of the crowds of cheering spectators. I would soon be paying for this pride. I had reached my goal of being off the bike by 3:00 pm and I had plenty of time to get the run done. Now the question was, “Will I get this run done in the time I would like to be finished by?”
I was overwhelmed at the number of spectators on the run course. I thought that there were a lot of people cheering on the bike course. Dang! There were tons of people lining the run course and they were all going nuts. “Si se puede! Si se puede!!!” Venga Muchacha, Venga!!!” “Corre Elizabeth, Corre!!!” “Bravo, Bravo, Bravo!!!” They were spilling out of the restaraunts and hanging over the balconies of the second floor of buildings. I made myself walk and the crowds went crazy to get me to run again. I had to find some ice to spill down my tri top. I asked for ice at the first aid station and all I got was a huge frozen rock of ice. It was not comfortable down my tri top. I soon found a couple of men handing out sno-cone cups of crushed ice. I chucked the ice rock and replaced it with the sno-cone ice. I got back to my plan of running for 10 minutes and walking for 1 minute. The cloud cover kept the sun at bay but the heat and humidity was still up there. I had run in conditions like this before, but it had been 3 or 4 weeks since I had run hard after 80+ miles of biking in this type of heat.
As I neared the airport and turned off the main drag along the coast I saw Bree Wee and gave her a shout out. I guess I got her at a time where she was not about to puke her stomach out and she gave me a shout back. I got to the inflatable arch that was spraying water and it was a little shocking. That meant that my body temp was higher than it needed to be and I had to cool down. I took a bottle of water from the next aid station and after drinking some of it, I started pouring it over my arms and head. It almost took my breath away it was so cold. My walking breaks were getting a little long so I decided I had to get back on track. I saw Rutger Beke pass me like I was one of the spectators cheering on the sidelines. Oh I felt so S L O W. I kept looking around for my land marks to run to. “I’m going to run to that orange terra cotta colored resort down there and then I will see if it has been 10 minutes.” I got the orange terra cotta colored resort in 8 minutes. “The HELL with it!!! I have to walk.”
I made it down to the turn around. I had not seen any of the other members of the posse I had been hanging with on the run yet so I was keeping my eyes peeled on the way back. My intestines were feeling pressure from some gas so I dodged into a port-o-can. OMG! There was actually toilet paper in there!!! What a treat! I was back out and running again. I saw my friend Luke around mile 5 as he was headed to the turn around. I saw Greyt Times as well and it was good to see friendly faces. The 10K timing mat was up ahead and I looked at my watch. SUCK! That took me 70 minutes!!! I kept up my run and walk combination but when I got to the airport, I was really feeling in the groove and I just kept running. HUGE MISTAKE! I saw Johnny Tri, Greyhound, and Speed Racer near the inflatable arch. The arch was not spitting out much of a water spray by this time. I was hitting the main drag with all the spectators and the energy was fantastic. La Policia were cheering for us and handing us water! That never happens in the states.
Coming into the “HOT CORNER” I saw Mrs. Greyhound and Superpounce. I also saw Tri Beaner and the rest of Drew’s Crew. The noise level was deafening! There were 8 to 10 drummers on the corner going nuts on the skins. It was hard running all the way down to the Finisher’s chute only to turn around and head back out. Running by the drummers, I could feel the drums reverberating through my rib cage. People were off the hook cheering for us. My walking breaks had disappeared and part of it was because I felt ok, and part of it was because of the crowds.
I got back to the airport and I had to start putting in the walking breaks again. I was trying to keep the water intake up and taking my salt tablets. The mile markers seemed to stretch further and further apart and it seemed like I would never make it to the turn around. I was getting near the half marathon timing mat. I was starting to do calculations in my head about how long the second half would take and when I might pull across the finish line. As I stopped to take my walk break, I entered Dante’s Inferno.
If you are familiar with Dante’s Inferno, not everyone in hell is suffering from the flames and heat. As Dante entered through the gates of Hell the inscription on the gate reads:
THROUGH ME YOU GO INTO THE CITY OF GRIEF,
THROUGH ME YOU GO INTO THE PAIN THAT IS ETERNAL,
THROUGH ME YOU GO AMONG PEOPLE LOST.
JUSTICE MOVED MY EXALTED CREATOR;
THE DIVINE POWER MADE ME,
THE SUPREME WISDOM, AND THE PRIMAL LOVE.
BEFORE ME ALL CREATED THINGS WERE ETERNAL,
AND ETERNAL I WILL LAST.
ABANDON EVERY HOPE, YOU WHO ENTER HERE.
Within this vestibule just inside the gates, there are a miserable lot of souls “who were neither rebellious nor faithful to God, but for themselves.” They had no hope of death and were envious of every other lot. That was me. I was envious of people who could still run. I was envious of the people laying on the cots in the medical tents. I was envious of those A--HOLE finishers who were pedaling their bikes back to their hotels with their gear bags on their back. COULD THEY NOT HAVE RIDDEN THEIR BIKES JUST ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE GRASSY MEDIAN BY US???? I was envious of the people on their last loop.
And as I descended further into Hell, I met the fate of those who were cowards to take a stand for what was just. The rules of the race state that an athlete can not accept assistance from friends, family, or other spectators. But I saw lots of people getting assistance. I just kept on walking and having my own pity party. And then my punishment was upon me. Like the wicked who were naked and stung by hornets and wasps my punishment came in the form of mosquitos. As soon as I slowed to walk, I was covered in mosquitos. Not just 3 or 4, but 30 or 40. I had them buzzing in my ears, swarming around my nose and mouth, and biting through my tri suit. I tried running again, but they would not go away. I must have looked like Ricky Bobby when he was running all over the NASCAR track yelling that he was on fire and flailing his arms around and no one saw any flames on his body. I know that we are not supposed to get any aid from spectators but there were spectators that had OFF! I had to get some! I stopped, along with 5 other athletes, and tried waiting for a guy with a spray pump bottle of OFF! but the mosquitos were so bad that I was getting eaten alive standing and waiting. I had to run on flailing my arms and swatting the bugs off of my body until I could find the next person with bug spray. I found a lady who sprayed down my arms and legs but she neglected to spray my clothing and the malaria carriers found my butt, my back, my chest, and my face again. I scratched until I thought I would draw blood and I wanted to cry but I had not tears.
I was miserable and I was only at mile 15. I forced myself to keep walking but my legs did not want to respond. It was as if the mosquitos had sucked almost the last bit of blood out of my body. I had no energy. I had no desire to continue. BUT DAMNIT, I WANT MY FINISHER’S SHIRT!!! That is all that kept me going. Fatigue was weighing heavily upon me. In Dante’s Inferno, those that are full of pride are punished by being forced to walk with stone slabs bearing down on their backs in order to induce feelings of humility. The weight of carrying my body down the road made me weary. Speed Racer was headed out on her last lap when she saw me and told me she would catch up and to keep going. I had nothing left as I approached the “Hot Corner” and I heard all the fans yelling and telling me to keep going and to pick it up and run. The noise was so loud that it made me nauseous. I wanted to vomit and then possibly they would pull me into the Med Tent and it would all be over.
Tri Beaner dashed across the street and was making an assessment of my condition. She said she was worried about me but I told her I just had to keep walking. I would finish my midnight now that I was on my last loop. I had 5 hours before they turned off the time clock. I had stopped eating and drinking back at the half way mark and the thought of trying to swallow anything was disgusting. My good friend Norma found me and walked with me for a good quarter of a mile. She was such a good sport as she heard me bitch and whine about how miserable I was. She had to leave me and now I was wrestling with my demons alone. The only consolation was that 90% of the people still out on the course were walking as well. Now it had become the Bataan Death March.
I weaved down the street as I walked. I thought I might just pass out once or twice. I thought about laying down in the grass of the median, but then the mosquitos just might suck me dry. I prayed, and I prayed hard.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside still waters.
He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou are with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Psalm 23
And as if I had been heard suddenly I had a kid from San Diego, California named Ryan who asked me to walk with him. I made myself talk to him to take my mind off of my pain. He was doing his first Ironman and he had done something to his hamstring and it hurt too bad to run. He tried to get me to eat some crackers but they were like sand in my mouth. We walked and talked for two miles until he found a First Aid tent and left me to get his leg wrapped. I was feeling a little better and decided to try running. The first few strides were excruciating but then I settled into a rhythm. It was slow. Embarrassingly slow. Children could have outrun me. It was the Ironman shuffle. I rounded the turn-around for the last time and I was on my way to the finish line. I kept going, moving the pavement under my feet. I tried to play fishing and to reel some people in. And then I stepped down wrong on the pavement and rolled my right ankle under me and I had to catch myself from going face down on the pavement. I had to walk out the ankle because it was sore but I knew that I had not injured it. I walked and kept the pace up. Less than 3 miles to go.
The inflatable arch had long given up spraying us with water and I kept moving down the road. I ran a little bit. Run to the flags. Ok, run to the speed bump. Now just run to the palapa where the bar is. But the bar was now closed. I was going to ask for a margarita. I saw the ferry terminal. Ok, the time is getting close. I want to finish this under 14 hours. I can walk for two minutes and then I have to go. When my two minutes were up I started running. The crowds had thinned but there were still people cheering for us. I looked across the road and saw people headed out for their 3rd loop. I was so thankful to be passing mile 25. Past the ferry terminal. Keep going. Past Senor Frogs and Carlos & Charley’s. I can hear the “Hot Corner” now. Around the corner of the cruise ship terminal. I see the last stop light before the Finisher’s Chute!!! Mrs. Greyhound was shouting after me and cheering. I was going to make it. The crowds around the Mega store were cheering and some ran with me for 30 yards or so. I ran through the last intersection. The lights were bright and a volunteer was at the turn-around. I motioned that I was done and heading in. The crowds went wild. The music at the finish line was pumping and I saw my time on the time clock. I was going to finish with a PR and under 14 hours. “Elizabeth Garcia from the United States...YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!! Congratulations!”
I paused to put my hands on my knees and take a deep breath. I was so happy to be done. So happy to be alive. So happy to be able to stop moving. I was getting my Finisher’s Medal and a shell necklace that had been made for each of the finishers when Greyt Times got a hold of me and asked me how I was. I said I was good but I guess I was weaving and stumbling more than Greyt Times thought was necessary and she insisted that I visit the Med Tent. Speed Racer showed up as well and seconded the vote that I needed to be looked at. When they cleared a cot for me and I got to lay down, I realized that I had skipped Purgatory and I was now in Heaven. The cot was so soft compared to my bed back at the villa. The Red Cross team went to work on me. Someone asked me what I wanted and I asked for ice. I got a towel full of ice and I put it on my chest to cool off. I guess that I was radiating a lot of heat because the ice was starting to melt rather quickly. After a blood pressure reading and a temperature reading a nurse asked me how I felt. I told her I was really tired and that my lips, my cheeks, my legs, and my arms were tingling. She asked to see my tongue and asked if my stomach was upset. At that time it wasn’t so she wanted me to try to drink some Gatorade and, if I could, to eat a banana. She said that she believed that my potassium was out of balance. I sat up to drink my Gatorade but now I was sitting in a puddle of ice water. All of the ice was melting and the water was running down the plastic mat into my crotch. I chatted with the guy on the cot next to me as he was being draped in cold towels and prepped for an IV. I had to get up and get out of that water. Speed Racer was waiting for me just outside the tent and I really appreciated that. The Red Cross team dried off the cot and made me strip off my tri top and take off my shoes and socks. The spread towels on the cot and made me lie back down and wrapped me in more towels so that I resembled a mummy. I was asleep in a flash. The Med Tent was just behind the Finish Line, there were lots of lights on in the tent, and there was lots of commotion and I was fast asleep. I am not sure how long I got to sleep before Johnny Tri was squeezing my foot and asking how I was. He said I needed to stop ending up in the Med Tent when we raced together. I slept some more. I woke up again when a string fell in my face from the IV line that was being pulled down to hook up an IV bag for the girl on the other side of me. I decided that I needed to get up and find some friends and head home.
God bless Speed Racer! She hung in there and waited for me. Johnny Tri was getting dizzy and did not feel good so he headed back home. Norma and Luke had to head back because Luke was wanting to get home. Greyt Times had called it a night. I never saw Greyhound on the last part of the run. I hoped that he was ok. Speedy helped me find a slice of pizza, get my Finisher’s Photo and shirt, and pointed me in the right direction of the gear bags and bikes.
As I walked home on the dark and quiet streets back to the villa, the music and the energy were still high at the Finish Line. I realized that even though I was not happy with how the run turned out, I was happy with how the day turned out. I realized that the rough conditions that everyone seemed be complaining about were not that rough for me. I knew it would be windy, hot, and humid and it was windy, hot, and humid. I was prepared for the worst conditions. But I was thankful for the cloud cover, the patches of drizzle that I rode through, and the flat roads. Yes, I was even thankful for the chip-seal roads. It was a gentle reminder from home that I had pedaled my way through conditions just like I was encountering on the island and I knew that I would finish. I was thankful for all the people who live on the island of Cozumel who worked so hard to make this race possible for us and to spend all day cheering for us.
Will I do another Ironman? Yes.
Will I do it again in Cozumel? Yes. And I will put bug repellant in my Bike-to-Run Bag.
Thank you for hanging in there to read about the entire journey. All it takes is a decision to do something that seems out of reach. To believe with every fiber of your being that if you want to achieve it, there is no way you can fail. Experience is what you gain when you are faced with obstacles. I have gained a ton of experience from this race and now I have more to share with the people that I coach. Ironman is 20% physical and 80% mental. I may not be fast, but I can outlast.
Have a great day and remember, "Anything is Possible",
Friday, December 4, 2009
- They were 50% women in each pack
- They were chatting and talking and really not working
- They were seriously blocking the road and rolling up and around and swallowing up other riders who were trying to legally pass other participants.
- There was never a woman leading those packs. Those gals were just sitting on some man's back wheel.
One last time up the coast and into the wind. It could have been my imagination but I felt like the wind had let up. Then it dawned on me that the head wind had changed to a cross wind. Clouds now covered up the sun and it was a welcome break from the solar radiation that I know I had been soaking up on my back. I could see rain off shore dropping out of the clouds and I hoped I would be off the bike before the skies opened up. I took things 5K at a time. I was a little slower this time through but I was still seeing 15 mph to 16.8 mph. My heart rate was 140 bpm so I was happy with it. Each person I passed on this stretch was one more person who got “Chicked”. Strangely, I had Crosby, Seals, and Nash singing “We May Never Pass This Way Again” in my head. As I neared Coconuts and Mezqualito for the last time it dawned on me that I was right around the 100 mile mark. Had it really been 100 miles? It really didn’t feel like 100 miles, well yeah it did, but in some ways it did not. I only had 12, make that 13 miles (the course was long) to go. My speed was back up to 21 mph and I had a couple of strong looking Mexican men trying to get ahead of me. Yeah, you were just as slow as me today Hombre!
I was able to get back ahead of them around the last corner headed to T2 so that I could get off the bike easily without them creating a huge road block. I normally pull my feet out of my shoes but I did not know how far I was going to have to run and there was no way I was running into that change tent barefoot. Volunteers were flagging us to slow down and get off before the timing mats. I swung my leg over my bike and handed it off to a volunteer and ran across the timing mat. “BEEP BEE BEE BEE BEE BEE BEE BEEP!!!” Bike Time: 6 hours, 20 minutes with an average speed of 17.65 mph. Whoo Hoo!!!
Tomorrow, Part 5--T2 and the Run,
Thursday, December 3, 2009
As I ran down the 200 meter stretch to the gear bags I was trying to figure this out. I was having a hard time putting it all together because the crowds of people on the other side of the barricades were reaching out their hands for a high-5 and shouting at the top of their lungs. "VENGA! VENGA! VENGA!" "ARIBA MUCHACHA, ARIBA!!!" "CORRE!!!" With all of that going on I was still dumbfounded about the 1:07 that I had just cracked out on the swim. I had not hit my Polar on because I did not need heart rate on the swim and my SRM would give me heart rate on the bike. Yes, the event started at 7:00 am and no sooner or later. My watch battery was not bad and had not quit on me. I had just taken 12 minutes off of my last Ironman swim! But here is the kicker. I had less swim workouts scheduled for this Ironman than my last one and at that I probably only really swam half of those workouts because of time constraints and being able to have access to a pool. I feel slightly guilty about that rockin' swim time. Um,... no I don't.
In my slightly stunned frame of mind I did hear the man yelling out "STEP!" as I ran down the ramp from the dock to the Swim-to-Bike bags. Really, I did hear him but it did not register. I fell down the stairs and did a face plant on the AstroTurf. "F--K!" That hurt!!! I had landed on my knees and shins on the edge of those steps. I picked myself up, pulled off the speed suit, quickly inspected my knees and shins for blood, and ran through the showers and to the bag racks. Once I had my bag I ran to the change tent.
WTF!!! WHY was there carpet going into the men's change tent and none going into the women's tent??!!?? There was carpet leading out to the bike area but I had to run over gravel and crushed shell to get into the tent. WTF!!! Once in the tent I stood right at the end of the first row of chairs and got my bike shoes on, clipped on my race belt, and slapped my helmet on my melon. Speed Racer ran in and asked me if I saw a race belt and I pointed under the chair. She dove to retrieve it and was gone again. I stuffed the swim gear in the bag and tried to put on some sun screen. I threw my bag to a waiting volunteer and I out of that tent. As I ran to my bike I fastened my helmet I wondered why all those women were completely changing clothes. Yeah, it was salt water and you can chafe but there is this great stuff called Body Glide and in a pinch Vaseline will do.
I grabbed my bike and clopped my way to the mount line. I saw some dude who was trying to peel off his speed suit that he forgot to take off in the change tent. He tossed it to the side and I am sure he never saw it again. I am positive he won't ever make that mistake at his next race. The crowds were going wild and spilled out of Chankaanab and onto the shoulder of the road for a good 200 meters.
It was now time to see what the engine on top of the bike was capable of that day.
Tomorrow, Part 4: The Bike
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
It was time to put my head down and begin my 140.6 miles towards the Finish Line. I had said a prayer to God to look over me and one to St. Anthony for lost causes. Yes, I am pretty much a lost cause and this race and the logic behind doing it is beyond explanation so I was asking for all the divine intervention that I could possibly get. My prayers must have been heard because this was one of the easiest swims that I have ever done. I am not kidding. I had a few people knock my arm or fumble around my feet but I did not get swam over and I found plenty of toes to follow and get a draft. Because the sun was up and the water is crystal clear I did 75% of my sighting along the bottom of the ocean floor. So as I was working into the current I just kept my head down and I swam from rock to rock, then to coral, to sand, to sea grass, to buoy. When I looked up and saw the next buoy I just trailed my eyes down into the water and saw the bottom 30 to 50 feet below and played connect the dots. OUCH!!! Hey, that was a jellyfish that stung my left foot!!! F--k it and swim on!
When I got to the first turn around some 500 meters up the coast i was able to easily get around the buoy without much physical contact from the other athletes. I did not happen to look back see the mess of swim caps on the top of the water, my goal was to get to the next yellow turn buoy 150 meters out to sea. Because I had done such a bang-up job of staying on the buoy line I met 30 other athletes pushing and shoving their way around the next buoy. I pushed and shoved back and got spit out around the corner and started my swim again. I did a little extra kicking to keep these men from playing "This Little Piggy" with my feet.
This long stretch of 2400 meters was going to be interesting. I now had the current in my favor and I still had great visibility along the bottom. The task was just to pass these orange buoys with as little interference as possible. I had settled into a nice pace and at one point I felt like I was loafing it because I could feel the current and the gentle waves gliding me along the surface of the water. I was not swimming all out, (you know, that point where you are gasping for air) and I wondered if I needed to pick up the pace. I forgot about that when I spotted scuba divers down on the floor of the ocean under the buoys to keep them from wandering off. I wanted to wave to one of them but I thought that I might get someone from behind me swimming over me. I had noticed that there was this guy in a yellow, grey, and white tri suit who was hanging with me for most of the swim. Javier was printed across his butt and Javier did a great job of keeping me company along our longest stretch of the swim. My goggles were fogging a little but I could still make out the land marks along the ocean floor as Javier and I headed to the far end of the swim course. I did not get hit. I may have gotten squeezed back in a few places between a couple of swimmers who had not figured out how to sight along the bottom as they veered into each other's path. All I had to do was take a quick look for Javier and start stroking again. There was a set of bigger waves that rolled over us and I felt like I was suddenly on a roller coaster moving over the swells and down into the ditch of the waves. I would stroke and breathe and see the shore and then other times I saw nothing but a wall of water. It did not bother me but I heard later that it really made some people dizzy.
I could tell that I was getting close to the second turn around because I spotted the submarine that we were to swim by. I easily made the turn and swam 20 feet off the hull of the sub and started heading back to the dock at Chankanaab. Now my goggles were getting really foggy and I was having trouble spotting the buoys in the sunlight. I found Javier again and figured that if I kept with him, I would eventually make it to the dock. We had 800 meters to go and it was back into the current. Again, I was not getting smacked around by other people and I wondered if I had really screwed up this swim and was going to be out of the water by 1:19 to best my IMAZ time. Javier must have been having trouble sighting as well because I would leave him behind as he slowed to pop his head out of the water to look for a buoy. I guess that meant that I had to start working on my own again into the current. I found the buoys and off in the foggy distance I could see the tops of the building around the dock. I swam on towards the swim exit and the triathlete public toilet area on the course. Ouch!!! Damn it! Just got stung on the right elbow!
The closer we got to the dock the more crowded it became with all of the people who had been swimming way off the buoy line that were now focused on the stairs to get out of the swim. I worked to avoid getting kicked in the face and crawled on my hands and knees up the carpet covered stairs to the top of the dock and started my 200 meter run to T1. I looked down at my Polar and exclaimed "Holy Shit!!!" and saw that it was 8:07 a.m. Was that wrong??? It could not be wrong because I did not hit the start button my my heart rate monitor where it could have turned off mid-way through the swim if a button got accidentally knocked. I had just taken 12 minutes off of my swim time and it was not because this course came up short. No, I felt all 2.4 miles of swimming that we had to do. I had the advantage of the current and the waves that helped me along and my rockin' fast Blue 70 Speed suit took away some of the drag. It may not feel like it is helping, but boy howdy it sure did lower my times in the pool when I gave it a pre-race workout so I know it contributed to my stellar swim time her in Cozumel. Was it worth the money? Um,....YES!
The shortest (and most fun) leg was in the books and now it was time to deal with the other 138.2 miles of my Journey.
Tomorrow, Part 3: T1 and the Bike,
I have not been sleeping great here in Cozumel. The mattress is not much softer than the tile floor and as most of you gentle readers know, trying to get good sleep before a crazy-ass event like this is comprable to sinking 10 shots in a row from the 3-point line. Some times you get lucky and it happens but most times it is a futile attempt. I was up and awake by 3:15 am and I started the process of getting my tri gear on, getting my hair under control, and drinking my pre-race smoothie. All of my other gear bags were ready to go so I did not feel rushed. Johnny Tri and I walked down and over a block to meet up with Speedracer and we were in a cab and headed to Chankanaab Park by 4:40 am.
The crowds of racers were already starting to build as they waited for transition to open. I was kicking myself for leaving my Pizle head lamp on the bed because a row of port-o-cans was standing in the dark and no one else had a light. I could hear El Esposo's voice asking me where that flashlight was that he insisted I pack in my bag. Lesson learned on that one. At least I was the first person in that port-o-can and nothing bad had happened in there yet. I got my first mosquito bite on my foot going through the grass here. This was the first swarm of many mosquitos that I would be facing later that day. We met up with Greyhound and not long after that the gates of transition opened and the athletes flooded through and washed over the racks of bikes.
As I was filling bottles and getting my nutrition on the bike Johnny Tri rushes up to me asking for money for a cab because he left all of his bike nutrition back at the villa. Speedracer had shelled out the pesos for the cab so I still had my $5 I had shoved in my tri top. I told JT to hurry and that I would get his bottles all filled up. I had thought that his bags looked a little empty compared to mine as we had left the villa, but I figured that he is a big boy and had it under control.
I had somehow missed the "Special Needs" bag drop off when we entered and I had to go back and drop the bags off. There was not much in those bags, but if I needed or wanted what was in there I could pull off and grab the bag. I found Greyt Times waiting over by Bree Wee's bike to let Bree use her bike pump. I figured that I better do that as well and borrowed her bike pump to top off my tires as well. The mosquitos were really biting by now and I was cursing myself for leaving my OFF! back at the villa. I walked back over to JT's bike and there was no sign that he had been back. I hoped that he was going to make it back in time.
I figured that I better fish out my speed suit, cap, and goggles and drop off my pre-swim gear bag. No sooner had I started pulling up my swim skin did I hear JT's voice walking up with Luke and Speedracer. We dropped off our bags and I hit a port-o-can one more time before heading up on the dock to wait for the pro start. I guess I was in my own world but I totally missed the dolphin show right before the Mexican National anthem was played. How I could have missed that standing on the edge of the dock right in front of the dolphin enclosures is beyond me. As a guest to the island and the country of Mexico I stood respectfully as the crowd of spectators and athletes sang the national anthem. Ok you lazy Americans, you may say you love your country but boy you sure are apathetic about it. I have seen people at functions where the Star Spangled Banner is played and they don't remove their hats, they are talking or texting on a phone, their hands are shoved in their pockets, and they are mumbling the words of the anthem or not even singing it at all and only give a little cheer or applause at the end. Yeah you may have gotten some American Pride right after 9/11 but over the past eight years our National Pride has gotten amazingly sloppy and downright disrespectful. Every Mexican National was singing their National Anthem loudly and with enthusiasm. This was to be but just a preview of what I would encounter throughout the day along the race course.
As soon as the pro field took off at 6:45 am, we were being quickly hustled into the turquoise water for our swim start. I swam my way out to the buoy line and got just behind the front line of swimmers. I looked around and I was the only pink swim cap in the mix up in the front. I knew that I was going to have to be aggressive with all of these men. I was ready for hand-to -hand combat in the water if that is what this race called for. The current and waves kept pushing us back off the start line and I felt like we had to swim slowly just to stay in one place. I was surprisingly not really nervous. I was ready. I heard the announcer start counting down the clock. I took a few short stokes to keep from drifting back. The air horn cut through the air like a bolt of lightening and the gentle rocking of the ocean suddenly became an angry boil of arms, legs, white water, and pink and blue swim caps. We were off at 7:00 a.m.
Part 2--The Swim tomorrow.