Wednesday, December 2, 2009

IMCZ Race Report Part 2--The Swim

The Swim:

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,



Christi said...

I am loving these race reports and the pics! I cannot wait for the others!

greyhound said...

Two and three days before the race when the sea was so angry, who'da thunk the swim would be the easiest and funnest part of the race?

The bike will be flat and fast, right?

Yeah. Not so much.

Hethir said...

Wow, that sounds like a dream swim! Amazing that you cut off so much time.

Claire said...

I too believe that the course was not short. Nope, we're all just huge badasses with a little help from a gentle current.

I'm sorry you got stung so much by jellyfish. Those things hurt!