Then it was race morning. Holy crap. I showered and braided my hair (some of my finest work if I do say so myself) and we jumped on the race morning shuttle. The morning was glorious. No wind, warm enough you didn't need long sleeves, but comfortable if you had ‘em. A perfect day for a swim (which is what I kept tell myself was all I had to do). We dropped off bags at special needs, filled up aero bottles on the bike and headed to the start.
We found friends along the swim transition – the lime green shirts were unmistakable! - and we hung with them until it was time to walk the plank down to the end of the dock. The pros were off at 6:45am and then it was our turn to get in the water (it turns out that 15 minutes is not enough time for 1800 athletes to walk down a 200 foot dock and get in the water). We said our goodbyes and walked away!!
Pretty much the entire walk down the dock I was hysterical...and unfortunately for me, you can't really express your sadness in goggles, a swim cap and an entire suit of spandex. I was a basket case (which is par for the course for me before a swim start, but this was worse than normal). I cried and cried and cried and was still crying when Tommy left me to seed himself further up...we said our goodbyes to each other and I continued to cry while clutching a post under the dock with 4 Mexican dudes. They thought I was crazy.
The swim start was more uneventful than I expected, but the minute the swim started, I was calm (it always happens this way). I started from under the dock and I think I seeded myself well. I treaded water only for about 3 or 4 minutes before I found a good place to start swimming and the punching and fighting was minimal. Out of character for me, I tried to stay with the crowd somewhat to get some drafting help and ended up staying more to the inside of the group than the outside – which is probably why my times were so fast – I didn't swim any more than I had to for once! The swim was a giant rectangle with the long side parallel to the shore. We swam against the current for about a half mile (which felt like it took forever, but I was estimating 20 minutes and it only took 18) and then basically made a u-turn and headed back for a 1.3 ish mile swim with the current (nice!). Then another u-turn and we were heading to the finish!!
The water was pretty calm, although when we made the first turn the waves started getting a little bigger and there were a lot of elbows thrown. The water was perfectly clear...we were swimming in 40-50 feet of water and I could see the sand bags holding the buoys in place on the bottom. I saw star fish, sting rays, and the best part is that you didn't really have to sight much. Once you found the scuba diver holding the next buoy you didn't have to look up at all!! There was a weird underwater sculpture at the end that I would later find out was a crucifix, but it was entertaining! There was apparently also an M-Dot sculpture but I didn’t see that. My biggest problem on the swim was remembering that I was racing, not snorkeling....today is not the day to enjoy the sea creatures! I kept having to snap back to reality and make myself push a little harder. The tiny jellies were irritating but their stings weren’t painful, just annoying. I had a couple of run ins with people swimming over each other, but I was pleasantly surprised at how little of that there was. It was a little weird swimming with the boys though!! I got behind some terd who would swim 10 strokes fast and then breast stroke and almost kick me in the face...but that was my biggest problem on the swim. After about 5 minutes of that, I hauled past him (and may or may not have given him a swift granny breaststroke to the face) and kept on swimming. All in all, a perfect swim for me!!
I got out of the water at about 1:10 and was beaming! I knew I had a 1:10 in me, but didn't think would execute on race day...and my actual speed is hard to gauge in a pool when I can't even flip turn! The run to the changing tents was LOOOONG and I couldn't believe the number of people walking. I saw Team Blain (yayyy!) and continued to the tent...which turned out to be a giant cluster. I decided against that and just sat on the astro turf and changed myself. I kept looking for Tommy, hoping to see him since I swam so fast, but I didn't. I handed my bag to a volunteer and I was off to find my bike!!