I pushed the start button on my watch and entered the lake in the second row of swimmers. 2 minutes ahead of us were the elites (foreshadowing: the elites were wearing maroon caps, my wave was in baby blue. This will be important), 2 minutes behind us were the 40+ men in dark blue caps.
The race course was an out and back course, divided by buoys and a rope. 250 yards, circle the buoy and come on back. I waded into the water until it was at my knees and then dove in. All around me people were thrashing, but the water was dark and cloudy and you couldn’t see anyone under water. It was calm as long as my head was down (I am kind of hearing impaired so it was quiet under there) but then I’d feel a hand brush my leg or look up to breath and see all the churning water. I could feel myself getting into race mode.
For about 100 yards I was in the thick of people. I swam over one person and got bumped a few times but nothing nerve wracking. I moved forward, passing people, looking for open water. Finally I found a spot and slipped in, swimming hard but smooth, sighting every 10 strokes or so. When I got to the turn around buoy, I made a sharp turn on the inside and looked up and saw a long stretch of clear water ahead of me.
I moved right next to the dividing rope, which was great because I could feel the rope down the side of my body, so I started sighting every 20 strokes or so. I was in a great stroke rhythm and as I looked next to me, I saw only baby blue caps. No one from the next wave had passed me. I swam on.
Finally, about 150 yards from shore, I looked up.
I saw the arm coming about a nano second before he hit me. A swimmer on the other side of the rope swung his arm wide and hit me right on the middle of the forehead. With his wristwatch. Ouch. I’m pretty sure my head had an imprint of Timex on it for a while afterwards.
I shook it off and started swimming again. I was right beside another baby blue cap, about 50 yards from the shore when a rocket wearing a royal blue cap sliced in between us. I figured I might get passed at some point but I still felt a surge of competitive energy move through my legs. I wasn’t thinking about the bike or the run or saving energy. I just swam hard. I raced.
Almost at the shore and I started spotting something I did not expect: maroon caps. Elites. Men. I was catching up to the elites. I can’t lie- I was pretty pleased with myself.
Finally, I felt sand underneath me. I stood up and started up the sand hill toward transition. I didn’t know it until I saw this picture, but I for sure beat some of the men in the first wave.
As I ran and huffed and puffed up the hill, I heard Michael cheering for me, which was great and I looked at my watch, which was blank. Not so great. I must not have hit the start button on the timer fast enough. I was hoping to get out of the water in 12-14 minutes but now I had no idea how I did. I made it to the top of the hill (by the way…running uphill on sand…SUCKS) and into the transition area.
I walked to my bike and quickly realized that I felt sick. I had gone too fast on the swim and was nervous about the bike. I struggled to get my breathing into a normal rhythm.
I got to my bike and started an extremely slow transition (6 minutes). I couldn’t get my bike helmet to buckle, I fumbled with my Garmin, I just couldn’t calm down. Michael and Miles were by the fence, cheering, and I was just trying not to puke.
Finally, it was time to go.
I found out later that my swim time was 11 minutes, 4 seconds. I beat two male elites and one female. I was 3rd in my age group and 34th of 106 female swimmers and 160 out of 355 overall.
Yeah, I think it is safe to say swimming is my stronger event.