Sunday, September 29, 2013

Ironman Lake Tahoe 2013 - swim

Ah, inaugural racing events how I love your challenges, hype, and finally the execution on race day. The unknowns become known. Expectations are high, especially with WTC events, and California did not disappoint. 

The 2013 Ironman Lake Tahoe is officially in the books. And it's gone down unofficially as the slowest and hardest. In commemoration, this ended up being the longest blog post, so I'll split it up. The account of my journey on Sunday will unfold in the next couple of blogs. 

We stayed near Kings Beach so we had a relaxed 4:30am wake up. Forced down 2 packets of oatmeal and packed a banana. Mixed the bike bottles, Kyle drove us to the start {until the road closure forced us to turn up the 267}, and we walked to transition. Dumped the special needs bags and headed to Kermit to get him ready for the long day ahead. 

Frosty Kermit - poor guy had to sustain rain, wind and freezing overnight temps. Put on my saddle bag, snack pack {bento box}, bottles, Garmin, and made sure he was in an appropriate gear and that the power meter was reading. Tires felt okay so I didn't bother finding a pump. We actually got to access our T1 bags so I headed over there for some last min prep. I had double bagged and thank goodness. Bags were left in the rain as well and people were not happy/prepared when all their bike stuff was wet. I had those insta warmers so I unwrapped to activate and put them between my toe covers and shoes as well as in my long fingered gloves which I stuffed into my shoes. 

The race directors rented the kings beach convention center and opened the doors for us to put on our wetsuits! Definitely a lifesaver before the swim. Air temps were below freezing so I was happy to stand on a warm floor while taking off the many morning clothes. Kyle met me there and gave me a quick goodbye hug and kiss and after a puff of the inhaler and a bite of the banana I was off to the {frozen sand} beach. Wool snowboarding socks with more insta warmers kept my feet temp manageable before and after my warmup.  I actually got in the water before since it was approx 30 degrees warmer than the air! {I did this at St. George 2010 but water temp was 52 so it was more of a cool down; also an in-water start, which I much prefer.} I swam maybe 20 strokes out then back to get my face in and get the breathing under control. I watched both of the pro waves while standing in the water and paid attention to how many steps to dolphin dives and then back to steps {on the sandbar} they took before swimming. I got out, found the socks and nudged my way to the front of the swim start line. National Anthem, pump up song and then a 1 min warning. Socks off. Goggles on. Cannon. 

Swim: 54:46 {fastest female amateur / pro}

Run, run, dive, dive, stand and run run, dive, swim. Oh thank goodness! This feels so warm! I didn't fall on my face! I didn't stub my toe on a rock {or at least my frozen toes didn't notice}! 

The swim start arch was a bit offset from the first red turn buoy and there were a couple aggro men around me but I tried to find good feet. Before I knew it we were to the 1st yellow buoy and I was on the inside. Okay, mental note, buoys are flaring out. I opted to keep the yellows on my right and find the red one to make the left hand turn. I also saw a stand up paddler ahead and green caps following so I just followed their kicks. 

Why? If you haven't seen, it was a bit foggy from the drastic air/water temp differential.  I had opted for the tinted sweeds and at the time was questioning my call. 2, 3, 4, 5 - the labeled buoys were flying by and my pace felt okay. Turning was a non issue and as we were heading back in I couldn't help but smile at the truly amazing views. I mostly breathe to the right and before the sun crested the mountains the burn lines on the clouds were gorgeous. I also glanced back and saw another pink cap! 

Yikes, stop checking out the views and get back to racing! Water wasn't too choppy and I would've much preferred a large one loop course. By the 2nd buoy on my 2nd lap we started to pass 1st loopers. Seriously. I did see someone on one of those resting rafts and had to shake my head. Not sure getting out of the warm water into the cold air is going to help you buddy. I don't want to turn this into a "swim smart" rant so I won't. {get a coach!!}

We passed some female pros at the 4th buoy {yellow caps} and smiles ensued. I let the other pink cap girl take the lead on the way out but after we turned in I started taking charge. With a couple hundred yards left we really began to hit the masses. 

It was a zombie apocalypse in the water. 

People were barely moving and heading in every direction including straight at me. {??!}  I really really do NOT like contact in the water but at some point it's unavoidable. Situational awareness for some reason goes out the door when the faces hit the water. A man in an xterra suit swam stroke for stroke with me, breathing left as I was breathing right, and we battled through most of the swim together. We got to the sandbar and began running out congratulating each other. 

The crowd support was awesome. Heard Mike Riley announce my name {incorrectly, but I won't hold it against him} and ran up the beach. 

Transition: 8:05 {Day Spa}
Walked to my T1 bag and had the wetsuit strippers pull my bottoms off and headed into the {heated!} change tent where I saw the rest of the female pros. A volunteer grabbed me {with a warm towel, seriously amazing} and brought me to the back corner - to a surprise - the heater vent!! I stripped down out of my swimsuit. Dried off. Started barking orders but my cheeks were frozn. Odd sensation. Order of events:
Leg warmers
Arm warmers
Body glide
Sat down for socks/shoes
Gloves {left the heaters in}

I was out of the change tent. It was quite a hike to get around transitions and through to grab Kermit myself, which had a sweet spot near the exit. {Volunteers grabed our bikes for us at IMSG} Out of T1 in what I thought was a slow 8 min but apparently ended up being a pretty quick transition based upon the 25 min average t1/t2 combo. 

A volunteer reminded me to take my time clipping in as people ahead of me were apparently having issues. Who? The pros? {Kyle told me later he saw the 3rd dude out totally eat it. Apparently frozen toes and bike clips don't go well together.} Got on Kermit, garmin started, and we were off! 

{"epic" bike report to follow}

Many thanks to De Soto for getting me the new top at such a late notice before the race! It was awesome and I had no issues or chaffing. Such a great fit and a fast suit. Thanks for believing in me and making a product these "swimmer shoulders" love! 

Also, to my ocean friends and training buddies - you guys rock - and make me look good! Jake, Erin and Christine you guys truly made my summer that much more enjoyable. Ironman is about the journey and you made getting to the swim exit that much easier and faster. 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thank you, Rachel, for racing in a T1 and exiting that cold water with a smile on your face!