It was chilly and I was nervous, so here I am after I got everything all settled, shivering and saying hello to Zac and the kids who were eating breakfast in the car.
Hanging out in the transition area:
I was reassured as I talked to some other ladies that I wasn't the only clueless one. I had prepared better than some. And even the really competitive looking gals seemed friendly.
Finally at 7:30 we headed into the pool.
Now this is where the fun begins. Do you see this?
This is only a partial glimpse of the 400-something swimmers crowded around the pool. The way this was supposed to work was that there would be 3 start groups of swimmers and you put yourself in whichever group you felt you belonged in: fast, medium or slow. How this turned out was that the person over the PA system just said "fast swimmers come to the front." And there was kind of a rush, push and shove (and lots of confusion over what's considered "fast") as these swimmers went to the front. Then, for the rest of us, there was lots of mingling and more confusion as we asked everyone around us "how fast are you going?" "how fast are you?" "what's your time?" and kind of moved ahead or behind people as we felt appropriate. It was a mess, really. And then there were crowds of people cutting ahead and moving to the front from the sidelines without any sort of knowledge of how fast they were swimming or anything. I was getting pretty frustrated with the whole thing, but at the end of it all I just kind of got stuck where I was and we were so crowded together it would have been impossible to move to a different spot had I even wanted to, without a whole lot of shoving. ugh.
Here's my cheering section, though. My mom came to support me too, but she's not in these pics.
One thing I hadn't considered as I envisioned how this would all go is how LOOOONG it would take to get all of us into the pool. We were zig-zagging down the lanes, so up and back one lane, move the next, up and back in that lane, move to the next, etc. And they were spacing the starts. And . . . it took an HOUR from the first start time before I was even in the pool. Waiting nervously, trying to stay loosened up, crowded with a bunch of people, and standing for that long was just not fun at all. We'd been standing by the pool for an hour and a half by the time I started!
But then . . . finally . . . I was able to get in the water (yay!!) and we lined up against the wall waiting for our turn to move into the first race lane, push off and start (me in the black swim cap).
I knew as soon as I got started that I was in the wrong "group" (as if there were any actual groups in the first place). I'd barely get going, getting into a good rhythm and pace, and I'd run into someone going waaaay slower. And I'd basically have to stop and tread water until I could pass them (and not run into someone coming up the other direction) or wait til we got to the end of the lane and get ahead of them before they took off again. I hated it.
The good thing was, it boosted my confidence that I really am a better swimmer than I often think of myself. Dang, I was a lot faster than most of these ladies. hahaha.;)
So, it was frustrating. But I tried not to let myself be too bothered by it. I knew my time wouldn't reflect how fast I could have gone. But - eh, oh well.
The worst thing though was that my timing chip felt like it was falling off. K, so the chip was slipped onto this velcro strap that was wrapped around my ankle. As I was swimming I could feel the velcro coming loose and sort of slapping around (which is really annoying when you're kicking). I was afraid I'd lose it completely. So at the end of a lane, I actually stopped and took it off, hoping to reattach it more securely. Big Mistake. It was really tricky getting it back on right in the water. I thought I got it back on though. And on I went (losing more time, though, of course from stopping).
Looking back on it, I can see that I must not have gotten it on correctly. The chip must have ended up on the edge of the velcro strap (seen hanging loose in this close-up of me leaving the swim) and fallen off in the pool.
I got to the transition area and dried off and I was incredibly relieved that it wasn't as cold as I had expected!! So I didn't need the running tights or thermal shirt I had brought with me and I got all set and took off on the bike.
The swim was the easy part for me - besides feeling a little shaky from the nerves, adrenaline, and some frustration during the swim, I didn't feel winded or too exerted. I knew the bike would be the tough part.
stay tuned . . .