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Please help us in our quest to help those afflicted with Parkinson's Disease live better today!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

2.4 miles. Or, just keep swimming.....

2:00am. Race morning. Freddy was not thrilled with waking up so early, but bless his heart, he knew he would have a mad woman on his hands if we were not on the first bus (which left Boulder High School at 4:00am) so he agreed to keep me happy and calm. We made our race day breakfast which consisted of coffee for me, OJ for Freddy, scrambled eggs, bacon, and a sweet potato. After experimenting with a lot of food, we found this was our breakfast of champions.

We got to Boulder around 3:45, headed to special needs and got on the bus with about 50 of our closest friends. We took the back of the bus because that's where all the cool kids sit and were entertained the entire ride. The guy behind us made a remark that his wife said he could have kids or do an Ironman. He proudly exclaimed "I decided I'd rather have an Ironman medal", to which Freddy and I lost it. We thought it was about the funniest thing ever, because we routinely use similar comments when asked about kids. Although about 5 miles into the run, I thought maybe having a kid would be easier...But I digress.
Those poor people who sleep in just don't know what they miss!

It was pitch black when we arrived at the reservoir but we were greeted by the happiest volunteers ever! They directed us where to go, wished us a great day, and had us laughing. I found my body marker guy and he was awesome. He was so patient with me, even when I couldn't remember how old I was. I finally told him to write that I was 70 so I had a shot at winning this thing. There was another body marker yelling "guaranteed Ironman finisher, right here!". The volunteers were amazing!

We were lucky and were on the same bike rack as most of our friends so were thrilled when we got to the bike racks and saw so many friendly faces. We exchanged a lot of hugs and talked about the day. Overwhelmingly, the feeling in the air was "this is just another training day with a medal at the end". The calm was refreshing. None of us were rattled (or if we were, we were pretty good at fooling everyone else). My friend Joann and I talked about how we were going to compartmentalize everything. When swimming, we would only focus on the swim, when on the bike, we would focus only on the bike, and so on. I was also going to split each sport in half-counting the miles up on the first half and counting down on the second half.

About 6:00, we all scattered and headed towards the warm-up area. I did one lap and called it good. I really just wanted to be alone and away from all the nerves.

6:20, the cannon went off for the elite athletes. 6:30, the cannon for all us regular Joe's. Ironman recently implemented a wave swim start which I think is brilliant, but apparently some of the hard-core Ironmen think is kind of pansy. In the wave start, you line up according to your swim time and the volunteers at the end of the ramp slowly wave you into the water. I placed myself into the 1:35-1:45 swim time wave and patiently awaited my turn, soaking everything in. As I made my way to the boat ramp, I saw my mom, Aunt, and sister. They were such a welcome sight! My favorite band, U2, was rocking in the speakers and my family was jumping and waving like crazy. It was awesome. Pretty soon, the volunteers told us to have a great swim, have fun, and enjoy the day and we were off!

Hey! Can you see me? I'm the one in the pink cap! I'm pretty sure I was hanging out by the medics. You know, just in case!           

The swim was so peaceful. I'm sure this was not the case for the faster swimmers, but me and my peeps were ubber calm and there was very little punching, kicking, pulling, jockeying, at all. I think the biggest thing about the swim is to remain calm. You have to be totally ok with being climbed over, punched, kicked, held, etc. If you are calm in the water, you will do just fine. I'm swimming along to the first turn when I realize I am completely in sync with this dude next to me. We were matching every stroke, kick, breath, everything. It kind of creeped me out-especially when at one point we were close enough to almost lock lips and I got a whiff of his breakfast. I'm not sure what he had in addition to his garlic, but I'd venture a bet that he is protected from vampires. With that, I decided to swim a bit harder to lose him.

Before I knew it, I was at the half-way point. And I felt great. I thought of nothing other than the swim. I enjoyed the calmness of the water, knowing that I didn't need to stop at all, even when I saw others near me that did. I just soaked in (no pun intended) every second. There was not one point during the swim that I didn't see a kayaker or rescue boat. I made the second turn and could see the finish arch! I reeled myself in and focused again on just keeping steady. Pretty soon, I could hear cheers and music coming from the beach. I knew this was the time to kick a little faster to get blood flowing to my legs. I swam until I literally touched a volunteer, who helped me out of the water.

I walked up the boat ramp and saw a huge party! It was everything I had in me to not just hang out for a while! Kanye West's "Stronger" was blaring and there was a drum line drumming along to it. I think Kanye West is an ass-hat, but that song is one of my favorites and got me through many, many training miles!
All those little dots are swimmers! The swim at an Ironman is one of the most amazing things you will ever witness. Ever!

I turned right onto the grass and was gently grabbed by two women "the strippers"-no, not those strippers, the wet suit strippers. They said, "stand steady and then sit". I was so confused, I had to ask them again what I was supposed to do. I've never had a stripper before-this was uncharted territory for me! In a flash, they had my wetsuit off and I was heading towards the changing tent.

I got to the changing tent and was greeted by a very nice woman who started asking me all these questions. I remember looking around me and seeing every woman next to me shaking uncontrollably. I remember holding out my own hands to see if I was shaking as badly as they were and luckily, I wasn't (or maybe I was and I couldn't tell!). My poor volunteer was super-chatty and I just didn't feel like talking. I was on a mission. And super focused at my next task of the day. The beast of all beasts for me. The long ride.

I got out of the tent, headed towards the sun block volunteers, ran by my family exclaiming "that didn't kill me! I'm still alive!" and headed towards my bike. Luckily, there were volunteers leading into the bike racks that would tell you which way you needed to go. With 2500 bikes, they were a God send! I grabbed my bike, saw Claire and Sue (Freddy's dad and his wife who traveled all the way from Arizona just to cheer us on), took a deep breath, and headed up the ramp to the bike mount arch......

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