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Thursday, June 25, 2009

2009 Ford Ironman Coeur d'Alene Race Report - The Swim

I was only able to get in a few minute swim before the kayakers started kicking the swimmers out of the water and making them head towards shore. I felt much warmer than when swimming the week before - it felt like the water was warmer. I wound up standing in about knee to waist deep water on the far right of the beach - this gave me a straight line shot to the turning buoy as the rectangular loop slanted out and towards the right.

The filming helicopter was right overhead so no one around me could hear anything coming over the PA system. BANG!!!! The gun went off and none of us were ready for it and we all charged out into the water. The first thing I noticed very quickly was that the water was pretty rough. VERY rough. There were white caps and pretty large swells that if I had to guess were well over a foot high. It made swimming interesting as there is a very distinct up and down motion when going in and out of the swells. I recall sighting 2-4 strokes in a row and seeing only water and sky. No marker buoys, no swimmers, no kayaks. On that first leg, actually, I don't recall sighting on an actual buoy until the last one before the left turn.

As usual, the turns were a disaster. Swimmers piled high and in a very tight cluster. This causes the pace to slow considerably just like in a traffic jam. Making the next left turn back towards shore and the second lap, I had to stop swimming for a second and the guy next to me did the same and I recall saying "good god: to which he replied, "no kidding." I have to believe that if there were a way for one to be in a washing machine during a wash cycle, this is what it would be like. The swim back in was much nicer as we had the wind and waves at our back though it occasionally gave the sensation that I wasn't actually moving and upon getting closer to shore and seeing the bottom this illusion proved more than just a feeling. I would take a stroke and the lake bottom wouldn't move beneath me. I suspect it was just an optical illusion but it really did feel like I wasn't making an progress.

Of course with everything going on between the ton of swimmers and the rough water I totally forgot about my form. Which simply means that it was shit and I need to work on it such that it's engrained and natural - that I don't have to think about it. On the second lap, the last section, the last leg if you will back to the beach and T1, I finally felt like I was able to get into a rhythm and started flying by people. But, by that point, it was too late to really get a decent time. Don't get me wrong, a 1:09:02 is decent at a 1:49/100m, but I was shooting for and am capable of doing a sub-hour swim.

My swim run out was good and I got my wetsuit top off quickly. I waited to take the bottom off and did it in the change tent. My one oops here was that I ran the wrong way but was quickly pointed in the right direction to pick up my transition bag and into the tent. I changed fairly quickly taking time to wipe off my feet and face and catch my breath. One mistake I made here was that I put my bike shoes on before I put my compression socks (calves only). I should have put them on under my wetsuit but by the time I realized that, I'd already had my wetsuit on and it was too late. So, I had to take my shoes off and then on again. I ran out straight to my bike but since there were so many of us, my bike wasn't waiting for me with a volunteer and I had to get it directly. The racks were too short for the bike to fit underneath it with my bottles in the cages behind the seat so I had some trouble getting it out and had to turn the bike sideways spilling some of my aero bottle drink in the process. I ran out the the mount line and angling off to the side so I wasn't in the way, hopped on and away I went.


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