We had a nice dinner at Tony's sister's house on Saturday night. Everyone made Jodie and I feel as if we were at home. I ate a little too much. Went back to the hotel and had a little bit of trouble sleeping.
I woke up at about 4:30AM and started to get ready. There was nervous tension in the air. Checked out of the hotel and drove to the transition site to set up. The roads were already closed and not knowing the area well we kind of meandered around in the dark.
I finally found the long line of cars entering parking lots of the UNO (University of New Orleans) and parked in the residence parking lot. It was probably a half mile from transition. Started walking with my transition pack and then remembered that my wetsuit was in the car.
Walking into transition I literally bumped into someone doing body markings - short and sweet. I got into transition at 6:15AM (it would close at 6:45AM and my swim start was at 7:20AM). The swim start was about a mile and a half away (the walk is further than the swim). They had buses to take you most of the way there but the line for the buses were enormous. The time was 6:35AM and I did not feel that I could wait for the bus - there were lots of people walking. I had not planned for this and I would have to walk bare footed.
The rough asphalt was tearing up my feet so I tried to walk in the grass. Jodie offered me her shoes but I declined. Lots of nerves during the walk. I got to the swim start and got my timing chip. I was putting on my wetsuit as the pros took off at 7:00AM. I lined up in the corral ready to go with about 5 minutes to spare.
My age group (3rd wave of my age group) was called into the water. I waded out and filled my wetsuit with water. I positioned myself towards the back and waited for the horn. The water was shallow and I passed a lot of people by just continuing to walk for maybe 15 yards before swimming. I started swimming and I tried to control my breathing and concentrate on long gliding strokes. It was working. I was feeling good. I'm not sure what happened first - I either started to catch some of the people in front of me or people started to catch me - but I was in the middle of a lot of churn. I got kicked and hit in the face. I tried to regain my composure and keep swimming. I would take a few strokes and then get jostled. I would instinctively look up and by stopping I would be swam over.
My breathing was out of control at this point. I was trying to settle down back into a rhythm and was dying. I looked behind me and saw the second half of my wave converging on me. I had to settle down and get out of the way. I thought about quiting right then and there - it was that rough. I was only 2 buoys into the swim - out of 16. I swam over to one of the kayaks and ask the swim rescue guy that if I grab onto the hull of the craft if I would be disqualified. He said no. I'm not sure what I would have done if he had said that I would be done. Anyway I grabbed the hull of the kayak and caught my breath. He asked me if I was cold and I said that my heart rate was 175 and that I just needed a second to let it drop. After about 30 seconds the guy said that he was not sure how to get me to shore. I said that I did not want to go to shore and just need a couple for seconds. I probably held on for about 2 minutes (but time is kind of funny in those situations). I was better after that. I swam more towards the shoreline where is was less congested. I was still not in a good rhythm. I stopped again on a shoreline point before half way. I could touch the bottom and cleared my goggles.
I continued on with the swim. It was taking forever. Swimming along the shore every time I would stop and sight there was this lady yelling at me - she would say, not in an encouraging way, but rather demanding 'YOU'RE ALMOST THERE - DON'T STOP NOW'. That drill Sargent lady helped.
The rest of the swim was uneventful. Hard but uneventful. I pulled my wetsuit down half way and ran out of the water. There were strippers (I know it's New Orleans but not those kind of strippers) about 50 feet out of the water and I dropped down like a turtle. Short and sweet and I thanked the lady.
The run out of the swim was about a 100 yards up a small hill that was either grassy or carpeted. I ran across the timing mat in 40:20. I was glad to be out of the water.