Welcome to Louisville -
Taking the bike to check in -
The beautiful Ohio River -
Perfect pre-race temperatures -
Jim and I just before the race - notice the deer in headlights look!
I was not feeling well the night before so I took a slug of NyQuil. This helped me sleep. The walk to the transition area before the race was solemn. A large procession was moving and no one was talking. I tried to crack a joke about the silence and – yes it was met with silence. I was also very nervous at this pre-dawn hour.
I handed over my special needs bags and put my helmet on my bike. I filled the helmet with tons of pop-tarts, gels, a tube and CO2 cartridges. I was looking around to see if Jim had checked in yet and felt something hit me in the head. Was it raining? Nope, I ran my fingers through my hair and it was a large pile of poop. Way to start the day.
With an hour before the start of the race the line for the bathrooms was as long as the first-come-first-serve starting line. I met up with Jim and we talked a bit about how nervous (I mean scared) we were. They soon lined us up and we marched down to the swim start. I was freezing wearing next to nothing waiting for the swim start. I dipped my hand in the water and it was warm and this relieved me to some extent. I told Jim about the bird poop and a guy next to us said that it meant good luck – that it would be the worst thing that would happen today. What a good way to look at it. I had a roll of antacids in my pocket along with a gel. I ate about half of the antacid and took the gel 10 minutes before the swim start. The pros took off and someone had a huge lead within seconds – I mean a lead like 100 meters instantly. Once the pros were on their way the rest of the field started. I have been in time trial starts before but not like this one. In the past they have started the field at 3 to 5 second intervals. This time it was run and jump into the water as fast as you can. Instantly there were hundreds of swimmers in the water. I started my heart rate monitor and I jumped in feet first with my hands on my goggles. When I hit the water my feet went up and I kind of did a flip under water. I was a little afraid that someone would land on me. Once I righted myself the race was on and all fears subsided. It was game on and I felt great. No fear!
I quickly jumped into my steady state swim and cruised. I grabbed on to a girls hip and tried to use her for the draft. I held this draft for a good bit while we were swimming against the current. It was slower than I wanted to go – slower than my cruise speed but when I tried to pass I was not much faster – the draft was evident - getting out of the draft was obvious. The portion against the current was much longer than I had though. I knew that it was but I had not really factored that into the race plan. It was probably more like 1400 yards against the current and not the 700 that I thought that it was. The current was not strong but it was still a current. With about 200 yards before we rounded the island I entered bizarro world - there were swimmers standing in the river. The slit had built up to about knee deep at some points. There were fallen trees and stuff under the water (I hit one with my foot). I had been trying to pee for about 10 minutes while I was swimming with little success. This shallow water gave me a great opportunity. I probably lost a minute but I was relieved to say the least. I rounded the buoy wide so that I could get further out into the river with the hope that the current would be stronger. I was soon out by myself. I could see a long line of swimmers hugging the buoy line. They looked like a row of ants. In retrospect I probably should have been in this line – maybe a bit of draft and I would not have had to sight as much. On the other hand I really enjoyed not having to fight the churn. I was just swimming my own race. I was trying to stay in the moment and not look forward to the bike or the run. I was just saying over and over in my mind – STROKE – GLIDE – STROKE – GLIDE. Sighting off of the downtown buildings and the bridges was easy even though I constantly had to make adjustments. I am sure that I was zigzagging back and forth. I think the current was pushing me further and further into the center of the river and I was constantly having to correct.
Actually during the swim I was pretty bored. It was like I was water jogging – just a long slow distance swim. Not for this race or this distance but now that I am getting comfortable with the swim I should start trying to push the pace. A little bored but before I knew it I was rounding the last buoy and climbing out of the water. It felt really good. Not tired or defeated or spent. It was a pretty good trek to the transition area and I was able to sprint it. I was passing lots of athletes. I grabbed my RUN BAG and hit the changing tent. I had debated over and over if I wanted to change or not. I decided to do the full Monty and completely change. I put on my long distance bike shorts and a short sleeved jersey. It was hard putting shorts and jersey on a wet body but it was worth it. I ran out to get my bike but stopped for some sun screen on my neck. My ears got a big dollop also. I filled my jersey pockets with about 4 packages of pop-tarts, several gels and my pack of tubes / CO2 cartridges. I put my aero helmet on and immediate thought about the sun screen on my ears – not really needed.
I ran with my shoes on out of transition; rammed a pop-tart into my mouth and then stopped and mounted the bike. There would be no flying mount of any kind.
SWIM TIME: 1:15:22
Exiting the water- I'm in the blue unitard.
UP NEXT - THE BIKE