This is only about the swimming as the bike and run were just grind-it-outs on the hills. Other than maybe mentioning that there was no FOCKING WATER for the last half of the run. Just mentioning it. Not like I was thirsty after 20+ hours of running around for 3 days and it was FOCKING 85 degrees out with no focking wind... FOCK! Well, just a note there on water. Those fockers.
Experience: ( is what keeps you from making mistakes, and what you get by making mistakes )
Race 1 – was 300 meters. Panic attack and I pretty much walked the whole thing – you could touch bottom for about 70% of the course. Lol did some dog paddle and breast stroke.
Race 2 – 1500 meters. Panic attack and long struggle through one lap of the course. Wouldn’t have even done that if Resa hadn’t been there. Did some real swimming about 20% of the course. Mostly said naughty words. Two different people stopped and asked if I was ok. I am surprised they even noticed me. Maybe it was the bug eyes and drowning flailing.
Race 3 – 1500 meters. after the bikes and run already that day I was pretty tired when we got to the swim and I just figured I would try swimming from the start and see if I could go anywhere. Went around once, felt settled in about 400 yards out. Got to about 100 feet from the first lap finish and had a *monster* leg cramp. Like someone shot me. I bobbed in the water like a cork for about 30 seconds and struggled to shore flopping like a fish. Also I was feeling really sea sick. Sat there about 2 minutes thinking I was being pretty lame so I did another lap. Both laps were about the same – pretty easy actually. Got out really sick again. ( I get this at the pool too – but I just stand 5-10 minutes in the shower and it goes away ). Very lucky I am not sick while swimming. I am always sick out of the water so that didn’t bother me too much and I get cramps when we swim after running so that was nothing new either. Also the bike first split up the people and we only met about 5 other swimmers. So the water and atmosphere were calm. At the end of this I was the happiest I was all weekend ( and that includes the awesome downhills on the bike ). Took me a month to get over the panic in the pool and only 3 pond swims. Yeah ken!
Race 4 – 1900 meters. Felt very confident about the swim, I got some sleep too. Which I didn’t much the night before. Also I couldn’t eat after the first race because I was worried about the long swims the next day. Got in the water and started cruising along. It was two laps so the faster people passed us continuously the first lap. And then another sprint race started behind us and those guys passed us on the second lap. But it didn’t bother me like the first two races. Fine, let them bump and bounce along. Resa and I swam together and about 5 times someone would swim between us. I heard her laughing at one point. The worst part was getting a mouth full of muddy splash. I didn’t like crowding other people, it didn’t bother me that they were impolite, I guess I figured they were top 200 people and had a bit of time pressure. But when we caught up to people ( maybe 3 times? LOL ) I stopped when I felt a foot. Did the 2 laps and got out feeling great. No cramps because it was the first event of the day. And… doing what I shouldn’t and experimenting, I took a Dramamine pill for the first time ever before that swim. Worked extremely well. Turned a swirling dizzy pukey headache into just a dull annoyance for a few minutes.
To do it next time I would increase my effort about 20%. I think I went slower than I had too by a lot – just concentrated on breathing. Not on form all that much. I feel really good about the ironman swim now.
Some Advice: ( everyone has advice – unlike experience )
Swimming pretty much freaked me and Sheila out too much to go on… Mark was pretty freaked the first long time too but seemed to really find it for the last 2 races, Resa had no problem at all other than a sore neck from looking for me. Amy seemed creeped for the first 20 minutes the second race but got over it after her first lap and was fine after.
Get in the water and practice swimming at least once. There will be people grabbing you all over like an orgy or something. So maybe swim with some people and swim right on top of each other so you touch and splash. You will find that being a certain distance ahead or behind there are sweet spots where you get splashed *every* stroke. Some of the faster people will not be able to steer too well and they will cross your path over and over. Also you get splashed right in the mouth from the guy next to you as you breath so don’t count on getting clean air every time. The suit will feel crappy on land – like you are in a way too small suit but gets much much better in the water. At first I thought I would freak because I couldn’t move very well, but after the first good swim for me in the third race I REALLY liked the suit. Also I stretched the thing into my core so I had floods for legs and my arms ended about halfway between wrist and elbow. Maybe I am just 5 inches taller than the average guy, but they could make the suits really long and let you cut them shorter. Ah, well.
The swim hat was so freaking tight it gave me a headache. Fockin hated, hated, hated the hat. Some people say put the goggles under the hat but I think that would be harder than it would be worth. Also push them on your face harder than normal. 2 of the 5 full laps I did, I had water in there. I didn’t get water the last two loops as I smashed them on until I had a bout the air density of the international space station in there.
The biggest things though are not the waves or the goofballs around you, but the water. First off you couldn’t see in it at all and you kinda panic as the lights go out every 2 seconds. Light dark light dark. But the biggest by far was something I would NEVER had thought of. It was cold. Really cold as it rained and a bunch of water was going through and you hit some warm spots but over all it was really cold. Which with the wet suit on you don’t get cold, but your face and hands do. This is what was the biggest killer I think. You put your face in the cold water and you gasp. And that ruins everything. You cant breath and you certainly cant swim. This is why some people did the breast stroke. And you don’t figure it out right away. All you get is a panic the first second cold water is in your ears and you jerk your head out of the water. So, what to do? Well, I would *highly* recommend getting into the water before the start – about half of the people did. Just get in about waist deep and go under water, it’s hard to even hold your breath the first few seconds. But you get used to it after 30 seconds. Also you suit will come on-line and start warming you.
The suit is great. It completely gets you up out of the water – which was my big worry before hand. ( ahh those innocent days ). I don’t kick at all because I don’t have the legs as it is by the time the run comes around. And the suit gets you up and flat ( if you are swimming! ) and you can cruise along without kicking. Which i think The Resa was also doing a bit more of on the last race.
One side breathing. I swim bi-laterally in the pool, as does Resa. Don’t bother during the race! You get enough sensory overload on one side without having to double it up with two complete worlds of splashing and swimmers and lifeguards and landscape and sun and whatever! Also you try to remember whats on both sides of you and that’s more thinking than you probably need to be doing. Just get comfy going on your good side, I did that for maybe 30 breaths then switched sides and did the other side for a little while. But even the switch will feel weird as you cant see anything while face down.
Sighting, which I am not very good at. I had Resa steer for me. She swam on my right and sights very well. I probably looked every 10 breaths or so. Every 2 breaths when we closed on a corner. But I think I swim very straight. I practiced swimming in the pool without lanes with my eyes closed and I went very straight. You can use the surrounding landscape as a sight if you are good at that sorta thing. Also the sun was easy. If you look towards the sun ( with mirrored goggles ) and put it at say 5:00 position you can use that as a sighting tool. I did that a lot. Just kept it in the same place and swam along, when I looked forward I was almost always directly on track. More though I think Resa did all of the driving.
And a small note on your hands – the cold water turned off my left hand. And my right was going as we left the water. It got too cold to move. I couldn’t work the zipper on the suit or my coat 10 minutes later. Also tying my shoes was hard. And, during the swim I had nothing for making a cup any more. My left hand was just open and unmovable. Resa said she started getting it too and had some trouble with one or two fingers. But! Good news for you guys, my hands are pretty super sensitive to temperature, I wear gloves running when its below 70 degrees. ( no joke )
And the final piece of advice would be to breath. Just get moving and concentrate everything on breathing the first 3-5 minutes. Turn, breath, blow out, turn, breath. Don’t worry about speed or whats around you, just breath regardless. After you know you can breath then you can add in things like form, where you are going and dodging people/buoys/tree branches/killer fish.
That’s all I got.