The Soapinator and I are home from the airport now, waiting to return to the airport to pick up the rest of The Tribe. Trihubby, who is just plain awesome, has all the AV equipment, so this post will be a little shy on pictures, yes that includes the oh-so-sweet-I-can't -believe- I- actually- did- that- tattoo, picture from my lower back.
Did you know your booty clevage and your spine don't line up?
You do now. No, really go check the mirror. I had to decide which landmark I wanted to accentuate. I went with spine. I'm not a plumber so it was a no brainer.
Robostu, Kahuna, Trihubby and I had a riot of a night last night, a fitting farewell to the whole Panama gig. Allow me to just say, I'm glad my wild friend Iron Jenny had gone home earlier in the day or there was a fighting chance we would have left Coyote Ugly having danced on the bar while leaving our bolder holders in the rafters. Ironman will do that to you. As it was, the savor merely continued and I left Panama feeling as though I'd gained two brothers. Although this was evident from night one, when Robo Stu, not even remembering my first name, (sigh), gazed longingly at my unfinished chicken burritos.
"Are you just going to take those home to your hotel refridgerator?"
How could Trimama deny a starving triathlete?
And so this man, a relative stranger, consummed the remainder of my meal. I'm not even certain he switched over to his own fork. But Ironman will do that to you.
To think, a year minus one week ago I'd never ridden a road bike in my life and had only accumulated 42 miles during 3 separate rides, on my brand new tri bike before winter shut down out door riding. I signed up to do a freakin ironman terrified of biking. I didn't know why I signed up for that race. I just knew had to take the plunge. The only way that works is if you don't tell your soul what your body can't do when you feel an irresistable tug on your heart.
That's why I didn't let my soul know, (or any of you for that matter), that my right arm was so screwed up from swimming that I couldn't raise it above my head right up until last Friday. Somehow my little header off of my bike, where I landed full force on my chin and left shoulder helped. Both arms were totally messed up. But I couldn't tell my soul that, because my heart had to carry me through a 2.4 mile ocean swim. Ironman will do that for you. I went to bed the night before ironman with two painful shoulders, but I hadn't travelled this far to quit, and frankly, I didn't care if I couldn't lift my arms for a week I was going to do that swim.
You know by now that we awoke to wind, waves and Minnesota morning. It was just cold. Everyone did what they could to keep warm, but there was a lot of shivering going on out there. Didn't lessen the intensity of anticipation a bit though, where nervous smiles and clusters of friends praying together and encouraging each other dotted the beach.
There are no atheist on Ironman beaches. Especially when 1100 iron newbies are staring at 3 to 6 foot seas, bombed the previous day to keep sharks away, (ok, it's good I didn't find that out until the day after the race) and we were about to lose one of our own in the water.
Jenny and I caught up with Trihubby in the lobby of the host hotel, surprisingly not so crowded, to warm up and do the final carbo unload. (my consistently good omen that it will be a great race day) There was no line for the nice indoor bathroom, and I warmed up to a place of no more chattering. Yea, I guess it takes a Minnesotan to figure out you come inside when windchill is a factor :-) We made our way to the beach a few minutes before the pro canon, warm and ready to race. One quick prayer with Triboomer, and it was time.
Other ironmen will get this. The time leading up the start of the race seems to just freeze. It's a moment when a room opens in your soul, and the persona that you have built with hours of physical and especially mental training walks out, ready to take on the day. All of the doubts, all of the the "I can't do this" are absent. It's just you and the task at hand. Any other day and I would have been freaked out by those waves. I would have been overwhelmed with doubt in swimming one, much less two laps out there. But on this day, no fear. Ironman will do that for you.
Jenny and I loosened up by dancing on the beach. What are you going to do? It was great music, and yes there is video.
Then it was time, and the canon fired. I took the inside line, behind the first wave of Kona heads, and set out to take down every guacamole dorito buoy in my line of sight. My only concern on the swim was the first turn buouy and what was going to happen when the pros caught us.
By now you know my mantra, just keep swimming, just keep swimming.
About 500 yards out is when I first noticed the sparkly lights. Initially I thought it was the sun glinting off of the divers face masks, but they didn't go away even as the yards moved passed. Thousands of sparkly lights.
I'll be damned, those were jelly fish. Lots of jellyfish. In my mind the waves kept the jelly fish away. I'll take waves and frightened jelly fish anyday. They just hovered well below the surface. Thank god! (Although I did get stung 3 times on the second lap. It hurts like a bee sting but goes away much faster.)
The buoy was tight and chaotic, and ultimately I had to pass it on the left (hitting it as I went) because an older man was hanging on to it and everytime I tried to move around it I was hitting into a wave of people and the buoy was getting blown around by the waves. This is about the time the pros passed, and I got konked on the head hard.
More sparkly lights, but this time not from jelly fish. Just keep swimming. We had about a 200 yard swim across the waves to the next turn buoy, and damn that was fun. It was like body surfing fun. Wouldn't want to do the whole 4000 yards that way, but it was ok while it lasted.
Then, into shore, down the beach and back into the surf. I just kept tellling myself every dorito I pass was one less dorito, and I needed to savor the moments. Who knows when I'll ever get a chance to do this again. This is the ocean for goodness sakes. I was swimming in the ocean, on my ironman.
The second lap was easier in the sense that there were fewer bodies in the water, but more difficult because there were fewer fellow swimmers to site off of, and there was little to no sighting in the surf. You had to make an effort to sight on the strokes you happened to be at the top of a swell, otherwise it was just a wall of water in your face. The final run to shore was weird in that the current was going right to left and the waves were going left to right. I just kept rotating my arms and working my breathing and before I knew it I was seeing the bottom again, and then hitting the sandbar, and it was up and out of the water. I had just swam an ironman swim and no one could ever take that away from me.
I cheered and high fived up through the shoot, even pausing to five Mike Reilly, that swim was just fantastic. It took a few moments to find Trihubby in the stripping area, but then he caugt me up in a huge bearhug and we laughed and whooped a little. In no time his team had me out of my wet suit and on my way.
Trihubby later told me that he was really worried for me out on the swim. I guess from the shore it looked nasty out there, bodies and waves thrashing and trashing.
I finished the swim in 1:26:XX Four minutes faster than my outside goal time of 1:30 that I was hoping for, which was very cool for an old Trimama broad with bad shoulders. According to my watch, my swim splits were 36 minutes from the point of stroking to feet on sand for lap 1 and 45 minutes for lap 2. So, it took me about 4 minutes to putz on the beach and get back into the surf.
More on the shoulders, the bike and the holy cow I ran the entire marathon and of course the finish,
but for now I need to go get my Tribe at the airport.