I woke up at 4:10am for breakfast and coffee. I have to admit that I was nervous. Not as nervous as on Sat, but nervous for the day.
On Saturday, I had a slight breakdown for the 112 mile bike ride because Karel told me it was challenging. Although he gave me great details about the race and specifics on the course, I was so scared for the descends.
After breakfast, I put on my speed suit and Karel and I headed to the transition area to check in my T1 and T2 gear bags, put in my water bottles and bento box and pump my tires.
My wonderful and amazing parents got up at 4am to go wait in line at the swim start. I have the best parents in the world!!
After doing my bike stuff, Karel and I made the .6 mile walk from transition area to the swim start. Once again, Karel had me laughing the whole walk. I kept telling him that my tummy hurt but he confirmed that it was just nerves. I tried to listen to him but of course it's hard to knock out all those negative thoughts in your head before an IM.
After getting body marked, we found my parents who had a great spot near the front of the line. The line went on for at least a mile behind me and I think there was around 200 people in front of me. I didn't mind the 2 person at a time start but I think it would have been hard if I didn't have my awesome parents waiting in line for me. Karel and I had to go to the bathroom and as we were walking back to my parents the line started moving.
I quickly stripped off my clothes, sprayed my sunscreen all over me, grabbed my goggles, gel and cap and gave my parents my shoes. All morning I felt like I was forgetting something. It didn't take me long to pack my transition bags but everything seemed to go by so fast on the day before the race.
We walked down a sidewalk that took us closer to the water. As I was waiting in line with the other athletes we listened to someone sing the national anthem, play my old Kentucky home on a trumpet and play the star spangled banner. Another great part about the swim start was that my mom and Karel could stand right by me on the concrete steps as I was in the gated area for the swim start. It was a nice change from being crammed in with 2000+ athletes, standing on the sand for 15+ min. or treading water for 20+ min.
After the pros went off at 6:50am we slowly walked closer to the dock. They split us into two lines so we entered on separate docks, right next to each other.
The line moved really quickly and I was in the water at 7:01. I jumped in the water and started swimming.
I still got hit a lot because we were in a channel, close to an island. I didn't mind the thought of swimming in the Ohio River but the current was really strong after we turned around the island.
The first part of the swim took a long time. We were going so far away from the transition area I wondered how long it would take me to get back to the swim finish. It just seemed to go on forever before we finally headed toward the direction to the swim finish.
My goal for the swim was 1:03-1:05. The main reason I set that goal was that my first IM swim was 1:07 (IMFL) and Kona was 1:06. I just wanted to go faster and the past month I have been swimming fast in the pool.
I passed a lot of people on the swim but I started to doubt myself when I looked at my watch at 55 minutes. I wanted to look at my watch the whole swim but I didn't want to psych myself out. I did a great job of spotting and staying close to the buoys but the current was strong and without salt water, I was losing confidence that I could meet my goal time. After I looked at my watch I looked up and there was a long line of buoys. I thought to myself "Am I ever going to reach the finish???" It just kept going and going and going.
Finally, I saw the two red buoys for the finish, checked my watch which read 1 hour and 1 min. and just swam as fast as I could.
After I climbed up the steps to exit the water I looked at my watch and smiled when I saw 1:04. Goal #1 - completed!
I made the run to transition area and I was alone in the changing tent. A downside of the single person start is that you don't have competition right next to you. Because I am super competitive, it was hard for me to stay focused on my other goal to race my own race. I wanted to know how I was doing in my age group and where my competition was at. However, I think not having girls around me was a good thing. I knew that the bike could be strong for me, so long as I stuck to my game plan.
I decided to go with cycling shorts (with padding) on the bike and I choose to use a Bento Box. Two things I have never done before in a cycling race but I am so happy with my choice to do both.
My volunteer in the changing tent was probably very new to the sport because she was a little taken back when I stripped down and changed into my cycling shorts. She was very helpful and I thanked her for helping me put all my gear on.
After the transition I ran to my bike and luckily, didn't pass it up on my row. There were so many bikes in such a large transition area but I can't miss my beautiful Black Hawk.
The transition was quick at around 4 min. which is much better than my 7 min transition in IMFL where I shivered in T1 to try to get warm.
I heard my mom cheering for me and it was off for the bike. As soon as I started riding, I was in my zone and feeling good.