LEADING UP TO THE DAY:
It never fails, the night before a big event I don’t sleep because of nerves, anxiety or butterflies in my stomach. So, needless to say, I slept maybe two hours the night before Ironman Cozumel. And all night, the question in my mind was how could I possibly handle 15 hours of continuous, endurance exercise the next day on no sleep?
But at 4:30 am the alarm went off and I was up. I had put all my gear together the night before and, of course, my bike and run bags were deposited at the transition areas the day before, too.
At 4:45, in my hotel lobby, I made it a point to have a good breakfast, nothing too filing. I had oatmeal, peanut butter on toast, a banana and a small cup of coffee the Westin Hotel had set out for Ironman athletes that morning.
We rode a bus to the bike transition to leave any last minute items, then bussed over to the swim start.
From 7:00 to 8:00AM I waited, and waited, and left my bag with dry clothes for later with a friend I made during that time. Dawn was “sherpa-ing” for her friend, Shae. They were from Georgia. They were sweet enough to let me hang with them. The swim start pictures I posted were taken by Dawn. Note to self. Bring a sherpa next time, or insist my hubby act as the full time sherpa (not part time like he did this trip)! Haha!!
Finally, after standing in line with our 1:20-1:30 wave, Shae and I were finally in the water at around 8:00AM. A lot of folks jumped off the pier into the ocean. I did not. I’d heard the stories of people gashing their feet on the rocks in the water and then having to race with bleeding feet for the next 12-15 hours. No, thank you. I sat on my butt, and scooted into the water. Even so, I still had that “Oh, crap, this is about to happen,” thought in my head. When my head went under the water, my next thought was, “I’m going to drown.” I was overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the ocean. I could NOT see the end or IMAGINE it anywhere. There were bodies scraping up behind me, feet feverishly kicking in front of me, and arms flailing at my sides. The waves were swelling on my right and the sun was painfully bright on my left. I couldn’t catch a good breath and I felt on the verge of panic. I also didn’t see anyone on a canoe to help a swimmer in danger anywhere near me. “Crap!” Again. “What kind of support was this???” I told myself to get it together, calm down, just get away from the start area find a little space for my swim and to find my rhythm. I just kept swimming and finally after about 800 yards (according to my Garmin Fenix watch) I was finally into a rhythm. I started focusing on the buoys, just swimming from one buoy to the next. I couldn’t see nor remember what the landmarks were supposed to be, so I figured I’d get to the finish after some number of buoys. I must have swum past 8 to 10 buoys. I lost count, before I saw the thatched roofs at the piers that marked the exit. It took me another 20 minutes to reach them, but by then, I knew I had made it. I scrambled with the other swimmers to the edge of the beach stairs and crawled out of the water. Wow! That felt like a looooooong swim. My shoulders were exhausted. I was glad I would not have to depend on them the same way for part two of the Ironman.
Transition one, it seems, took me forever. I was in there for 15 minutes. Re-applying anti chafing lotion, sunscreen, gulping down water and a sugar cookie, adding a helmet and shoes, filling my pockets with Lara bars and extra electrolyte drink powder packets for my water bottles. Finally, I ran to grab my bike and I was off for 112 miles!