Thursday, November 14, 2013

Race Report: Beach2Battleship - Part 2

When we last left off, our protagonist (me) was checking in on the beach and getting ready for the 2.4 mile swim. I did, though, forget to mention that on the way to the start, the shuttle driver got lost. Thought it was worth mentioning.

ANYWAY, we were all checked in and milling around the start line in our wetsuits and purple swim caps. Unlike any other half or full iron race, this was a mass start. My three half iron races were wave starts and the NY/NJ Ironman was somewhere in between, with four or five barges unloading onto the start line over time. So this was a first, and I was a little concerned that things would get crazy and elbows would be thrown and I'd be on the receiving end of some punches and kicks.

My worrying was for naught. After the national anthem was sung, the gun finally went off and we were all in the water. It was so cold outside that the 71 degree water temperature seemed downright balmy. Seriously, I do not exaggerate when I say that the entire swim entry was lovely. It was very likely the most pleasant swim start of my triathlon career. That's not to say blows weren't exchanged. I hit/kicked my share of people and got hit/kicked myself. But it was nothing I'd consider out of the ordinary.

About 10 minutes into the swim, I realized that I'd forgotten to lube up my neck. I can only guess that this is because I did it on the barge last minute last year, and thus never incorporated it into my pre-race routine. Alas. It only took another 10 minutes before I started realizing I'd have some serious wetsuit chafing around my neck.

The view of my chafing from the back

The crowd around me thinned quickly. At first, I attributed this to my terrible skills as a swimmer. I should really consider re-evaluating this perception, however. Over four years after my first triathlon, I have improved immensely. I may never be a "good" swimmer, but I'm certainly not a bad one at this point. I bring this all up because the crowd did not thin due to my lack of swim proficiency. It thinned because I was not swimming in a straight line and, unwittingly, had begun veering to the right. Unfortunately, this wouldn't become clear to me until I was more than halfway through.

Before coming to that realization, I found myself swimming mostly alone on the right side of the channel. Mid-stroke, I felt my foot come in contact with something that seemed like a person. As I try to do whenever I kick/punch someone accidentally, I picked my head up out of the water and looked around for my unfortunate victim so I could apologize. I looked behind and all around me and saw no one. I began to panic that I'd kicked someone under the water, so I popped my head under the surface, but I saw nothing. I was pretty freaked out that, somehow, somewhere, there was a drowning or dead person around me that I'd kicked. But I had no evidence to prove that was actually true! Plus, I thought it might be overly alarmist of me to call over someone on a paddleboard. Perhaps yelling something like, "HEY! HEY, YOU. YES, YOU. I THINK I FOUND A BODY OVER HERE."

With no evidence to corroborate my fear, I continued my swim, hoping to everything that I had encountered some algae and not a person in need. I kept swimming, and was finally close enough to the ride side of the channel that someone explicitly told me that the left turn was coming soon and I should make my way over to the other swimmers. After following instructions, I did indeed find a bunch of fellow swimmers. Unfortunately for me, I'd overcorrect my direction multiple times before the swim was over.

Finally, though, it was. I reached the dock where volunteers were standing waiting to help. I pulled myself up onto the platform and began running, unzipping and unstrapping the top part of my wetsuit. One of the volunteers came and helped me by pulling it off my legs. I then ran the remaining 400 meters to T1.

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