Let me just state that hanging around the Ironman village is always a bit intimidating, but it was really intimidating in Brazil. While the race field is smaller than Ironman Florida's, it seems to be comprised mainly of young, foreign men who appear to have done all of their training in the Alps. Rick and I were forced to buy ridiculously overpriced new race gear as our luggage was missing in action - with no word on when or if it would arrive in time for race day. Luckily...it did. So, now I have more gear. I guess we can always use another pair of trishorts, right?
In Brazil, our bikes were racked in a mixtures of ages and male/female (unlike Florida - which was divided by age & sex). I was raced right near Rick, Lynn, Mark, Som, Karen & Shelley. We set-up our bikes and our gear bags - and realized race day was almost upon us.
I had a lot of trouble sleeping for the three days prior to race day. This is very unusual for me. I'm typically a great sleeper.I think it was a combination of nerves, stress and travel that kept me up at night. I don't know exactly why, but my confidence level just wasn't where it was for Ironman Florida.
Anyway, race morning was, as always a blur. We took the 5:00 a.m. shuttle to the race site. While that gave us 2 hours to prepare, it's amazing how quickly that time flies by between body marking, tire pumping, body gliding and bathroom breaks. At 6:30 a.m. Rick and I headed to the swim start. Of course, my heart was racing at this time. But, the water looked relatively smooth so I was expecting a "Florida kind of swim." Never judge a book by its cover or water by how smooth it may appear!
The first leg of the first loop of the swim felt great. After a few moments of hyperventilating, I setttled into a steady pace. It was easy to spot the huge buoy so I just kept moving towards it. I even thought that I might shave some time from my Florida swim time.
Until I turned back to the shore.
It seemed to take a much longer time to get back there - and I had a kayaker yelling at me in Portuguese to "go left." But, I knew I needed to go right. However, I didn't speak his language so I was forced to veer off course - and get pushed further left by what I realized was a strong current.
I made it through the first loop, waved to Derik and Anita, grabbed a cup of water to rinse out the salt water, and headed back out. I was still feeling pretty happy since the second loop was supposed to be shorter than the first (we were swimming in an M shape course).
I settled back in to a rhythm of taking 15 strokes followed by a quick sight. Strangely, I found that every time I sighted, I wasn't any closer to the second big buoy. In fact, I was being pushed far to the right of it - and the waves were picking up. We were dealing with a very strong current by now - as well as wind-whipped waves.
Despite all of this, I remained calm. I just kept trying to get to that buoy.
The trip back into shore was even more difficult than the first one. We were swimming against the current and I was getting pretty tired of being in the water. Finally, after well over 2 hours, I made it in. I knew I had been out there for awhile, but I had no idea that I was past the two hour mark. That was a blow to my typical race-day spunkiness. I realized that any notion of a PR was unlikely due to such a long swim. I decided I would just go out there and enjoy the rest of the day.
Later on, I learned that everyone had struggled with the swim. Both Rick and Karen got seasick (and threw up) from the waves. The defending champion had a terrible swim (for him) and eventually dropped out of the race completely.
Coming up: the bike and the run (aka: "This is a flat course?")