Pre-Race and Swim portions…
This was about to be Ironman #3 (Ironman Florida 2020 and Ironman Flordia 2021 were numbers 1 and 2 respectively). I felt prepared and calm in the days leading up to the race but hadn’t been looking forward to it. I was racing simply because I’d paid for it 2 yrs ago and it kept getting deferred due to COVID-19 outbreaks. Trying to defer to a different venue was unsuccessful. So, I was going to show up and race, but the only thing I was getting excited about was being on the course with people that I actually knew. My triathlon clubs had more than 20 participants!
One week prior, during my last long ride, I was involved in my first road cycling crash. Four of us went down and some were injured badly. The lead cyclist broke her collar bone and ankle. Fortunately, I wasn’t injured, but parts of my bike needed to be repaired and replaced. The owner of a local bike shop (Pearland Bicycles) offered to meet me on a Sunday to check the bike. He made the necessary repairs and I was ready to go!
As we drove to the hotel on Thursday morning I felt the butterflies! To my surprise, I was getting excited about the race. My mind switched to visualization mode because I was going to take the race seriously. Regardless of my feelings, if I’m going to participate then I will give my best effort and focus on excellence in execution. No matter what happens, I’ll have an opportunity to learn and grow. After checking into the hotel I bumped into several familiar faces. They too were excited to race. My first task was to complete the athlete check-in and do some obligatory shopping in the Ironman Village. I like to purchase the race t-shirts that have all of the participants’ names on the back. Reading my name makes me feel “official”. After shopping, Robin, Kai, and I walked around to explore the course. Knowing how far the transition area is from the swim start and finish is always helpful.black triathlete association. Spending time getting to know them was special. I learned that most were multi-Ironman finishers and some have even been to the world championships in Kona, HI! The typical conversation was one member challenging the group to join him in a 100-mile running race next year. Then, another woman threw out the idea of doing a 6 or 8-mile swim in the Gulf of Mexico. Because…..why not? It all felt normal and I absolutely loved it. This is definitely my tribe.
The plan for Friday was to stay off my feet and relax for most of the day. In the morning, I put my bike in the transition area. While there, I ran into several athletes who were returning from the practice swim. I chose not to do that because I didn’t want to get my wetsuit wet. After eating lunch, we returned to the hotel, I packed up my morning clothes bag and chilled out.
I got up at 4 am Saturday morning intending to warm up my body with a short yoga session. However, after eating and taking care of the essentials, I didn’t have sufficient time, so I skipped it. I left the hotel at 4:45 to be in transition when it opened at 5 am. The swim start was almost a mile away and I wanted sufficient time to have a leisurely walk there.
As the pack of swimmers thinned about halfway through the course, I began speeding up but my calves began showing signs of cramping so I slowed back down to try and prevent that. It was too late, they began cramping repeatedly one leg at a time. I had to stop three times to tread water and pull on my feet to release the muscles. By the time we entered the canal (the last 25-30%) I was feeling good (aside from the calf problem) and I remember thinking that I could swim twice this length without issue. I felt happy. The race had begun well for me.
Actual finish time 1h 27 min.