I want to dedicate this Chapter to Jan. She has helped me train during the swim portion of this journey. A little advice here and there, usually not about swimming, but mainly her willingness to drive a two hour round trip once a week to meet me at St Pete Beach for an open water two mile swim. I would be remiss if I also didn't thank Karin for riding/driving as well.
Before the swim, I was asked what my swim time would be. I was not sure because I had never swam 2.4 miles for time. Surely I swam in the pool for what seemed like back and forth for ever but that was never an accurate timed workout. And our weekly open water swims always had a "quality" chat session at the halfway point. So I was guessing on the safe side it should be under an hour and a half.
As previously posted, I was distracted just before the start of the race by the Morning BRA Shift. I kind of think this helped keep my nerves steady. I then heard the 30 second countdown and made my way to the start. The water was reported as 71 degrees. And it was pretty calm as well. All the male and female competitors were to start together.
The gun went off and I walked out to start this journey. I was in no hurry because it was going to be a long swim. Easy steady strokes. Two laps of 1.2 miles. To me this would make the swim seem not as long. Two laps would give me a mental break.
Although this was a small wave compared to some of the larger ones at St Anthony's, I felt crowded in the beginning. I could not get a good stroke going. The water was pretty clear but I still could not see swimmers in front or beside me. I kept having to wade and reposition myself. When I do these swims, I always reach out as far as I can for two reasons. The first is to lengthen my stroke and secondly I am reaching out for the person in front of me. I was hoping the swimmer in front of me did not think they were being violated. I had to grab her leg several times just to move her to the side. I say her because the women were wearing pink caps.
As it always seems to happen in the long swims, at about 400 yards in to it, I started getting that "this is a long swim" feeling. That onset of a panic attack. I quickly brushed that aside with the knowledge that I was wearing a wetsuit and I ain't here to drown.
Before I knew it I was coming to shore for the end of the first lap. I do not look at my watch while swimming so I had no idea what my time would be. Much to my surprise as I stood out of the water to cross the timing mat for the first time, it was just under 34:00 minutes. What the hell. I did not feel like I was swimming that fast and since there were times I got clogged up I figured it would have been around 40. I then saw my girls standing on the dock holding homemade posters saying "go daddy go." I think they were just as surprised by my time. The ink was probably still wet.
I took a gel from my wetsuit. Ate it and chased it with some water. I then looked out over the lake again just to make sure I didn't skip any buoys. It did not look like I did. I figured the second leg should be a little easier since the field had spread out. Never assume they say. I found the need to work on my zigzag swimming this lap. I kept swimming too far outside the buoys. A handy tip from me to you. Don't always follow the swimmer off to your side. They may also be working on their zigzag skills.
Stood up at shore for the end of lap two. 2.4 miles down. I again looked at my watch and was surprised. Under 1:10 total. I did not feel like I was swimming fast. Steady strokes is all I was doing. Not winded at all. I felt very good at this point. AT THIS POINT.
I started running up the beach and then realized there was no need for me to run at this point. I came up to this area where there were several girls standing around wearing matching shirts. One of them asked me if I needed any help. I said, help with what? Your wetsuit. Oh yeah these are the strippers. That was helpful. I then headed to the changing tent.
Part 3. Bike Leg (Who Froze My Waffles?)