Posted in Hobie Beach, Ironman, Ordinarylife, Port Elizabeth, Shark Rock Pier, South Africa, Swimming, Training, Triathlon, weather, Wetsuit

Race Day – The swim

I woke up and everything was fine!  For about 10 minutes, then I seized up again. CRAP, CRAP, CRAP!  But as I had woken up fine I decided that it was NOT an injury, I must just be stressed and as soon as I stood on the start it would go away.  However, just incase, I stretched LOTS, I took a couple of anti-inflammatories, and I said LOTS of prayers to just about anybody who I thought might be listening.  Luckily it was not nearly as bad as the day before and I figured the swim would probably loosen it up if nothing else helped.


After waking up at 4:00am, I made myself breakfast of Instant ACE porridge (my favourite prerace meal), a banana and a meal replacement shake.  One good thing about having to check your bike and transition bags in the day before is that you have less to worry about in the morning.  Basically the only things you need to take with you are your swimming stuff and your nutrition.  I had heard the weather was going to be HOT, so I was hoping that I had enough liquids.


I met my mom and sister down at the start.  My sister and I went to check on our bikes and put our food in the relevant bags.  It was still dark but the atmosphere was awesome.  There was not a breath of wind… and it was already HOT!  The sea was FLAT and it looked perfect!  After soaking up the atmosphere for a bit we put on our wetsuits.  We met up with another of my friends and the 3 of us headed down to the beach.  On the beach at the start they have signs for where you should stand, depending on how fast you are expecting to swim.  My friend and I decided to stand in front of the sub 1 hour 20 sign.  My sister decided to stand near the 1 hour 40 sign, so I said good bye and good luck to her. 


Standing on the beach at the start is amazing.  The African drummers are playing and it almost feels like your heart beats to their beat.  Then the helicopters arrive.  This time there were 3 of them, just hovering out over the ocean, just past the breakers.  There were also boats in the water.  It really makes you realise that this is a big race and you are part of it.  And what do you know, standing there on the start my neck was fine……….


Just before the start, Me, my sister and Terri
Just before the start, Me, my sister and Terri


My plan for the swim was to stay far right, so I did not get tangled up in the mass of swimmers.  Go wide round the buoys and keep a consistent pace.  I was not really sure of what time to expect.  On my pre race target I had said 1 hour 30, but was really hoping for 1 hour 20 or less.  I knew that is what I could do easily in the pool for that distance and was sure I would not be that far off in the sea.  The swim is two loops, each loop is 1.9km.  Between loops there is a short run out the water, along the beach and back into the sea.  I checked my time at that split and I did the first loop in 37 minutes.  My over all time was 1hour 14, which means I did an equal time for both loops.  At least I knew then that I was swimming consistently and had not slowed for my second loop. 


It was interesting swimming amongst all those people and even though I kept to my plan of staying out of the fray I did catch some of it.  Although I think I accidently gave more than I got.  I think somewhere along the way I really walloped somebody – if it was you, sorry.  Somebody else did get me back though.  Someone bit my foot (or I kicked them in the mouth but I am opting to believe that they bit me) my thought at the time was; “hmmm, that was teeth, but seeing as my foot is still there I am going to assume it was not a shark”.  Odd the things you think about when you are swimming. 


So I was off to a good start!  My swim time was 1 hour 14 minutes 47 seconds.  Better than I was hoping for.  Woo Hoo, but not a time to get excited.  It was just the start to a very hot and long day.


Me - finishing the swim
Me - finishing the swim


In transition I stripped out my wetsuit and costume and put on my tri shorts and top.  I also made sure that one of the volunteers COVERED me from head to toe in sunscreen.  Even the places that you think you would not burn.  I learnt the hard way last time and still have the scars two years later.  Then I head out to get my bike.  1 leg down, 2 to go……

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