Thursday, July 29, 2010

IMLP Race Report - The Swim

Vin and I woke up at 3:45 to start fueling and to get ready for the race. We dropped off of our special needs bags which were filled with things we might need during the day. For example, my bike special needs bag had spare tubes, co2 cartridges, etc. My run special needs bag had extra socks, a few different shirts in case I needed to change and so on.

We headed to the Olympic Oval to drop off our on-bike nutrition, pump up the tires and then headed back to our condo. We were fortunate to have a place across from the swim start and on the bike/run course. When we got back to the condo my wife's family had already arrived and I started to get very emotional. I was just so thankful they were there to support us and see the race.

My sister Ro arrived next with my brother-in-law Clint, and their kids... more and more emotions. My cousins called and they were facing road closures, so I wasn't sure if they were going to make it for the start. I understood, but was hoping they would be there.

Now we were getting close... the crowd was gathering and athletes were walking past the condo to drop off their special needs bags down the street. It was time to get the energy pumping. I brought one of my DJ speakers from home, hooked up the Ipod and started playing music. The first song was the Olympic Theme put a smile on people's face. As the music played we made final preparations... body glide, chamois lube, bathroom stops, and put our wetsuits on. Then it was time to make our way to the swim start.

I wanted a good song playing as we walked away and there was only one choice. My family knows that "Don't stop Believin" reminds me of my mother and it's a song we all love. A few years back for the spinathon I made a video of my mother's progress as she battled a 8-9 month hospital stay due to complications from Diabetes and the "theme" song was "Don't stop Believin".

Every time we hear that song it's like she's with us, so it was only fitting to have that playing as we headed to the shore. Hugs and kisses for the family, last minute pictures, and we walked down the grass slope to the street and over to the swim start.

As I looked back "Don't Stop Believin" was finishing up and we waved good-bye. We could hear music pumping on the main speakers at the swim start and the crowd was massive. All of sudden I heard the first few notes of "Don't Stop Believin"!!!
I turned to Vince and said, "you hear that?" and he said "yup..she's with us". Just awesome...

As we worked our way through the crowd Vin saw my cousin Elena... They made it! The whole family was now here and I mean the whole family!!! (Dad, Keri-Ann, Noella, Ro, Clint, Julia, Gino, Auntie, Uncle, Marisa, Carla, Elena, Elise, Michael, Jim, Taylor, Morgan, Kevin, Nicole, Anna, Vincenzo, Ann, Kerry, Aly, Jimmy, Conner, Ashley, and Mike)

Over the last several months we both got advice about the swim start. It was going to be a battle to say the least. Obviously the 2.4 mile swim is a challenge, but so aren't the hundreds of athletes swimming over you, grabbing you, and kicking you in order to get to open water. Lake Placid has a really cool swim course, in that, there is a cable under the water about 4 feet deep. You don't have really look where you are going if you "get on the line". Well that's the problem. We were told that everyone wants to get on the line, so imagine 2,600+ swimmers converging on the cable. It would be absolute chaos.

One piece of advice we got was to stay back and let the better swimmers go. The other advice was to start to the right and head to the far buoy where everyone would have to converge as we turned left.

Our Coach, Jeff Capobianco, said he likes to start next to the dock and tries to stay left of the line. Vin and I said screw it. We were going with a hybrid approach. Coach had been spot on since day one with every aspect of training, so we went next the dock, but instead of staying back, we went as close to the front as possible...about 4-5 rows deep.

In the scheme of things we were up front and we knew it was going to be a battle. As we floated the cannon blasted and the pro field went off 10 minutes before us. For the next 10 minutes we floated and it seemed like an eternity.

Something interesting started to happen. When we got into the water we found our way pretty easily to where we wanted to be. It wasn't too crowded. As we got closer to the start more and more athletes were floating to us. At that point we could hardly move... we were surrounded! It was getting close... and then BOOM!!!! We were off!

Arm to the head, kick to the body, I was being climbed on and over... My concerns at this point were 1. Try not to get kicked so hard that the race was over before it really got going and 2. Don't lose or let your goggles fill with water. I wear contacts and having water in my goggles is extremely annoying and a contact could fall out. This was a huge concern. I brought extra contacts with me in case I lost one in the swim or on the bike. (Going 40 miles an hour downhill on a bike without glasses on can dry out contacts pretty quickly.)

At this point my goal was to get on that line and swim hard until it opened up, if it ever opened up. I couldn't believe so many people stayed away from the line! After the initial "shock" and "awe" I was really surprised that I had a pretty clear path. It reminds me of a Yogi Berra quote. When he was asked about a restaurant Yogi once said, "It's so busy nobody goes there anymore". I think that's what happened. Everyone is told how crowded it gets on the line so they stay away. I couldn't believe how nice of a swim I was having. Sure, there were some points that I was getting hit, but I knew that was going to happen especially rounding the buoys. I got hit a few times and my goggles filled with water. OH NO! I stayed calm, but the water was really bothering me. I decided to stop for a second and let the water out... a few minutes later I got walloped and it happened again. I stopped, emptied, pressed on.

I exited the water after the first lap, looked at my watch and couldn't believe I saw 32 minutes. I was expecting 35! I headed back into the water for lap 2 and more of the same. I finished the swim in 1:08:25.

As I made my way through the chute the crowd was insane. Just amazing! I was moving quickly while trying to find my family. It was really hard... then I heard "Marty", "Marty"... family, customers, friends... all there cheering us on. Thank you!

I ran through T1 and had no idea where Vince was. Did I beat him in the swim? My goal was 1:10 and I came out in 1:08...I had to have beaten him! As I passed the hook where his transition bags were his bag was missing! He had the swim of his life and I couldn't have been happier! I knew the next time I'd see him was somewhere on the bike.

Up Next: IMLP Race Report - The Bike

1 comment:

  1. followed you on race day from Alexandria, VA. Very cool to see your times get updated on the ironman website. I'm signed up for IMLP 2011. Great Blog.




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