This is Part 2 in a 4-part series.
You can read Part 1 here.
The swim and T1 take place at Johnson’s Beach in Guerneville. Caryn and I got there with plenty of time to set up for our 8:14 AM start time. I think we arrived somewhere around 7:30. Of note, they do not assign you a transition spot on the rack by number (as many races do). This is a first come, first served situation. In general, I feel like the triathlete community is very accommodating of one another, but elbow room in the transition area can be a bit touchy (literally).
The water temperature was 72* — warmer than the outdoor temperature, so it was nice getting in! This race had an in-water start, which was a first for me. Once our wave (purple swim caps) was invited into the water, the mass of us plunged in and got in a few strokes to warm up. I adjusted my goggles and made my way to the far right. My tendency is to drift left as I swim, so I wanted to be as far right as possible.
We were swimming in the Russian River, which does have a slight current. I can’t say that I actually felt it as I was swimming against it, but it was there mentally. Knowing that I’d be swimming with the current at the turnaround kept me going hard. I would love to see a GPS diagram of the course I took on this swim because I was all over the place! The worst of it was that the waves were not started far enough apart (in my opinion), so I was swimming into athletes from the three waves ahead of me.
I refused to look at my watch until the turnaround. I knew it was more than halfway from the finish and I didn’t want to psych myself out before that. As I rounded the second buoy, I looked and my time was 17:57. I was so stoked! I knew I’d finish in less than 35 minutes at that pace! The traffic thinned out and I could swim longer between needing to sight the buoys and other swimmers.
As I was crossing under the pedestrian bridge, I purposely looked up to see if Jeff and Greg were there. Yep! Spectating a swim race is very difficult, so I thought I’d make it easier for them — I hollered and waved! That way I knew they’d get good pictures of me (and know when I came out of the water). Can someone tell me how horrible my form is (and how to correct it)? I’m on the left.
I was so thrilled when I stepped up on the ramp and looked down at my watch. 32:35! (Official time is 32:43) I honestly couldn’t believe I swam that fast, especially considering my shoulder injury and being unable to swim for 6 weeks during my training. I was ecstatic, and my coach was there at the swim exit yelling my name. Loved it!
Barb’s Race was running simultaneously to the Full Vineman Ironman. The benefit of this was wetsuit strippers! I haven’t ever taken part in this before, so we walked over to see it happening prior to our race start so we’d know what to do. Basically:
- Come out of the water and make your way up the ramp. For me, I got my wetsuit unzipped and off my arms, down to waist level.
- Make eye contact with a stripper (!!).
- Lay down on your back and throw your legs in the air. Your stripper will yank your wetsuit off your legs and hand it to you.
As I ran to my transition area, I rolled my wetsuit up, tucking my swim cap, goggles, and ear plugs into it. Everything had to be stuffed back into the T1 Transport Bag, so I wanted to be efficient. The transition area is a gravel parking lot. Fortunately, the aisles along side the racks were carpeted. The areas in between the racks were not, so it was critical to have a towel for brushing off your feet before stuffing them into your shoes.
I quickly got into my socks and shoes, sprayed a liberal amount of sunscreen on my face, and got my helmet and sunglasses on. There is a steep-ish hill coming out of the transition area onto the street, so I was sure I had my bike in its lowest gear as to not drop my chain or fall over within the first few yards of the bike portion.
Official T1 time: 2:54
Jeff was there snapping photos and it felt great to be on the bike. Best of all, the skies were still overcast!
Click here for Part 3!