Missed part 1?  Read it here!

It’s 6:30 am.  I’ve been awake since 3 am, and am antsy to get in the water and get going.  The sun is finally up, and 2,400 triathletes are crammed into the starting area.  Everyone is chatting, and in their faces you can see a mixture of excitement and nervousness.  Ironman Boulder is about to begin.

The swim

At 6:35 am, and age grouper cannon went off.  I was seeded at the back of the 1:15-1:30 corral, so it took a while to shuffle my way to the water’s edge.  Along the way, I chatted with some of the women around me.  Many of which were doing their first Ironman that day.  At 6:46 am, we crossed the timing mat and stepped into the water, which was a very comfortable 74 degrees.

I took a couple steps until I was about waist deep, and then started swimming.

Right away, I could tell I had seeded myself much better than I had at Lake Placid.  There was basically no contact.  I was in heaven.  I did have to stop once or twice when someone cut me off, but those were pretty minor things.

Getting to the first buoy was uneventful, which is wonderful in a swim.  But somewhere around the first buoy, I noticed that my breathing was getting out of control, which was starting to make me panicky.  My solution to this is always to simply flip over and backstroke for a few seconds until I can get my heart rate back down and get the breathing under control.  Sometimes this happens with race day adrenaline.  It’s not that big of a deal, and is usually pretty easy to fix.

So I flipped over and started backstroking.

After a minute, I tried to flip back over and swim normally again, but I still couldn’t breathe properly.

Uh oh.

Backstroke, backstroke, backstroke.

Flip.

Nope.

Fuck.

While I was still backstroking, I started to wonder if I was going to be able to even complete the swim, let alone the rest of the day.  This was not looking good.  For a brief moment, I considered flagging down a kayak just to have something to hang on to and catch my breath for a second, but I didn’t want to go there.

Keep on backstroking…

Every time I flipped over to swim normally, I would find myself out of breath after just a couple strokes.  I ended up backstroking for about six buoys – which is a LONG TIME.  After the sixth buoy, I was FINALLY able to get into a rhythm and start swimming normally.  Thank goodness.

At this point, I was way behind where I had wanted to be, but hey, at least I could breathe.  Now it was just time to put my head down, plug away, and sing “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall,” like I do for all open water swims.

99 bottles of beer on the wall.  99 bottles of beer…

Take one down

Pass it around

98 bottles of beer on the wall…

Oddly enough, this works really well for keeping my strokes smooth.  It’s the perfect beat.

56 bottles of beer on the wall…

Make the first turn.  Are we done yet?  Sheesh, this swim feels long.

30 bottles of beer on the wall…

Hey!  Is that my friend Molly just to my left there?  I should try to catch her!

2 bottles of beer on the wall…

Dammit, she’s not getting any closer!

99 bottles of beer on the wall…

Good lord, where is that second turn buoy???

25 bottles of beer on the wall…

There it is!!!

1 bottle of beer on the wall…

Seriously, why the hell am I not catching her?  This is annoying.

99 bottles of beer on the wall…

Well, hey, at least I can see the swim finish now.

64 bottles of beer on the wall…

I feel pretty good!  Nice!

45 bottles of beer on the wall…

This is great!  My goggles didn’t leak at all…

44 bottles of beer on the wall…

:: Goggles start leaking a little ::

3 bottles of beer on the wall…

Allllllllllmost there!

99 bottles of beer on the wall…

Allllllllllmost there!

72 bottles of beer on the wall…

Allllllllllmost there!

29 bottles of beer on the wall…

Hells yes!  There’s the bottom!  Let’s blow this joint!

Swim time: 1:48:08

Not at all what I was hoping, but everyone’s watches measured it as 2.6 miles, not 2.4, plus the breathing issues.  I’ll take it.

T1

I pulled off my cap and goggles and ran to the wetsuit strippers.  They had my wetsuit off in a few seconds, and then it was off to grab my gear bag and into the changing tent.

My amazing changing tent volunteer had all my stuff out of the bag in a matter of seconds.  I had already worn my tri top and shorts under the wetsuit, so all I needed to do was put on my shoes, helmet, and sunglasses.  Then it was time to load up the jersey pockets with food and some extra CO2 cartridges, and I was off to grab my bike.

No bike grabbers here like there were at Lake Placid.  We had to run and get our own.  Not a big deal, since you had to run past it to get to the mount line anyway.

Grab the bike, and run out of the transition area, up the small hill (not fun in bike shoes), and to the mount line.

T1 time: 7:14

 

To be continued…

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