It all began with the swim. The triathlon had finally arrived and Marci and I both agreed it snuck right up on us. But we were ready - as ready as we could be for this event. After an early 4am wake up call we headed down to the transition area at 4:45am. We set up our transitions, then lubed up with TriSlide before pulling our wetsuits on, grabbing our new Yellow TriRock swim caps, and headed down to the water. We were told the water was going to be a balmy 74 degrees and Marci started to consider not wearing her wetsuit. She eventually decided to wear it and was happy she did - she felt perfectly comfortable and faster in her suit than had she not worn it.
Waiting, waiting, waiting
Probably the toughest parts of any race are waiting for it to start, and the last few miles at the end. Marci and I waited at the start, attempting to stretch and trying to make each other laugh so we could calm our nerves. A few fart jokes later, we pulled on our caps and got our goggles in place. At this point Marci was starting to feel a little anxious because we were surrounded in different colored caps (each wave / age group had a different colored cap: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and pink) and we weren't sure what order the caps were in for the swim. We were also hoping to get in the water a little bit before the start to acclimate to the temperature, but this race wasn't set up for that.
We found out we were in Wave 3, so we walked over to the sidelines to watch the red and orange caps start. They dove in like champs and it got us excited for our turn. Then, the yellow caps started bunching together and we began making our way to the start. We headed down a flight of stairs to the water where a guy at the bottom shouted, "Watch your step! Make sure to step on the last step and jump! Good luck!" I wanted to stick to Marci's side like glue so as they were separating us into the three sections of the stairs I tried to follow her down her's and was pulled by a volunteer and practically pushed down the stairs next to her. That was totally my fault - they were trying to stagger the start so there would be less trampling and I messed up their flow. Sorry, guys!
We both got to the bottom yelled some gibberish to each other that probably sounded like, "Gahahsluuckaaaaaahhhh!!!!!" and dove in. Marci said it felt like when she had gone skydiving and jumped not knowing what to expect. I honestly don't remember feeling anything when I dove in. It took me a couple of seconds to realize how PERFECT the water was. The temperature was a far cry from the chilly San Francisco Bay and icy Lake Tahoe!
As soon as Marci and I were in the water we were separated. I don't know why I thought we'd swim side by side - everyone looks the same in the water! I have no idea how long we swam together. Marci got to the 600 meter buoy and looked up and thought she saw me, which made her happy and gave her a little motivation boost.
I loved the swim - it was my absolute favorite part of the course. The water was calm and warm and it just felt like an amazing early morning swim. I remember breathing over my shoulder and noticing a bright orange light. I looked again on another breath and realized it was the sun coming up, breaking through some of the dark morning clouds, and creating an amazing morning glow. That simple moment gave me such joy that I couldn't helped but smile as I continued to swim along.
I'm also so glad I did a few open water swims before race day. I felt comfortable swimming in a group getting pushed around from time to time and finding ways to swim between and around people. If you are doing a triathlon definitely try to get a couple group swims in - they are so helpful in boosting your confidence and giving you that extra bit of experience!
Of course there were a few hiccups during the swim. We both managed to swallow a lot of salt water which made me incredibly thirsty and gave Marci a few stomach issues. We both got almost trampled on by a rogue 800 meter buoy that wasn't properly anchored. Marci kept veering left on the swim and had a lifeguard tell her to go left when she really needed to go right. I lost sight of the last 500 meters of buoys and swam a little off course before I realized all I had to do was swim straight. But all in all, we both loved the swim.
By time we got to the finish to run back up the stairs and over to the transition area, a group of lifguards were in the water and standing on the bottom of the stairs holding out their hands underwater to pull us up. That extra pull and shouts of encouragement and congratulations really gave us that extra boost of excitement to hurry over to our bikes to get going on the second leg.
Click here for TriRock San Diego - The Bike