Ironman Lake Placid's swim was in Mirror Lake. It was a nice lake, somewhat clear and had a yellow cord connecting the buoys. Andy, who did Placid the year before, gave sound advice: Hang back and try to swim on the yellow cord and you won't need to sight often."
I lined up with several of the MoCo Mafia (my Tri training group) to start the swim. The energy level at the start of an Ironman is unmatched by any race I have ever done. You could see the nervousness in each athlete's eyes. I began to tear up at the National Anthem.
And then: BOOM!!! Cannon went off. The crowd's cheers were loud. I felt ready.
Immediately I lost my tri-mates in the water. At first I felt alarmed and then I settled in. I attempted to swim near the yellow cord, but there were a lot of men flailing. I veered to the left and just kept swimming. Before I knew it, I was at the turn. At this point this at least 6 foot, 250 lb man swam over top of me. It happened so fast that I barely knew what happened. I decided to swim in his wake, but I made the mistake of touching his foot. WHAM! He literally (and purposefully) kicked me in the face, twice. OUCH! I hesitated and stopped to tread. Then I got mad. I sprinted to pass him. And immediately found my own. I passed people left and right.
I made it back to the dock and headed to shore. The time on the clock said 43:01. I was immediately elated and hoped I could make the second loop as fast.
For the second loop, I made it to the yellow cord and swam the entire leg without sighting. It felt awesome and I felt strong. When I would start to think too much, I closed my eyes and pretended to be in the pool. Good thing I am a straight swimmer.
Before long the yellow cord was fading and I knew that meant I was close to the end. I swam until my hands were touching sand and stood up and immediately started to unzip my wetsuit. Clock read: 1:26 - I had practically even swim splits - Wahoo. (official results: Loop 1: 40:18, Loop 2: 41mins)
I had decided pre-swim that I would not lay down to get stripped at the swim exit due to the sand. I had about a 1/2 mile run to transition and it was chilly. I ran with my wetsuit peeled half way down and got to transition. I had minimal help as it was packed. I did a quick scan and did not see any of my tri-mates that I had started with. Either they were in front of me or I beat them out of the water.
I did panic a little because there were no available volunteers and I really wanted some water. I decided on arm warmers and couldn't get them to pull up on my wet arms. I handed my bag to a volunteer and headed to the exit. I asked the volunteer there if she could help and she happily did. As I was running to the bike, the volunteers called out my bib # and my bike was ready for me at the end of my row.
I was ready for the ride and all I could think was: here we go......