The morning in the house was uneventful. Had breakfast and tea and packed the last few items in my special needs bag then we were off the join the queue to get bodymarked and into transition.
We had to wait a bit but as we were there relatively early we didn't face the chaos that later people did. Leah waited an hour and finally just found a pen and marked herself.
I pumped up my tires, put my water bottles on my bike and stood around wondering "now what?" It was too early to get into my wetsuit and I didn’t want to bug my friends by chattering at them so I wandered around transition taking in the sights. It was interesting watching people dealing with nerves in different ways - some chattering, some rearranging their gear, lots of people on their iPods.
Finally, it was getting close to race time. I donned my wetsuit, scarfed back my first gel of the day and headed out with Teresa and Stan to the beach. We wanted a clear swim so went way, waaaay to the far side of the beach as that would get us out of the crush of people (I had to laugh when I saw the overhead swim start photo as the densest crowd on the beach was the West side where we were!).
Eagle-eyed Andrew Louie managed to spot us and get a photo.
The pros started, then we sang “O Canada” and we were blasted with bad ‘80’s music until the cannon went off.
My plan for the swim start had been to wait out the crowd and then go in so I wouldn’t be dealing with a crazy pack of people. When the gun went I started walking in slowly and let everyone get ahead of me. Luckily it's a shallow beach so I could walk for almost two minutes. I finally got bored of walking and got in and started to swim.
For the whole first leg of the swim (1,612m) I either had clear water or just one person in front of me that I could draft off. Not at all what I was expecting! This seemed to take forever but somehow when I started to see weeds and the sandy lake bottom that meant I was getting to the first turn it felt like I'd got there in no time. After the turn I was a bit closer to the rest of the pack but still on the edge then somehow, when I turned to do the return leg, I got right in the thick of things. By this point the pack had thinned out so it was more about negotiating my way through than it was about avoiding getting battered.
Near the end of the swim I did get clocked in the face, some guy was pushing me off my line and his elbow connected with my cheekbone. It didn’t hurt too much and I didn't mind as I felt that I had earned my place as an Ironman swimmer now that I’d taken a hit in the water.
The exit was fun, after almost an hour and a half of quiet swimming we came out to cheering crowds on the beach. As I stood up I spotted friends of mine and grinned and waved to them.
I checked my time and was thrilled I’d done the swim in 1:22. I knew I could do that time under good conditions but had been unsure of how I’d deal with nerves the crowding so I'd planned on 1:30.
The wetsuit strippers were hilarious. I wasn’t given a chance to get my suit down very far, they pushed my hands out of the way, yanked it down, knocked me over and whipped it off. It was dizzying, it happened so fast.
I had a fairly slow transition as I got changed, made a pit stop and stopped by the sunscreen ladies (I came out with one very white leg) before finding my bike and heading out.