You see, unlike other triathlons, Ironman Louisville uses a time trial start where each person enters the water individually. That being said, however, the midnight countdown starts at 7:00 am regardless of what time you actually get in the water. SO, if you don't get in until 7:45 (the last athlete in), you still have 2 hours and 2o minutes to swim, but your bike and run cut offs will stay the same. Most importantly, you then only have 16 hours and 15 minutes to finish the entire event.
Thus, I wasn't so much nervous for the start of the race as I was getting a good spot in line so I could finish the race.
I walked down to transition as fast as I could (actually sharing sidewalk space with revelers from the bars the night before) and found someone to loan me their stand pump so I could pump up my tires-- no small feat when you think that we were all jockeying for starting positions in the scrum. (those that hadn't let the air out the day before were greeted by some unpleasant surprises when they found the heat had popped their tires). Four minutes later-- I was off-- half walking, half running to the line.
WOW was that a long line. Fortunately, I found Sandy, who had skipped transition (Maria was pumping her tires) and had been standing in line early. I jumped in with her-pretty happy with our position in the line. We hunkered down to wait for 2 hours.
About 20 minutes later, Coach Simon came by. Apparently, some of the LA team's spouses had come down to the line directly after the bars closed the night before. They had been in the line since about 230 am and and secured a spot about 30 people behind the pros (who, coincidentally, don't have to wait in line). Now we were cooking with gas. The 2 hours seemed to fly by and before I knew it we were standing down on the boat dock. Suddenly, like lemmings, we were following each other off the boat docks in 2 lines.
I hesitated briefly (you can actually see me if you look really closely at the end of the video-- I'm in a green top and a black and white striped bikini bottom -- the video wouldn't load, so I've added it as Chapter 3A) and then was in the water. The warmth again surprised me and I loved it. I started swimming out and around the island. I wasn't really getting jostled or kicked-- just enjoying my swim. I avoided the branches and the other low hanging things in the water and headed out past the island. Now, from looking at the course maps, one would think that the turn around was at the end of the island-- so as I sighted out, I was excited to see the end of the island not looking so far away. HOWEVER-- the actual turn around was about 2 buoys later. This little bit of the course seemed to take forever to navigate.
Coming back, I notice that the buoys all of a sudden went from yellow to orange? Was that the 1/2 way point already? I guess it was. I was feeling good and enjoying my swim. At one point I found a swimming buddy-- or someone that I kept bumping into repeatedly. . . over and over and over again. Nothing personal-- but we couldn't seem to stop bumping into each other. I'm not sure who got out of the water first, but I'm sure she was as happy to get away from me as I was to get away from her.
Around this time, I was swimming along and then found that I WASN'T MOVING! I swam 10 strokes and looked up for the buoys. I'm not sure what was going on but I didn't think I'd moved. So I swam 10 more strokes. . . same effect. What the heck was going on? The end of the swim was supposed to be DOWN RIVER (aka with the current), why was I not going anywhere? I was underneath the bridge to Indiana. This huge bridge (which we would run on later) apparently created its own current. It took about 30 really strong, hard, exhausting strokes to get myself out of its pull and get myself back on course.
The end of the swim came pretty quickly-- although my time was a little bit slower than I'd expected. I'd been "hoping" for an hour and 10 minutes or so-- but it came out to be an hour and 17 minutes (I'm blaming the chip mats, not my slow swimming)! I pulled myself out of the water-- Ironman has steps-- much easier than doing the fish flop on the dock-- and started out into T1.