Ironman Santa Rosa 2017 Race Report – The Swim

The bus pulled up into the transition parking lot and out I went. The fact that I had done the half a few months earlier at this same location, with basically the same check-in and race morning protocols really helped my nerves. This was all familiar, I had done it before.

I walked quickly over to transition and started getting ready. As I headed down my line news came over the speaker, the water was 76.1, WETSUIT LEGAL! The day was already off to a great start. I loaded my bike up with my hydration, checked my nutrition, stashed my phone in my bento box (for emergencies) and started stuffing myself into my wetsuit.


Half dressed I made my way down to the lake and looked for my teammates. There at the beginning of the boat ramp was my teammate Briana and her husband. She and I were going to start in the 1:20 wave, so we stayed together. I was so happy to have her with me. It’s so nice to have someone to talk to, zip you up and keep your mind off of the race. It’s very easy to get swept up in the excitement and let nerves take over. We chatted as the minutes passed and before I knew it the canon had sounded.

We herded ourselves to the water’s edge right by Mike Reilly. I looked at him, hoping I’d see his face again at the end of the day and walked slowly into the water. I had a panic attack during the half here in May and I was determined to have a good swim. The swim is my best event and the most fun for me. I was going to make the most of it.

I glided into the water and set off. No panic, no struggle, just smooth sailing. As I headed out, steam started to come off the water. It was hard to see through it, but also very cool to see. I tried to soak it in. This was my first and I was going to soak up every second of it. My swim went well, I made the decision in the first 100 yards to not use my legs at all. I dragged them through the water or really glided, your wetsuit keeps you in position, using your legs just makes you go faster, but I have a decent pull. I used my legs only at the red turn buoy or when someone decided they wanted to grab on for a ride.

Before I knew it I was done with my first lap, I hopped out of the water, turned the cone and went right back in for a second loop. My first loop took me 39 minutes, the second about 43, all because I decided to swim a bit extra. My sighting was worse during the second loop and I encountered some men that decided swimming like the hulk was a great idea. It’s almost always men too, must be all that testosterone. Hulk SMASH the water! I was punched a few times, had my goggles kicked and grabbed, but it wasn’t bad. I’ve gotten used to it over the past few seasons and learned how to fight for my place in the water. A little soccer elbow here, nice kick there and ta-da clear water.

Towards the end of the swim, I started feeling hunger pains. I thought of my transition bag and the rice krispy treat I had stashed in it just an hour earlier. Mentally patting myself on the back for my good thinking. The last 500 yards were a bit toasty. I started to feel the warmth of the water. I wasn’t uncomfortably warm, but had I had to do another loop, I would have gotten pretty hot.

Soon the last red buoy was in sight. I turned the corner and headed to the exit. Once at the exit, I picked myself up and made my way up the boat ramp. I finished the swim in 1:22:26 at a 1:51/100yd pace with about 250 extra yards. Had I not swam a little extra, I would have actually come in under my predicted swim time. I was pleased with my performance and looking forward to the rest of the race.

“Smile,” I reminded myself. I have a bad habit of not smiling for cameras. This was my first Ironman, I wanted some nice pictures! I headed up the ramp and saw my family. Quick hugs to my mom and a pet to little Momo the teacup yorkie and I was off up the ramp. The ramp to T1 is long and steep. It’s about a 1/4 mile from the water’s edge to the tent and all up hill. I took my time and jogged up to transition.

Happiest I was all race, aside from the finish line. I loved the swim!

As I headed to the tent I called out my number and a volunteer grabbed my bag, handed it to me and ushered me into the women’s tent. I’m not one for nudity, even in a locker room, but I did a full change (except my bra, nobody wants to fight a wet bra on race day) for each leg of the race. Everyone is so pre-occupied with their own stuff no one notices. If you are worried about it, don’t.

I changed into my super awesome Coeur zip bib shorts (AMAZING, I forgot chamois cream and had ZERO issues), tossed my cycling jersey on and downed an applesauce and my rice krispy treat. When I got to my socks, I realized that I had forgotten an extra water bottle to wash the sand off my feet. I rubbed off as much as I could, but that would come back to haunt me later on in the day. Don’t forget this! I popped on another quick layer of sunscreen, got my helmet and glasses on and made my way out of the tent.

Continued on The Bike