After I said goodbye to my husband I managed to wipe away my tears as I made my way over to the large area where all of the AG athletes were corralled. The air was filled with nervous energy and you could just feel it all around you like a thick fog. Being surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of athletes all at once was just so crazy. I was standing by myself, trying not to think about what I was about to do, and I just started SHAKING. It wasn't that I was cold, but just extremely NERVOUS!
Every once in awhile an athlete would catch a glimpse of someone they knew on the other side of the fence and they would start screaming and shouting to each other. And every time that happened I would get teary eyed all over again.
Suddenly, I heard a cannon go off and I knew the pros had started! Everyone let out a massive cheer! Then, we all just started moving forward. I had no idea where I was going, but I just let the huge crowd take me with them. Before I knew it, we were at the edge of Tempe Town Lake and the announcer said we just had to jump off into the water. I panicked for a minute thinking about having to JUMP into the water, but then more and more athletes kept coming and I knew I had to just do it!
What I saw at that point was just so SURREAL! I could see hundreds and hundreds of green and pink swim caps all around me. I looked up at the bridge and saw the massive amounts of spectators lining the edge. IT WAS AMAZING! Again, I was overcome with emotion and started getting teary eyed again. The problem though was that I was wearing my goggles and they totally fogged up! Ha ha!
(I got this video off of YouTube! My favorite part is right at the beginning when there's a girl in the background that says, "Holy F*ck!"...ha ha! Then at the end, this girl says, "That just looks like it sucks!" I love the comments!)
Right after the cannon went off it was just mass chaos. I could feel hands/arms/fingers on my feet and legs and it only made me want to swim faster. When I would come close to someone in front of me I would veer to the left or right to try and move away from them. The only problem was that there really was nowhere to go because people were EVERYWHERE! But, I didn't panic and just kept moving forward.
At one point, some big guy wrapped his entire arm around my head, knocking my goggles off of my face, and pushing me under the water. I swallowed a ton of water and came up choking. It was not fun! He stopped to apologize and make sure I was alright, which I thought was a nice gesture, and I told him I was fine. Thank god I put my goggles on UNDER my swim cap. **If I have any advice about the mass swim starts of triathlons, it is that you should always put your goggles on under your swim cap. That way if they get knocked off, you can put them right back on instead of trying to find them in the water!
After that incident though, there were few times when I came into contact with other athletes, and would swallow tons of water, but for the most part I found myself swimming in open water. IT WAS AWESOME! I couldn't believe it and was just sooo happy!
At the buoy turn around, all of a sudden I heard a guy screaming at the top of his lungs, "Help, help, help!" I stopped swimming and noticed that EVERYONE around me had stopped swimming too. We all looked towards the direction of the guy to make sure he was alright. He was totally panicking and screaming! Then all at once, the hundreds of us around each other all started shouting for someone on a kayak/boat/canoe to help. Finally, a kayak came and the guy grabbed on. I hope he finished the race, but I'm not sure if he did. BUT, that moment was just amazing to me. The fact that all of us, hundreds of us, stopped and worked together to get that guy help was awesome. Although we were all swimming our own races, I truly believe the majority of us were looking out for each other and it was a great feeling.
The swim course is a big rectangle and once I made it around the turn-around buoys I started heading back to the start/finish. For some reason, the swim back seemed to take A LOT longer than the swim out. But, every time I would sight, the Mill Ave. Bridge kept getting closer and closer and it was amazing! I just kept saying, "I'm doing it, I'm doing it!" and I KNEW I was going to finish!!!
FINALLY, I made it under the bridge, around the last turn buoy, and saw the big red TYR flags marking the finish! I was sooo excited and got a huge smile on my face!
I WAS SO EXCITED!! I just kept saying in my head, "I did it, I did it, I did it!!!" I had NO idea what my time was, but I honestly didn't care. All that mattered to me at that point was that I FINISHED! I made it through the part that I was TERRIFIED of and it was an awesome feeling. I started getting emotional again as I ran down the path. The crowd lined the entire path and they were AMAZING! Everyone was shouting and screaming and it was just awesome!
I got to the bike gear area and a volunteer already had my bag out and ready for me! Seriously, the volunteers were amazing! I grabbed my bag and headed to the change tent. There were women everywhere, but I was able to find a chair. I sat down, looked around me, and took a deep breath! Then a volunteer came up to me and helped me get into my bike gear. I put on my arm warmers and a light weight wind jacket because I was so cold! I knew I could always ditch them if I needed to, but I would rather be warm then cold.
|All of the bikes waiting for us after the swim!|
I headed out of the tent and towards my bike and volunteers were yelling ahead of them, "365, 365!" Before I knew it, a volunteer was handing me my bike and I headed towards the bike exit. AND THAT IS WHEN I SAW THEM! My entire family was there, right passed the bike exit, and I LOST IT again!! I went right up to them, kept saying, "I made it, I made it!", gave them all hugs over the fence, and I was bawling. COMPLETELY BAWLING! They all said good luck, and I headed towards the mount line, wiping the tears from my eyes, ready for the next leg of my adventure!
|I'm in the blue jacket. If you click on the picture and make it bigger you can totally tell that I'm crying! I was such a mess!|