I woke up at 3:46am and headed downstairs to the lobby at 4am to get coffee, a bagel and a banana. We stayed at the Hyatt Place and they were kind enough to have a full breakfast spread available starting at 4am. I stepped outside to check the weather and it was already warm and humid.
I went back upstairs and finished eating, prepped my bike bottles and got dressed. Megan came to my room at 4:45am and we left the hotel at 5am. We found a great spot in a public lot at the corner of Lake Robbins and Six Pines that was about halfway between the finish line and the transition area.
Transition opened at 5:30am and we headed in to drop off our fuel bottles on our bikes and check the tires. My tires felt fine and I didn’t want to risk over inflating them. I heard a few tube explosions and felt bad for the folks who had to start their day with changing out tubes.
We finished up in transition and started the mile walk to the swim start at North Shore Park. Once at the park, we got body marked, dropped off our special needs bags, hit the restroom a few times, and then made our way to the swim start. Everything up until this point felt like an out of body experience...and that feeling would continue throughout the whole day!
Megan and I were excited to get going, but I don’t remember feeling nervous. One good thing about doing a race the magnitude of an Ironman is that there are so.many.tiny.details you have to stay on top of that you really don’t have a ton of time to sit around worrying or getting nervous.
We lined up for the swim and seeded ourselves with the folks who hoped to complete the swim in 1:30 - 1:40. Our main goal for the swim was to stay together. We wanted to do the entire race together, and we knew the one place that plan could really go south was in the swim.
At 6:40am, the cannon went off and Ironman Texas was officially underway! It took us about 10 minutes before our group got in the water, but once we got in we started swimming tried to stay to the right. After just a few seconds I saw Megan tuck herself into a ball and go underwater - turns out her timing chip was really loose and she fixed it quickly. I was laughing so hard and took in a few mouthfuls of water.
We got into a good rhythm of swimming and it was actually really easy to stay together. Megan was on my right, breathing on her left side - I was on her left breathing to my right, so it was very easy for us to see each other during the whole swim.
I would do two strokes, then lift my head to the front to sight, turn to the right to breathe, and then put my head back in for two more strokes. Any time I felt myself lagging behind a little I would do two or three powerful breast strokes to get myself back up to Megan. The course consisted of swimming out to a buoy, turning left at the buoy and going back down toward the start, and then taking a turn into the canal that runs through the Woodlands Waterway.
There were a few times where men swam up under our armpits, or tried to swim over us, and a couple of times my tri shorts were on the end of someone’s down stroke and got pulled down, but thankfully I had on Nike Pro shorts under them.
The swim went by really fast and I kept thinking “We’re really doing this!” and “This is so easy to stay together!” and “I have taken in A LOT of water.”
I drank so much lake water that I have no idea how I didn’t get sick. It definitely wasn’t on purpose and looking back I’m not quite sure how I did it, but I took in so much water through my mouth and nose. At one point the water went up my nose so violently I thought I could feel it filtering through my brain. Here’s to hoping for no brain-eating amoebas.
Once in the canal, there were a lot of spectators which was a good boost. Until we noticed that a man with a cane walking at a very leisurely pace was walking faster than we were swimming. We swam for what seemed like forever down the canal, grabbing fist fulls of debris in the water and taking in the scent of freshly laid manure all along the banks. It was something! Little did I know that about 15 hours later when I took off my watch I would find a piece of algae that hung around for the entire race.
We exited the water right around 1:40, which is what we figured our time would be. Thankfully tons of volunteers were on hand to pull us up the steps. We were pretty wobbly after spending almost two hours in the water!
We grabbed our bike bags on the way to the changing tent. Megan had given me a mini can of Coke to drink after the swim for a jolt of energy. Plus, based on what Coke can do to a rusty car battery, I think it probably took care of any lingering bacteria from the water.
I put on my socks, cycling shoes, helmet and sunglasses and then shoved a few gels/Honey Stinger chews in my jersey pockets. We hit the port-a-potties for a quick stop, grabbed our bikes and headed out onto the road.