For the past few days I've been watching Ironman videos on youtube and getting pretty excited about the race. I watch the videos and visualize the bike and run. I visualize T1 -- transitioning from the swim to the bike; I visualize cruising along Queen K and Akoni Pule Highway to Hawi and the turn around. Then heading back to Kona; I visualize T2 -- feeling strong as I jump off the bike and begin the run. I even visualize having a good, strong run for 26.2 miles.
Notice I haven't mentioned the swim. Every time I imagine floating in the bay waiting for the swim to start my heart skips a few beats, my breathing quickens and I feel nauseated. I imagine hearing the canon fire and the race beginning. I see the ocean erupt into a cloud of white spray from thousands of flailing arms and feet. My heart jumps into my throat. I find myself holding my breath. Usually about there I have to fast-forward my visualizing to well into the swim where things calm down. From there I can usually visualize a good, strong swim.
If you haven't been in the chaos of a triathlon swim start it's hard to imagine what it is like. A lot of competitors stand on shore or hang back until after the start of the race then venture out and begin their swim. Much more relaxing I'm sure, but that's not for me. Maybe I'm an adrenaline junkie. But even with the panic attacks I get visualizing the swim start, I'd much rather be on the front line playing full-contact swimming than hang back and play it safe. Yes, you get hit - hard. You get kicked - hard. You get bumped, climbed over, and maybe even bruised and bloodied, but that's part of the sport and most of the fun.
Yes, on race day, floating in the water waiting for the canon to fire, I'm going to be scared to death. I'm also going to be excited beyond believe. I've never bungee jumped, or parachuted, or even cliff jumped, but I can't imagine the thrill that those bring could be more exciting than the swim start of the Ironman World Championship. I just hope I have good medical and dental coverage!
Ironman is getting close!