At Least I Was Too Busy Worrying About Drowning to Think About Sharks, a Gulf Coast Pre Race Report
Our alarm went off at 2:30 Friday morning. Jason and I secured the bikes to the car, and by 3:30, we were on our way to Panama City. If you’ve never traveled to the panhandle from central Georgia, you have no idea how monotonous of a drive it is. Thankfully, my sweet husband let me snooze most of the way. Our reason to leave so early was to arrive at the convention center just in time for check in to open at 9:00. Half way through our 5 hour drive and at the end of my little snooze, I suddenly remember that PC is in Central time. Jason was less than thrilled to find out he could have had an extra hour of sleep. Ooops.
|Patiently waiting for |
athlete check in to open
Safely in PC, we found ourselves (big surprise) an hour early. Jason and I went out for a quick little 20 minute jog along nice and flat Front Beach Drive. We took it easy, and it felt like a comfortable, but not quite cool, beach morning. However, by the time we made it back to the car, I was sticky and drenched with sweat. This should have been a sign!
Jason and I then snagged second in line for check in. Maybe it was because we were in Florida, but the volunteers seemed to be mostly retired, and completely precious. They were all super genuine, and appeared excited to meet people and see what this whole “triathlon” phenomenon was all about.
After a short debate on whether or not to attend the athlete meeting, we decided to be rebels and headed over the pedestrian walkway (we have to bike/run over THAT!?) to transition for bike check in. The wind was blowing so hard, we had to rack our bikes for the night by the bars versus the saddle. We were nervous about leaving our bikes overnight, as they were forecasting some pretty gnarly storms, but thanks to Ironman rules of no check in on race day, we didn’t have much of a choice. With a little hope, and a whole lot of prayer over our bikes, we started toward the beach for a practice swim.
|It looks smooth as glass, but the next second we were|
pummeled by a wave!
We each decided to forego the wetsuit for our practice swim. My reasoning was that IF in the event the swim wound up being NOT wetsuit legal, I wanted to know that I could live without the extra buoyancy (aka security blanket). Rebecca, Jason and I, then jumped into the chilly ocean and headed out to the buoy marking the first section of the swim. In the course of 20 minutes, I laughed, sputtered, coughed, swallowed a gallon of water, floated on my back, swam something resembling freestyle stroke, and was flipped around like a shell on the beach. Once at the buoy, the three of us regrouped, took pictures, and just had FUN. I don’t know at what point I stopped being afraid of the conditions, and just started having fun, but that’s exactly what happened. I didn’t finish that practice “swim” any less nervous about the difficulty of the swim, but I knew that I was no longer afraid to try.
Safely back on the beach, Jason and I said goodbye for the day to our new friend and went to check into our hotel. We were thrilled to find out it was only half a mile away from transition! Our room was on the third floor, and from our window, we had an incredible view of the ocean and swim course. The rest of the day was spent hydrating, packing our transition bags, and of course, everyone’s favorite part-carb loading!
|Swim course is to the left of photo, in front of the beach chairs.|
We could clearly see the buoys, but camera phone couldn't.
|It'll be fun they said|