The rule, when it comes to wetsuits, is that they are allowed as long as the water is 78deg or cooler. If it's warmer and you choose to still race with your wetsuit, you are not eligible for placement and in some races, including mine, you have to wait for the last wave of the day. Since the water was well over 78deg on my race day I decided to go sans suit. I knew I was not going to come anywhere close to placing, but the idea of starting any later (I already had to wait around for almost 2 hours) was not appealing.It was nerve racking to think that I was about to jump in the river in a tri uniform I had only received 4 days prior and never experimented swimming in. Walking down to the water in my wave seemed more like I was walking the plank. They had installed a floating dock that stretch out into the river. Once the wave before you had started you walked down the dock and jumped in the water. There you and the rest of your wave, tread water for almost 2 minutes waiting for your start.
As corny as it sounds, you could cut the tension with a knife. Suddenly the ever chattering girls had all become silent. All I could think was "Why did I get myself into this? Why is this so important? And how can I get myself out of it?" It seemed like such a bright idea 6 months ago. It was that way for about a minute until we all started to cheer ourselves on... good lucks and whistles flew through the air. Then the horn sounded.
Though it was a mess, it was not as scary as stories had made it seem. I did not get a foot to the face, and no one attempted to swim over or under me. Once we reached the 100 meter mark we all had pretty much sorted out our own space and seemed to finally get into the flow. That was until the wave behind us began. This is a complaint I have about how this race was organized: who's idea was it to put the 25-29 guy's wave right behind the 25-29 women's wave? They set us up to become a human speed bump! I finally felt like I was getting into my rhythm when a wall of neon green swim caps came hauling over us. These are the guys you hear the stories about. Though a bit more unnerving then the start of the race, I still survived sans black eyes or near death drowning incident.
I was having a hard time though. I just could not calm down and get comfortable in my stroke. I felt like I needed to breath every full stroke and had to break my glide to look up and double check I was still on course with the buoy. It wasn't until the 700 m buoy (almost half way) that I truly felt like I fell into my rhythm. Though it was frustrating that it took so long, once I found it, I felt like I was flying. Before I knew it I was at the end and clambering out of the river.
I found it hilarious that on the short run back to the transition area they had us run through a hazmat rinsing station... like that was going to protect me from the crap in the Potomac I had just submerged in for a mile.
*The pictures in this post are of my actual race and me (#2589)