Sunday, March 8, 2015

Warrior in Water (IM Fortaleza Swim Recap)

4 months after completion of IM Fortaleza I strive to put down my thoughts on the race and my experience.  Much has happened on my journey these last 4 months.  Someone asked me today....Why write one when so much time has lapsed?   I feel it necessary step to finish this race report.  Almost so that I can move on and continue to shed the weight of the last 4 months and begin new chapters of my life putting behind the past.

Sunday Morning....Race Day.  3:30am in Fortaleza.

Unlike the two other previous IMs that I have done, this one starts at 6am and ends at 11pm not midnight.  So an already 5 hour time difference to race is now putting this start time 6 hours earlier that what I am thinking and accustomed to.  Basically I will be starting my 3rd IM swim at 1am.

My game plan is to arrive at the race at 4:30am.  This will give me 30 minutes to put my fuel on my bike and give one last gear check.  As the bike transition area will close at 5am. Then I'll have one hour prior to race beginning to warm up and relax.

Hal and I get to race central and I depart for Bella.  I drop my special needs bag off and put my nutrition on Bella.  I then noticed that Bella's front tire appeared a little soft.  I borrow a pump from a nearby competitor and as I attempt to inflate the tire, it actually deflates.  I have a 60mm thread on the wheel when it really should have an 80mm thread and the bike pump could not grasp the threads completely and all the air came out of the tire.  Holy Shit!  What am I going to do now?  I have 15 minutes before the bike area is closed.  Because of the deflation, the thread sinks deeper into the wheel making it virtually impossible to get a grasp on an inflate.  My spare inner tube is  80mm so I run and get my repair kit from my transition bag and head back out to change my tire.  I was virtually in panic mode or as much as I get towards it.  I didn't want to be kicked out and then have to try and change a tire after the swim during the bike transition.  I borrowed another pump and thought to try one last time.   I manage to get the tip of the thread caught and slightly inflate the tube enough to keep the thread from sinking in.  At this point I then put my CO2 Cartridge on the tube and was able to fully inflate.  A huge sigh of relief as I had preferred not to use one of my spare tubes at 80mm before the race even began in case I got a flat out on the course. Besides meeting up with the Demon Nokk this was the most panicked I had become before/during or after an IM.  Managing difficulties for the race and not letting it stop me = WM (Warrior Mode)
Equipped with my Warrior Mode mentality, I am ready to face all the challenges of the race and the day ahead.  It has already taken a Warrior to simply get to this starting line.  I figure there is not much that can be thrown at me to take me off my path of 3 IM's in 11 months for this 1st year rookie guy who enters triathlons.  I hang out with Hal by the start for close to an hour making sure my watch is ready to go, making sure I am ready to go.  The start is a mass in water start.  So besides shaking out my shoulders and breathing, I don't do a tremendous amount of warming up.  I figure by treading water for a bit, it'll warm me up some.  Then suddenly the gun goes off and I head to the water's edge keeping in tradition of being the last person in the water.  I give Hal a thumbs up, say Nokk 3 times and I am literally the last person in the water starting off in 1500th place.  Just where I like to be.
Prior to entering the water, I survey the course.  The instructions were to swim straight out about 1800 yds into the ocean towards a large sail boat go around the sailboat and head back towards a large orange buoy one last turn around the buoy and back to the pier.  I can see the Sailboat, I can see the buoy so let's go.  Seems simple enough.  That is until I got into the water.  The swells were so big that every time I looked up I saw a wall of blue.  I knew the swells were big from the practice swim earlier in the week but I thought the boat was big enough I would be able to catch a glimpse of it.  Not the we go WM.

I quickly catch up to the rear of the pack and just keep sighting swimmers.  I'd look for a school of swimmers and head towards them.  Once I caught them, I would look for the next school of swimmers and head towards them.  After the race looking at my GPS, it was a pretty nasty zig zag swim from what should have been a straight shot.  There was no shoreline to look at, nothing to set my bearings towards.  I finally make it to the sailboat and that was a cool experience as there were a lot of people aboard cheering us on.  Heading towards the bouy and the pier was much easier to sight as I picked out objects on the shoreline and used them as my marks.  It was a decent swim.  I felt good.  I, as usual with these longer swims, get into a rythmic feeling between my breath and my stroke and occasional kick.  I think it may actually slow me down as it is almost meditative for me. breath stroke stroke, breath stroke stroke.  I try to keep myself hoest every once in a while with an all out burts for a 10 count or so.  Once while rounding the sailboat when going up for a breath, I took in a huge mouthful of salt water.  I was a little concerned if that would affect my stomach.  I was trying to keep moving while coughing and breathing as I didn't want to stop.  But DANG that water was super salty.  The water was clear enough that you could see 5 to 10 feet in front of you.  Not endless like Cozumel but certainly greater visibility that the Colorado lakes and Reservoirs, I am used to.  Towards the end of the swim I do my typical Dolphin kicks to wake up my legs and get them ready for the bike.
I finished the swim in 1:31 about 13 minutes slower than in Boulder.  With the swells and conditions of the ocean and myself, I'm happy with that.  I recall seeing plenty of swimmers just bobbing up and down in the water trying to find there way.  Hal later told me he observed racers getting out the water and immediately quitting.  I couldn't imagine all the time and effort and finances that one puts out there to enter an Ironman race and then to quit after the 1st discipline.  Off to the bike.......


  1. Warrior Mode....great job brother!

  2. As always, unbelievably proud!


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