My trip to Brazil was pretty much one learning experience after another. I thought I'd share some tips to save everyone from future mishaps. We'll start with the swim. I had a decent swim in Brazil, but far from my ability. There are some uncontrolable things that make us underperform (maybe I just am not strong enough for a 2.4 miles swim right now), but I'll be trying to fix those in training. What I want to focus on are the controlables that I messed up on!
1) Know where the swim start is! Not the swim venue is "over there", but the actual point where you enter the water. With a language barrier, and lack of transportation, this was a bit difficult for me. It left me running on sharp cobblestones for a mile to find a huge crowd I had to worm my way through, while pulling up my wetsuit. I missed a chance to warm up in the process. Getting good info about where you need to be when, and if you need to wear shoes, will make for a much better, and less stressed swim!
2) Test your goggles beforehand. I borrowed a pair of goggles from Bec's race bag and put them on minutes before the start. I could barely see through them and I hadn't even gone under yet. While I was doing my run to the swim, I was spitting in them and trying to clear them up. They were fine and didn't leak, but again, an easy way to avoid stress. Also, I'm getting new goggles from ROKA this week!! Good goggles matter, especially when you are swimming for an hour.
3) Get a good starting position. Because I arrived to the swim last, the girls were already positioned on the start line. I like to line up beside someone I know is slightly better than me so I can work into a draft. I ended up having to start a row back. Get there early so you can have more of a choice with this. Try to pick people around your speed, not a lot faster. If they are too fast, then there is zero benefit.
4) It's ok to take a moment to appreciate the beauty of your surroundings. Mid-swim I saw the most glorious sunrise I have ever seen - orange light over the mountains. I was still swimming hard, but that moment calmed me and got me into a rythym and before I knew it I was swimming around the girl in front of me. Ironman is a long day and it's important to have little moments like this to keep a positive attitude.
5) When you see showers at the swim exit they are there for a reason! I realized this when I saw my race photos...brown water residue all over my face until the end of the run. Take a moment to wash it off!
6) Smile! You'll get more cheers during the run to the bike!
Good luck swimmers!