2009 Gulf Coast Triathlon
Half Ironman distance in Panama City, Florida
In 2008, the swim was a bit scary for me.  Swimming straight out into the ocean 950 yards was hard to even comprehend.  Did I mention that the surf was really rough?  However, once you were past the second set of breakers, the gulf was just smooth, rolling swells and relatively easy swimming.  I discovered navigation was a  little difficult, however.  You can only see where you are and where you are headed if you look up right on top of a wave.  This year was a lot easier.  Probably because I knew what to expect and even though I had only swam 5 times before the race, three were for over an hour and very comfortable.  I had hoped the water would be smoother this year but it was actually worse.  The breakers were about the same but we had a fairly strong, onshore wind.  This created pretty bad chop out beyond the breakers that made the swimming much harder going out.  It was necessary to coordinate breathing with cresting waves.  Otherwise when you opened your mouth to breathe you got a mouthful of salt water.  Not a good thing when you have almost 6 hours of swimming, biking and running ahead of you.  Oh yes, there was another difference this year, I placed!  We will not discuss what position but I got a trophy.  We will also not discuss the age group I moved up into.  (USAT grouping  only, at least for a few more months.)  Did I mention the sun was blazing hot all morning.  That makes for a tough run when you finish about 1 PM.
Coming into transition from bike to run
100 yards to the finish
I was a little tired and a lot "cooked"!
2008 Gulf Coast Triathlon, Half Ironman distance
Almost there
The reward - Is that worth 5 hours 58 minutes of suffering?