After all the training and planning, Matt’s day was here. He got an Uber to the shuttles in Santa Rosa that would deliver the athletes to the start of the swim at Lake Solano. Then the pit crew (Dan, Kaleena, Meryl, and I) left about 5 a.m. to drive to the parking area below the dam where buses would shuttle spectators to the venue.

Ironman Santa Rosa start

Here is what it looked like when we got there.

Swim start of Ironman in Santa Rosa 2019
Ironman swim 2019 in Santa Rosa

First thing was to find Matt in that sea of green and pink swim caps. We knew that he was hoping to finish in about this time frame. Eventually we picked him out.

Ironman Santa Rosa 2019
Advice from Dad before Ironman start
Ironman Santa Rosa 2019
Ironman support crew2019 Santa Rosa

My two daughters-in-law.

Ironman-swimmers in the water-2019

I’ve lost track now but I think it was about a half hour after the first swimmers went in the water that Matt’s group got there. Five swimmers were given the go sign every few seconds. The clock starts for each swimmer when they actually entered the water. He’s in this group somewhere.

Swimmers in the water at the Santa Rosa Ironman 2019

And he’s in here somewhere—I think toward that #2 yellow buoy.

Ironman Santa Rosa 2019
Ironman Santa Rosa 2019

It was time for the pit crew to go to the bridge and wait for a sighting.

Ironman Santa Rosa swim.

This is the view from the bridge looking towards the dam. The swimmers go out with the yellow buoys on their right, turn at the red one, go under the bridge…

Ironman Santa Rosa swim

…continue to swim staying to the left of the yellow buoys, make two right turns, swim back towards the bridge with the orange buoys on their right, go under the bridge, turn left and head for the start/finish (see photo above). But that is only one lap. They come out of the water so that the chip they are wearing is registered and then they have to do another lap to get 2-1/2 miles.

Ironman Santa Rosa swim

While the swimmers were in the water the pit crew was working hard to locate our swimmer in this. I don’t remember now but I think that we missed finding Matt in the first lap. Kaleena knew he had made a lap because she got a notification that he’d passed the first check-point.

Cyclist in Santa Rosa Ironman

It was about that time that the first swimmer was out of the water and on his bike.

Swim venue at Santa Rosa Ironman 2019.

Matt was wearing a wetsuit with distinctive red shoulders and white just below. That’s what we were looking for. Do you see a green cap and a pink cap below and to the left of the red kayak? That’s him.

Swimming in Santa Rosa Ironman 2019

Right here. He and the pink cap kept getting in each other’s way until Matt pulled ahead.

Swimmer in Ironman Santa Rosa 2019.
Swimmer in Santa Rosa Ironman.

This was heading under the bridge on the outward leg for the second time.

Swimmers in Santa Rosa Ironman 2019.

The return leg. Almost finished!

Swimmer emerging from water in Santa Rosa IRonman.

Getting out of the water.

Swim-bike transition at Santa Rosa Ironman

The athletes run (or walk) up the ramp all the way to where the bikes are waiting, stopping first to strip the wetsuits. They pick up their swim/bike transition bags, change if they want to, add helmet and shoes, stuff goo and other food (pizza for Matt) in their pockets and go.

Waiting on bridge during swim-bike transition at Santa Rosa Ironman.

The pit crew was hard at work while we waited. Kaleena quickly edited video and posted to social media. Dan and Meryl had been watching near the transition zone. Did I say anything about how cold we all were? The sun started to come out about this time, but we’d been standing on a cold bridge in the wind for an hour and a half.

Cyclist after the swim at Santa Rosa Ironman 2019

Here is the first glimpse of Matt. What a relief to have him out of the water and on the bike. The swim leg was the one he was most worried about. He swam it in about the time he expected—1:41. There are cut-off times for all the events. I think it was 2-1/2 hours for the swim.

Cyclist after swim at Santa Rosa Ironman.

Looking good.

Bridge over Ironman swim venue.

The other half of the pit crew.

Lake Sonoma after Ironman.

Looking back across the bridge to the start/finish. There were still people in the water with the kayaks following them closely.

Walking down the hill after Ironman swim

No vehicles could leave the area until the last swimmer was on the bike. Rather than wait around the bus until it could leave we decided to walk the two miles down to the parking area. (The bus got there about a minute ahead of us, but at least we were warming up.)

STicky monkey flower

I couldn’t resist taking flower photos along the way.

Stay tuned for the bike/run portions of the day.