The Open Water Swim
Long story short? I didn’t drown!
Here’s the thing about me and water that I’m learning this summer. I’m actually finally okay with not being able to see or touch within a reasonable distance of being able to see or touch. Right now that “reasonable distance” is probably 200m since 400m is a comfortable swim for me now. I don’t panic as much as I thought I would at the beginning of the season. I’m confident in my back stroke and my sidestroke as backups should I start to panic or have a problem. So! 400m as a down and back in open water? Not too intimidating in theory.
This is where the problem was: THE PEOPLE. There were SO MANY PEOPLE and they were on my side and touching my feet and blocking my path or trying to swim over me or around me and AAAAAAA!!! See – the bad part about being a slow hodge-podge swimmer – as opposed to someone who can start with the freestyle and end with the freestyle without taking a break – is that I was surrounded by other people like me. So all of those bodies around me? We weren’t all swimming in the same path at consistent speeds. No…we were all frantic and dodging and switching strokes and heading for lifeboats and trying to find clear paths…and it freaked my shit out.
(Not literally. After the girl pooping in street story that has gone viral, I feel like I need to clarify that.)
Now…it didn’t scare me enough to motivate me to hang on a life boat. Or to seek out a buoy from a rescue swimmer. Those two things were legal and encouraged if you needed help or a reak. And while I wanted to do those things? There were other people doing those things and I was trying my best to GET AWAY FROM ALL OF THE PEOPLE. I just wanted a clear path to swim my own way without feeling anyone accidentally grab my foot or swim over top of me.
So, because I was panicking a bit about being around all of the people – and seriously considering leaving the swim all together – my assortment of swim techniques was the messiest thing in the world. I’d sidestroke, breast stroke, float on my back, flip to my side, doggie paddle, tread water, and then back to my Nemo sidestroke. I was so worn out and really doubting my ability to finish but I just kept doing it. Sidestroke…breast stroke…flip to my back…sidestroke…breast stroke…etc.
BUT! I didn’t stop and take a break at all. And looking back on how much I struggled? I’m super-proud of that. I didn’t even hold the rope or the buoys marking the course. I “swam” the entire distance without assistance of any sort. And I’m damn proud of that. And after what felt like 20+ minutes, I was done.
I was SUPER-exhausted getting on the bike, but I mounted it without too much embarrassment. That’s the good part about starting in the back of the pack, none of us are there to win so people are quite forgiving. I got passed by several at the start as weaker swimmers gain ground on the bike. But once I got going? I felt GREAT. This was my first race on my new-to-me bike and it felt amazing having a good fit and a lighter ride. I’m also just getting much better on the bike. I’m still having to slow down to about 4 miles and hour to turn (SO NERVOUS! TURNING!) but overall I felt great. I was consistently passing people and passed about 7-9 people on the last 2-mile stretch. My “saddle” was hurting like a mo-fo by that point, but other than that I felt great! YAY for the bike!
The run SUCKED DONKEY BALLS. I was sooooo tired at that point having done a 9-mile bike ride faster than I’ve ever done it. I forgot to grab my running fuel on my transition so I had no extra energy. The sun was beating down and I was sooooo hot. I just really struggled to get going. It was ROUGH. The whole time I was looking at my watch, counting the distance one piece of a mile at a time. I found myself thinking I run 5 miles in my sleep, why is this 5K killing me? It was AWFUL. AWFUL. AWFUL.
The Finish and The Results
I sprinted to the finish and straight to the bucket of ice-cold Gatorade. When I’m hot on a run/bike I want nothing more than Gatorade. My body craves those electrolytes and that sugar like an addict. AND IT TASTED AMAZEBALLS.
Here is the comparison from my first triathlon to this one. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? I nearly pooped my pants when I saw this! My swim was FASTER? (And the “swim time” included a jaunt to the transition area!) And my running pace was the same? AND LOOK HOW FAST I WAS ON THE BIKE! My overall time, even though the distance on the bike was 2.3 miles longer, was FASTER than my first Sprint! The only thing I did worse was my T1 transition but that’s due to the tattoo thing! And also I remembered everything this time. That T1 transition last time, I forgot my GPS and my sunglasses.
(Note: For comparison to the competitive triathletes – Donnie’s T1 time is like 45 seconds and his T2 time is like 30 seconds. HA!!!!)
So…even though I felt like ass during the swim and run? I’m super-happy with my times! Way better than I thought! So…all in all? SUCCESS! I’ve got one more to do this season – and the bike on that is 14 miles (EEK!) but it’s the same type of open water swim. Between now and then I need to get better with my swim so I don’t panic as much around all of the people.