We all obviously know that I've been away for a while so let's just move on shall we?
One of the things I've been doing in my absence has been swimming...a lot. Or at least a lot more than I ever have. I signed up with a relay team for Ironman 70.3 Muncie and I was dumb enough to be the swimmer so I spend about 4 days per week in the water in hopes to not be pulled from the race due to not making the time cutoff (which is a very real possibility). Since it's warm enough to be wetsuit free I'm trying to take advantage of as much open water time as possible and that included signing up for a 2k swim at Freeman Lake in Elizabethtown (just like the movie, except this was real life and we were all less attractive).
This wasn't a race, it was officially called an open water swimming clinic so very few of the people there had the normal intensity that can be seen in races. There were the serious athletes of course but I think we all knew we weren't really out to "win" anything and that made the atmosphere a little more relaxed. The Colonel and I got there nice and early so I could attend the pre-swim meeting and get some time to warm up. I was hoping since I'd done open water before I wouldn't have those same jitters as that time I swam in the river. I'm not sure it was quite that bad but I was still stupidly nervous.
We had the opportunity to warm up for about 20 minutes before we were off so I made my way down the dock and just sort of stood there. One of the local coaches talked to me a little telling me I would be ok and to "swim like an alligator".
*Side bar: "Swim like an alligator" refers to the need to see where you're going in open water. The idea is to swim with your head more forward than down and bring your eyes just above the water's surface to see when you take a breath.
I sat on the dock for at least 10 minutes just wiggling my feet in the 81 degree water and trying to talk myself in. The only thing that really helped me was talking to a guy possibly more terrified than me about how to sight and the differences between a lake and a pool in my humble opinion. Once I talked him off the ledge (literally, he jumped in the water soon after we finished talking) I felt like an idiot to not get in and take my own advice so I slid in, holding onto the dock and held on for a few minutes. I finally let go and just bobbed in and out of the water practicing my breathing and then finally took a few strokes out and a few back. It was going to be an in water start so I tried to spend as little time as possible treading water for a couple of reasons. First, the obvious, who wants to expend extra energy? Second, I just generally hate treading water. Lastly, I can tread for about a minute before I suddenly panic that I'm drowning, then I have to flip to my back and float, then I have to talk myself down, then I can tread for another minute. It's quite ridiculous.
I stood on the steps in the water with a few other ladies some of whom happened to be in my tri club! It was nice to meet them and have some people to chat with for a while. They were all doing the 2k option too. Before long we made our way out to the start line and the 4k swimmers were sent off. About 30 seconds later the 2k swimmers were sent.
I got a really nice spot right along the buoy line and since there were only 25 in my wave and I happen to be slow, I had pretty clear water with no contact the whole way. 3 strokes in I realized I forgot to start my watch so I paused and took care of it then started on my way again. It took probably close to 250 meters before I found my rhythm and could manage more than fast shallow breaths but once I got it everything was smooth. My sighting was solid and even though I was in last place in my wave I was feeling really good and still positive. Near the turnaround point at 500 meters my left shoulder really started to feel tight and sore. It had been bothering me for a few days but not enough to do much about it other than rest a little. I also could feel the inside of my arms chafing against my tri top which I'd never worn for a real swim before. I made the decision to stop after 1k at that point since it really wasn't worth hurting myself more. The course was a 1k loop so it was easy to just swim to cut it short.
I told one of the volunteers I was coming in early and they told me I was doing great. For a second I doubted my decision to call it early but knew I was doing the right thing. I made it past the finish line and after face planting trying to walk up the incredibly slick boat ramp was told I was the winner! It was funny since there weren't actually any winners and because I was kind of a cheater. Since I understand priorities I immediately grabbed the fruit and drink before my towel.
Overall it was a beautiful day, great swim and I'm really glad I did it. For anyone local or semi-local I'd definitely recommend this swim and check out their triathlon they're putting on in September! I learned a lot, including but not limited to:
- My tri top chafes....a lot
- My tri shorts are too big when weighed down by water
- I still hate treading water
- Open water swimming is significantly more monotonous than pool swimming but still significantly more fun
- Helping others (i.e. giving advice to more nervous people) is a great way to help yourself