Monday, May 24, 2010

Open Water Swim

Yesterday was my first open water swim of the season. It was also my first Ironman distance swim, actually 2.5 miles so a little more than Iron distance. So much for easing into the open water. The swim was supposed to start at 10:30am out at Hagg Lake and boy did I take my time getting there. I think subconsciously I was trying to get out of the swim. It took me forever to get out of the house and I kept telling myself, "if I miss the registration cut-off I'll just join everyone for a bike and run afterwards." In reality I was purposely trying to miss the swim start so I'd have an excuse not to get into open water.

Luckily I didn't miss the start, which was good since it was a confidence booster that needed to happen and that bike and run I referred were cancelled thanks to the rain. Anyway, I learned something yesterday about my open-water swimming fear. The best thing I can do for myself is to show up late, throw my wetsuit on and just start swimming. I am serious! I get the most nervous when I am standing on the shore of a lake for an hour waiting to get in. I think about how cold it's gonna be, am I going to be able to breath, is there bacteria in the lake, please don't let me run into a lake monster etc... Those thoughts get my heart racing which makes it hard for me to breath, especially in cold water and it takes a long time for me to calm down.

Yesterday I didn't have the luxury of getting nervous. I got to the lake, grabbed my cap, found the group, threw on the wetsuit and off we went. I did have my standard freak out at the start but just told myself to keep moving forward and focus on breathing. I also told myself that if I needed to I could get out after the first lap around the lake (there were 2 total).

Side Note : I am really trying to work on my mental game plan for CDA. This is a perfect example of where I need help. Before I even start I am giving myself easy ways out. I really need to stop doing this. The good thing is I am very aware of it now so by the 3rd buoy yesterday, I was telling myself that I absolutely was going to finish the entire swim even if I was in last place. So I am getting better but it's tough to be in control of that.

I passed a few people, a few people passed me but all in all I held my pace pretty well. I had on some cheapo factory store goggles that kept fogging up so I had to deal with that a few times. Also my left calf kept cramping so I had to kick with a flexed foot which was fairly entertaining. I am not gonna lie, it did seem like a long time in open water but I felt pretty good and had a rhythm down about half way through the first lap. I did worry that I was in dead last (which I was not) but I decided not to care. Whenever I don't have anyone swimming around me, I always think it's because I am the last one. It was choppy on the way back to shore on the 2nd lap and I felt like I was swimming in place but eventually I made it.

I stumbled (literally) out of the water with the help from volunteers at 1 hour 29min, which I felt great about. I think if CDA is not choppy (although it was last year) and I don't have goggle issues and calf cramps, I could potentially be out of the water in 1:30 which would be awesome! That's accounting for the fact that I'll lose 5 min on the start since trying to find your swimming space with 2500 other people will be tough and time consuming.

Lessons Learned:
  1. Not standing around on the shore is good for me mentally! Unfortunately this won't really be possible at Ironman:(
  2. Get better open water goggles
  3. Find something to concentrate on (ex: breathing pattern). My mind definitely started to wander yesterday, I was thinking about friends, tv shows, work etc.... that's when you lose time, when you're not concentrating.
  4. I need more practice on my mental game. I can't keep doubting myself.
  5. Body Glide is no joke. I used to use body glide because that's what all the cool kids do and I wanted to look the part, though I've never had a wetsuit chaffing experience so I didn't think it was that necessary for me. Wrong! Yesterday, I didn't use it because I was running so late and now I have bald spots on my hair line and I am missing layers of skin on my neck. It hurts like hell and I almost cried when I got in the shower and the hot water hit it yesterday. I am now thinking of e-mailing Body Glide to see if they would like to use this as a before picture:

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