â€œDo one thing everyday that scares you.â€ â€“ Eleanor Roosevelt
I came, I swam, I survived.
Todayâ€™s Open Water Challenge Race (800 meter swim and 5K run) gave me a HUGE confidence boost about swimming in a lake. Now, I feel so much better about my sprint triathlon next weekend. As you may know, I have a disastrous history with open water swims, including a DNF (did not finish) during a sprint tri and a major panic attack during an Olympic tri. I knew I needed one GOOD open water swim under my belt before attempting to do another triathlon.
However, it wasnâ€™t a perfect raceâ€¦ but that gives me room to improve for next week!
Todayâ€™s race started like the previous 34 races â€“ with peanut butter toast and a banana. Once you know what your perfect pre-race meal is, donâ€™t mess with perfection!
I actually ended up eating in the car because new friend Kim and her husband Justin arrived to pick me up. Next weekâ€™s sprint tri will be Kimâ€™s first, and sheâ€™s been diligently training with a YMCA triathlon team for the past few months. She has a YMCA coach that helps the group with running, swimming, and cycling. Pretty neat way to stay motivated and accountable, huh?
I started to get really nervous in the car. I actually had trouble falling asleep last night because I was so worked up, and although I gave myself an epic pep talk in the shower, it didnâ€™t seem to calm me down at all.
We picked up our beautiful shirts and swim caps. I was #2, which I took as a good sign! I like 2â€™s.
Kim and I ran into another blog reader named Ashley in the parking lot. Ashley will also be doing her first triathlon next weekend! Even though Iâ€™ve done two triâ€™s, I still feel like a newbie and it was nice to be surrounded with people who were in the same boat.
Together, we listened to the pre-race safety speech. I was happy to see lots kayaks and lifeguards, considering I held onto kayaks during my previous two open water attemptsâ€¦
There was a collective groan when we were told that the yellow buoy was the mid-way point and the red buoy in the far back was the turn-around. There was also a 1-mile and 2-mile swim group, and I think all the 800-meter folks were hoping the back red buoy was for them, not for usâ€¦
It seemed SO far away!
One thing I did differently this time around was I got in the water beforehand and swam a little bit to try to acclimate myself. Lots of commenters told me that I really NEEDED to do this if I was prone to panicking, and it was great advice. I felt a lot calmer after swimming some practice strokes and realizing how warm the water was (I think it was 85!).
And thenâ€¦ it was time to go. My heart was in my throat!
My problem with open water swimming is that I get really, really nervous and my breathing becomes very, very fast. Itâ€™s like Iâ€™m beginning to hyperventilate. I try to tell myself to breathe slowly and calm down, but itâ€™s almost impossible to stop the cycle of panicking once it begins. After the beach start, I swam about 100 meters before I freaked out and began to panic. I looked back at the shore and actually thought about quitting right then and thereâ€¦
But, I trudged on! I flipped to my back every 25 meters or so to relax.
I was SO proud of myself when I passed the yellow buoy, the halfway to the turn-around mark. And when I hit the turn-around, I nearly cried. I was so happy to be going back to shore.
I had three small freak-outs: one at the beginning, one right after the turn-around, and one at the yellow buoy on the way back. I look my pulse at one point, and it was in the 190s! I was in the back of the pack (I think I finished 15th to last), but I actually think that helped because no one was splashing me or kicking me.
Plus â€“ this race is against NO ONE but MYSELF!
I swam until my fingertips scraped the muddy bottom, and then I stood up and ran to the shore. I practically kissed the ground.
My time â€“ 23:45! I wouldâ€™ve been happy with anything, but I was really pleased with this time.
We waited for our friends to come in, and then we slowly changed into running gear (transition and the run wasnâ€™t timed, so there was no pressure to bolt). The second part of the Open Water Challenge was a 5K trail run.
My new trisuit worked VERY well as a swimming outfit and as a running outfit. I donâ€™t know if I would want to run much more than a 5K in this trisuit (without a real sports bra), but it was pretty comfy for the 32 minutes it took to finish the run.
Came home and refueled with a strawberry-banana protein smoothie.
I wish I hadnâ€™t panicked three times, but truthfully â€“ I expected to freak out a little bit, given my history with open water swims. Iâ€™m hoping I can beat my time when I attempt the course next weekend during the sprint tri!
Also, this Open Water Challenge was kind of a reality check. I know Iâ€™ve been injured for two months, but I have REALLY lost a lot of my cardio endurance. I was feeling it during the swim. Iâ€™m just not in the shape I was in last October. Thatâ€™s fine; it just gives me something to work on.
I cannot wait to do the triathlon next weekend! Iâ€™m going to eat that open water swim for breakfast. All in all, a WONDERFUL race.