This picture was taken by SwimLabs at the open water swim race I did. This show the start of the 2.4 mile swim. A friend won the 2.4 mile swim and swam it in 50 minutes. So, I'll just let you ponder that for a minute.
In other news, I did an open water swim race this weekend. You can't even see the turn around buoy in this picture because it's waaaayyyyy out there.
The purpose of the race was to work on pacing. Liz wanted me to surge for 200-400m, swim moderately, then surge 200m to the finish.
There were over 100 people doing the 1.2 mile swim.
It was a very congested swim start.
As we were waiting to start, there was a woman in front of me. I know her from my old masters. She immediately started talking loudly about how she was going to be last.
I know her. She would be one of the top 3-4 finishers.
I tried to hide my eyeroll.
I hate that shit.
The one thing you know about me. I NEVER sandbag my time. I NEVER lie about my times. You might disagree about my assessment of myself. (For example, I will say the run is my weakest event....which it is.) But I HAVE NEVER said, "My 10k time is 1:10" when my 10k time is :59.
I never refer to myself as "slow". There is ALWAYS someone faster. There is ALWAYS someone slower.
SO....eye roll galore.
When we started, it was an absolute slugfest. I surged. I got stuck between more swimmers. I surged again.
I had a hard time separating from the swimmers.
I decided to take a risk and go all out. I didn't have to go far. I needed just enough space to separate from the group I was stuck between.
I surged, like I've never done it before. I put a gap of about 10m between me and some other swimmers. I realized I could do it. I could surge and regain composure.
You see, for those of you who are not swimmers, surging and going fast is hard because unlike land sports, where you can catch your breath relatively easily; with swimming, it's harder because your FACE IS UNDER WATER.
I felt my triceps and back really working. My breathing was hard, but I immediately went into a moderate pace without missing a beat. I'd never done that before! I was so happy. I kept swimming and held a good pace throughout.
The only problem I had was that I didn't expect a cloudy/drizzly morning. I didn't even think about it, and I had dark goggles. My clear goggles were sitting in the car.
I was still able to see, but it was challenging. My second win of the day was that I trusted my internal gps this time. In my races this year, I kept stopping trying to get a good visual.
I didn't stop today. If I couldn't get a good line of sight, I kept going, trusting myself.
As I was approaching the turn around, I realized that I didn't remember turning on my garmin. I glanced at it and was shocked to see my time of 16:15. What?! That means I just swam a PR pace for 1.2 miles.
With that, I got super excited. I started picking up the pace. I was running into more 2.4 mile swimmers, some of whom were doing the backstroke, so there was some dodging on my part. There was a guy who was zigzagging all over the place. I took the time to surge again. Feeling more and more confident that I could surge at a 1:10 pace, hold it for awile, then settle back into a 1:30 pace. (Of course, at the time, I had no idea what my pace was. I was merely going by how I felt physically and how my breathing sounded).
There was a woman who was with me the entire time. She was a little faster than me. I decided to pull in behind her and use her draft. She started going faster with about 300m left. I stayed with her, swimming really hard to keep up.
When she stood up, I saw that I was drafting off someone who swam without a wetsuit. She was one of those stupid fast swimmers.
I stood up, started heading out when I realized that I forgot to give the timer my number. (There were no timing chips).
I also forgot to turn off my garmin and went all the way back to my back pack before I remembered to turn it off.
I looked at it. 32:56.
Holy cow. If I subtract off the time from the water back to my stuff, which was easily a minute, that means I swam a 32:00 1.2 mile swim.
That's a 2.5 minute PR for that distance.
I was THRILLED.
I want to say something about swimming, specifically MY swimming. If you've been reading for awhile, you know that I have worked very hard on my swimming.
If you want to get faster, you have to train faster. I have done that. I have pushed my comfort zone and taken risks.
In open water swimming, there can be a lot of external factors that affect a swim time: bright sun, bad conditions, etc.
Sometimes I will be first out of the water. Sometimes I will be 4th. It changes from race to race.
None of that matters. I have absolutely NO swimming background. I taught myself to swim when I started triathlon.
There are few things that I am as proud of as how much I have improved with swimming.
When I finished, I stayed to cheer on the the last of the 2.4 mile swimmers. The last 2 swimmers, were escorted in by the SUP team.
I remember my very first tri, when that was me. I was one of the last out of the water, and I had my own personal escort into shore, with the guy telling me that I was doing great! Just keep doing what you're doing! You're almost there!
I always stay for the last of the swimmers to cheer them in because I know what it's like.
It didn't happen overnight. There have been tears and mostly a lot of fun making the improvement that I have.
It doesn't matter what distance you are working for, you have to get out of your comfort zone in order to get faster.
Get out there. Go fast. Hit the wall breathless. Then do it again.
That's the secret recipe.