Now, if I was a swearing person, that title would read Dam(n) Swim. Yes, I’m old-fashioned, and “damn” is still a swear word in my book.
As of yesterday, so is “dam”, I think.
I went for a training swim at a dam about half an hour away with some other people who are also in the Trifreedom group of athletes competing in the Port Macquarie Half Ironman event next week. Some are doing the whole event while others of us are in teams. You might remember, I decided to do a swim leg. Swimming is my worst leg but I couldn’t imagine trying to ride 90km. A few months ago I would have been able to do the 21.1km run except that it’ll be the middle of the day and I don’t handle the heat well. If I wanted to be part of the Trifreedom crew, it had to be the swim.
I don’t know what my problem is but I can swim 2.5km in the pool pretty much non-stop but stick me in “open water” (even the enclosed dam) with or without a wetsuit, and I can’t swim more than 10 or 15 strokes before I drop my feet and tread water for a bit.
When I last swam at the dam in February, it was without a wetsuit and the weather turned stormy as we got in the water. I took this video after we got out. It doesn’t show it clearly but it wasn’t pleasant.
Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day but the swim was HORRIBLE. Like Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Swim kind of horrible.
I finished in “just over an hour” according to the lady who organised it but I don’t know how nice she was being as I didn’t wear a watch. (It’s a one hour cut-off for the race next week.)
Just to break up all the text, I received this message from my sister today, who had her first baby a month ago.
My goggles leaked when I started to swim and I stopped to adjust them 2 or 3 times (even though I had put my head in the water before we started and they seemed okay). The water was disgusting. I couldn’t see the weeds in the shallows. Then there was grass and stuff floating on the top – I don’t know if that’s normal or if the other, faster swimmers just churned it all up for me. I thought about turning back soooo many times on the way to the first buoy. Once I got there I thought about heading straight back and skipping the rest of the buoys but knew I’d never get in the water next week if I did that. I had to tough it out. The silver stripe on the sleeve of my wetsuit was distracting – because I kept seeing it out of the corner of my eye. The zip strap/cord thing came off the Velcro and was hanging over my upper arm and it took me ages to work out what it was. Then it ended up around the front of my neck.
I stopped and hung onto the water safety person’s board (so glad they’d organised some for us) and asked her to attach it properly. I was all good after that – strapwise anyway. I felt like I was out there for hours – at least an hour and a half. I deliberately didn’t take my garmin because it doesn’t seem very reliable in the open water and I figured I was better off not knowing, and just pushing on. One benefit of stopping so often was that I didn’t have a chance to swim off course.
Even when I got to about 50m from shore I still couldn’t get myself to “just swim the rest of the way”. However, I didn’t freak out about washing over the spillway and down the river so that’s progress over last time.
When I got home, all I wanted to do was curl up in the foetal position in bed and bawl my eyes out. I didn’t. I bought a slab of chocolate and a can of coke instead. I should have opted for the cry because the junk food didn’t help either. I only ate one row of chocolate and the can is still unopened in the fridge (that’s sooo not me). I ended up texting the organiser and asking how much over an hour I was, and not to sugar coat it. She said about 1:05 so I’m okay with that. I’m told that in the river at Port it’ll be easier because it’s salt water.
I didn’t actually panic like I did in March at the race even though I stopped and regrouped/refocused several times.
I always struggled writing essays at school (very rarely reaching the required word count) but I’ve just written over 500 words about a 1 hour swim.
I’m not sure if I want to know what the tides and currents will be doing or not. Part of me wants to know so that if I find it hard at the start I can blame the current but part of me doesn’t want to know in case it’s hard and the current is supposed to be helping me. That’ll do terrible things to my head imagining how much harder the swim back will be…
I didn’t think to take any photos of the lovely views on the way out and at the dam. I came home on a back road and saw camels in a paddock!
Instead, the only bright spot will be the photo of my brightest fluoro orange swim cap which made a special appearance at the dam – I wanted to be visible! And my new polarised swim goggles. I’m hoping they cut down some of the glare during the swim so I can see the buoys more easily.
On the running front, my physio finally gave me the all-clear to start running again. Yay! I really had no idea how much I would miss it.
I’m almost back to square one again, struggling to run 1km. However, what I’m finding is that when I run, I’m running faster than I used to. I still can’t sustain it for long but if I can gradually increase the distance I might just end up faster overall. The 18 month plateau of sitting on about 7:00 pace might be broken. I was a parkrun tourist at Taree parkrun about a week ago and I was running 200m sections (with walks between) at sub 6:00 pace!!! I could barely do that on my hard effort interval sessions before. All those physio exercises have done something good. So even my injury has a silver lining.
Time to get some sleep before the big race next weekend. I’m determined to come in under that cut-off!
After the Half Ironman swim, my next races are a 5km fun run in Armidale on 1st November and a sprint triathlon at Forster on 8th November. If the weather and conditions are similar to last year, I’d like to think that I can improve on my swim and bike times (new bike since last year) and I’ll just see what happens on the run.
I know many of you have some big races coming up too – so good luck, stay healthy and have fun!
Oh, and here’s a photo of my husband and I at the Tamworth parkrun 1st anniversary celebration on 26th September. It was a “sport theme” dress up day – cheap and easy, and those who didn’t want to go all-out like us could go dressed as “parkrunners” and fit right in. It was so much fun and well supported. We’re in the sumo-suits.