by Marsha O'Mara
What happens when you don't listen to your coach? You have a bad swim. What happens when you do listen to your cycling coach? You have a great bike ride. So Lloyd has been telling me that when I go to the open water swims or even to the pool that I need to start swimming as soon as I get in the water and not sit around trying to get acclimated since I won't have the opportunity at the race. But I remember from last year's Iron Girl Columbia that we had 6 minutes to sit around in the water before our wave started so I paid him absolutely no attention and didn't do what he said to do in practice. Well, at least not for the open water swims. To my credit, I did try to do it in the pool. :-)
Well, to my shock, the week of the Iron Girl Columbia race, they announced that the swim would be a time trial swim which means that they call 2 people at a time every 5 seconds and you immediately get in the water and start swimming. I still didn't think it would be an issue. Well, I was so wrong! As soon as I got in the water for the race, I began to panic. I was able to swim to the first kayak and hung on to it for a bit. When I got my breath a little bit (because I never fully caught my breath for the whole swim) I started swimming again, but I started to panic again so I stopped at the next kayak. Another athlete came up to the kayak and was saying that she wanted to quit because she was panicking. Another teammate of mine was also at the kayak and we were both telling her that she could do it. Don't quit. Even though I was having the same thoughts of quitting. But I would never admit that to anyone else. LOL! So I was trying to motivate her and motivate myself as well. I think she eventually swam off but I stayed there hanging on for dear life. My teammate left as well to continue her swim and after a little bit, I decided to just do it. So I started swimming and rolling on my back and swimming regularly again at intervals.
I think what also made this different than last year is that I was in the last wave last year and there was no one to come from behind and swim over me. I pretty much was able to swim without interference last year. But this year, since we had the time trial start and I wasn't in the last wave, there were people all over swimming on my right and left and coming from behind. I never had that type of experience before. So I got water splashed in my face and up my nose. I swallowed a good bit of water too. As I turned to go around the bend to make my way back to the finish, I decided to stop at another kayak to catch my breath again because there was no amount of deep breathing that was allowing me to control my breath. So I stopped and asked him where we were on the course. Someone said we were more than half way. I looked at my watch and I was 24 minutes in. Last year I had finished my swim in 40 minutes and in practice I was doing it in a little over 30 so I knew this was not looking good as far as time was concerned. But I just really wanted to finish.
I finally made my way again and after a while I got caught up in the weeds or whatever was in the water and I remembered from last year that this was near the finish line so I knew I was almost done. Finally, my swim stroke started to come together and I was swimming like I was taught to swim instead of in panic mode. Never was I happier to make it to the finish line...of the swim. I still had the bike and run to do. But honestly at that point, I just wanted to be done. My psyche was all messed up.
However, when I did get on the bike, I felt really good. I had just gotten my tires pumped up that morning after not pumping them up in weeks. I was told they were really flat. Is that why I was riding so slow before? Possibly. My cycling coach did tell us to pump up our tires before each ride. As you can tell, I don't know how to listen. So I was riding nice and fast. Even though this is a hilly course, I was passing everyone on the ride. I don't think anyone passed me on the ride at all. Why I say I did listen to my coach is he says to always pedal on the downhills because that's how you gain your momentum to get up the hills and it just gives you more speed. So I did that for the whole ride. While everyone else was coasting, I was pedaling. And I was MOVING! It felt so good to let the wind blow against my face. This also was my first race using my new clipless pedals and I could definitely tell the difference with them. I highly recommend those pedals for riding.
The run, although my favorite of the 3 sports, was uneventful. It was hot and hilly...not a good combo. But since it was the only thing that stood between me and the finish line, I got it done. Of course, I broke out into a sprint going down the finish line shoot. I was so happy to see my Team OnPoint Fitness members at the finish line waving me in and giving high fives. Definitely a great cheering squad.
Overall, I'm just really glad I finished. I'm glad I improved on the bike, but I really need to get stronger in the swim. I need to be more comfortable in the open water for sure. I will not let this race get the best of me.
Thanks to my coaches for knowing their stuff. Hopefully next time, I'll pay attention. :-)