I honestly did not intend to sign up for any races this year at all. Nope. Wasn’t in my game plan. I had my year planned out and it consisted of relaxed, low key, workouts that vaguely focused on strength training and yoga. But for some indecipherable reason, if something sounds scary or hard, my usual reaction is “I need to do that.” I’m going back to school this fall and was told I didn’t need to take micro-biology for this particular degree path. My immediate reaction “But I WANTED to take it!” I’m uncoordinated and nonathletic and yet I signed up for softball last spring. And after talking to a friend in April, I signed up for the middle distance of the Y Not Tri (400 meter swim, 6 mi bike, 2 mi run). Also – I am quite susceptible to peer pressure. 😛
I did this race two years ago (except I did the version half the distance of what I did this year). I was pretty confident about it. I actually trained somewhat and while I knew I would not be taking any podium spots, I knew I would finish. The Pulse Running and Fitness shop puts together a FANTASTIC training group each year. (Seriously, these people are phenomenal) I managed to make it to some sessions with them, including a run through of the full race the Tuesday before. On my own I spent a lot of time in the pool. My run is stronger than ever. My bike….well…I know how to ride a bike….My goal was just to finish strong and feel like I had given what I had to give that day.
Part One – Set up
I wish I could say my confidence remained strong. However, I didn’t sleep well the night before and woke that morning slightly terrified. We got to the race site just over an hour early so I could have plenty of time to set up and get ready. I met up with the training group, found a couple of other women were as nervous as I was and promptly calmed down. It’s not that I WANTED them to be nervous. I sincerely wanted each and every one of them to have an amazing morning. But misery loves company and knowing they were nervous normalized my anxiety. We talked, we joked, we had our numbers written on us, we walked down to check out the swim course. Standing on the shore, looking out at the buoys marking the course, I smiled at someone next to me and said “Oh we’ve GOT this.”
Part Two – Swim, 400 meters, 13:04
I got in the water about 5 minutes early to adjust, along with the women from the training group. We positioned ourselves towards the back of the pack – exactly where I wanted to be. I looked out over the crowd in front of us, to the buoys that suddenly looked very VERY far away. I had a flash back to the open water swim on Tuesday night. Someone yells “Are you ready?!!?” and I whimpered “No, no I’m not.” Someone from our group said “Yes you are. You’ve got this.” And then we were off. Kinda. I swear the first quarter of the swim felt like I was pulling just as hard as I could…and going backwards. After what felt like forever, I glanced over and noticed someone who is a MUCH stronger swimmer than me was on her back. It was with great relief that I switched from the hybrid front crawl/dog paddle I was attempting to the side stroke. My breathing evened out, I started feeling like I might be making SOME progress and suddenly we were at the first buoy. I decided to try and actually swim again when suddenly I was incredibly hemmed in. There was a guy practically on top of my right side and someone kept smacking my feet. We were at the back of the pack, there should have been plenty of room but I couldn’t seem to get away from the woman on my left (sorry Amber). The guy on my right would move away, I would try to pull away from Amber and a few strokes later, we would be on top of each other again. And still, right behind me…”smack….smack….smack….” Dude. Back off or go around. I’m not moving fast enough for you to get ANY advantage being behind me. I couldn’t breath and resigned myself to side stroking the entire distance. At some point I gave a firm kick and whoever was behind me backed off. FINALLY somewhere between the 3rd and 4th buoy space started opening up and I felt like I was getting a rhythm. I still had to be super aware or I would drift to the left and start to crowd Kim (Sorry Kim) (Amber had pulled ahead somewhere in the chaos). Dude on my right was doing the same thing to me so the last hundred meters or so was punctuated by calls of “Sorry!” as we tried not to swim over each other. FINALLY I touched bottom and stood up. I was woozy but managed to high five a friend without falling over and jog most of the way up to transition until the rocks were too painful and I had to do the weird prancing, tip toe thing to the bike rack. I decided if the swim had taken less than 20 minutes, I would be happy. I felt like we had been out there at LEAST half an hour. So I was surprised to see under 15 minutes.