Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Swim

Rather than have a long post relating the Half Ironman Boise 70.3, I thought I would break it up to aid digestion.

The swim was in Lucky Peak Resevior. It is fed from snow pack and this time of year it is rather chilly. 64 degrees was what they announced over the loudspeaker immediately before the race. That sounded pretty OK to me.

Last year at the Vikingman 70.3 the river temp was 55 or so. That was truly horrible when combined with the chop caused by 30 to 35 mph winds. But, and it a BIG but, I could swim near the shore and stand up when I got slapped by a white cap and could get a good breathe occasionally on the majority of the swim course

This year is different, no training wheels. No touching the shore. 1.2 miles in the middle of a lake. And I haven't done even one open water swim since last August. Totally my bad on that. I should have. I should have learned and gotten my brain used to what my body goes through when the water is cold.

I panicked. I almost quit after 100 yards. I just could not get my heart rate to slow. I had barely even began the swim and my HR was well over 170 beats per minute. Not good. I was hyperventilating a bit too. That made it difficult to maintain a regular swim/breathing pattern. The water was just so dang cold. 64 degrees didn't seem bad on paper, but believe me it was freezing. There was one other guy out there with me lagging with the same color wave cap, and I believe it was Dave (formerly known as DTP). Apparently, he had an even worse swim than I. He was wearing a sleeveless wet suit. And he paid the price.

My swim time was over 57 minutes--1100th place out of about 1250 swimmers. Dave's time was over 1:07, around 1200th place. His legs cramped up and he said he thought he was close to drowning a couple of times. By the way, this is a guy who had been swimming between a couple of miles and 5000 yards at a time at the indoor pool. It just goes to show you that open water swimming is a different deal all together.

After the start I swam/paddled over to the first kayaker and rested. Then I swam to the second buoy 50 yards away or so. That wasn't really a swim stroke I performed over there. I would take a stroke or two and have to doggy paddle a bit because I could not get my breathing slowed enough to swim. Plus, I was still panicked. I was really close at that second buoy to calling it a day.

I swam from the buoy to another kayaker close by. I rested by holding on to the nose of the kayak. I checked my heart rate on my watch. 174 and I haven't even done hardly anything yet. At that heart rate I can't really swim because heavy breathing that seems to go along with that heart rate doesn't go well with my swim style. I basically feel like I can't get enough air. But I continue on, feeling defeated and generally like I just wasted all my training because I can't get my head straight.

The swim course was like a rectangle. I finally made it to the first corner and started to feel a little better. That was one of the short sides of the rectangle though. I started around the turn with people from 2 waves after me passing by. The waves started every 5 minutes. I swam out to the wrong buoy at one point along with some others and another kayaker told us we we supposed to have stayed along side some yellow color buoys. That would have been nice to know. That basically added an extra couple hundred yards to my swim. It didn't really piss me off too much, for me I still felt like my race was totally screwed up as swimmers from a fourth wave started to pass.

Then something nice happened. I found my stroke. A very slow controlled stroke. It was perfect for being out there. I breathing was fine. I was moving at a decent pace. Not many people were passing me. At least they weren't passing me quite as quickly. Other than a slight kink on the right side of my neck for a few hundred yards, I felt fine.

Oh, having to stop momentum to sight sucks. I don't swim straight and I also breathe to the left. When the swim is going in a clockwise fashion that is sort of a pain since I am always looking to the outside of the rotation. I would swim about 5 stroke or so and then stall just a bit to look up.

Anyway, I finally turned the last corner and could see the end. It just took forever to get there seemingly. But no freak outs, and I swam in and jogged to where they have people standing by tho help get you out of your wetsuit. That is cool. They help get them off quick.

My swim time was 57:37. 1059th in the swim portion out of 1186 official finishers.

Really at this point I was feeling deflated. I figured that Fish was around 20 minutes ahead at that point (10 from the swim and 10 because he started in an earlier wave. Dave I thought would have had an even faster swim than Fish. I had no idea that he was still 10 minutes away from finishing even after I got out of the water.

Overall, at this point I just wanted this day over with.

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