Saturday, June 20, 2009

FLOW swim race

This week ended with a big boost to my swim training. I actually stopped by the gym on the way home on my bike on Thursday and swam. It was super easy, logistically. The gym has three bike lockers and two were available. The gym gives you a lock and key, so I used the bike locker which saved a lot of effort that would have been involved in using the bike rack. Locking my bike to a rack involves taking off my saddle bag, pump, and lights and carry them plus my helmet, gloves, and panniers. All I had to do on Thursday was roll my bike into the locker, place my gloves and helmet with it, grab the swim bag from the pannier and head into the gym! Quick transition.

Although I dreaded getting to the pool while the masters group was still swimming (5:45-6:45), it was a long distance workout so it was super easy. I'm fine with distance, not so great with short bursts of speed. I know I need to work on it, but masters swimming can be a bit intimidating. I went to the slow lane which was empty, and followed the workouts directed to the old lady with fins in the lane next to me. Basically swimming 75% of what everyone else was doing. Timing worked fine. Since I missed the first half of the workout, I was just there for a 600 free, 100 kick, then 2x300 free. When masters left I did another 350 to swim 1650 (a mile, eerrrrgh except I just realized that I was thinking meters, I needed another 100 for a mile. d'oh).

My ride home from the gym went smoothly. It was warm so the water had felt nice (I'm always worried it'll be cold) and riding home with wet hair was fine too. The ride was the standard route home and I was home within 30 minutes of exiting the pool. I think I'll stop by the pool more often.

My ride from work to the pool was a little bizarre though. I had the pleasure of riding with my coworker who rides to work when she can. She's adopted the moniker Artemis ever since reading about my being an Athena in the triathlon world. We followed Artemis's route to Old Sac (the nice shaded way that avoids the super busy and super slow streets), only to discover a train was blocking our access to the bike path in Old Sac. Signs indicated a bike detour but we couldn't figure out how we would actually cross the freeway on the street suggested. Artemis thought of a way we could go and we both discovered a new way to get to work on our bikes. I love the bike commute for this reason. I could ride a different way each day for a long time. I think I rode a different route each day this week actually.

Now to the subject of this post... the Folsom Lake Open Water swim race was this morning. I decided last night to participate. (I love being in condition to sign up at the last minute for a 2.4 mile swim race, or a 5k run race, etc.)  I was a little worried about the water temperature. It was 75, and without a wetsuit I was shivering until about 5 minutes into the race. I'd swam a bit to warm up before the race started, but apparently not fast enough to warm up. The course was a 1.2 mile loop (in theory, more on that later), with 5 buoys that we had to keep to our left. I had two main reasons to do this race. First, to get a time in the 2.4 mile distance (IM distance) and actually making myself swim the full distance, since it's really boring to do in a pool. Second, it seemed like a good chance to practice mass swim starts. Unfortunately I forgot about the second reason until just seconds before the race started. I tried to jump into the middle of the 80 or so swimmers to have ample opportunity to get kicked in the face and to practice pushing off other swimmers. I only had contact with about 6 or 7 swimmers though. Better luck next time.

The water was really rough for about the first 1/4 of the race. Lots of waves. Not sure if it was due to the wind, boats, or the mass of swimmers. I practiced coughing up water while keeping a good pace. This first stretch was really uncomfortable. My breathing wasn't right - too fast, hard to catch my breath. I know to expect that at the beginning of a swim race, but I didn't feel like I went out fast enough to go anaerobic. I was bumping into people a little bit here and there, which didn't bother me by itself, but when you add that to inhaling water from waves, it contributes to the overall feeling of being in a washing machine and a cold one at that. So I wasn't really thrilled at the prospect of doing two loops and considered calling it a day after one. The ironman side of me said forget that, you paid for this and it's a waste of money to not do the full 2.4, it'll be nice to have a time for 2.4 so you can make some guesses as to how IM day is going to go, and you have nothing else that needs to get done this morning so just get in a nice groove and stick to it. I warmed up pretty quickly after that, and once I made the second turn the waves didn't bother me as much, so I was set to do the full two loops.

I tried drafting off various people before deciding none of them could swim a straight line. Call me lazy but I think the shortest way between two buoys is a straight line. One guy had potential but I quickly realized he was only swimming straight because he stopped and swam breaststroke every few strokes. The risk of getting kicked was too high, and he slowed down with that breaststroke. I finally found a woman without a wetsuit who swam straight and at my pace. It was great. I decided that the best people to draft off are those without wetsuits. Perhaps because they're hardcore enough to know what they're doing. I felt bad because I tapped her toes quite a few times. After the race I apologized but she didn't seem to mind. She only had concern that she was going to accidentally kick me. All part of the game!

My time for the first loop was 32 minutes, which really surprised me. Finish time was 1:06. My pool swimming has been quite a bit slower than that pace, more like 42 minutes for 1.2 miles. I'd told Dave to expect me to finish at 1:30, give or take 10 minutes. After consulting with a few other swimmers, we came to the unanimous conclusion that the course was definitely short. Maybe more like 2 miles. (While I was talking to these swimmers in the water after the race, I accidentally dropped my RX goggles, so time to order more. They're essential for open water swimming without contacts!) If today's swim was 2.0 miles and I kept the pace up for another 0.4, then I'd finish in 1:19. That seems reasonable. The funny thing is that the only other time I've swam a 2.4 mile swim race, I had the exact same time of 1:06 (and I won!). But that was in the VI when we were swimming a lot and really trained for the event, and I think there was a bit of a current, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was a little short.

I'm getting a bit tired of doing races that aren't actually the advertised distances! But I'm glad I did the swim today instead of the 5k or 8k running races we could have done. Running races are a lot easier to come by. Actually the local high school is starting a Thursday night track meet that's open to the general public, with results being age graded, so everyone, young or old, has a chance to win. (I'm slow for a 30 year old though, so not really hopeful.) I may try to attend one of the meets and run a mile race to see if I've improved my speed at all.

1 comment:

  1. you might not have intended it, but this post is HILARIOUS.

    "...followed the workouts directed to the old lady with fins in the lane next to me."

    HAHAHAHA I will be laughing about this as I am falling asleep tonight. You are training for an IRONMAN, please don't compare yourself to the old lady with fins. :)