So today I went down to Tugboat Beach to swim the course. There were races in the morning, then they leave the course open for 45 minutes before they take the log boom down for the night. Erik suggested that Simon Whitfield and the other elite racers may also take advantage of this opportunity and sure enough they were all there! Erik pushed me to go ask for a photo opp and Simon immediately and graciously agreed. He even suggested a joke picture of us showing our muscles. It was fun to watch the Olympians relax and chat amongst one another, all very good- natured, friendly, and down-to-earth. These are the types of 'celebrities' I truly admire, so much more than the movie star types...
And Simon wished me luck in my race tomorrow - stupid me - I was too star-struck to say the same thing back!
Who's got bigger muscles?
Lauren Groves was there too - she is just a tiny bit of a thing - but so powerful!
ANYWAY, back to me, and my not-quite-as-exciting triathlon career. :)
My Practice Swim
I went into it feeling confident. I had a good OWS at my tri in May (although that one was along the lakeshore and wasn't very deep) and I've done this swim course last year and did well (17:30). I swam at Gyro beach earlier this week and felt good, and I even did 100m of warm up in the lake today before I swam. So it SHOULD have gone well.
I dunno. I started to swim and it was choppy and there were lots of fast people around me, but not really too close so that shouldn't have been a big issue. I know enough to go easy at first, to swim steady, get into a rhythm, and get my heart rate under control. But the chop and the waves were hitting me in the face when I took a breath and I was having trouble getting into a rhythmic breathing pattern. Less than 100m into the swim, my goggles had a leak so I had to stop and tread water while I tried to fix them. They continued to be a minor problem for the rest of the swim.
After the goggle incident, I tried again to get back into it but kept having mini-freakouts. At one point, about 200m, my heart was just pounding and I couldn't breath properly and I was gasping and choking so I floated on my back for a second and tried to calm myself down. For a moment I thought about swimming back to shore to relax and try again in a few minutes but I stopped myself. I told myself to relax and just swim slow. Keep on going. Slow, steady, I can do it. I also switched to one-sided breathing because the chop was only hitting me on one side of the face and that helped a lot.
To put things in perspective, other people were swimming like crazy past me, and the chop wasn't really very bad to most people I'm sure. Anyway, I kept swimming on, thinking that if I could get to the furthest marker (300m) and make the turn, I'd probably be ok. I also reminded myself that I can float in the wetsuit without really trying. Eventually I got my heart rate down and decided that I didn't care what my time was, I should just keep going and finish the damn thing or it would be a black cloud over my head tomorrow. After I passed the buoy, the Olympic team went flying past, and over me. I stopped and tread water for a minute so I could stay out of their way. :)
It was 200m to the next buoy and it was way out there, so that was the hardest part mentally but I was in a bit of a groove by then and had more confidence. When I hit the next buoy and turned, I was able to start swimming a little harder and I kept up a steady, slightly quicker pace until I reached the shore. Overall, my sighting was mostly ok, I only went a bit off-course once.
I was afraid to look at my watch, guessing on a time of about 22:00 minutes given all my stops to tread water and catch my breath but I was amazed to see my time was 17:00 even! My swim time last year was 17:30 so that really surprised me. I'm wondering if I was just swimming harder than I realized, perhaps because I was out there with all the elites and they were just flying by me? I don't know.
Anyway, as soon as I got in, I told Erik I wanted to go back and do the first 150m again, just to gain more confidence and have a positive experience to replace the bad one. I tightened the straps on my goggles and they were much better and this time I felt fine doing an out and back loop. I came in feeling fairly confident that #1. I will be fine tomorrows and #2. if I *do* panic, I can regain control and I don't have to bail no matter what happens.
The race meeting notes were posted on the tri website so I skipped the meeting this afternoon but I have to go back between 4-8 pm to drop off my bike. I checked out transition and my spot is in the 4th row, fairly close to where it was last year. My bike will be right by the sign too so that will help.
The racers this morning wore wetsuits and I suspect that we will be allowed to tomorrow. We won't know for sure until they take the temp at 6 am tho so I have to be prepared for both possibilities.
I'm starting to think that if I can wear a wetsuit, I might wear my green cycling top under it instead of the new tri top, just because it is more comfortable and if I don't have to swim in it alone, it doesn't matter so much about the slightly weightier fabric etc. I guess I'll decide tomorrow.
I was also checking out the air temperature this year compared to last year. Last year I raced in 21-25C. This year it'll be closer to 15-20C from start to finish. I'm wqondering if I might be chilly after the swim and need a jersey or vest to put on for the bike so I will take them with me and decide right at the moment.
I guess there's nothing else to do now but rest, relax, and try to get to bed early tonight....
Thanks for all the good luck wishes - I really appreciate it!