I am pretty sure I love swimming because ALL the progress I have done in the last couple of years. From 2:30 /100m to 1:35/100m. Wowhoo! I might be able to call myself a swimmer after all. It is true that I spent a lot of hours in the pool, and even though it took a long time (sic….4 years), the hard work pays off. Every year, my swim coach Ryan annoys me to participate in some kind of Open Water competition so we can measure my progress. My first stand alone open water was pretty intimidating. It was right before my very first Ironman, the distance? Only 5k. Exactly, 5 kilometers. Ryan convinced me it would be a great mental check for my A race, the Ironman Florida. So I agreed and I still regret it to this day.
First of all, a swimming event is pretty intimidating because everyone is a swimmer. I am a runner that decided to do triathlons and therefore, had to start swimming. So as I arrived, you could see there were no people like me or my age. There were kids, teenagers and masters: all swimmers. I remember so perfectly, it was a 3 loop swim and there was one guy swimming breaststroke, that passed me 3 times before I finished my very first loop. That was mentally devastating. At the time I didn’t know the swimmer was Eric Shanteau, an Olympic medalist. I just knew some dude (doing breast stroke) passed me 3 times. I eventually finished the 3 loops, in a little over 2 hours, I was 2nd to last out of the water and as I walked out of the lake, I promised to never do that again. Eric Shanteau was there and as I complained about the distance, he was very gracious to congratulate me and to smile even when I said: “someone doing breaststroke passed me three times!” and he apologized : “oh so sorry, that could easily have been me!”. I felt better but, I was out of the water knowing that 5k was not my favorite swimming distance.
Fast forward to 2017, Ryan (the same Ryan, my swim coach) tried to convince me to do a race, another 5k race. Flashbacks from Eric Shanteau passing through my head and I say (probably yelled) NO WAY. Even though, I am a better swimmer, I don’t want to do through that again. I hate losing and getting passed by everyone, even if they all are Olympic swimmers. I need no one to remind me I am an average swimmer, I know that. However, I agree to do the 3k and 1k, back to back. I am not sure this was a great idea either. The race is on a Saturday and I have 18 mile run on a Friday afternoon. Let me remind you, it is summer. I ran on Friday afternoon, I got home and I was completely done, dead. Should I go tomorrow? Oh well, I paid for it. I might as well get my butt wet.
The race starts at 9, so I wake up not so early. I have breakfast, some coffee and go up to the lake. It is an easy drive to Lake Allatoona from Atlanta, I am there with sufficient time to sit around, chitchat and wait. As I get ready to start the 3k swim, some of my friends and my swim coach are arriving from the the 5k, that started a little bit earlier. They are also complaining about the course as it might be a little bit longer, which doesn’t surprise me. Isn’t it always this way?
It is a beautiful day, the lake seems calm. I decide to swim without the skin suit, I am not sure how much it will help me if I wear it. The water is pretty warm. And off, I go. The course did end up to be a little bit longer than the 3k, which got me a little frustrated by the time, my watch beeped at 3,000 meters and I was NOT done. The water was warm, but towards the middle of the lake, there were cold pockets of water that felt super refreshing. I finished, I was feeling pretty good, but tired. My legs were tired and I could have totally slept in. Time for the 1k, that it turned out to be 1500 meters. I used the race as a cool down and it felt good to stretch and relax. I enjoyed the race, the organization was on point to clear any issues that showed up (Like having someone with my number, lucky number 13!). By the end of the day, I swam almost 5000 meters. Ha! Joke is on me.
As I finished my 1000 meters, the 3k results are up and I am SECOND (for my age group)! What? I am a little upset because it is only by couple of seconds. Totally my fault as I kept checking the distance as I figured out that the course might have been longer. But still pretty damn happy, I have come such a long way. I keep waiting for the 1k, building expectations and I found out I am the first place for my age group. Amazing!
I am super happy with the results and the lesson of the day is that I need to forget the watch and keep moving. Who cares if the course is longer right? It is longer for everyone…