I've been in the pool quite a bit. It's interesting this winter in the pool compared to last winter. You think a lot when you are swimming a lot. Last year I remember thinking a lot about the "mile". Ahhh, the swimmers and the mile. Remember those SAT word questions that were like: Lion is to Savanna like Bear is to _________. I hated those, I could never figure out what the heck they were talking about. Well Swimmers are to the Mile like Economists are to Math. The relationship is "wonky and backwards", and I say that with the utmost respect to Economists. So when you swim the longest event at a short course yard swim meet it's the 1650, and it's affectionately called the "mile". Is it a mile? Noooo, on the land that you and I walk around on 1760 yards makes a mile. Do they call it the mile....why yes those swimmers do. Maybe it's a nautical mile, and they just took it "indoors". Um, nope again. A nautical mile is about 1.15 land miles. If you swim the longest event in a meter meet or the Olympics your going to be going 1500 meters, but you know what...it's going to get called the mile. I love them to death, but swimmers are cheaters, there is no other way around it.
Well, what do we swim in Olympic distance triathlons? We swim aproximately 1.5k or 1500 meters, so again, a "swimmers mile". What about Ironman? AhhhHAHA! A race that was invented my non-cheater swimmers! It's 2.4 miles. Like real miles, like the ones on land. Of course with the buoys and the open water the courses are never really that exact.
So, a couple weeks ago I got an email in my inbox saying that there was a local swim meet coming up and in order to make the "triathlete" crowd feel welcome they were offering a 2.4 mile timed swim. I emailed Chuckie to see if he thought this was something I should sign up for.
Now if I emailed Chuckie "Hey Coach, do you think I should run a marathon in a couple weeks" The answer would be "NO" "Hey Coach, I'm thinking of heading out for a 112 mile time trial on the bike" "Umm, I don't think so" "Hey Coach, what about a 2.4 mile time trial in a yard pool" "SIGN UP"
What the heck?
2.4 "real" miles is 4,224 yards, we'll round up one yard to 169 lengths...that's a lot of flip turns.
The best part (and I'm not going to be able to live this down for some time) was that he emailed Michelle and asked if she wouldn't mind doing it as well. I totally got her roped into it, and she's not letting me forget it ANY time soon.
So 12 of us "crazy triathletes" signed up for it. The pool was 6 lanes. So the meet director assigned two of us to each lane and told us to split the lane. It was an in-water start. It was so crazy to look two lanes down and see Michelle, and it was great to look over and see "Pia" a new friend I made at the pool.
We got going and well, I swam. And swam. And swam. I could see the clock on my flip turns so I would watch that a little bit. It was hard to really tell how I was doing because the clock was at the other end of the pool than we started at so I was getting 125, 225, 325 splits which don't mean a whole lot. But I tried to remember the numbers and check in every once in awhile. It seemed like I was swimming 1:30-1:32 pace. I tried to not have too many expectations going in. It's 2.4 miles for Petes sake. The only thing I can compare it to is:
- My first IM swim of 1:09 at Canada - My second and very cold IM swim of 1:07 at CDA - My Kona swim of 1:10 (really almost 1:11) - My battleground of an AZ swim of 1:09
I had a few altercations with the guy I was sharing a lane with. Nothing like an Ironman, but the lanes were skinny and we knocked each other a few times. I really had more issues with the lane line off the flip turns since I was trying to "stay on my side".
And I kept swimming. This is when I started getting confused about the whole "mile" thing. My timer put a kickboard in the lane to signal that I had completed one mile. I flipped and checked the clock. 27:10. I remembered that at state meet last year I swam 24:08 for the mile. What I didn't figure out during the swim was the whole "mile" "mile" issue. The 24:08 was 1650yds, the 27:10 was 1775 (so 25 more than a mile because we started on the side of the pool that the timers weren't standing). CONFUSING! My actual 1650 split that Troy took down was 25:11 and I'm happy with that.
I swam on. I felt very consistent and I mostly worked on my form and my timing and my flip turns. I once again saw the flip board signal for the 2nd mile. I couldn't for the life of me figure out how many laps I had left. I thought maybe somewhere in the 700 yard range. My timer had told me that she would singnal when I had a 200 left. So I started watching for that. I tried to pick up my pace, pull my form together and wait for the 200 to go mark.
I swam, and swam. No 200. I swam. I saw the clock turn to 60 minutes. I flipped and thought for sure I would see the signal. No signal. Another lap, no signal. I knew once I saw the signal I had about 3 minutes to go. I was watching that clock. I saw 62 minutes. No signal. 63 minutes. no signal. I was starting to get a bit bummed out. I kept adding 3 minutes to the clock time and with each passing minute I was getting more emotional. I see the 64 minutes. I come into the wall. No signal. I flip and I start to get emotional. I see all these people running down the side of the pool waving at me. I breathe to the side where Michelle is standing and I see her making the "stop swimming" signal. I stop mid length and my timer is stannding there shouting "Your Done". I said "Where was the signal for 200 to go?" Apparently she put it in and I just never saw it.
I got really emotional. I had no clue what I swam. In my head I had swam a 1:08 because that's where I was thinking I was at. I didn't get to give it that final kick at all. I was looking forward to a kick. I was really emotional about not getting to kick. How strange. The mind plays funny games. I cooled down and wipped away a few tears. I don't cry often but I was definitely weepy.
I swam a 1:04:22. It took me a little while to even think I did a good job after the way the whole ending went down. Poor Michelle, I'm this strong girl who takes charge in normal life, but then I get in the pool and she has to deal with this apprehensive tadpole. What are friends for?
Michelle by the way won the thing. Amongst the 12 of us, she kicked the water out of that pool. Troy said she looked so strong and powerful and she was at the finishing wall in 55 minutes. Was she showered before I finished? No. Could she have been...Yes!
As I sat down afterwards to talk over my splits with Troy I started to feel much better. Man, I am a steady eddy. I went out conservatively, I got into my groove and I stuck there. 1:31 pace. My 500 splits were 7:37, 7:40, 7:38, 7:38, 7:36, 7:41, 7:37, 7:31, and then a bit more to finish off the last 225. So of course now we just gotta get that average to come down. The hard work lies ahead. It always does.
I've got to say, I really love Troy. He loves the swim meets. He kept track of my splits during the swim and afterwards I asked him if he had anything he wanted Chuckie to hear about his impression of my swim and he wrote this:
"I think your endurance is really deep because you are so consistent. You swam with great form and held it consistently. I think your cadence is much quicker than it was last year. I think you still need to develop strength because of how I see your pull through the water. As you go faster it's going to hurt more and you need to learn to go to that place".
I really feel like Troy has such a good heart. He's patient, understanding and supportive, but he also knows how to be honest with me. He chooses his words very carefully, sometimes it drives me nuts, but I always know that when I ask for his opinion his response will be really helpful.