Oh man! I just ended a few killer weeks. Chuckie is not messing around, we are training hard! Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays are spent in Boulder and I really like it this way. It's a separation for me that really helps me focus on the training. There is no scheduling issues, no motivation issues, I just go, and I train. Then I eat and get in the Normatec boots at Tri-Massage All sports Recovery Club. I head home and straight into bed. Yawn! Fun!!! This last week was crazy, 22K of swimming and 6K of that was two (2), yes TWO, open water swim races. These have been really good for me. When you really think about it, I don't have a ton of open water swim racing experience. Do any of us really? Most of us discount this part of our training, but a lot of mistakes can be made in the first 30 minutes of your Ironman. Finding fast feet and staying on them is not "magic" it's a learned, practiced, technique. Even pacing LONG swims is not "magic", it's a learned, practiced, technique. The pool can't quite get you to some of these, and neither can solo open water swimming.
The first race I did was right next to my house on Tuesday evening. I ran to the lake and Troy met me there with my stuff. It was pouring with lightning so they had to delay about an hour before they let us go. This was a 4 looper. It's easier to pace a 4 looper, you break it up into 4 pieces and handle accordingly. The races in Denver are pretty low key, not a lot of people doing the 2 mile and I swam a bit in front of the two people I was behind last time I raced this race. I swam the 4 looper 2 mile race in 45:52.
Then Saturday before we got going into our training day Chuckie had us swim a 2 mile race in Boulder. Competition...insane. Pro triathletes....everywhere. But, all in all, it's the same old same old...get in water...SWIM. Practice! I was much less calm for this one, and that's an important lesson. I swam a little all over the place but whenever I could find feet I did. I didn't swim a very even paced swim, I could feel my pace dropping off compared the the strength of those around me.
It was a 2-looper, but you didn't get out of the water between loops, you just swam past a certain buoy and kept going. Sighting was an issue as half the race was into the sun, and the buoys, and the caps were yellow. I had to rely more on those around me than usual and it seemed some people were way left, some were way right. I was probably a bit too indecisive.
I learned more on this second race, like just how hard it is to find feet after you loose them. You gotta go out strong to get good feet, but you have to be able to hold those feet as well. If you went too strong then you can't hang and you are dragging for the rest of the race. I find that when this happens you get a slower set of feet, then they drop you, then you get another set, then they drop you, and half way through you are feeling like everyone and their brother has dropped you and it's a little demoralizing. I've done it right a few times, I've done it not so well MANY times. Up one side down another it seems.
Another thing I learned is that I'm pretty sure the people who put on these races aren't exactly sure how to measure them. I swam 56:23 in the Boulder race. I'm not saying it was long and I'm not saying that the Tuesday one was short, but I am saying that you can't really depend on these races for time comparisons to anything. The times are almost pointless. I'm pretty sure I can't swim a true 2 miles in 45:52, and I'm pretty sure that I can swim 2 miles in a little faster than 56:23, so really, I can't use these to judge progress. I keep to the pool for that.
These races can get a little brutal too. The open water swimming seems to be a complete free for all when it comes to hitting, kicking and ripping off peoples goggles. Angela came out with a black and blue lip, we are pretty sure it was Michelle (I'm kidding...). This photo of me is hilarious. Apparently I was a little too close to his feet. The water in Boulder was really murky, so it's tough to see feet and bubbles.
Also it was great to have Mo out there. I coach Mo, and she braved her coaches orders to come race the 1 mile swim. Good job Mo, nice work towing the line with the Boulder crazies! Mo also brought along Andrew and her hubby Jeff who took all the photos. Thanks you guys!
Some people seem to paint me as the always positive, always optimistic girl. I assure you that the last few days my husband would strongly disagree with you. Do I get frustrated, heck yea. It seems that with swimming, I swim and I swim and I swim. I'm diligent. I get to the pool, I don't slack on my workouts, I swim every frickin day. Every damn day. And yet, at times I want to sit down, put my head between my knees and have a good strong cry. I swam last week on Angelas feet for 2,500 meters. I fought for every inch of it, but I hung on her feet. At the Boulder race she was 3 minutes ahead with no wetsuit. Two thumbs up Sonja. Not.
So, I will refrain from freaking out that I was 9 minutes behind Michelle in the Boulder race...I will try to not remind myself that it means I am mostly likely still 9+ minutes behind the good swimmers in my age group in Kona. I will try to put out of my mind the fact that I may just be like one of those swimmers in 2009 at Tuscaloosa nationals who was swimming and swimming in the current, but sadly going nowhere. I will take solace in the fact that I am learning more skills in the water that will hopefully pay off in some future race situation (hoping...but not holding my breath). I will take take deep breaths, and then take a few more deep breaths.
I will continue swimming hard and trying my best to get better, really what other choice do I have? Forward is the only direction to head if you want to get anywhere. I will hope that I am not simply progressing faster down the wrong path. I have great guidance in Chuckie, and believe me, if I am on the wrong path it is my own doing...or undoing. To dwell on the numbers does nothing for me. To pick out the positives and lessons learned moves me forward, or hopefully it will move me backwards if I am on the wrong path.
See ya...I gotta get to the pool.