Saturday, May 29, 2010

First Open Water Swim!

So I decided it was time to get in some open water.  Despite the fact that I haven't managed a distance longer than 50meter sets of freestyle in the pool and 100 meter sets of drills in the pool I figured it was time to at least get the wetsuit on and start getting acclimated to open water.  Even if all I did was spend some time learning what its like to wear a wetsuit in the water and just how buoyant it feels etc.  I wanted to have the confidence to know that I could stop swimming, flip on my back, and it would support me no matter how far from shore I was.

So a random string of events occured that led to it. 

1.  I had a work trip cancel for late July.

2.  I noticed that there was a small sprint traithlon perfect for first times with only an 1/8 mile swim at the end of July.

3.  I noticed on the website of this traithlon (The Deary Triathlon) that they were having a "swim clinic" or training day of sorts right on the lake where the traithlon is held.

So once those three things fell into place I contacted Dave Deary the organizer of the race and the clinic and asked if it would be ok if I came over and splashed about a bit in my wetsuit to which he said sure.  Long story short...  turns out Dave is a member of my triathlon club as well, posted it as a workout, and Luis came along as well.  Even better than that...  turns out its Luis's first time in open water too and that swimming wise were fairly close in ability, and turns out we even have the same coach.

So we met up at Dave's house which is where the triathlon is held.  The Deary Tri is a very small race with only about 125 participants in it.  Its low key, and geared towards newbies.  Theres even a kickboard wave in it!  But I digress....   so we all suited up and hit the water.

Wow...   wetsuits are awesome!  As soon as I got in the water you could feel how buoyant it makes you.  Better yet flip on your back and you could take a nap in it.  Thats how much it supports you.  Right... time to flip over and try some freestyle.  At first I was a mess.  I was a bit thrown off by being able to see the bottom of the lake in the shallows and the weeds reaching up towards you is an odd sight when your used to a lovely black line at the bottom.  I was also just sort of getting used to the whole thing.  I was doing stupid things like kicking too much and breathing on every stroke initially.  But eventually I settled down and hit a groove long enough to do a few 25-50 meter swims and then stop at another shallow area along the shore and then swim that back to the start.  I did this a few times.  Finally I was starting to relax a little.  Its amazing how much easier the wetsuit makes things.  It really raises your legs up and makes you glide through the water so much better.  I found I did really well when I could just relax, stroke slowly, breathe every three strokes on either side and try and keep going straight.  Sighting I clearly need to get the hang of as of right now I can't do it without coming to almost a complete stop.  But in those few moments today when I found a good relaxed groove I was sort of thinking that this is what it feels like.  I need to remember this feeling and repeat it for a half mile and I'll have this traithlon aced!  So it was a good day!  I really enjoyed getting in the water and it was really gracious of Dave to open his back yard up to us for the purpose.  Not sure how long we swam for.  Wasn't super long and Luis and I were getting tired as we still need to build up our swimming fitness quite a bit.  So we called it a day in the water.  I can't wait to get back in the open water again.  I'm going to have to just keep trying to tag on to small groups of open water swimmers and see how well I can do.  As long as I do that and keep doing laps in the pool I'll be there in no time.  Ugh...  the pool.  After swimming in open water I'm not looking forward to getting back in the pool. Why would I when I could be swimming in places like this?

After the swim we got changed to head out on a run.  We went for a gorgeous 7 mile trail run through the woods.  I loved it.  I was initially hoping for 8 miles today but the loop just ended up being 7 so that was good enough for me.  We kept a relaxed pace of 9'30"s so we could stay together as a group and chatted all through the run.  It was great to run with other people as always as the miles go by that much faster.  So all in all a great day.  I really enjoyed it and had a great workout.  I can't wait to do it all again and I'm really excited that my first open water day was not filled with panic and that it was a great experience.  Dave was really great too offering up pointers.  I was pleased to hear him say that Luis and I had good form as well.  So apparently all that time with Jacki is paying off for both of us.  So that was great. 

Oh and one other thing...   Dale got new sneakers today!  This is the first step of many in Dale's transformation into a Livestrong racing machine.  Next up...   yellow bar tape to match.

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