Monday, April 8, 2013

Training for Ironman France - 11 weeks to go and also Nautica South Beach Race Report

Big news New Olympic distance PR 2:49:06 15th in my age-group.

So, racing an Olympic distance event might not be great training for Ironman but it's fun.

I started the day early as usual. The only thing out of wack was that my daughter was having a sleep over and when I came into the kitchen at 4:20 AM the girls were up watching tv. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot that is not good. I sent them back to bed and headed out to the race.

I got set up in transition and got to use a porta potty before anyone else had used it which is of course the best time to use a porta potty because you know it's as clean as it's gonna get.

I was using my tri-clips for the first time in this race so I set that up in transition, put on half my wetsuit, found my training buddy Jim and headed to the start of the Olympic distance race. We walk the .9 miles up the beach to the start. It takes a while. We ate our GUs as we came over the dunes and saw the crowd of wetsuits and in front of them - heavy surf. Oh man.

My training buddy Jim. He's a faster swimmer than I am but amazingly my time was faster than his yesterday.
So we put the rest of our wetsuits on (took a picture) and went to do a warm up swim. Interestingly I was not really stressed by the surf. I mentally just adjusted that this would be a swim to just finish no time goal in mind.

I swam out to where the first buoy would probably go (it wasn't there yet actually). We don't get breakers very often this far south but to reach the first buoy I went under 3. But past the breakers it was just rolling waves. I would guess that they were 3 foot seas. I swam out, then I swam the direction the swim would go a little bit, then I body surfed in, which was fun. I felt okay. Many people were stressing out. There was a rumor that there was one girl crying and panicking near the water. I didn't see her. I did not hand out with those people. I found one of the girls who is a very strong swimmer from my masters group and I stood with her. I asked her if she had any advice and she said stay away from other swimmers because when the water is this rough you can expect a lot of people swimming breast stroke and being kicked is no fun. That was good advice. She was relaxed so I stayed relaxed and all was good.

Swim 33:12
I was in the last wave. I normally hang back and let the pack go. I count to 5 and then go in thereby letting the faster swimmers get far enough ahead that I can set my own stroke timing.  But with the surf only 10-20 girls went charging in. After I counted to 5 I was still surrounded by girls tentatively wading in. That was dumb so I just went in. I concentrated on just doing my own thing. I like diving under waves so it was fun for me and best of all I was super calm.

I passed my first guy at the first buoy - yes where we turned. I bobbed around a little bit to set my sighting because I couldn't really see until I was on top of a wave and then I set off. 

This swim had more contact than any other swim I've been in and I think there are a few reasons. First, I was mostly around guys, clearly not the strongest swimmers because they were falling back and they tend to be rougher. Also, I was with 2 girls for a big chunk of the swim and I kept getting sandwiched between them. But it was nothing I couldn't deal with. It was definitely the longest swim I've done with that much surf. I stopped just after every buoy to get my bearings. The swimmers were really spread out right to left and so following other swimmers didn't seem like the smartest idea. I passed all the colors of caps (except hopefully the elites but I don't even know what color they were wearing). Amazingly I was able to swim really straight - and I'm known for my not swimming straight in open water so maybe the chop helped me stay straight.

There was a time where from the side to side rocking I wondered if I was going to puke in the water but it didn't happen, luckily because that would have been icky. A few times I tried to follow "feet" it never really worked. Also, I heard a lot of people saying they swallowed a lot of water.  I didn't - all those pull sets of breathing every 5 and 7 strokes came in handy so when a wave broke over my head when I was going to breath I was okay. A few times I got water in my mouth but I just spit it out, no biggie. Not the fastest swim of the day by a long shot but I felt good, I didn't panic and I swam the whole way (except stopping to sight but I don't count that because I didn't stop to relax just to get my bearings).

T1 - 3:07 (exactly the same time as last year ha!)
My friend Gabe met me on the run up the beach and pulled off my wetsuit. Thank you Gabe!

Bike 1:12:13
So, in transition my pedal got caught on the wetsuit and so I had to re set the little tri clips. Probably took a while extra - bummer. But it was a long run out so worth it. Stepped into my shoe - and I was off. No issues there. The bike was great. I spent a lot of time telling people to get over to the right as I passed them but so it goes. This is also  the first race where I was actually looking for the girls in my age group. We were playing a little bit of leap frog and I was holding my own. I was also secretly hoping that none of these girls were fast runners ... ah that didn't happen.  At some point in the course I hit a max speed of 34 miles per hour.  Zoom. My average was 19.8. Oh so close to 20 mph which is my goal.  If I can work on my cornering I think I'm close to that. At one u-turn 2 people passed me - stinkers. Maybe next time - we'll see.  I did not step out of my shoes coming back in mostly because I didn't correctly judge where we were dismounting and then all of a sudden I was there so there was no time. Luckily I had a very short run into find my bike - running in my bike shoes.

T2 - 2:28
uneventful but I did forget my watch and ran back to get it.

Run 58:04
I took my gu right away walking through the first water stop to drink water. I was then passed by one of my biking age group buddies. Crap - oh well.

Set off on the run and just concentrated on keeping my pace under 9:30. Took water at each water stop walked a few steps at each one which cost me my overall pace but otherwise I get water in my nose. They had plastic cups so I couldn't squeeze them together at the top. Oh well. I saw some of the elites running in to there finish including Matty "Boom Boom" Reed and Cameron Dye. You can't miss him with his hair.  I also saw lots of people I knew running which is fun.

Coming into the finish a girl passed me and she had 43 on her leg. I thought oh no, not now this close to the finish line. So I passed her and then she passed me back and then I passed her on the carpet soooo close and then she passed me right before the line and I couldn't pass back. Drat! Oh well made for a fast finish for me which is always good. I was so spent after the push that I stayed and leaned against the fence at the finish for probably 3 minutes. So I felt like I gave it what I had to give. It was fun. 

I found my friends we hung out and realized that none of us had won anything so we headed back to my house for a bbq. And that was the day.
Benji, Jim and I after the race. You can see Benji took a tumble on the bike but luckily he's okay.

I'm clearly happy to be finished.

Closing thoughts
I'm really confused why I would get panic in a practically empty lake in Ocala and then be totally calm in crazy surf here in Miami Beach. I am now thinking that the "panic" feeling was maybe hyperventilating caused by the cold water in Ocala. I had gone in to warm up but then when they pulled us out for 10 minutes I was perhaps too warm in my wetsuit and then when the cold water was on my face I was maybe not concentrating enough on exhaling. I have read that it is a reflex to hold your breath when the water is cold and to combat that you have to really forcefully exhale in cold water. Maybe I wasn't doing that. Then after a few minutes of being in the water I had adjusted to the temp and I was able to do it? Who knows - it's just a guess. But it's weird, right?

But I'm proud of myself. I'm pretty sure that now that I've done this swim in such crazy conditions I will have the confidence to tackle pretty much whatever comes my way - swim wise and that's a good feeling.

Also, not related to my race but for anybody who stumbles onto the blog. Whenever you're doing a race with an open water swim it is a really good idea to be ready for adverse water conditions. We don't normally have "surf" on Miami Beach but it is the ocean so we can get "surf" and in this case we did. So if you're thinking about this race (or really any ocean swim race) be ready to swim in the waves and be ready to swim in your wet suit.

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