4:20am - wake up.
Well, it was supposed to be 4:30am but two furry cats decided it was breakfast time.
Karel and Campy "slept in" til 5am and after I had coffee and a pre race snack of shredded wheat cereal + small banana w/ PB and cinnamon + tall glass of water, I was out the door around 5:10am to head to Jacksonville Beach.
My open water swim race morning started with a 6.5 mile run. Close enough to the ocean to hear the waves yet dark enough to zone out and focus on my form. I couldn't help but think how lucky I am to have a body that loves to do what I make it do every day. MOVE.
All sweaty and ready to cool off, I met Karel at the lifeguard station/packet pickup at 7am and he had our packets/chips all ready for the event.
Karel and I grabbed our stuff from our cars across the street and killed some time chatting with our tri friends that we hadn't seen in a few weeks due to our trip to Placid and other things in our life keeping us busy.
At 7:30am, the 2.5 mile swimmers boarded a bus and the 1.5 mile swimmers boarded a separate bus. This race is very well organized by our Hammerhead Tri club president Susan Wallis who does a phenomenal job raising money for all types of charities and organizations. Today's race entry fees were give to the Lifeguard station to keep our beach safe.
Karel and I sat in the back of the bus but Karel decided he was too cool to sit with his wife so he sat with his buddies and they talked "guy" stuff for 2.5 miles down the road. Not to worry - I was enjoying my window seat on our yellow school bus, excited for the opportunity to swim 2.5 miles in the ocean in prep for Kona in 8 weeks.
After we arrived to the start of the race, I knew from experience with this race that it would be a long swim. The water was semi-calm, although a slight current not in our favor. The sky was cloudy with a rain shower in the near future. There was a great turn out so plenty of company for 2.5 miles. But a point to point swim with only 1 buoy in the middle makes for a very long swim and lots of thoughts of "where in the heck am I in the ocean?"
After the race was started, I hit the start button on my Garmin 910XT and casually entered the water as to not get caught up with the crazy start of the race. We made a left turn around a small burnout to start our straight shot swim 2.5 miles away.
I felt very good in the water and my watched beeped every 440 yards and I found that the first 30 minutes flew by. I was careful to just swim steady so that I wouldn't exhaust myself for the back half of the race.
I didn't find many people around me which worried me that I was off course. I spotted frequently just to check where I was going and at one point, my friend Don P. was near me and he stopped to de-fog his goggles and I asked "are we are course?" and just kept swimming. I think just knowing someone else was around me felt comforting.
By the way, how is it that in all of the ocean, you can one minute be surrounded by hands and legs within an inch from your face and then the next minute you are all alone in the big blue sea.
Nearing 40 minutes by looking at my watch, I checked my pace and I was rather pleased. 1:34 per 100 yards. Never able to really feel a good catch in the ocean water, I felt like I was channeling my inner college swimmer arms and really swimming strong. I was constantly thinking about my hand entry, smooth kick and hip roll. I guess with over an hour of swimming, I had to think about something to pass the time.
Around 50 minutes, I kept trying to look for that last buoy. I had passed the big red buoy letting me know I was passing the 1.5 starting point but that last little buoy was no where to be seen.
Rather than feeling frustrated (I figured Karel would have plenty of that), I figured the buoy has to come sometime so long as I keep on swimming.
So, my inner nemo came out and I started to pick up the pace. I saw a few lifeguards on their kayak's and paddle boarders so I figured I was on course but no one was around me. Finally, after several rounds of swimming,spotting, swimming, spotting, I found it!! That little orange buoy was there....yet still so far away.
But, at least I knew I was getting somewhere. Unfortunately, somewhere wasn't coming very quickly.
I looked at my watch again around an hour, I knew I had to be getting closer. With 4200 yards for 2.4 miles (Ironman swim) and my swim likely on and off course, I checked with over 3500 yards or so and figured I was on the home stretch.
Finally!! That orange buoy was here!! I was so happy to be so close to a buoy that I sprinted around it all by myself and sprinted to the shore.
I swam until my arms hit the sand and stood up, only to fall back down after a few steps thanks to a shallow part followed by a deep part. Ok, back up again and I ran to the finish line crossing in 1:11:03.
Here are my splits from my Garmin:
(for every 440 yards)
6:47 (1:32 per 100 yards)
6:41 (1:31 pace)
7:11 (1:38 pace)
6:53 (1:33 pace)
2:55 (last 204 yards, 1:25 pace)
1st age group (30-34)
4th overall female
(Love my new Oakley Women swim suit that I wore under my speed suit)
As for Karel's swim....a big improvement from last year and considering that he just learned to swim last May, I am still so amazed with how hard he works and the progress he makes. He gets frustrated at times that he can't just go faster like he does with cycling and running (push harder, go faster) but he always has a great spirit with his swimming.
When Karel finished the swim today in 1:25, he came up to me and our group of friends to let us know that we shouldn't be worried that he took so long. He decided to visit his parents in Czech to get some cookies and that is why he took so long :)
One of my favorite parts of life is working hard. I love the feeling of putting in the work and then getting a payoff down the road. I love the idea of having no idea when the payoff will come or what it will feel like when it all comes together. Even though I have been swimming competitively in some way for over 20 years, I love being able to work hard as a triathlete. Learning how to swim strong as I balance bike and run training. For Karel, it's a work in progress but he is not even close to giving up as he is really hooked with his new triathlon lifestyle and he is 100% motivated and excited to see where his body will take him over the next few years.
Regardless of how the day turns out when you train or race, always appreciate what your body allows you to do and most importantly, have fun. There are many choices in life and there is something beautiful in using a body that was designed to move.
Yay! - another picture of Campy sleeping. What a precious furry ball of cuteness.