I accept it, I am now a Tri Geek. I am suprised by this realization, and proud to have survived my first Olympic Tri, especially the damn swim. Here is my story of the swim (that is me in the middle with fellow Cycle U Teamates, ignorantly blissful).
Swimming in a Triathlon is like doing a Mountain bike race at night without lights. Thank goodness for Triumph Multisport for saving my life with a wetsuit rental!Who ever heard of going as hard as you can with 100 other guys in pitch black darkness, not able to breath when you want, getting kicked, bumped into, going the wrong direction, barely able to see even when you lift your head out of the water, and despite giving it 110% still moving the pace of a slug. That is swimming in my first Olympic Triathlon...and that was the good part.
Let me tell you about after the adrenaline wore off and I was about 1 minute into it...I had relegated myself to breathing every stroke, and still it wasn't enough to get into any kind of grove. I was fighting the water, trying to keep my head and chest down as our awesome Tri Goddess Ironwoman Coach Tammy had instructed me, looking at the bouey that seemed to be getting farther away rather than closer. I was starting to look up so much to keep my "line" (I am a pure bike racer after all and 20 years of racing and working on line and angle and trajectory through courses taught me it was key to not go any farther out of my way than necessary) that I was essentially doing the dog paddle with my head out of the water.
I was spazzing. My breathing was frantic and I had nothing going for me other than determination. I looked into the black water, not able to see a thing and tried again...the thought that I wouldn't make it appeared. I tried to ignore it...it came back. I didn't look for a rescue boat since at the start the organizer told us that the ambulance and medic crew was late but he was going to start the race anyway. I was looking to escape the Federal Escape.
Then an interesting thought occured to me. It wasn't the physical effort to swim, I could do that, it was really that my vision had been taken away from me. I had done a couple 30 minutes in open water at Magnuson Park, but I knew the lake and it was in a roped off swiming area and there weren't any other people swimming around me. In the blackness of 5 mile lake I couldn't tell if I was going to ram into someone ahead of me, and I was certainly getting run into from guys going sideways, or me going sideways. It was like riding a mountain bike race at night, you could kinda see but you really needed to use *the force*, not worry about hitting the tree or rock and just keep going smooth and feeling your way.
Then I was finally coming to the bouy and brushed it and felt the rope hit my legs, and another guy came swiming into me...I looked up for the next one and tried again to find my rhythm...and just keeped hammering away with the arms. Damn this was hard.
Then I remembered what my 5 year old son told me the other week when he tried his first swim team workout, with eyes big as we went to the showeres early " WOW Dad! That was REALLY hard swimming across the whole pool!" I smiled and drank some black lake brew and spit it out and kept truckin...gotta do it for the little man. He is brave every day taking on the world, I gotta suck it up and keep going.
I flailed miserably to the next bouy and headed on the homestretch of lap 1. Eventually I could see a dock with people yelling but my earplugs blocked all sound. I knew people were watching me so I tried to get long and smooth again, tried to focus on the game and doing it well. It was embarassing, ego not happy. Pretty soon I was past the dock and at the end of lap one, half way, and it actually started to feel do-able. I settled into a slow and steady stroke, kept my head down more, there were only 1-2 guys around me now which helped. I broke through at that point. I was happy being slow and steady, breathing every stroke if I needed it, and soon I didn't, I was hitting the breath on both sides and making steady progress. Hey, this is alright afterall. Hope is alive!!!
Pretty soon (felt like an eternity) I was back on the homestretch and remembered what Cameron had told me at the pool, start to kick your legs at the end of the swim to get them warmed up for the bike.
The best feeling in the world was feeling the sand of the beach hit my hands as I swam it in hard and came out of the water like a monster. I HAD MADE IT!
Got on the bike and was back home, loving the challenge of tring to catch the 100 guys and gals in front of me now : ) rabbits watch out! Here I come!
I started to see Cycle U teammates and exchange "atta boys" with the rest of the natives! It was like heaven, free and back in control! Next stop is our Triathlon Team open water swimming clinic to keep improving on this very challenging sport.(next, the bike and how I made back all that time).