Today was Aquabike #1 of the year. I got a pretty medal for my efforts, but the bottom line is that there is very little I am happy about with today’s whole performance. After I was done, I said to my husband that nothing felt good about it. Were there positives? Yes. Am I happy about them? No. Welcome to life with me. Mostly I’m just disappointed because I know I could have done better. I feel like I should have done better.
I had a whole plan for last night, that included getting a great night’s sleep. The whole plan went out the window, and instead of a great night’s sleep I lay in bed awake for two hours with our hotel room not cooling off. I was about to give up close to midnight and deal with the hassle of asking to switch, moving our stuff, and waiting for a new room to cool down when it finally started cooling off. So my good night of sleep went out the window, and I was tired. I was tired yesterday, I was tired last night, and thus, I was tired this morning.
The swim. First of all, I would like to note that the average temperatures here have been about 30 degrees lower than the seasonal averages. It’s been cool. Which means the lake water was going to be cool. I went back and forth over renting a wetsuit. I finally decided against it because I have never swum with one before, and I got the advice to not try something new on race day. Cool. The water temps were projected to be in the low 70’s, so I figured I’d wear a swim top, my tri shorts, and suck it up.
The offical water temperature was 68. It was cold. Holy moly.
My swim strategy is to start on the outside of the group. I have no desire to be in the middle of the fight. I got an outside position, but several women noticed me and said “You look like a swimmer, you need to move up!” and pushed me to the front. Maybe that was polite for “You look like a jackass without a wetsuit on!” My starting position ended up being in the front of the group on the outside.
When our wave went off, I started swimming, but immediately got caught up in the fight for position. I got grabbed, elbowed, and about 50 yards out, swam over and pushed down twice. I ultimately ended up panicking. I flipped on my back and sculled for a few meters, then flipped over and tried to swim again, but was still caught in so much chop that the water was coming up and hitting me in the face before I was even getting it down – when I was trying to inhale. More panic. So I floundered, and couldn’t bring myself to swim normally. I switched to a polo swim, which is freestyle with your head out of the water. Amazingly, I started to pass people, and managed to get myself out of a large group, around the 250m marker, and into a less densely grouped pack. I was so mad at myself at this point that I was verbally beating myself up, and I think I told myself to stop being such a damn baby and swim. I did, quickly figured out I could only breathe to the right because of the chop, and settled into a rhythm. I was breathing more and faster than I wanted, but hell. I was finally swimming. I was also passing more people at a decent clip, which just pissed me off more. Somewhere in here, I managed to get a cramp under my right ribcage, so that was not awesome.
Coming in from the swim, I and several other people had to physically stop when a kayak cut right in front of our path, which I wasn’t pleased with. I got out of the swim, I’m pretty sure I glared at the photographer (I can’t wait to see those official race photos), and ran up to transition. I saw two other aquabike people’s bikes gone, so I threw on my top, tried to get in to my shoes and socks, and started running out of transition. I had to stop twice because one shoe wouldn’t stay velcroed. My T1 time was almost 2 minutes.
Because my husband is awesome, he rode the course for me yesterday, and then we drove it and he pointed out what to watch out for. It was hilly, and I am not good at hills. Ok. I suck at hills. I started the bike still with the cramp under my ribcage from the swim, and i ended up having it the whole bike. When I finished, I told my husband that I thought my pace would be decent (for me) because I took good advantage of the flats and downhills, which are my strength, but I did struggle on some hills. He told me where to be smart shifting gears, when to expect hills that I wouldn’t think to, to get back up to pace as quick as possible after hills (knowing how bad they get me), and then at what point on the course I could let it all fly.
When I came back in, I just had to go in to transition, dismount, and run to the finish line. I dropped my bike and helmet, ran through the special aquabike lane, and crossed the finish line. Yay.
In my bike training rides, the fastest pace I ever hit was 15mph average pace. My ride at the race today was 15.8, so I definitely did a good ride for me. My swim was 14:51, which was completely disappointing to me. My goal was to be out of the water in under 12 minutes, which I know is a completely attainable goal for me. My total time was 1:10 and change, which is exactly the same time as last year’s race.
I ended up 6th overall, 2nd in my age division. I got a pretty medal to add to my growing shwag collection, and I do like shwag. I also am determined to put in some good training before the next race in June.