First open-water swim!

17 Jul

And I can still taste the salt water in my mouth! We got our wetsuits on Wednesday, after our BRick practice (at which, I must say, I did pretty darn well on the run intervals. Why can’t I do that well on my own?). Pedro Ordenas, who holds the record for the most Alcatraz swims, gave us a talk about open-water swimming, which boiled down to: keep warm (don’t drink cold water before swimming and cover your head and ears), find a landmark to guide by, and relax.

This morning, we met at Aquatic Park in SF at 8:30 for a “how to put on your wetsuit” clinic, by Coach Samir. It still took me about 15 minutes to get it on. Colleen, my mentor, said that last year she did the Sprint Tri at Pac Grove, and it took her twice as long to put on the wetsuit as it did to swim the whole quarter-mile (she swam it in 8 minutes–go Colleen!).

Once we got in the water, I tried swimming, thinking about form, landmarks, swimming in a straight line, not breathing in salt water, my goggles that were fogging up–and of course, I started panicking. It was awful. I kept running out of breath, taking in salt water, having to stop to burp from drinking all that salt water, wondering if my arms were tired or if it was just the weight of the wetsuit…

And then, while I was floating on my back, defogging my goggles AGAIN, I thought, “Stop it. Focus on not drinking the whole Bay.” And it was so much better. Focusing on that one thing allowed me to start dealing with all the other stuff I was getting overwhelmed by just a few minutes before. I started noticing the current a bit. I was able to keep decent form for longer, and I didn’t need to stop to catch my breath as often.

At the end, I did about .6 miles in about 30 minutes. At that pace, I could do the swim part of the race in about 45 minutes, and I bet I can speed up my time even.

The run was pretty sweet, too. I decided to just go for time and stop worrying about my per-mile pace. We left from Aquatic Park, ran along the shore past Fort Mason, Marina Green, Crissy Field, up towards the GG Bridge, and back. I felt great the whole way, did a negative split (faster on the way back), and even after I picked up the pace coming down the final hill, I felt like I could have pushed myself harder. Next time.

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