"Open Water swimming is a different beast than swimming laps in the pool." Such was the very first mental note I made during the big race.
During my swim (marked in Green above), I wandered all over the place. My goggles fogged up. I wore earplugs (mistake) so my hearing was diminished. During the last two months of training, I had hardly practiced "sighting," the method of raising one's head at regular intervals during one's swim stroke, in the pool. I missed our group open water training, and the rain and lighting kept us from swimming the course on Saturday prior to the race, meaning a big element of my race was going to be a true first; you try to minimize "firsts" by training how you race - same drinks, gu, gels, gear, distances, etc. I digress...
After making the first left, at the tetrahedral marker (yes, that term was announced many times over the loud-speaker) I stubbornly tried to keep my head down and get into my swim rhythm, certain I was swimming straight and in the right direction. I looked up to find myself out of the pack. Realigning my direction, I put my head down and repeated this practice. Could this be a metaphor for life? Looking up, I found myself still apart from the group.
Assessing my position and my condition, I realized that several minutes into this effort, I was neither tired nor panicked. The water felt good. I did get into a rhythm, albeit one that took me off course somewhat, but hey, it still felt good. So, finally cluing into what mid-swim adjustments I needed to make, I began to sight at every third or fourth stroke.
The race start was done in waves. My Navy Blue swim cap marked me among the first wave, followed by Green and then Light Blue. So when swimmers from two waves back were passing me, I realized how much time I'd lost in this zig-zag line of thousand tacks that was the path of my swim.
Oh well. Plenty of opportunity on the bike and the run to make up some time.
Just before the swim began, I realized something about myself:
- I only get nervous (really nervous) when I'm ill prepared.
- I was prepared for this race.