Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Open Water Swim...

It’s Week 15 of NYC Tri training – only 5 weeks left. I’m shaking in my booties.

Here’s what I did this past week:

Saturday: OPEN WATER SWIM + 45 min run
Sunday: 2 hour bike ride
Monday: 1 Hour Group Swim (I'M QUEEN OF THE WORLD)
Tuesday: 6 Mile Run (I HATE YOU BODY)
Wednesday: 1 Hour Indoor Bike (NOTHING TO SEE HERE)
Thursday: 40 Minute Swim (THIS ISN'T SO BAD)

Why all the random add-ons? This past week was filled with highs and lows. Let’s start with the craziest of them all – the open water swim at Coney Island on Saturday.

I really thought I would be more nervous than I was for this swim. Given my general hatred dislike for swimming over the past few weeks, I thought it was going to be rough. But swim practice earlier in the week was actually quite fun, and I was on my first-ever high from swimming.

My fave training buddy Meggie and I got to Coney Island nice and early for instructions by our coaches and the lifeguards. The first thing I heard when we got to the boardwalk – the water is COLD. Tropical Storm Andrea passed over New York and left just a couple hours before our swim, thus making the ocean cold and choppy. I found out after the swim that the water hadn’t been that cold in the eight years that one of our coaches has been doing TNT.


We put on our wetsuits, and were advised to do some running before the swim to get warmed up. When we finally got in the water, and my feet were not happy with me. During the first lap, I kept my head up the entire time, since ya know, I COULDN'T SEE THE BOTTOM, WHICH IS STRANGE.  

In the second lap, I told myself to trust my months of training, and try to swim “normally.” I put my face in the water, and just swam. My face felt like ice during the first few minutes, but I started to get the hang of it. I have heard that it is really common for people to freak out the first time they swim in open water, but I wanted to avoid this. I counted my strokes in my head – one, two, three, four, five, six, SIGHT. This was also really foreign to me. We practiced sighting in last week’s swim practice, but it’s sort of silly in the pool because you know exactly where you’re going… but in the ocean, you have to make sure you’re not swimming out to sea.

We did twenty minutes of continuous lap swimming, a few other exercises, and we were done. We did it!!!

It really wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. Looking back, this swim was a huge mental barrier for me. Now that I know that I can actually swim in open water, and brave it out in less than ideal conditions, it just doesn’t seem so daunting to me anymore.

That being said, I finally decided to sign up for this puppy:

I knew I wanted to do a sprint tri before the big day, but I was a bit scared about whether I’d be prepared for the swim. During the NYC Tri you swim with the current, so you’re not actually swimming for that long (my mentor Andy said that last year his NYC swim time was 17 minutes, and in a different race with the same distance, his swim time was 33 minutes…).

The Birchwood Lakes swim is an out and back half mile swim in a lake. No current, just still, open water. But now I feel like I can do it. Plus, I realized the other night at swim practice that we swam a little over a mile in the pool (!!!!).

At least I think I did. I am REALLY bad at counting laps and meters and stuff. You can tell me if I’m totally off, but I think I read somewhere that 33 laps is a mile. (Actually, don’t tell me and shatter my confidence. K great).

So the swimming is going well (for once), and I’m pumped about this sprint tri as a practice run for race day. Yet I have been sidelined this week by a stupid tweak in my left IT Band.

I went out for 400 sprints Tuesday night after what felt like a crappy day. Everything at work was bothering me, everyone was TOUCHING me on the subway, and I just felt like a cranky troll. Normally, a good run can get me out of a funk, so I was looking forward to it. But my body felt tired, and I should have listened to that.

I felt fine during the warm-up, and even somewhat strong in the first five 400s. But during the last sprint, I felt really beat, and at the end of it my body said ENOUGH. I couldn’t slow my heart rate, and I did some run-walking to try to cool-down. I noticed some pain in my left IT Band, and by the last mile it was really hurting. I cut the run short, and harrumphed my way home.

WHY OH WHY would you do this to me IT Band? We’ve been getting along so well, you and I. Did I push you too hard? Just tell me. I’ll be good to you, I promise.

I went to see the all-powerful Dr. Levine yesterday, and he was a bit perplexed by it as well. He found two big knots in the muscle, and worked them out for me. But he advised no running for at least a week. I’m still pouting.

Especially because in one week, I will be here:

My dad, cousins and me after the bike up the Notch!
You can really see what we look like, no?

I’ll be heading up to Vermont next week for a vacay/family reunion, and have every intention of enjoying the amazing scenery by running and biking as much as I can. Give me some trails and grass, and I am one HAPPY gal. I am not going to let my stubborn leg keep me from doing the things I love. 

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