I have to confess a small amount of concern after last weekend's race. I haven't had to rest on a kayak during the swim in a race for 5 years. And that was a similar situation with cold water, high elevation and I ran out of breath. When I went through my hypnotherapy training I volunteered to be 'demo dog' for most of the classroom demonstrations of techniques since no one else was interested in volunteering and I was quite happy to have all my problems fixed for free. One of things I had the instructor work on was my panic during the swim of a race and it worked great. Aside from the work he did I have other techniques I use to calm myself and up until last weekend I'd had no problem. On the one hand I knew it was from being out of breath at high elevation before starting the race but on the other I was still a bit concerned.
So I entered this week's Stroke-n-Stride, an informal swim/run race that Racing Underground holds every week in the summer at the Boulder Reservoir. I'd been meaning to go to at least one anyway and the one I tried to attend was cancelled due to high bacteria levels in the Rez.
Last night was a perfect night for a race, overcast, not too hot and no storms/lightening to shut down the swim portion.
I did the swim portion of the race as a relay last year but this was my first time doing the full race on my own. It's a very laid back race, meant more for practice than serious racing but it's a great way for me to work on my swim race and push myself during the run.
I chose the 1500 meter swim/5 k run format which is 2 loops with a short beach run in between. Xterra Nat's. is 1500 meters so this was perfect practice. I don't feel like I push myself enough on the swim and since this race is so short I can test out what it feels like to push myself a bit. I also wanted to make sure I was confident swimming in a race, getting right back on the horse so to speak before my next real race.
I warmed up with plenty of time to get my heart rate back to normal before the race start. I was a bit worried about being too warm in my full wetsuit in 74 degree water and high 80's air temp. but in the end I was o.k. A little warm but nowhere near overheating to a dangerous level.
The goal for the race was negative splits, meaning a faster time per lap on the swim and per mile on the run as the race progressed.
The plan was to start the swim slowly, nice steady pace to build my confidence then pick up the pace for the second lap. I wasn't nervous at the start and maybe 1/4-1/2 way to the first buoy I realized I was fine and picked up the pace to my normal race pace. It was very crowded and I had to sight a lot more than I'm used to which can get tiring. Eventually I latched onto some feet and followed a woman in a yellow cap almost to the finish until she veered way off course. I beat her out of the water but halfway across the beach she caught up to me. I decided to walk the beach portion since running would drive my heart rate up. Several people ran past me then stood around a bit when they got in the water, probably catching their breath, and I passed them up right away never to see them again.
I managed to catch a draft here and there on the second lap, picked up my pace and started picking people off though the crowd had thinned a lot so it was only a person here or there. My second lap ended up 17 secs. faster than my first so I was happy with that. But my pace was so slow, 2:01/100 yards, the slowest time I've had in a long time. Makes me wonder if the course was long.
I got confused in transition though, went to the wrong tree and couldn't find my gear and wasted a bit of time. I also chose to put socks on. Didn't need them for such a short race but wanted to get the practice in for my real races where I will need them. But this was a time suck as well.
I was surprisingly out of breath for the start of the run and I never felt like I ever really caught my breath the whole rest of the race. I'm not used to running flat courses and since it was flat and short I felt like I needed to run as hard as I could for the whole thing.
It's an out and back course so you can see all the other people ahead of you as they double back to the finish and near the turn-around I saw someone I know from masters who swims in my lane. We're very close in swim ability so I was surprised she was as far ahead of me as she was but I realized I had lost a bit of time in transition and sure enough looking at the final numbers she was 9 seconds ahead of me out of the water but I lost another 12 seconds to her in transition. But now I had someone to chase and I set my mind to catching her. In the end I couldn't quite do it but the motivation of having someone to pace off of gave me a third mile split that was 23 seconds faster than the second mile and the negative split I was hoping for. In the end I finished 35 seconds behind her. I was happy with the negative split and the opportunity to get a good hard run practice in. I wasn't so thrilled with my slow 5k time but I have to remember to stop comparing myself to how I ran in my 30's. I can see it's going to take some patience and hard work to get my running form back but this was somewhat encouraging and gives me a baseline for comparison. I've been training by heart rate on hills so I had no idea of my run pace on a flat course.
After the race was over I hung out for a bit, chatting with my masters lane mate and my transition area neighbor who was a guy in his 60's who's doing an Ironman in Louisville, Kentucky in 2 1/2 weeks. I'm always inspired by this, gives me hope that I'll be able to continue with racing myself. He said he was never a runner when he was younger, took up the sport at an older age and his running kept getting better and peaked in his 50's. Age is not an excuse.
Overall had a great time, got in some great practice, feel confident again about my swimming. There are 2 more races left this season and hopefully I'll be able to do at least one more. So lucky to have such a great race just a 10 minute drive away.
The total time doesn't add up to the splits. Don't know why since it was chip timed but oh well, it's only 2 seconds off. The lap and mile splits came off my watch.
Swim: 34:13 including beach run, 32:59 pure swimming time (2:01/100 yards)
Lap 1: 16:38
Beach Run: 1:14
Lap 2: 16:21
Run: 30:33 (9:52 min./mile)
Mile 1: 10:02
Mile 2: 10:05
Mile 3: 9:32
Mile 0.1: 00:54 secs.
2/4 age group