I wanted to start the first major training day of this training week right and I could not have asked for a better way than to do a group open water swim followed by a 27 mile bike, all made possible by my local PTS Sports store and its staff. The weather participated nicely and gave us a beautiful near 80 or so degree day. All the pieces were in place for a good workout and enjoyable training ride and swim.
As I showed up for the open water swim I got a little bit panicked as I saw almost everyone had on wet suits. The event organizers had informed us that the water would probably be warm enough to swim in without a wet suit, but I guess only the few of us who did not bring or own one took that to heart. I immediately grew concerned… did these people know something I did not? After signing my life and potential litigation we moved to the lake in a wave and the open water swim began. As I got to the water I was pleasantly surprised by the nice warm temperature of the water. I began my swim with the most basic intention being to not panic. Last year I practiced quite a few open water swims and found the biggest issue I often had was swimming a bit and shortly panicking, which led to flailing and a total draining of all my energy. My main goal in this swim was not distance, but controlled swimming without loosing too much energy. I swam to the half way point of what was supposed to be a mile and began to turn around. I realized my sighting needed some serious work as I often found myself pulling my head out of the water and even stopping for a second or two to regroup. Good thing though was the fact I never lost calm and I did not waste too much energy. But I do need to spend some time working on sighting in the pool and the open water. In the end I managed just over 700 yards and had an average pace of 2:20 per 100 yards. Not terrible for some occasional pull out and look moments.
After the swim we all got out and changed into biking attire. The organizers had recommended beginner riders should probably not do the course as there were some serious hills in the course. I quickly asked about slow riders such as myself and was informed that I would be fine if I could handle the climbs. Of course I knew I could slug it out up the hills and I had a sense I would probably be a ways behind everyone. I technically hate the idea of riding in groups as I know I will be the slowest one on the road, but I figured it was all in fun. As we began the start of the ride I stayed toward the back and slowly eased my legs into the act of pedaling the bike. Right away the other riders pulled way ahead. I did not play chase and found the 4.6 miles of running the night before had even caused my muscles to be a bit more tight and sore than usual. This resulted in a very long warm up period. I still slogged on and climbed up some hills and quickly flew down them. While I wanted to push hard and catch up to the other cyclists, I also wanted to enjoy the ride and just pace the ride for the 30 mile planned distance. Another guy had pushed a hard run the day before and hung back with me. For the entire ride we just rode and talked, sometimes slower than I would have liked to have gone, but all in all it was very pleasant enjoyable experience. I usually ride solo so I enjoyed riding with someone else for a little bit.
The hardest part for me still is the hill climbs. On most of the ride I felt pretty good, but on the climbs I often felt like I was having to slug it out. Usually I would drop to the smaller chain ring and work to get a good cadence going up the hill. But this still was not enough and I am still a very slow climber. The ace for me is that I have learned I can usually slog it out and get up the hill eventually, albeit slowly. The icing on the cake for this ride was a hill called pallet hill because on the top there is a company that manufactures pallets. This climb was brutal, taking a just over a mile and traversing 200 plus feet of climbing. I was beat by the time I finally got to the top of this climb, it took every ounce of gumption to get up it and I just had to push past the feeling my quads were going to burst out of the skin. This climb felt like it went on forever and never ended. The top felt awesome though as I knew I had just gone up a major climb, albeit very slowly.
As we pulled into the parking lot it had turned out that most of the other riders had pushed on, but the organizer stayed with a few others to make sure everyone had come back. This is the life of a slow cyclist, most people ride together and finish together, but the slow cyclist ends up at the very end with an empty parking lot. It did not matter too much to me, I enjoyed talking with the guy I rode with and I was glad to get out of my normal riding location. The other benefit of this ride was that the last ten or so miles, including the huge climb, would be the last part of the eighteen mile course in my triathlon at the end of June. I feel like I am riding these hills faster than I used to, but its still drastically slower than most others. Maybe one day I will be faster and stronger at running and biking, for now take the enjoyment of knowing I finished the ride and did not feel too exhausted or tired in the end.
Overall a great way to kick the first major week of this training cycle into gear. Of course I spent the rest of the day moving boxes and packing and unpacking. In the end I was very happy with my ride and happier still that I completed it after pushing my running mileage the night before. Maybe one of these days I will be faster at riding or running or swimming, for now I just want to be a little bit faster than I was earlier in the season. If I am still at this speed by October, I will be sorely dissapointed. Of course I know there will be physical limitations on what I can achieve and accomplish, but I do not feel I have hit that wall yet. I just have to give it time and have faith that my strength and speed will increase with time. For now I just have to continue to push on and work to be a better me than I was last year and last month. Til next time.
- Open Water Swim Advice for Beginners (iowatribob.com)
- Tour De Cure Phase In Review (chatterdoesfitness.wordpress.com)
- That 1st open water swim – Redricks Lakes (runandtri.wordpress.com)
- 5 tips to acclimate to open water swimming (zwemza.wordpress.com)