Open Water – Danskin 2010 Edition

Deb Costello thoughtfully arranged for some of the women training for this year’s Danskin Orlando Tri to have a practice swim at Lake Sybelia in Maitland yesterday. Even for experienced open water swimmers, it’s important to get in there and do a race-day distance during training – if only to reassure oneself that even thought it may be exhausting, it won’t likely result in having to view replays of one’s limp form being rescued from the water over and over on the local nightly news.

Even though I have serious (SERIOUS) misgivings about lake swimming in Florida, I decided to join in. After all, I had to find out if my new red-orange-yellow suit was as fast as my son had predicted (It’s FIREY!! Like a kersplosion!!!).

I arrived at the lake 10 minutes late, coffee in hand, no breakfast, and barely conscious. True to good race training practice, I tried to recreate race-day conditions as closely as possible. No time for niceties, I whipped off my kit, donned my goggles and off we went.

The half-mile was to be a there-and-back x2 (I found out about the x2 halfway through the x1). Lake conditions were beautiful. Cool, flat, clean. The sun was still low on the horizon and, with every stroke, I prayed that we’d be done and eating bagels on the dock before the alligators decided to make their morning repast.

I started out strong – slow, but strong. It felt good to be in the water, and even though it was very chilly it was nice to me moving. (I was strongly motivated to get moving by the slimy tendrils near the dock, potentially concealing any number of crocodilians or testudinaes. I kept this bit of info to myself). My goal for the day was to do the swim without talking myself out of finishing the distance. I am my own worst enemy in training so this is a bad habit I have to constantly overcome. As we crossed the open water, I stayed in the Back of the Pack (at first this was by Choice, by about 400 meters this was by Default).

We all finished in less than half an hour. It was really valuable for me to have done this. No matter how much time I’ve spent in the open water (a lot), there is always a bit of performance anxiety coming up to an event like this. The hardest part for me is occasionally forgetting how to swim and breathe at the same time (Backstroke, for the Win) and my relentless internal monologue of doubt (I am actually moving FORWARD, right???).

The chance to sit after, eating and laughing with this wonderful group of women absolutely made my morning, and reminded me why it is that I repeatedly sign up for this torture. Volunteering to do something that seems crazy, even foolhardy, and then going out and doing it reminds me that there is no too tired/too busy/too difficult except in my own head.

Race Day reports to follow (or, you know, look for me on the evening news. You’ll be able to spot the suit)

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~ by Adverbia on April 25, 2010.

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