Tag Archives: swim

Blue Sky, Sun & Water Made It Better

I woke up yesterday morning and felt OK.  Nothing remarkable about the morning.   For the past few days or so, off-and-on, I’ve been pretty emotional and feeling blah.  The void from losing Noah feels a lot stronger and bigger these days.  So I’ll take feeling just OK.  I started the day with eating breakfast, tackling some work and reading the news.  I planned to hit the pool by mid-morning to swim my assigned 3000 yards.  Last weekend I sought some advice from my coach about my swims (among other areas).  I was starting to grow anxious about not making decent enough progress with my times.  Since hearing back from him, I’ve been looking forward to swimming with his guidance in my head.

But yesterday I struggled to go to the pool.  I don’t know exactly why.  I didn’t feel like it was my spirit talking to me; like I needed a break or something.  Most likely, I think, it was simply becoming one of those days -whatever that means.

Packing my gym bag was an effort.  I painstakingly gathered my goggles, sunscreen, swim cap, chocolate milk, Clif shots, Nuun tablets, water bottle and change of clothes.  Every few minutes I’d pause, take in a deep breath and think about NOT going.  But then I’d continue to get ready.  I forced myself to go through the motions.  “Just get in the water and start swimming,” I kept telling myself.  “If the pool is the slightest bit crowded though, that’s a sign I shouldn’t swim today.”

The pool had only one other swimmer in it.  I had my own lane; it wasn’t the middle lane but a good one.  I guess that’s a sign too.  Slowly I placed my stuff at the end of the pool.  I stretched.  I rarely do this before swimming.  I was stalling.  And then I sat down on the edge and placed my legs in the water.  I started the timer on my Garmin and pushed myself in.

When I swim laps I breathe every three or five strokes to alternate sides.  With the first breath I took I naturally looked up at the sky.  All I saw was blue above me and when I placed my face back in the water I noticed sunlight shining, almost dancing, in the water.  I immediately felt better.  Not great, not bad and not just ok.  This swim was not even close to being a great pool workout.  But the blue sky, sun and even the water gave me some peace and comfort.

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Honu 70.3 Finisher!

I crossed the Ironman 70.3 Hawaii (AKA Honu 70.3) finish line! Since then I have had and continue to have so many different thoughts and emotions about this race. I imagine I’ll post at least few times about it. For now I’ll share my race results and sort of recap each leg of the race.

The results:

Swim (1.2 miles) — 50:56

Bike (56 miles) — 3:20:04

Run (13.1 miles) — 1:58:35

Overall (70.3 miles) — 6:20:21

Swim

I definitely struggled with the swim. I have a hard time sighting the buoys and swimming in a straight line. I’m sure I swam more than the necessary 1.2 miles because of these shortcomings. (I don’t know my actual distance because I don’t use my Garmin in the water.) I was pretty late coming out of the water. Oh but the water, the water was absolutely beautiful! I could see the bottom of the ocean! The sky was blue and the temperature was practically perfect.

Bike

The bike was extremely challenging. The place where we mounted was on a very steep incline so I (along with lots of others) had a hard time with the start. In fact for a couple of seconds I thought something was wrong with my bike because I couldn’t seem to pedal! Then at some point way too soon — I can’t remember when exactly — I began dealing with the notorious crosswinds. I do know I felt them as soon as I made it to the famous Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway — we actually ride part of the Ironman World Championship course — but I seem to recall encountering them almost as soon as I got past the steep incline. Whatever actually happened, these crosswinds are a big reason why this course is one of the hardest in the world. The winds are so strong bikes will slant over to one side while going straight. There were a few times when I truly felt like the wind was going to blow me off the road. (Seriously, picture scenes from “The Wizard of Oz!”) And they don’t seem to give any warning when they’ll blow. At times right when I think it’s relatively calm enough and I’m stable enough to grab my water bottle or a Clif shot, they hit me, and wham or even double or triple wham I’m holding on tight! Proper hydration and nutrition are so important while racing. The heat and humidity make these components even more critical for Honu 70.3. I’m not the most coordinated person either so trying to:

  • drink,
  • down an energy gel or
  • actually eat a Clif bar

while:

  • balancing myself on my bike,
  • bracing for winds,
  • navigating among other cyclists (without breaking any rules)
  • maintaining somewhat good form,

and oh yes shifting gears and pushing myself as hard as possible is “somewhat” challenging for me.

And WOW! I actually saw Lance Armstrong! I like to say, “I passed Lance on the bike!” Granted he was riding in the other direction well beyond the halfway point, and I was at something like mile 15. The cyclist right next to me yelled, “he makes it look so easy.” I completely agree. To see him in action was very, very cool. He’s truly impressive!

Run

The run was hard but not for the reasons I imagined while training. I thought once I put on my running shoes, consume a Clif shot and head out of transition I would feel overwhelmed at the thought of having to run 13.1 miles. The distance didn’t bother me though. I told myself, “I’ve got this run down. Just tick off the miles.” And the miles didn’t seem long until I was around mile 10.5, that is. That’s when my mind and heart wanted to go faster to finish strong and hard but my legs didn’t cooperate. I was able to pick it up but not nearly as much as I’d like. What made the run hard was the brutal wind and sun. My hat blew off at least once, and I had to hold it down with my hands a few times — not the best form for running. I felt the sun beating down on my arms and its intensity seemed to increase over time.

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From 27 Strokes down to 20 within 30 Minutes!

I haven’t had a lot of time to write because I’ve been traveling these days.

This morning Pete spent 30 minutes helping me with my swim.  I plan to write more about this and other aspects of my training while traveling next week.  In the meantime I just want to say — no, announce! –  that thanks to Pete, I improved my Distance Per Stroke (DPS) significantly.  Before today I swam about 27 strokes per pool length.  During my session with Pete, I cut this down by 7!  Woo hoo!

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