I am lousy swimmer. But I didn't drown. That is success.
One of the difficulties with doing endurance athletics is that you are always driving for something new. It's probably not unlike the junkie looking for a new hit, needing more and more just to get a high, turning to the next thing on the street to get high. Yeah, it's just like that.
Having conquered the marathon thing multiple times, and having just done a two-day 150 mile plus bike ride, I was in the mood for something new. So despite not having any experience swimming, I signed up for a triathlon. It was today.
I would like to say that I picked up swimming quickly and didn't have any problems, but that would be a lie. Distance wasn't the issue - I can do 4000m straight in a pool. But there's a mental aspect to all of this, and that's the problem. Before this morning, I'd never swum in open water over my head without a life jacket (boating, water skiing, etc.). And I've never played water polo or otherwise had the sort of experience where you are forced to engage in hand-to-hand combat in deep water, so the whole group start thing is a first.
After setting up transition I managed a bit of a swim. It was just to get prepped, get wet, get used to the water. This made a huge difference. I was much less nervous when I stepped in the water than I otherwise would have been. I was smart enough to hang in the back near the outside, so as to not have to fight the crazy good swimmers up front, and this was also a good call.
My group was second to last to go, so there was about a 40 minute wait from the start gun before I could get going. I have to say the tussling and swimming over people was not as bad as I thought it would be. I got kicked a couple of times and had to swim over a few people, but in the end it wasn't that bad at all. I did start to panic once or twice but managed to keep my emotions in check. I had to swim breaststroke for a little bit for sighting purposes but otherwise the entire thing was done freestyle. I somehow managed to finish in the middle of the pack in about 11:35. The only downside was that I forgot to start my Garmin.
My first transition was really slow. Note to self: let's leave the cycling gloves at home next time. Don't know what I was thinking there. But once I got on the bike, everything felt awesome. My legs were fresh, my lungs were ready, my body was cool. And I flew. I did 24mph for almost the entire course. I was passing people left and right. My road bike and I absolutely dropped several tri bikes, just left them standing there. I backed off over the last half mile or so to give my legs a chance to rest for the run.
The second transition was fast - very fast. Would have been a couple of seconds faster without the gloves - again, not sure what I was thinking. And once I got out running I was in familiar territory. Running hard when I'm tired is not something new. I finished in precisely my goal time for the run, 22:30.
Overall it was a successful race, and it was absolutely a blast. I'm definitely signing up to do this again. Actually, I already have - signed up for an Olympic distance in August. I'm excited.