After seeing some of the grand race reports from Ironman 70.3 Buffalo Springs Lake and Ironman Couer d'Alene, I feel a little blogger block. As compared to some of the others that were doing their first halves or completing Iron distance races, nothing very exciting or literary happened to me during the race. Last year was my first HIM, this year I've done three already. Last year I did not know if I could finish, this year I knew I could finish, but that puts on the pressure to see how much faster one can go. But unlike some, I have a hard time taking off the safety tabs.
So, I guess that's a long way of saying that I didn't take many risks on race day, and consequently did not reap many rewards -- at least in terms of times and PRs and such. The experience, however, was very rewarding and will pay dividends at Ironman Wisconsin.
One goal that I really wanted to achieve was regaining some confidence in the water. I wanted to have a comfortable swim and finish feeling like I could have gone further. On that account I succeeded. The new wetsuit was awesome and comfortable. I floated like a cork. I did my new open water sighting that I have been practicing, and swam easily and without pause.
At points I was obstructed by some other swimmers, but I just don't have the chutzpah to try and sprint around folks yet. I wound up swimming relatively straight but way wide for a variety of reasons. First, I preferred to find open water on the outside rather than squeeze by on the inside around the few swimmers slower than me. Second, I am REALLY self-concious about obstructing the wave that starts behind me. I'll give them their props by giving them clear water near the bouys to swim through. Finally, I am still having issues from my neck injury. When I've gone about 1500 meters, the strength deficit on my right side resurfaces and I start to swim like Johnny-Wrong-Way if I don't sight frequently.
So, the time: 44:33. That is slower than last year by a bit (42:52), and I'm not pleased with that at all; however, I put forward almost no effort getting through the swim. This was by design--hoping for a good run, which is my relative strength. My average heart rate was only 133 BPM and the max was only 140 BPM. Moreover, it was about 6 minutes faster than the first HIM this year and MUST be light years faster than Wildflower--a number that I still have not looked at.
Based on my masters class performance, I'm probably a slightly better swimmer than my results would show. I just don't take the safety tabs off when there are no lane lines or walls to hold to when I am tired. I just need to work on my muscular endurance and my confidence, and I know I will go faster.
But not for Ironman Wisconsin. That lollygag pace gets me out of the water with plenty of time left before the swim cutoff and with plenty in the tank for a long bike and long run. I'll be taking no risks in the water during the big dance.
One new experience: I actually decided to try "finding some feet" for the first time in a swim. When I made the last turn towards the swim exit, there were some other, slightly faster swimmers in the water, and I latched onto some feet and followed them as best I could for awhile. THIS is a skill worth practicing.
The most significant thing about the swim happened after I stopped stroking and stood to exit the water.
WHACK! Boney metatarsal on left foot strikes submerged rock with considerable force. I was too hopped up on endorphins to notice at the time, but this would prove to be significant later in the day.
(. . . to be continued)