Monday, September 14, 2009

Don't think, just do

Since a car alarm managed to wake me up at 11:30pm, I might as well blog now...and hey, then I can go back to sleep and wake up midmorning when it's warmer out for my ride and run!

Yesterday (as it's now 12:07am), I was coerced into doing the 1 mile La Jolla Rough Water Swim and a couple hours later the infamous 3 mile Gatorman swim up at the Cove. My coach basically just signed me up over a month ago, otherwise there are plenty of excuses I could've come up with to avoid that adventure.

See, I actually do enjoy swimming- in a pool, or in clear, calm, warm open water. I do not however enjoy swimming in cold, choppy, swelling, dark ocean. At all costs I tend to steer clear of lakes in places like Florida (gators) and ocean water with shark-sighting/trauma history. My limbs don't grow back if chopped off last time I checked so it's best to take care of them.

Anyway, Julie and KP were both going to do the double and it was the perfect 3 day training summary- 6.5hr ride Fri, 2.5hr run Sat, 2ish hrs of swim Sun.

I woke up pretty early as usual, had breakfast and wasted time at home. Around 9 I drope up to La Jolla and found a good place to park around the shops on Prospect St and headed down to pick up my cap, get marked etc. Things went super smooth and I had about an hour and a half to kill. I luckily stumbled upon the Compex booth and given that my legs were pretty trashed after the long ride and run the days prior, I got hooked up for 30min on their recovery mode. The Compex system rocks!!!!! My legs felt golden afterwards :D They also offered to hook my shoulders up and that really had me thinking of purchasing the things- took my knots out like no massage had before.

I wasn't really nervous about the mile- I mean it's not long at all and my wave- 39& under women, was like 400 people so when it came down to it, sea creatures were the least of my worries. I had two main concerns: 1) water temp, 2) waves/swells when coming back to shore. I don't mind chop so much, that's just a mental struggle and endurance issue (for the Gatorman not the mile) but I suck at taking waves back in. I can time them going out but having them behind me always ends up in me doing ten thousand waching machine reps.

When we went off I loved it! The temperature was 73ish and it felt perfect. It was pretty clear and calm with the current in our favor to the turnaround and the sun had actually started to creep up from the cloud cover. I found a pair of feet and didn't have to look up almost at all. Then the way back happened. Suddenly chop and the realization that this was going to take a bit longer than the first half. Whatever, almost done with swim one so just keep moving. Ahh shore! BAM, BAM....that was my quick surprise as a wave that I must have only imagined to be the size of a house, smashed me to shore. Some circles and a refreshing gulp of salt water later and I was out.

I dried off quickly, and scarfed down 3 powerbars. Had I known that the Gatorman was going to be delayed over 1hr I would have eaten something more substantial like a sandwich, but I thought I only had about 90min before going off again and the last thing I wanted was gulps of salt water mixing with undigested food while swimming forever.

So by the time we started I was kind of hungry, thirsty, and already needing my afternoon nap- great, bonking in line before we even go off! I think we went off just before 3pm vs 1:30 scheduled time. We make our way down the stairs- all couple hundred of us- and greeting us is a beautiful sight of huuuuge waves. Ahh, can this day get any better?! Up to this point I'm feeling exactly like I do before an unconquered rollercoaster ride, or more specifically the Elevator at Universal Studios that I rode with my dad when I was like 9 (the one where you just freefall with like no support except a bar in front to hold on to). You know that when people are done they're only smiling because it's over not because of how much "fun" they had while on it. Everyone always says "yeah, it's great, don't worry" because they want you to have to suffer just as much as they made their sorry a** suffer.

I KP and I had planned on swimming together. Hahhahaha that plan went to hell in the first 2 seconds. My only thought as we plunged in was avoid getting smacked and injured. I didn't care who the hell passed me, I would have gladly been dead last and not even made the cut off as long as I came out scratch free. One thing I was not going to ever let happen was to lose sight of another swimmer. Heaven heard my call and sent me a wonderful pair of feet that led me without worry to the turnaround. 37 min out- nice! But I knew to expect the worst on the return. Well clearly my imagination needs to expand because my idea of "worst case return" was nothing in comparison to what took place.

1) I lost my original pair of draft feet- thought I thankfully found another girl with a respectable pace and swim etiquette shortly after
2) I swallowed half of the Pacific Ocean- soon I was nauseaus, thirsty, burping powerbar(s), and dizzy
3)The sun went away and the water got cold- my right hand started to get tingly and numb

At this point I was done talking inside my head and shut off into a robotic, survive this thing by just moving mode. Seriously, a shark nibbling on me started to sound appealing as I could then yell for a kayaker and get back to land. This is where you realize there's a reason we don't have gills, fins, etc...we were not meant to be in the water!!!!!!!!!!!! You would think mother nature would think to cut us idiots some slack, but nooo the chop just kept coming. I now have an immense appreciation for the back of the pack at IM swims who probably feel like I did on the last 1.5miles but they proceed to bike and run. Also, I learned that open water swimmers (like the poeple that actually do this shit over and over and for waaay longe distances) are wired entirely different than the rest of humanity. Whoever thinks Ironman is outlandish (no pun intended)- think again.

Thankfully I avoided getting smacked by waves like I had at the end of the 1mile swim, made it to land, tried to drink some water, and proceeded to shiver uncontrollably for, I kid you not, the next hour. Where did the sun go, why is it cold?!?! I bolted out of there straight for whole foods- got in some well deserved real food, and came back home to my warm bed.

Moving on- now Ironman seems like a cakewalk. I guess this is the benefit of what I did, aside from the two finishers medals and t-shirt. This week I'll be rolling through with some moderate stuff, mainly bike and run, and my final big weekend before taper.

Ok, I think I'll go back to sleep now, it's almost 1am...