Conquering the Swim Monster Pre Race.

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Towne Lake Olympic Triathlon - a PRE Race report

I have had hesitation about this particular distance for some time.  My concern about my swimming ability in open water specifically has caused me anxiety to the point of just not signing up to try it out.  It seems critical that if I am training for a half Ironman, where the swim distance is 1900M, I should be able to swim the Olympic distance of 1500M.

This training cycle, I have increased my swims and I have kept them consistently throughout.  I have had a couple of practice OWS that both caused me the same panic I experienced in previous sprint races.  You are mentally and physically calm at the start and as soon as your face hits the water, you start to go out as fast as possible and you forget your breathing, sighting and strokes.  Suddenly panic sets in when you realize just how much further you need to keep it up for.  Those races were anywhere between 300-500M.  The idea of going into a race where the distance is 3x that was terrifying.  

The options for Olympic races before Waco 70.3 in my area are slim.  Towne Lake was an option that seemed natural but my training book suggests trying this later on in training.  I was only at week 8 of 16 on Labor Day.  The next race is not until 2-3 weeks before the BIG race.  I did not feel comfortable waiting that long to see if I can get my head together.

This explains why I did not sign up for this race until the Thursday before.  I wanted to be 100% sure that 1- I CAN swim the distance without stopping and 2- I have a handle on the panic and a mental game plan for race day.

If you have followed me on my Instagram feed ( follow me @fullhouseofroyals to read the full posts), I did two test swim just days before the race. One was in the pool because of bad weather but the other was only 48 hours before the race.  I swam in a local lake and got my mind straight.  

I happy to report that both of those swims were exactly what I needed!

Here was the first attempt...started with 1500M in the pool.  No walls, no breaks and closing my eyes the majority of the way for sighting practice.  In addition, working on what was going on in the noggin.  Thinking about everything under sun EXCEPT swimming.  When I got to 1500, I decided to continue to do the entire distance of half Ironman.  Boy, that was awesome!  I felt so accomplished!

Although the pool swim was comforting, nothing prepares you for open water swim like an actual open water swim.  I hesitated, procrastinated and internally battled going out to Lake 288 Saturday morning but by lunch time, I got my butt out there.  My husband was traveling and I missed the window to meet other people out there.  

Walking to the dock to start. Gulp!

Walking to the dock to start. Gulp!

The layout of the lake was explained to me when I arrived and I was immediately overwhelmed.  I convinced myself that I just needed to get to the boat and back and I'd be good.  That would be 100M. Insert eye roll emoji here. (I am blocking the view of the boat in the photo but if you look at my watch, you can see the edge of it below it)

Before jumping in at Lake 288

Before jumping in at Lake 288

Once I got in at the end of the dock, I just went.  Ugh.  It was awful.  All those feelings were there. The darkness of the bottom of the lake is hard.  But I started thinking of random things.  I made it around the boat back to the dock and decided to do it again.

The second time was better and when I returned to the lake I decided to cross over to my right and swim along the lake to the "beach" shore on the other end.  When I got there, I just took a big swift kick in my own pants and just kept going around the whole lake.

The fear didn't go away 100% but I was in control and I found incredible peace.  I had my buoy on me just in case and I am happy to report that I never once used it nor did I resort to doggy paddling, breast stroke, back stroke or floating.  I straight up, legit swam the entire perimeter of that lake!  WOW!

Soaking in my accomplishment!

Soaking in my accomplishment!

I think total swim distance was about 1200M.  I was crunched for time to keep going but by then, I knew what I had to do on race day and felt 100% comfortable with what was coming on Labor Day.

Stay tuned for a full race report!