After the major fail that was the KC Triathlon last month, meaning getting pulled from the water because of the cold, I felt like I needed to do something that proved I could finish a triathlon swim. Happy to say I did complete the swim at the Kansas 70.3!
It’s weird to tell you, however, how anxious I was leading up to this race. That DNF in KC did something to my psyche. On one hand I wanted to prove myself, but on the other I was gun-shy; I didn’t want any part of another swim.
I barely slept the night before the race. I thought all night about how cold the water was going to be. The race director announced at the briefing that he thought it would be wetsuit legal since the evening temps were going to be in the low 60s. I posted earlier that my wetsuit is admittedly inadequate, but I didn’t upgrade. I thought I could get away with this wetsuit because I assumed the water would be much warmer for this race.
So before leaving the hotel that morning I went ahead and put on my wetsuit, pulling it up to my waist. We walked out the door and it indeed was cool, low 60s, and still dark. We finally got to transition 1 and I got all set up, though we were rushed because parking was crazy at Clinton State Park. I found my wife and we chatted for a few minutes. We had a stranger take our picture. I tried not to show it, but I was going crazy inside. Should I just quit now? Why aren’t they announcing the water temp? I think I made a couple of jokes to my wife about if I finish and all that (I was only half-joking). She told me I was going to finish.
We notice that my age group is gathering on the boat ramp. We were the pink swim caps this time. I kissed my wife and reluctantly made my way down. I’m not one to mingle and engage in small talk or chit-chat, so I just stood there in the group and dwelled on how cold the water was going to be, like an idiot. Now, it’s not like I didn’t try to change my mind about the water. I told myself that there was no way this water was going to be as cold as KC, how I’ve finished a couple other 70.3 races, how I never again wanted to feel the shame of a DNF (not that a DNF is shameful, it’s just how I felt based on my DNF).
So finally they get us into the water. My age group again was one of the later waves. OK, it’s chilly but I do notice that I wasn’t shocked like when I entered the water in KC. I mentioned that in KC I elected to not do a warm up swim, and I thought that was a mistake. In Kansas we didn’t even have the option. They kept us out of the water until our wave started, so we had about two minutes to splash around before our horn sounded. In that time I swam a few strokes, tried to let some water down into my suit, and in general tried to assess how I was feeling. I was feeling OK, but we needed to get moving because I did feel chilly just sitting out there.
Our horn sounds and we’re off! OK, let’s do this. I take off swimming and dang it if my left eye doesn’t fill up with water. I never have any trouble with these goggles, but on this day I’d have to empty my left eye three times. I’m not sure what was going on (but it did distract me, so that’s a good thing).
For the first quarter of the swim I still kept thinking about what would happen if I didn’t finish, how stupid I’d feel, how depressed I’d be, but then those thoughts became motivation. I didn’t want to feel that way again, so with each stroke after that I became more determined to finish. After that I didn’t think too much about being cold. The only thing I noticed was that when I’d breast stroke to catch my breath or find my bearings then for whatever reason I’d feel cold, maybe because of the way the water moved into my suit, but not sure. At that point I’d get the freestyle going again and felt fine.
So, the swim was unremarkable for the average person out there, but I felt so proud of myself just for finishing.
Just a couple of other notes. I thought I was sighting pretty well, mostly using other swimmers and the kayaks, but I did get on the wrong side of the buoys a couple of times. The other thing is that I think I broke my toe getting up on the boat ramp. I hit my foot pretty good on the concrete, but with the elation of being there I didn’t take too much notice. As I ran to T1 it kind of hurt, but it always hurts to run across a parking lot bare foot, at least for me. I noticed it was sore off and on throughout the day, but when I finally took my sock off once it was all done my fourth toe on my right foot was deep, dark purple, and swollen.
I tell you all the time how poor a swimmer I am, so here’s the proof. I finished the 1.2 mile swim in 47:21. See, I’m not being modest when I say I stink at swimming.
I’ll finish the race in a later post. Thanks for reading and letting me share my weird anxieties with all of you total strangers.