Coveathon – Barb’s Race Training Update

17 Jun

Life has been pretty crazy here, so that is why I have been a little MIA.  We bought a house (eeek! – so grown up), so I am packing, stressing, making list of things I need to do before I move in, etc.  (Did I mention the house is straight out of the 70’s??  Brady Bunch Much?)  I am also training for Barb’s Race (the only women’s only 70.3 – the same course as Vineman)

Trainer Ali, my friend and swim coach, told me about Covethon, a local aquathon (swim + run) race series that offers a free open water swim clinic prior to the race.  Since my swim leg during my last race was less than stellar, I felt that I needed the practice and this was the perfect opportunity.

I am not comfortable in the ocean. Most of my open water experience has been in the lake and most of my race experience has been in a bay or protected water (i.e. no big waves).  Most of my past race experience has been in water starts, so I really haven’t had to combat waves out past the break.  The clinic started with basic open water swimming information and wetsuit maintenance.  Then we suited up and headed out into the deep blue ocean.  To this point, I pretty much knew everything that was being covered.  When I got into the water, I was transported back to my race in TX.  We were suppose to swim out to the first buoy and back (400 yds).  On the way out to the buoy I was struggling.  Waves in my face, swallowing gallons and just having trouble getting my head down and swimming.  One of the lifeguards was on his board and I guess I looked like I was struggling.  He started to talk to me and gave me a few pointers about timing my breathing so I wasn’t coming up at the same time as a wave was setting.  He was so nice and patient.

Once I got to the buoy, I was exhausted!  Only 200 yds and I was wiped.  The thought of swimming 800 yds and running a 5K seemed too much.  I felt like I wouldn’t have the energy, which is ridiculous.  I have swam much, much further and ran/biked for hours after.  But something in my head was causing doubt.  I swam back to shore with little incident.  Ali and I chatted and she admitted that she was a little overwhelmed as well.  It was her first swim with a full wetsuit and she felt awkward.  We walked out into the surf and a huge set came in.  My goggles were on my head, so I couldn’t dive into the wave.  It knocked me over and my goggles went flying.

THE PERFECT EXCUSE!  I can’t race…I don’t have goggles (I actually had an extra pair, but no one need to know that!)  The clinic was over and we had about 45 min until the race started.  Some of the clinic participants were racing, but a whole new group of folks stared to show up for the race.  There was even a pro.  ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME????  Only in SoCal will a pro show up for a little “race” like this.  The transition area was a patch of sand and the finish line was a few lawn ornaments stuck in the sand.

I overheard the Martha (the woman running the clinic) talking to a few ladies and she said, “You are endurance athlete, so the first 200 yards may feel like crap, just make it to the first buoy.  Once you turn at the first buoy and start swimming parallel with the shore you will feel better, heck you might even feel good.”  Just that bit of advice gave me the confidence to get out there and give it a try.

40 folks participated and once the horn blasted, I held back and let the majority of the group get in the water and start swimming.  The water had calmed down and I was able to dive into a few waves and was doing ok.  I knew that I just had to make it to that first buoy and then I was going to be home free.  The swim went much better than I expected.  I did drink half of the ocean, but I was able to swim…really swim.  As I was swimming in there were lifeguards yelling at us to swim to the right.  At first I couldn’t hear what they were saying and I started to panic.  I thought that maybe the surf had picked up and the were warning us.  But atlas, it was just some rocks.

I ran into “transition”, my towel and running shoes on the sand, I noticed that Ali was there.  She was putting on her shoes, so I knew I wasn’t last!  I was actually (dare I say) doing pretty well. Ali is a strong swimmer, so for me to be just behind her was a huge boost.  She started to run out with her swim cap on, so she returned to transition to drop it off.  During that time, I left transition and started running.  The first half mile was on the sand, which is challenging.  Then we ran up a HUGE STEEP ramp to the trail.  Between the sand and the ramp, my breathing was very labored.  I attempted to slow down my breath, but it took almost a mile to get my breathing under control.

The run was an out and back, so I could see the pro hauling a$$ to the finish.  I started counting women running back to see where I was in the pack.  Once I got to the turn around point, I realized that I was in top 10 women!  The hardest part of the whole race was the soft loose sand to get to the finish.  I was worried I was going to twist my ankle!

I ended up the 9th woman, out 27 and 18/40 overall.  My swim time was 16:50 and 43:40 overall.

It was a great experience and a huge confidence boost!

Ali and I with the Crystal Cove Lifeguards

Ali and I with the Crystal Cove Lifeguards

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