Monday, July 02, 2007

Canada Day Challenge Race Report

Race: Canada Day Challenge

Distance: 4km open water swim

Results: Character building?

I've been looking forward to this ever since I found a Canada flag towel (my parents were actually getting rid of it in a garage sale!) in the spring. Sort of a silly reason to be pumped for a race but I'll take what I can get. Also there were about 14 LETC'ers doing the race so it would be a fun crowd.

I have issues with crowds in the water and wanted to improve my drafting skills so this was my race to work on both. There were only about 50 women in the 4km swim start so this was a nice, small group and it would be easy for me to stick with the pack. I did the 2km race last year, it was after my first half iron where I'd conquered my fear of open water and the two swims were some of the best I've ever had. So I had high expectations for this year.

After a very relaxed, but somewhat cranky, morning I suited up and joked with my friends. I got into the water and had a nice easy warm up The a bag piper played (why are they at all the races I've done this year?) then we all proved that we're swimmers not singers when we belted out the national anthem. The 4km men's race started first and we waved and cheered as they took off. We went 5 minutes later and I was chatting and joking with my friends until the countdown and we were off.

The plan was to stick with the pack, work with swimming in a group of bodies and find a set ot toes to follow. The reality was a wee bit different.

As I started the swim I panicked. Not a high strung screaming and gasping panic, but an absolute and unshakable conviction that I DID NOT want to be there, I DID NOT want to do this swim, I DID NOT want to be in the middle of a pack. All I wanted to do was turn around and go back to shore. I did head up front crawl just to keep moving forward and, when no one was around me and there was no risk of taking anyone's teeth out, breast stroke. The pack quickly disappeared in front of me and I was on my own. A totally disastrous first 150m.

I finaly found my pace and got to swimming but spent the next 1,850 metres beating myself up for the crappy start and doing what a good friend of mine calls "catastophizing" - if I couldn't do this easy swim start how was I going to deal with the IMC swim start with 3,000 people and if I had a bad swim it would wreck my whole race and would I even be able to do the IMC swim and was all my training going to be for nothing and would I disappoint all my friends and family, etc, etc. Totally stupid and I knew it at the time but I was indulging my inner drama queen.

The second 2km I let up on myself a bit, largely because of the monotony of the swim. It's very hard to stay mad when you've spent 40minutes engaged in a something so incredibly repititous. And distance swims when you do them solo are an exercise in sensory deprivation.

At the end I was tired and disappointed, and didn't want to talk about my race. Happily all my friends had great races but they of course all wanted to know how my race went. I did hit the time I set for myself, which was under 1:30 (I was 1:25 something), and done with zero drafting so it was actually a good time and I should have been happy with it.

Alan asked me about my race and I refused to comment, then he gave chocolate and everything started to seem all right!

This was a regular training day so no rest for the wicked! I got my head on right and Bronwyn, Teresa and I took off for a 3 hour trail run. Bronwyn wanted to to Buntzen Lake and run the loop, Teresa wanted to do something flat and I absolutely didn't want to drive anywhere and find parking (it was now 10am on Canada Day, parks and their parking lots would be filling up). Turned out Bronwyn and I got our way and poor Teresa got a run route about as far away from flat as you could get without needing climbing gear.

We took a ridiculous route that was almost entirely steep uphill or a steep down, took us from Sasamat to Buntzen and covered part of the Diez Vistas trail and the Buntzen loop. At one point as we were scrambling uphill Teresa asked "Is this what hiking is?" I don't believe she was impressed!

It was a long, hot run but boy did getting back in the lake at the end feel great!

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