Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A lit fire!

Sometimes you just need a little fire lit under your rear to get going. I think we all experience this in life from time to time, at one point or another. For some reason or another we let things slide, or momentarily loose focus on one thing in order to pursue another.

And that's great. That's fine. That's a big part of what life is about. And trust me when I say this: we need to let things go, need to back off, need to give yourself a break.

For the most part, this can be extremely beneficial - because when push comes to shove, when the really important stuff comes around, we're ready. We're prepared. We've had our mental and/or physical break. And then....game on!

We all know how I feel about open water swimming.

Okay - quick fix: we all know how I feel about open water swimming in the ocean.

It's taken me quite a while to even be willing to consider stepping foot in the Big Wide Ocean in a non-race situation.

Obviously there are a few exceptions - like if I saw someone in distress or who needed help. Then all bets are off. And watch how fast I can throw off my shoes and wriggle out of my shorts in order to run headlong into the surf... (Now if only I could get my Ironman transitions down that fast).

Slowly but surely, I'm getting increasingly comfortable with the idea of open water ocean swimming. Mostly because the water looks so beautiful, extremely inviting, and I see (literally) hundreds (if not thousands) of people in the water on a daily basis along the beautiful California coast.

A few weeks ago, I surprised myself when I commented to Nathaniel, "You know - I think surfing or paddle boarding sounds really really neat. I see so many people in the water on a daily basis - and they're all okay! I think I may take surfing lessons one of these days..."

I think his jaw is still on the floor.

After all - we all know how I feel about Unmentionables (with really big teeth).

But after reading Jen's post on Open Water swimming, it got me thinking... In order to better prepare for Ironman Hawaii, I really NEED to get more comfortable swimming long distances in the open water (and without a wetsuit). There IS a difference - and after my first OW swim race in Louisiana last year, I can truly attest to that.)

The practice and experience that I gained from two measly swims in Florida and Louisiana had a very profound affect on how I've positioned myself and the race tactics I've employed in my first three triathlon races of the season. (Set myself at the front, go out HARD (Ironman being the exception), find feet to draft off, use new goggles, sight every 5-10 strokes, work hard to stay in the pack - because hanging on for a little longer is better for my speed in the long term than swimming solo...etc)

But its one thing to practice in a race...and different to go out on your own and just swim.

Jen's post was awesome: she highlighted some of the benefits of Open Water swimming AND Masters Swimming and why BOTH should be used to gain swim speed throughout the triathlon season.

So when friend and fellow blogger Eileen Swanson sent me a message, letting me know she would be "in the area and would I perhaps be interested in a swim at The Cove...?"

Without hesitation I replied: YES!

And I realize this was only my second-ever time swimming a non-race open ocean water swim...but I had a blast. It was really reassuring to discover that a top notch swimmer such as Eileen harbors the same fears that I do. But she doesn't let that hold her back from doing something she truly loves - open water swimming.

And perhaps I spent so much effort just trying to stay in her draft that i didn't really think about anything else.

But we spent a total of 90 minutes swimming, treading water and chatting, enjoying the sights and sounds, and just having a blast earlier today. It was awesome - absolutely fantastic. I didn't even freak out when I saw something move about 100 feet away and heard myself comment, "Oh look! A fin!"

Although Reid and Eileen looked a little less settled than I was.

But...I was so used to seeing the rounded movements of dolphins off the coast - that I just instinctively knew that a pod of dolphins was close by.

It was a pretty surreal moment: treading water, bobbing up and down in the rollers breaking 1/2 mile away on the beach, and seeing four or five dolphins just a short distance away.

Eileen quickly exclaimed, "Oh look! Let's go swim towards them!"

Reid and I looked at each other and he broke the news gently, "Um...they're pretty fast. And I don't think we could swim that fast to catch them...by the time we reach them, they would be gone."

Well - maybe for him and myself, but I'm sure Eileen could have bridged the gap pretty quickly.

I had such a good time today - relaxing and just enjoying the beauty and tranquility of The Cove and open water that I agreed to go back tomorrow. Plus, my new challenge will be to stay on Eileen's feet for a tad more than five minutes...

So thanks to Jen for lighting my open water fire and being so supportive of me -- even when I was terrified and absolutely refused to get in the water. And for Eileen, Reid, Shannon, and Stephen - for supporting me the two times that I swam out of The Cove.

The fire is lit and I can't wait for tomorrow!


ADC said...

I am really impressed and so, so happy for you. You really are very lucky to be living in California where the OW swimming is on your doorstep. I am soo pleased your fire is lit.

Kristin said...

I can't even imagine having such a beautiful and accessible place to swim. Now that the fire is lit, enjoy it!

Pedergraham said...

Some time I have to show you my tattoo and you would know why I was so jealous of your swim today. I don't like the things in the water, but the beauty of the ocean and lakes fortunately cancels that out for me--and it looks like for Eileen and you are getting there too!

Missy said...

I, too, am jealous that is at your backdoor. I get to swim in a dirty, swampy, nasty ass lake for practice! Oh, I love new goggles on race day.

Damie said...

Nice! I wish I had the chance to swim open water. Seize the opportunity as much as you can! How beautiful to see dolphins!!!!

Jennifer Harrison said...

SERIOUSLY! I know most of us would kill to live in SD with an ocean at our front door! I would b/c ocean swimming is SO different than lake swimming (ha!)....GOOD for you....and i am glad i could help convince you to get out there. Hawaii's swim is very different if you don't live there !!!

Charisa said...

WHOOO HOOOO awesome job - and you had FUN too!! So happy to hear it :)