Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mingsanity, The Final Chapter: IM 70.3 Luxembourg - Preamble and The Swim

I don't even know where to begin. Those of you that have been reading along for a while know that I was on the fence about whether or not I was actually going to do this race after G had his crash. I didn't want to race without him out there. I know how hard it's been for him to sit on the sidelines and watch. At one point part of me would have been quite happy to sit there with him and spectate. In fact right up to race day I was on the fence, more so from fear than anything else. My mind really is my worst enemy sometimes. But, I went through the motions and tried my best to reframe my thoughts to a more positive mindset. Thanks to some great tips from my pro star friend Linnea, I went into the race feeling somewhat relaxed and even, dare I say it, a bit excited. I was going to be racing in Europe once again, in the only race on the Ironman circuit that goes through three different countries. I couldn't pass up on the opportunity. And I wanted to see what I'd be capable of after my 6 months of training.

When I heard that this race started at 1:00 pm, I was a little put off but in retrospect, the late start was fabulous. It meant that you got to sleep in a bit and not have to wake up to an alarm at some ungodly hour of the morning. It also meant that you didn't have to force yourself to get to bed early and then lie there watching the clock until you fell into a restless sleep. I went to bed at midnight (crazy talk right there!) and woke up just after 8 am. Transition opened at 11:30 so I had plenty of time to eat breakfast, have a coffee, relax and get down to the race site. It was all very civilized, which also helped keep me fairly calm. We made it down to Remich in about 25 minutes and G dropped me off at transition and went to find parking. I had checked my bike and transition bags the day before so I didn't have the usual huge pile of stuff with me.

I found my bike, filled up my aero bottle and checked my tires and brakes. Everything was a-ok. I went and double checked my racked transition bags and then made my way out of transition to the "chill out garden" (I kid you not). I met G at the exit of transition and he accompanied me into the Chill Out garden. He had picked up his race package so he had a wristband and could go wherever I went. I was SO thankful for that. Having him there really helped to keep me calm. The Chill Out Garden was located at an outdoor swimming pool so that's where we did our warm up. It was strange swimming in a pool in a wetsuit but it gave me the opportunity to get a really good warm up in. I knew once I got down to the water, I wouldn't have time for a good warm up so I used my time wisely at the pool and practiced my breathing technique. Breathe was the word of the day for me. I get so nervous that I forget to do just that sometimes.

Before I knew it, they were calling the pink caps down to the water. It was almost GO time. G and I walked towards the river chatting away. We started talking to another woman who was from Canada but now lived in the UK - small world! I got my customary good luck kiss and as I walked away G said "I don't want to see any stink face today, only smiles." That made me laugh out loud and I promised I would do my best to smile all day. I wandered off to join the ladies as we made our way down the ramp into the Moselle River.

The Swim

This was clearly the part I was most apprehensive about. But once I got down to the River, I was actually a bit excited. The river was probably only about 400m max across, it was so narrow. You could swim close to shore for the first half of the loop, which was amazing because the shoreline was filled with spectators. I positioned myself at the back of the pack towards the shoreline and waited for the horn to go off. There was a countdown and all the women started cheering. I remember just treading water and grinning like an idiot. Nerves be damned. The next thing I knew, it was go time. I hit start on my Garmin and sat there for a few seconds then I started going. The pack was moving at a pretty good pace but I still caught some feet fairly quickly. I made my way closer to the shore and was completely gob smacked by the sheer amount of spectators. It was awesome! I could hear music and cheering. I found a good spot and got into a groove. I made sure I exhaled into the water as soon as I put my face in. I didn't sight at all for the first while as I didn't really have to, I just followe the crowd. I got a little tangled up with some ladies and could feel the panic rise and I just focused in my breathing. I finally noticed a buoy so I remembered what Linnea told me and I started counting my strokes until the next buoy. That became my game. 101 strokes, 87 strokes, 110 strokes...I felt pretty good in that first stretch and before I knew it, we had hit the turnaround. The way back was apparently into the current but I didn't notice any difference in my effort. If anything I felt like I was swimming better. I had moved away from the crowd and was a bit wide. I am pretty sure I was swimming in the German part of the river haha. I corrected that and moved closer to the pack. I didn't have anyone around me so I made sure to sight every so often. The big yellow buoy was getting closer by the minute and I was still feeling really good. I found a pair of feet to draft off of for a bit as my shoulders were starting to tire just a little. The next thing I knew we were turning around the final buoy and heading back to the exit ramp. I got a bit tangled up with a few girls and that landed me a swift kick in the jaw. Which made me take in a huge gulp of water. There was a bit of panic but I recovered quickly and focused on getting towards that swim exit. There were volunteers pulling folks out of the water so the minute I stepped onto the ramp, I had someone pulling me up. I thanked him and started running. I glanced down at my watch and grinned. Then I heard G yell my name, which made me smile even more. I waved and ran into transition.

Swim time: 34:23 - I had hoped for around 35 minutes so to come in faster than that, even with my slower start = super awesome!


This was a bit of a gong show as you had to fuss with getting stuff out of your bag out and putting your wetsuit in. I think my first transition was just over 3.5 minutes. And that was even with the visor on my aero helmet popping out. Annoying!! I grabbed Scotty and we were off on our 90km adventure.

To be continued......I'm heading out for some gelato.


Unknown said...

The swim always gets me too! Great job muscling through it. You've seemingly come a long way with your mental game. Congrats! Can't wait for the rest!!!

Alison @ racingtales said...

I love that you're doing this in installments rather than a monstrous post! I can't wait to read Part II. Sounds like a perfect swim and a great time! Makes me want to race in Europe - you'll have to give me tips on logistics. Silly thing is I am from England so I really should race in Europe so my family can come watch!

Phaedra Kennedy said...

Thanks Courtney! I'm really happy with how the swim played out!!
Alison you should TOTALLY race in Europe, there are so many races there! Traveling with a bike box is a bit of a pain but doable. You've just given me a good idea for a blog post actually.... Haha. If you have any specific questions,let me know....

Kristen said...

I bet that would be really cool to swim in a river that in lined with spectators. It sounds like you had a very successful swim and were able to meet all of your goals. I like your little “breathe” reminder and the words of advice from G before you went into the water. You should feel very confident about your swimming from here on out – STRONG!