Yesterday was a "dress rehearsal" for my fast-approaching triathlon. They organized an open-water swim in the same lake as the event, and we could run the race course after our swim. Some people brought bikes to ride as well, but I had to get back to work.
They had us arrive at 6 a.m. (which ended up being more like 6:20 due to traffic to get to the lake -- all triathletes!), but all was well. After handing in a waiver and getting a wrist band, we were led through a quick yoga session offering breathing tips to help keep calm.
And then they started calling age groups to enter the water, like it'll be on race day. Only they were calling 10-year groups rather than five. After the 19 and under, over 50, and 20-29-year-olds, I lined up with the 30-39 group.
I hadn't even gotten into the water yet when they called for 40-49 ... only they realized they had a bit of a backlog and changed that to 40-44.
They weren't really waiting very long between groups. The race director actually thought he was sending off the 40-44 group when half of the 30s were still in line.
So when I finally got in the water, there was quite the crowd! I got in and started breast-stroking until I could get a clear enough spot to start freestyle. Only it wasn't thinning out, and the water was really choppy. At one point, a woman next to me commented how it didn't feel like we were going anywhere, and she was right. It was like treading water.
I was very slowly passing the buoys, only getting a few strokes in at a time before running into other swimmers. It finally started thinning out after the turnaround.
Now, they billed this as an 800-yard course in all of the announcements. Race day is 1100 yards. They said you could do it twice, and prior to entering the water, I thought I might. But I got off to such a rough start that I knew early on that I wasn't going to do it again.
At the turnaround, I checked my watch. 22 minutes! What? I knew all that breast stroke slowed me down, but I didn't expect that for ~400 yards. I usually do the 1100 in the pool in under 30 minutes.
I was discouraged, but kept moving. And at least I got some room to swim on the way back. I ended up finishing in about 36 minutes. As I waited in line for the hose to spray off, I chatted with some of the other swimmers.
We all had pretty horrible times, and thought (hoped!) that maybe the course was longer. And then the race director got on the loud speaker, announcing that we had swam 1100 yards. What a relief!
It was still a few minutes too slow, but I was OK with that, knowing the start will be a bit smoother on race day. I went back to my towel and started getting ready for the run.
And then the race director started speaking again. He said that he wasn't going to tell us, but he decided when he was setting up the buoys the night before that he'd make it a little longer than the 1100 yards. And actually, we swam closer to 1250 yards.
I just wish we knew beforehand. I suppose he didn't want to freak out the women open-water swimming for the first time, but I sure would have felt better about my swimming while I was out there!
The run was OK. It's a hilly course, and I knew that. I wasn't feeling particularly fast yesterday and averaged 9:50/mile for the 3.4-mile course. A lot slower than I've been running for this distance lately, but still a minute and 15 seconds faster than last year.
And it wasn't a race ... it seems I have a hard time pulling out my 'race pace' without that extra adrenaline!
So we'll see. 21 days to go!