I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to waking up at 5 am, but when I do, it changes my day for the better.
After a little warm up, Coach busted out the drills and my swim was feeling pretty good, but Wasky was the man of record. I spent most of my energy just trying to keep up.
Then, in the final relay, we were anchors of our respective teams. We waited for our teammates to circle the buoy and back. My crew was building a substantial lead, but Coach changed the plan. Wasky and I would go head to head for all the marbles.
Wasky and I stood shoulder to shoulder shaking gingerly like real swimmers. His eyes had that distant, yet focused gaze that says, “I’m glad you’re here, but I have no choice but to kick your ass.”
We crouched into starter’s pose like sprinters and coach hollered, “Go!” We dug into the sand, then water, and dove when it got too deep to run. When I came up for air, I realized my goggles were now around my neck and I contemplated swimming without them, but decided to pull them up. I lurched over the orange boom and promptly kicked the cable that holds it in place. It was not a good start.
But Wasky was still in range.
I quickly focused and got on his feet. It’s amazing how much easier it is to swim in someone’s draft, and by the time we got to the buoy I was literally swimming up his back. We made the always awkward 180 degree turn and headed for home.
That’s when I made a big mistake.
Wasky is a faster swimmer and at that moment, I forgot or refused to believe it. Instead of drafting him in, I decided to find my own lane and sprint to the finish. My heart was pounding and I couldn’t see him anywhere. I thought I’d passed him and was putting together an epic swim. I sighted off the beach and all I saw was small waves in front of me. Could I hold on?
I dug deeper and hammered toward the shore. My arms were baked and my legs felt the aftermath of last night’s Monogetti run. But, it felt like a breakthrough moment. I was head to head with Wasky, and it was my race to lose!
I knew a straight line to shore could be the difference, so I started sighting every stroke. On my third sight, I saw a bright yellow swim cap about 15 yards ahead of me and my heart sank. Wasky.
When I finally got to the orange pole and he was running out of the water. My Cinderella story was not to be, but it was a good race lesson.
99% of us doing triathlon should focus on racing against ourselves. It’s great to push the envelope and get better in practice, but race strategy should be set, and kept.
Every time I change my plans, I bomb. The most common mistake I make is going out too fast, then fighting to hold on. Not only does this make racing less enjoyable, it rarely works. Like today when I fell apart chasing Wasky.
I’m doing a sprint triathlon this weekend and my plan is to negative split each event . . . and I’ll have to do it by feel because I’m not wearing a Garmin. The more I train, the more I understand effort. I know if I’m pushing myself just enough or maybe pushing too hard and if I let someone else’s pace dictate pace, it’s difficult to regroup.
For me, it’s as simple as breath. If I’m breathing too hard, I would be wise to slow down. Settle into your swim, bike, or run meditation. Remember who you are . . . unless you’re on the home stretch of the run with a chance to topple Wasky.
It was a great morning and the only thing that would make today better would be if it was pint night at NRC.