Saturday, July 9, 2016

Grip It & Rip It!

Yesterday morning I woke up sad. Mostly b/c Thursday night I was obsessed with Twitter following #dallas just eyes wide open in disbelief. I try not to be political on this blog but GAH the hate and tension in our country is palpable and it's scary. I didn't swim in the morning as usual but instead took my dog for a walk in the woods. It was so nice and peaceful back there and I had the thought that if everyone had a dog and took daily walks in the woods, I think there would be a lot less hate in this world.
Anyway. I did swim on Friday, but did it later in the day and had about zero motivation. It was just a flop recovery type swim but even then I only made it through 1500 very easy/slow meters and called it enough. I don't think physically I was actually that tired but our brains play such a giant role in how we physically feel, that physically I felt tired even though really it was my brain. I gave myself a pass on it and prepped my brain to be ready to go hard today.

This morning I was up early and drive up to the North Shore for swim race #3. As has been my routine this summer, I jogged a super easy 5 miles first. Capped HR at 145 and after ~3 miles had to run stupidly slow to keep it low (~10:30 pace). It's so frustrating to think I'm 'not fit' because I can't run with my HR low... I still lean toward thinking that my body just gets hot and that's a stress that it doesn't deal well with? Maybe I'm reaching with that. I don't know. 145 is pretty low HR for me, but still.

I was worried that maybe I'd have a crap swim today too since that run was kinda crap. But I found my friends and we got bused to the start and made our way out to the start line. This swim is historically quite hard... It's a one way 1.6ish mile swim, typically against the current and also against the wind chop. For a second I let myself dread the effort it was going to take to swim well, but then on the start line I reminded myself that I thrive in these conditions... I mean really, relatively I handle them better than most/many so I decided that I was going to love it.

And indeed, it was a battle for every stroke out there this morning! I started hard on the front line and found myself side by side with a couple of teenage girls (could tell by their Aulea team swim caps)... I was working very hard and we were stroke for stroke so after a few minutes of that I eased off the gas a bit and got on one gal's feet. She had a strong 6 beat kick so for the next 30min or so that's all I saw- just white water from her kick. We had a single file train going for a while b/c I could feel a gal touching my feet repeatedly over and over and over and over but eventually she dropped off and I didn't feel her touching my feet anymore. I really liked the effort I had to put out to stay with my 6 beat kicker friend, but I couldn't help but think we were too far out/wide... I prefer to stay closer inside and we were def out way further than I would have wanted... but I liked the effort enough that I opted to just go with the outside line and stay with my kicker gal. At least I stayed with her until we got to the rocks...
Coming into Waimea Bay we have to navigate these big rocks (pictured above)... it gets sort of shallow on the inside with big rocks right underneath you, but if you're brave enough to swim right over them, it's faster to stay inside (far left on the picture above). I opted to leave my lead out gal and went after it solo for the last ~800 meters. I could see a few folks up ahead of me and little by little I bridged some gaps and felt supremely happy with my effort. It was good that I navigated that last part solo- I put a full minute on my 6 beat kicker friend just coming in from the rocks so she was definitely taking it out too far. Funny though afterward as I was checking results I was trying to figure out whose feet I was on... Turns out she was just 13!!! Ha! Love it. Pretty impressive swim from a 13year old and I'd say she gets a pass for not (yet) being awesome with her navigational skills. I ended up winning my age group again and was 13th female/37th OA. Really happy with that!
You can tell by the results that the head current and chop seriously separate the really strong swimmers from the simply 'decent' swimmers (even more-so from weak swimmers). A bunch of wind chop and a head current make for some legit separations in the ocean. I was thinking about what makes someone better in those conditions and I came up with a few things:

~You have to genuinely embrace the conditions. I think the only way to learn to truly like them is to be confident in your abilities in them, which means you need to expose yourself to them so you can practice and get better. When I first moved here I despised wind chop and got my ass kicked a lot when it was choppy. I hated that! But the friends I swam with told me in no uncertain terms to quit bitching and get over myself and once I did, I learned to like the chop. If you can't practice in the chop a lot, well, fake it til you make it I guess. But if you live in a place where you have access to choppy open water, put yourself in it as often as you can.

~Keep a positive mindset. I can say today I didn't have a single negative thought about how the ocean was beating me up today. Not one. Not even when I was being smacked in the face/mouth with salt water and missing my breaths... Instead I focused on the feet in front of me and staying on them. That's it. No other thoughts in my brain.

~Technique-wise it's most effective to keep a high turnover, don't try to reach and glide. My mantra in chop is Grip it and Rip it! Meaning, just get my hand up front as fast as I can every stroke cycle and make sure each pull is as strong and effective underwater as it can be.

~This might come as a bit of a surprise or be a bit controversial, but I would suggest sighting less often vs more often when its super choppy. Especially in a straightforward one-way ocean swim like this one. First off, you're not going to really be able to see anything anyway unless you just stop and really look. It *really* helps to swim around other people as much as you can and just follow them. With the initial group of 4-5 I was with I swear I never once looked up to sight and yet I ran smack into the first orange buoy along the course. It actually scared me because I hit it with my hand/shoulder before I saw it! To just swim without looking up takes some confidence I guess in those around you (that hopefully they know where they're going!) but also just trusting that you're generally swimming in the right direction... So when I was breathing to the side I could see the shore and could tell how far away we were from it (which is why I thought we were too far out) but I didn't spend much time with my head up looking around. It just slows you down a ton to do that. I guess I should mention as well here that I use the Roka R1 goggles and the field of vision you get with those is awesome. Plus, the water was pretty crystal clear today. So, take this advice with a grain of (sea) salt.

I didn't run immediately after the race like I have the last 2 races. It was just so hot and I just didn't think that suffering out there slogging along at 10:30 pace while dehydrating myself was going to be beneficial. Instead I came home and waited until late afternoon when it had clouded over here at home. Ran in the Botanical Gardens so got in a solid hilly effort. Negative split 45:48/42:27 and felt strong enough. You know you're Ironman training when your husband asks if you're going for a long run and you say No just an hour and a half or so... ;)

No comments: