Saturday, April 11, 2009

Successful Open Water Swim

Had my second open water swim today. It was a good experience and more successful than my last one (which I would still call successful, but just not as good). 

Some differences from last time:

My wetsuit really fits me now! 

Of course, this means it's going to be too big by the end of the summer, but for my first race, next weekend, it should be perfect. It was a lot easier to get on and off and to move my arms because of this.

My new sports bra actually fits my boobage instead of just putting it into a sling and hoping for the best. 

Going to places like "The Sports Authority" or "Big 5 Sporting Goods", you don't realized all the choices that are out there. I was actually able to get a 34 DD, just like in a regular bra instead of being limited to S, M, L, etc. So I could get a good fit and not have to compromise.

I did notice they didn't have any cup size bigger than a C if you are a 32 though. I should be a 32 in a few weeks. Oh well, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. At least I now have a bra that I don't fall out of when I first start running.

My sports bra actually dries off unlike my other one that must have some cotton in it. I was much more comfortable on the run this time because of that.

"Tri" tops work better than running tops. 

I picked up a tri top yesterday and today was its test run. It worked much better than a standard technical shirt. I tried to get one with a built-in bra so I would have one less thing to wear, but the one I found that fit was not a flattering look. 

I'm in a particularly bat-wingie arms, shar pei thighs period right now and also I'm sporting some interesting fat flaps around the sleeve area. So I went for one that had a bit of a sleeve. I'm not one to only wear 3/4 length sleeves because I'm horrified with the state of my arms, but I do think that, if I'm going to spend $40 on a top, it should have a flattering fit.

I used more body glide and didn't have any trouble getting the top part of the suit off. Well, after I was able to get out of the water, anyway. 

When I tried to stand up at the end, my calf cramped up and I was flopping around in the water like a dying fish on a boat deck. It was kind of amusing in a way. I still had trouble getting my feet out of the wet suit, but I realized I hadn't put any glide on my heels. Oops. I also had trouble with my hands being too numb to do things, which didn't help, but it wasn't as bad as last time.

I washed my feet off with some extra water I had brought with me and that made it much easier to put my socks on. My new race laces helped with the shoes too. But I think I need new running shoes. The heels on my current ones aren't as supportive any more. Maybe after my first race, I'll break down and get a proper shoe fitting.

The ear plugs helped enormously with everything, but especially with not lurching around like a drunken sorority girl once I got out of the water.

I kept my hands in the water the entire time we were walking out to the start point and that helped a lot with body temperature.

I still take about 200 m to warm up and get over that "I can't breathe" feeling. I am hoping I'll be able to swim around before the start next week and get over that before the race starts instead of part-way through.

I'm much more fit than even 5 weeks ago.

Last time I swam 2x500 (yards) and had a really long transition to the run. This time I swam 1800 yards (1600 without standing up) and had a speedy transition. We also ran for 40 minutes instead of 30 and did some speed intervals. My legs were much less rubbery this time than last time even though we did more "stuff" and I had less "rest."

I could see!

I found out they make "corrective" goggles for swimming. They aren't prescription. They are more like the reading glasses you can buy at the grocery store. My eyes have different prescriptions and I have astigmatism, so I was afraid they wouldn't work, but they did. Sighting is much easier when you can actually see what you are aiming for.

Now I have to work on not shutting my eyes when I breath. That's a habit I picked up from years of swimming without goggles. You have to close your eyes then or the water runs into them. So I open my eyes when my head is down -- and all you can see is murk -- and close them when my head is up -- and it's time to sight! Yes, that is a bit backwards.

Now for the bad news... not everything went as well. The water was much choppier than last time and this made breathing that much more difficult. I am really horrible at breathing on my left side but on the way out to the turn-around point, the right side would earn me big mouthfuls of water. So I tried the left-side... and got little mouthfuls of water. Bay water doesn't taste too good, either.

The race reports I've read for prior ICE Breakers have mentioned choppy water so I guess I will just have to deal with this. I did try some breast stroke for a while. It's too slow though to use except in an emergency.

So, all-in-all, it was an excellent experience and I feel more than ready for my race next week. Which is not to say I'm not a bit nervous. Because I am. But I feel well-prepared, at least.
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