The 2011 Hammherhead Ocean Marathon Race Report and Notes on My Apparent Anatmoical Misshapenness

2006: try to ride up the 2nd- and 3rd-steepest inclines in the area.  Stop and walk.  Ride 25 miles and rest the remainder of the weekend.

2011: Swim a 2.5-mile race.  Ride the 2nd- or 3rd-steepest incline the next day, in the middle of the "faster" group, as part of a 65-mile ride.

We've come a long way, baby.

The ladies of the LTST!
Last weekend, I completed my very first ocean swimming race. The event is a 1.25-mile and 2.5-mile swim put on annually by the Hammerhead Triathlon Club out of Jacksonville.

Let's just get this out in the open . . . I didn’t consider this a race. I knew I could do it, especially after my trial swim in Lake Tuscawilla the week prior, but I knew it could be very challenging, and I knew I wouldn’t be fast enough to be competitive. My concerns were feeling tired and dehydrated from the salt water.

The 2011 Lake Tuscawilla Swim Team

My pace per 100 was about 45 seconds/100 slower than usual. I started out very smooth and easy. I didn’t want to waste my energy when I still had thousands of yards to swim. I spent the time focusing on my stroke, sighting less, and since the course was dead-straight toward the Pier, only needed to sight every 20th-50th stroke. I am positive that this helped me be faster, but the buoys on course were not lined up very well so I’m sure I swam a little more than I intended as well.

Overall, this event went perfectly. In fact, I made it out of the water 3rd out of 7 in my group, and all the way until the ¾-mark I felt fast and strong. When I did reach the half, I knew it was time to put some effort in. However, the lifeguards incorrectly told me several times that I was only one buoy away from the finish, and the extra sighting and mental drain did take a little out of me toward the end.

All in all, it was a great event. I ended the day with some concerns about how tough the 3.1-mile swim in October will really be. Yes, it’s only .6 more than I swam in Jax, but that’s .6 more than an already extremely tiring and salty swim.

The Aftermath

But, when the going gets tough, the tough make a plan. Then they work their plan.

Here’s where I need to focus:

1. More drills. Stroke mechanics. Started by doing a swim clinic this week.

2. Longer swims. Once per week, a 2.2+-mile swim in the lake.

3. Work on my biggest swimming weakness: lifting my head to breathe instead of allowing natural body rotation to push my face out of the water.

This was a rest week since I raced, so I have done 2 swims, 2 runs, and then my long ride tomorrow is on the schedule.  I also needed a little less saddle time to help heal my saddle sores.

I also just happened to run into 4 gear isues at once: my handlebar tape is splitting, my helmet is cracking, my running shoes are ending their mileage limit, and my shorts are getting too big.  So last week I bought handlebar tape and priced shoes, and this week I continued my search for the perfect helmet and shorts. 

2010 S-Works Helmet
 Apparently, like my face during goggle searches, my head and lady parts are severely misshapen.  I can't find any helmets that don't give me headaches, overheat me, and feel like they weigh 500 pounds, or bike shorts that don't make me look ridiculous, cut my legs open with their rubber grippers, and give me saddle sores. 

I finally sucked it up and just bought the newest version of my helmet, the S-Works, which is the 2nd-lightest helmet in the world and the 2nd highest-end helmet Specialized makes.  (Another $50 will get you the Prevail, which only seems to differ in retention design and ventilation.  I'll save that $50, thanks.)  I love the matte red, which is one of my accent colors (don't ask how I got red and purple, when my bike is two shades of blue with white accents, but at least red, white, blue and purple all look pretty together).  I hope that it has at least a few of the Specialized logos on it.

My yummy new LGY shorts
As far as shorts go, let me make a disclaimer:
I just can't stand a giantly padded-ass cycling short.  I'd rather ride 100 miles in a virtually cushion-free short than feel like I'm pulling a diaper out of my ass the whole ride.  Plus, large pads seem to chafe me more, and the worst area (right along the crease where my glutes/legs connect) is always the most padded.

Admittedly, iIt's been a long time since I bought road shorts.  I own 1 pair that are now too old and large, and they were uber-cheap.

Well, CYCLING SHORTS ARE NICE NOW!   Gone are the days of rubber gripper legs, tiny, high elastic waists, and ultra-shiny material.  I finally settled, after much debate, on the Garneau Deville short, which has more of a spinning pad (they call it the Tri-Air Chamois).  It's got amazingly soft fabric, a yoga-like waistband, and lovely flatlocked seams.  Best of all, the padded areas are minimalist.

I could have gone with one of the heavily-padded sensor shorts, but I just couldn't do it.  I own 3 pair of tri shorts, 1 of which has absolutely no padding (only a chamois), 1 of which is now too large, and all of which are rather old (3+ years).  And, finally, the best news of ALL is that I am now a MEDIUM short and a LARGE top .  Regular-people sizes, not Extra or Super or anything that's hard-to-find.

I'll let you know how the shorts work and how the sore spots fare tomorrow when I ride 65 miles in 'em!

PS - after the ride, we're hitting a tapas brunch for delicious food and sangria to celebrate my cancer-free-ness and the last free week before the semester starts.  Woohoo!

1 tidbits of wizdom:

Alili said...

Holy swim awesomeness! As I am terrified of swimming in the ocean - extra props to you!