Friday, October 05, 2007

Elbaman II

Giorgio and I went on the beach to check out the bay and the swim course. I always have to stare at a course for awhile to understand exactly where I'm supposed to swim. In my head I had the image of a perfect rectangle (to be looped and swum twice), when in fact it was sort of a rectangle...but not quite. In any case it took me one afternoon explanation, a thirty minute stare, and then another morning explanation to really understand where I was to go. The good thing was that the athletes doing the full race started thirty minutes before the relay teams so I could see exactly where they were going.
The next morning I woke up at 4.45 so that I could have a nice breakfast and be able to digest in time. Giorgio came in while I was having my tea to let me know that he had been on the beach. The only wind that could possible come into the bay and disturb the water was a Scirocco, and that's what we had this morning. Great!
I gathered up all my equipment and headed towards the beach. It was very surreal to be there. All the athletes were getting ready in silence. No agitation, no loud voices, just very very quiet. The sun started to rise and I got really excited about swimming. The thing that was different for me this time was that I had actually prepared for this swim. In other Olympic tri's or the half Ironman I'd done last year, I'd always trained to survive the swim so that I could get on with the rest of the race. This time my main focus was on swimming only and even though I still wasn't able to get to the pool more than twice a week, I made a good effort to work on my form and get in at least four 3,000 metres workouts. No, I never went the whole distance in the pool because you don't need to do that...

At 7.00 am we watched all the athletes take off. Now I could see that they went straight out to the first buoy and then turned left. Here's a map of the course...The first athlete out of the water and onto the second loop took a mere 25 minutes. Then they all started coming out of the water and it was time for us relay teams to line up and get in the water. All of the sudden I was running in the water and trying not to hyperventilate in the first 200 yards. I just tried to focus on my breath and not get too excited. I was okay after about five minutes and started to make out in what direction I wanted to go in.

The first loop was fantastic. Once I got my breathing in sync I started to enjoy my surroundings. The water was clear and I could see the sand below. There wasn't any vegetation. Every once in awhile I would see a jellyfish. In total I saw about five clear whites and two purplish coloured jellyfish. As I got further out I could see schools of little fish and a few bigger ones. I was swimming pretty effortlessly though I had to keep spotting until I figured out that I could just watch the feet of someone in front of me and follow them without looking up. That was fun! I was through with the first loop! I got back on the beach , took a swig of fresh water to rinse my mouth out and then headed back in. Now it was easier because I knew where I was going and what lie ahead. I took a quick glance at my watch...38 minutes!! That jazzed me and I dove back in the water.

Even though the second loop was exactly the same course, it was a different race. Most of the relay teams were there to win so they all had picked fast swimmers. On my first loop all of the athletes doing the full race were on their second other words, I was alone. There were a few guys behind me, but they were too far back to wait for. Also, the wind had picked up a bit and now there were waves. They were those long waves that go u-p u-p u-p and then d-o-w-n d-o-w-n d-o-w-n. I started to feel a little seasick so I turned on my back to see if that would help. I burped all the extra air I had in my stomach and that felt a little better. I was actually more efficient and comfortable doing a freestyle stroke although every once in awhile I tried a breast stroke and the back stroke. The race crew came up to me on a scooter and gave me the thumbs up as a question. I stuck my thumb back up to let them know I was okay. I pulled out my meditation card and just tried to put my concentration on my stroke and the fact that I was doing this and how thrilled I was about that. Then I started seeing the jellyfish again and I looked to where I could touch the sand again and all of the sudden I had finished. 1:21:31 is where I stopped my watch. I had to run another 400 metres through the streets of Campo Marino and down to where the transition was and give the chip to Dino to put on his ankle. My friend Alessia ran with me so that I could see where to go. I rounded the corner, found Dino waiting for me, gave him the chip and he took off.

(to be continued)

1 comment:

Nancy Toby said...

What a good-looking team!! Sounds like a beautiful place to swim!! Well done!!