A year ago when Dwayne was doing his IM, my brother-in-law (Dwayne's brother) decided he would start training for an IM. He had already been strength training for well over a year (EVERY DAY!). He had been getting on the spin bike as part of his workouts but didn't own a bike. He also wasn't running. He was* a Marine but he basically doesn't have cartilage in one (both?) of his knees. I cautioned him but did I mention he was* a Marine...and he's a DeBardelaben. He started shopping for a bike and started running. He felt great at first but quickly realized that you really do need cartilage to run comfortably. Luckily that realization came about the time he found a bike he loved so he shifted his focus and started riding. A lot.
Sometime in the spring he had the idea for the three of us to do a 70.3 relay. The idea was that we were going to do it for FUN. Obviously Dwayne would run and he would bike which left the swim for me. 1.2 miles...not really a problem. I'm not sure how we arrived at the decision to do Augusta, but I had heard that race has a fast swim so I was happy. I put together a training plan that would have me well-prepared. Long story (full of ridiculous excuses that really don't matter anyway) short, I didn't train for this swim.
Like really didn't train.
Some people will say "Oh I didn't train for this triathlon" but they really have been swimming/biking/running all along. Maybe they didn't do any speed work or they didn't put in all the time they thought the should have, but it's not like they didn't do any running/biking/swimming.
I checked my Training Peaks account and see that in the last YEAR I have logged about 7 miles of swimming...and at least 90% of that was with fins and was drills not actual swimming. Before Frantic Frog (AKA Calm Frog), the last time I swam at all was June 7th. When I say I didn't train for the swim, I really mean I didn't train.
I meant to. I planned to. I thought about it. But I just didn't. I had heard that race "ALWAYS" has a wetsuit legal swim and it's downstream, point-to-point, with a STRONG current. (Well...it wasn't ws legal last year, but that was just a freakishly hot day that was completely out of the ordinary...) Everyone said I would be able to FLOAT and make the cut off in time. And this was supposed to be for FUN!! I told myself I didn't have to train to have FUN so I just didn't. After all, I'd have the security of my wetsuit.
Well...the week of the race the weather turned hot. Talk on the Augusta 70.3 Facebook page revolved around water temps. The rules are that wetsuits can be worn "legally" if the water temp is below 76.1....between 76.1 and some hot water temp that I can't remember a wetsuit is optional but you aren't eligible for awards. But I figured since we were going to do this race for fun, I could just wear my "floaty pants" and we just wouldn't be eligible for awards. (Floaty pants are wetsuit shorts, they are considered a wetsuit for the rules but they aren't as hot.)
Let's circle back to the "he's a DeBardelaben" comment I made earlier. Short and sweet...I don't know if you've noticed that with my husband or not (cough cough, laugh) but DeBardelaben men are COMPETITIVE. Like REALLY competitive. (Maybe the women are too, but all of the DB men I know are.) When I told my husband I wanted to wear my floaty pants he just about came out of his skin. He said he would just do the swim instead.
Really?? This man that made post after post about his near-drowning experiences? This man who swam about 1% of what I did in the last year? This man who HATES the swim? All because me wearing floaty pants would mean we had NO chance of making the podium? When we were supposed to be doing this race for FUN??!! He even told his brother that me wearing floaty pants would DQ us from the race. (No, that's not true; in case you were wondering.)
I explained that we had NO CHANCE at the podium with me as a swimmer so floaty pants or not we were NOT going to win. I had every bit of faith in the men's abilities but I had NOT trained for this FUN thing we were about to do. I told them if they really wanted a shot then Dwayne needed to swim because at least he's fit. He's been running A LOT so cardiovascularly he's in much better shape and (at least in theory) he should be able to swim a faster time than I could. The boys decided they's rather have me do the swim (without floaty pants) than for Dwayne to swim. They said it was like buying a lottery ticket. If you don't buy one you truly have NO CHANCE of winning...if you buy one at least there's a chance. (https://youtu.be/wGdhc9k07Ms)
They didn't want to truly have NO CHANCE but they really didn't care if I didn't have a "fast" swim as long as I finished under the cut off.
That was very freeing. I didn't feel like I NEEDED the floaty pants and I was confident I would be able to finish the swim in less than an hour and 10 minutes. I figured I'd finish in about 45 minutes to an hour depending on the current.
I'll have to make another post about the other interesting things about this race...but because of the way it's organized my wave (relays) didn't start until 9:27!! That is so stinking late to start a race!
It's supposed to be an in-water start. They have everyone get in the water, holding on to the dock, then they blow an air horn to start that wave, sending waves off every 4 minutes. I knew I was going to be slow and I wanted to be closest to the middle of the river to get the most current assist. So I ended up waiting to jump in after they blew the horn. Turns out I was just a little faster than a few people so there was some contact with other swimmers at first until we all spread out and found our own paths.
I was worried the water would feel really cold (it was 77*). But it was just about as perfect as it could have been. It was river water but it didn't taste muddy like some rivers do. After maybe 200 yards or so I found myself behind a guy who was side stroking and in front of a woman who was on her back. I swam a little and then breast stroked a little, every now and then flipping over on my back to take a breath. Nothing hurt I am just NOT in shape. I told myself it's very much like walk/running. I feel good when I'm running, but I can't do it for very long. And it really doesn't matter how slow I go, I still can't go for long.
Every time I would stop swimming a kayaker was right there asking me if I was okay. I never worried that I wouldn't make it. I never felt like I needed assistance, but it was nice to know they were there.
I kept side stroke guy and back stroke girl in sight. It was funny to me that we were all swimming close to the same speed. At one point I saw the wetsuit swimmers coming up. (They started after the relayers, one at a time.) I tried to draft off some of them, but I just didn't have it in me to stay with any of them. At the halfway point I looked at my watch...20 minutes! I was very pleased. I didn't really know if I could hold the same "speed" (using that word to mean pace here since there was nothing fast about what I was doing) but I figured my estimation of 45 minutes was going to hold true.
At one point I stopped and looked to see how much father I had to go and I couldn't really see buoys up ahead. I looked around a little and realized I was very close to the FINISH!! I wasn't really tired and would've really liked to just keep going but since that wasn't an option I told myself to try to swim harder.
It didn't work.
You can't give more than you have to give and you have to train to have it to give!
But when there was about 200m to go I put my head down and forced myself to not stop again. I had to slow WAY down, but I didn't breast stroke anymore and was able to pass side stroke guy and at least one wet suit swimmer who had passed me earlier. As I neared the exit I kept expecting my hand to hit the bottom. (I always swim as far as I possibly can.) But when I saw someone stand next to me and saw how shallow it looked, I popped up. I'm SO GLAD I did because I think if I had taken one more stroke I'd have scraped my hand on the cement ramp! (The water was opaque, I had no idea it was a cement ramp, and no idea it was so shallow were I was.) When I stood my watch showed 40 minutes! I heard later the current was A LOT less than it usually is, but it was a really nice push given how many breaks I had taken.
I had seen the exit earlier and knew it was up a good little hill. I had planned to walk up that hill and then run around the transition to get to the relay area but race mode kicked in and I ran up that little hill (okay, I jogged) and then never stopped running all the way to the transition area!! I'm going to guess it was only about 1/5 of a mile but I was very proud to be able to keep running the whole time.
It was strange to be coming into transition and not be getting my shoes on to get on the bike. I found myself sad that it was all over and I remembered, again, just how much I dearly LOVE triathlon.
|Yes, those are house shoes. And, yes, that's Dwayne's brother, Yes, the same parents.|
For me it would have been more fun.
We came in 14th out of like 92 relays. It wasn't all because of me. We might have been able to move up to 11th if I had trained...but still not close to the podium.
In the end, I'm really glad I didn't wear my floaty pants.
I might have married the name, but I'm a DeBardelaben too.
Thanks for stopping in and sticking around.
*For the record, once a Marine, always a Marine.
And...fun is relative. Some people think it's fun to do those crazy Spartan races where you crawl under barbed wire and scale big walls. I do NOT think that sounds fun AT ALL. Some people would have had a blast in the floaty pants just relaxing to the finish. But my brand of fun involves training and being as prepared as I can be.