The conditions couldn’t have been better at Sasamat Lake on Canada Day. Beautiful sunshine, no wind, and a bunch of crazy people getting together to race. This would be the farthest I’ve ever swam. I wasn’t nervous. I did wonder what it would feel like, but I knew it would be good preparation for the Ironman.
Short answer: I was very pleased with the race. I finished faster than I expected to and did not feel beat up at the end. But a few things happened that are worth a comment or two.
Long distance is all about pacing. You have to choose a pace that you know you can sustain. The trouble is, most people go out too fast, and it’s tempting to join them. You see the pack moving away from you and you think, Oh God, I’m going to come in last. Resist. Swim the pace you’ve chosen and ignore what everyone else is doing. Some of them will be able to sustain that pace, but some are going to run out of gas. And running out of gas when you’re still in the middle of the lake doesn’t feel good. You don’t want it to happen to you.
Long distance is also as much mental as it is physical. Maybe even more so. About 300m in, I had the thought that YOU MUST NOT HAVE: I’ve only done 300m. I have to swim 4K. How will I ever do it? No. You have to shut that down, shut it down hard and don’t let it out again or you will freak yourself out. Do not look ahead. Do what you’re doing, and don’t think about it.
So, I did. I stopped thinking about it and then I thought, okay, now what? What do you think about for all that time? Usually I think about my technique, but that gets old fast. Then I started running songs through my head. Finally I stopped thinking altogether and just swam. I listened to my breath. I fell into a rhythm where my body was moving but I was almost disconnected from it. That’s the place where you want to be. I have to remember that. It’s the simplest thing, and it’s the best feeling ever.
Next up (fingers crossed): IMC. The swim will be a tiny bit shorter, but there will be a few other hoops to jump through before the day is done 😉
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