Train hard, race easy

4 12 2015

There’s a saying that springs to mind about training in Wellington:

train hard

The idea being if you train in conditions and on terrain than is harder than you’ll face in your race, you’ll be able to go faster and stronger on the day.

Ah Wellington. Known for it’s mammoth hills. And its delicate spring breezes. The perfect place to execute a tough training regime to make race day feel like a breeze (hopefully!).

Nothing epitomised this as much as the first Splash and Dash race of the season this week. The Boss had a 2km swim in the training plan. It seemed like a big step up in distance in the open water for some of us, so we double checked.

“Have you done the distance in the pool?”

“Yes”

“So you’ve got the fitness to do it then”

Oh. OK then.

The great thing about this series is that, no matter what you sign up for, you can change your mind, even mid-race. So a 2km swim was what I registered for.

On the day, well, let’s just say there was a bit of chop. That may or may not be an understatement. Not knowing any better, the less experienced of us set off taking it one lap at a time (of a three-lap swim). The Boss had given us permission to finish early if, after two laps, we’d really had enough and felt we’d been out there a long time.

The chop made it pretty hard going, but as we knew no different, we battled on. The course takes you round a couple of pontoons and the famed Oriental Bay Fountain, so it’s good practice for navigation, sighting and breaking the race up into chunks. So from that perspective it was great open water experience.

On a few occasions I looked up to sight and could see myself slightly off course. Not wanting to have life guards redirecting me again (like in the last Scorcher!), I kept my eye on my nav points a bit more frequently.

But at times it felt like every stroke took you nowhere. It felt like you weren’t even moving. And it felt like I was out there forever. As I embarked on my second lap towards the fountain, I was thinking that I’d been out there ages and probably wouldn’t make the third lap. But that was OK. The Boss had said as much.

The second lap felt like it took even longer than the first. It probably did in fact. But I was surprised at my determination and motivation to keep going.

As I approached the end of the second lap, I started thinking about what I wanted to do. What was my body saying? And my head?

My body wasn’t done. I wasn’t spent. I felt I had another lap in me.

My head was up for the challenge. I was here. I’d got this far. F*ck it! I’m going for that final lap and I don’t care about the time.

Except the weather gods had other ideas.

The race officials decided the chop had become a safety issue and sent us tail end Charlies back to shore.

I was a tad disappointed having got myself mentally prepared. But I could understand their concern. My disappointment was short-lived once I got out and stopped my watch. According to my Garmin, I’d swum 1444m (I hadn’t swum that far off course compared to my last outing!) in a time of 35 minutes (although my official time was 34:20). It did feel like a lot longer, but who cares! It was the furthest I’d ever swum in the sea.

When the rest of my squad mates starting talking about the conditions being the worst they’d ever swum in, the accomplishment felt even greater. If we’ve swum in the worst and lived to tell the tale, anything from here should be plain sailing (so to speak). Even though we didn’t quite get the distance, the rationale for getting out there was justified. It was a huge confidence boost exactly when we needed it.

Those of us who are new to this triathlon/half ironman game took great heart from our efforts.

Taupo should be a breeze. Right?

PS the photos REALLY don’t do the chop justice!

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