Ok, here goes my long story about why I chose to swim the 10k again, how I trained, and why I was worried I would not beat my time.
So, I ran the 50k trail ultra in April. I think I signed up for this 10k in January or February. I had a pretty good idea I was going to get injured training for this 50k. And yep, I did! IT band. I knew I'd be upset if I didn't have another goal after the 50k because I had to take some time off running. So there's one reason I signed up for the 10k-I wanted my body to heal its running injury, and what better way to do that than swim?
Also, I just really enjoyed the experience last summer. If you haven't already guessed, I enjoy extreme physical challenges.
Last year I swam all year long, increasing my distance in May of last summer to prepare for the 10k last August. Total mileage 6/11-August 10 last year was 95.44mi. I'm assuming from May (I didn't log then) it could have been 130mi maybe? This year...since May 13-August 11th was 204.7 miles. Last year I mainly just swam for endurance. I swam in a yard pool mostly, anywhere between 5 and 6000 3x a week, and 4000 2x a week. Sometimes 6 times a week I swam. During the 4000's I would add in a little speed workout, but not much. Lots of long, slow distance training.
This year....I limited myself to swimming 5x a week and no weekends (unless it was a triathlon race) to give myself a mental break. I swam a 5k nearly every weekday morning. I also swam in a meter pool this time, most of the time. My workouts looked something like this:
Warm up: 800 swim, 100 kick, 500 pull
4x500 on 8:15, 50 easy
10x100 on 1:45, 50 easy
10x50 on :55, 50 easy (Total= 5050m) Or some variation of this workout. I would sometimes swim 12, 16, or 20 100's, 75's, sets of 200s or 400s.
Sometimes I would do these at a moderate pace, sometimes a hard pace.
Last year I did a lot of pull sets. So I figured this year the only way I'd get faster is to do intervals. I knew that I had the endurance since I raced this distance last year, now I wanted to work on speed. So 3 sets of different intervals I did! And that's how I got an 8 minute PR!
Race Morning and the Night Before:
I hadn't checked my email since Friday, and there was an email saying the I-94W ramp off 23N was closed, so I had to add a few extra minutes driving time to take a different route. I was planning leaving at 4am, meaning I had to get up at 3:30 am, but instead I got up at 3:00 and left at 3:40am. Ugh. I arrived 1 hour early, with plenty of time to spare. Also, the night before I had stalked a few of my competitors in my age group (who doesn't?). One was a college swimmer who swam the mile in 18:35. I was intimidated! So I definitely made my goal to beat my own time, nothing else, which is what I always want, but it's nice to try to place :)
When I arrived, Eva (the race director, I work for the company some, so I know her well!) told me the guy who was timing had a family emergency, at 4am, our race was at 6:10am, so her husband had to drive back to Ann Arbor to get their timing stuff. Because of this, we did not have splits. But that's OK! Also because of the fact he had to drive to Ann Arbor, the race started at 6:20am, and we all left in one wave.
The Race (First 5k):
The first 5k went pretty smoothly, as I expected. It was a mass start, since we all started out in 1 wave. I tried to draft off people, but the 17 before me were pretty fast :) I did start out pretty quickly, and then settled into a nice pace I could maintain for the first 5k.
When I neared the turnaround point, I had to stop a number of times and ask the guards which buoys to swim between (It's confusing at the turnaround point). It started to get pretty sunny, so it was also harder to site. Great, I probably lost at least 2 minutes there. The first year I raced swim to the moon 5k, I swam it in 1:22:28, and last year my split during the 10k was 1:22:30-this year it was 1:19! (A worker was just telling us what the times were when we got out to check in halfway). When I stopped to check in, I drank a small cup of heed, and asked her which buoys to keep on my left and right. So that took another minute or so.
I hopped back into the water, and felt pretty strong on the return trip, unlike last year. Last year I felt progressivly worse miles 4, 5, and 6, lol and just wanted to finish it, I had no time goal. This year my business was to beat 2:50:56.
However, I got confused again at the buoys since you had to again swim around certain ones before heading back to the finish. I had to ask another guard
which buoys to swim around and between. Finally, when I swam around the last turnaround buoy I
was relieved because I didn't have to worry about swimming between 2 buoys anymore, just the 1 on your left. I still felt pretty strong during miles 4 and 5. Me and this other swimmer were swimming on each others heels for quite a bit. I decided to draft off her for awhile, it was quite nice, I got a break!
Mile 6 or so (hard to determine where you're at):
Once I got back to Halfmoon Lake, the final lake leading up to the finish (you swim through 7 lakes up there in Pinckney Recreation Area), I was excited to almost be done! I started swimming as fast as I could, and was relieved it was almost over, because at this point my arms wanted to fall off, and my hamstrings and hip flexors were getting pretty tight from kicking for over 2 hours! Again, the sun made it hard to site, so I had to look for each buoy individually, make it there, then try to site for the next buoy. Everytime I swam to a buoy, I thought I was almost finished, ha, but noooo this final stretch seemed to go on and on!! Finally I saw the finish line, got to the last buoy, and did what I call a sprint to a finish. (It was NOT a sprint, my whole body was so sore!). Once I got to shallow enough water, I stood up, then ran to the finish line! I was relieved it was over!
I wore a watch, but silly me forgot to start it at the beginning of the race, and I didn't catch what the clock said when I finished. Judging from the actual time of when I started, and when I thought we started, I thought I swam the 10k in 2:47. This is why I was so shocked when I saw my official time of 2:42:41!
So excited. I never in my wildest dreams knew I had that in me. (Well, ok, I did have an idea, but I had no idea how well I'd swim on that day). First in my age group, 5th overall female, and 18th overall. My goal was just to beat my time from last year of 2:50:56, even it was just a minute. I beat it by 8 minutes, and the awesome place I came in was just icing on the cake! Oh and that college swimmer....I ended up beating her :) I'm not sure how this is possible, since I never swam in college, but I'm guessing that I have the ability to hold a faster pace for a longer amount of time. This is something I'm learning more and more about myself every day. I am definitely NOT a sprinter!
Will I do another one? I think so. I just need some time off from swimming. Mentally, it takes a toll on you, because there is no one to talk to, and I have to train mostly in the pool. Staring at a black line for 1 hour and 40 minutes is not what you would call fun! But, swimming is very meditative for me, so I always feel great after my workouts :)
If I do more, I want to do the Swim Michigan series next summer or summer after. 10k early June, 3 mi early August, and 10k second weekend of August. It'd be nice to go to nationals for the 10k one year. However, it'd also be nice to race at USAT nationals, as well. I don't know. I am tired of swimming, and do I really want to start training again in a few months for another 10k in June? And keep it up all summer long? I've got a wedding to plan also! Which is why I'm not doing an IRONMAN next summer. I've got some time to figure it all out.....:)
When I was young, I was the kid who was always picked last in gym class. However, I loved swimming, and we never swam in gym class. I was the kid who never wanted to get out of the pool. I used to HATE running. My lungs burned whenever I tried. But then I started running, loved it, and never stopped. My dad took our family on 15-20mi bike rides when we were kids. What I'm trying to say is this: If you have a dream, whether athletically, academically, or professionally, don't give up. Never give up despite all the odds against you. If you have passion, discipline, dedication to training or the work necessary to achieve the goal, and determination, you can achieve it!
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I---
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference." Robert Frost