The open water swim can be the scariest part of the triathlon, especially if you’re not Michael Phelps, and are more inexperienced. The open water can be just as mentally and physically tough for the top swimmers as it is for the beginner. Stepping up to the waters edge, seeing the dark water where there is no wall 25 yards ahead and overcoming the fear of the open water is both mental and physical.
There is a common feeling that most people feel when they see the water. Panic and fear, are two feelings that no one wants to feel right before a race. The shotgun goes off and you run with the rest of the triathletes into the water. Your heart is racing and you find it difficult to catch a breath. People claim that they feel as if the wetsuit went down two sizes, and is pushing against their chest making it impossible for them to breathe. These can be all very common feelings and something to think about if you have never done an open water swim before. The good news though is that this can also all be avoided! Here are some tips to defeat that panic attack on race day morning:
Wildflower stands as both the official kick off to every West Coast tri season and as one of the greatest weekends of triathlon. The Central California festival has been shining as a beacon in early May and as a driver for many long winter training miles. Saturday offers both the Long Course (LC) with one of the hillier bike and run profiles in the sport, and the Mountain Bike Sprint (MTB); a solid hour of red-line effort. Sunday concludes the weekend with another hilly race this time at the Olympic distance. Over the years athletes have raced the "easy double": MTB on Saturday and Oly on Sunday and some have done the "hard double": LC on Saturday and Oly on Sunday. After a day of racing in 2009 former pro triathlete, Michael Collins and I must have been in a deep delirium of fatigue when we pontificated on doing all three races in the same weekend the next year.
There were really only two tough aspects to this goal: logistics and fitness. Let's take the latter first. There are many different kinds of fitness: mental toughness, strength, explosiveness, etc. Doing "the triple" was going to rely on two primary areas: muscle endurance and aerobic endurance. Specificity is one of the principals of training and while sprint distances like the super short MTB event requires a very intense effort, one that is at and above threshold, the length of long course races stand in contrast to that placing more demand on the aerobic system. There was no doubt that some speed for the MTB event was going to have to be ignored in order to develop the go-all-day aspects of a 56 mile bike and 13mi run. Specificity also requires that much of the training was going to steer me off the flats and into the hills for not just greater strength but the repetitions of strength resulting in muscle endurance.
Besides dance until 9th grade, I did zero sports growing up.
I stumbled upon triathlon in 2009 after my friend and co-worker Kelly
and I decided that we should build up our beanpole arms, and swimming
seemed like the logical answer. Since we knew how to ride a bike, had
run a few miles and were soon to be expert swimmers, we registered for
the Wildflower Olympic Course.
January 2010, we enrolled in a swimming 101 class at the Campbell
community pool and joined their Waves Triathlon Team. I distinctly
remember folks in too much Lycra talking about their “watts”, “cadence”
and “threshold” and having zero context for the conversations.
After eighty early morning workouts, it was race day! I was so
nervous, I slept in my triathlon suit—one less thing to do in the
morning (a tradition I’ve kept :).
I was born different. My parents, Flopsy
and Mopsy, noticed right away. I was
born PINK while my brothers and
sisters were either white, brown or black. I
also discovered at a very early age that my
eyes were very light sensitive. As a result,
I have always had to wear “shades” both
day and night. That’s okay, as I adjust very
easily. From very early on, I have had an
inordinate amount of energy. As a result, I
have always been known as the Energizer
bunny. My good friends call me “E Bunny”
instead. At birth, the doctor tried to remove
the growth that attached itself to my back.
At first they thought it was a log, but as I
grew older, it was discovered to be a battery
of all things! They decided that it would
be too life-threatening to remove it, and it
has been there ever since. It actually comes
in handy when I’m on the dance floor, as I
seem to have energy to burn, and all of the
lady bunnies seem to like it.
My parents at first didn’t know what
to name me, and before I was born had
created a long list of possible names: Peter
(aka “Pete” Cottontail,) Bugs, Thumper,
Roger, Velveteen, Bionic Bunny, Br’er,
Bunnicula, Camillo the Hare, Rabbit, Uncle
Wiggly, Runny Babbit, White Rabbit,
Chocolate, Harvey, Easter, and Benny
Bunny were just a few. But as I mentioned
above, I have been named “Energizer”, and
that name has stuck ever since. It hasn’t
been determined if I am truly a “bunny” or
a “rabbit”, so I answer to both. Contrary to
popular belief, carrots are not my favorite
food. Actually, Oreo Double Stuffs are….
but I have to pretty much stay away from
them as they make me fat.
Wildflower is an Iconic triathlon event in triathlon that is on many triathletes short list of ‘to do” races. Diamondback Bicycles / Wattie Ink athlete Dusty Nabor offers some advice to ensure you’re getting the most out of your own personal Wildflower experience:
1. Savor the Venue.
Wildflower is held at the beautiful Lake San Antonio Resort and Marina in San Luis Obispo County just outside of Paso Robles, Ca. The venue is basically tailor made for a triathlon. The campground is HUGE and has everything you need for overnight lodging. The expo area offers unique ways to engage with the product suppliers who create the fantastic triathlon equipment we all rely on. The Wattie Ink Team will be kicking it at the Diamondback Expo playing with our new Serios bikes, getting them dialed. The lake itself is stunning, and even with last year’s low water levels it provided one of the best swim venues in all of triathlon. The bike leg of the Long Course race is a single loop permanently marked for the event with the most gorgeous scenery imaginable. The run course winds its way throughout the campgrounds insuring there’s never a moment alone. Simply put, the venue is so good; you almost never realize how challenging the terrain really is….almost.