Open Water Here We Come!
The exciting season of Open Water Swimming is (almost) here! A few brave souls have put a toe or more in the water already. Here are a few thoughts about getting yourself ready - written especially with the new OW swimmers in mind. We're excited to see you out there!
First - a word about the current water temps. Usually by early May, many triathletes would have done a couple of OW swims by now, but 2022 is a different story. As of today (May 10, 2022) the water is much colder than usual. Look at the temperature of Lake Meridian in Kent, WA the last few years according to Lake Monster:
5/10/2019 - 62.7°
5/10/2020 - 67.5°
5/10/2021 - 67.0°
5/10/2022 - 56.7°!!
That's a big drop from normal and not a surprise given April's crummy weather. Is 56° swimmable? Sure. Is 65+° better? Absolutely. 65° allows your body's energy to focus on effort instead of staying warm. When your body gets cold, it sends the blood to the interior to keep our vital organs warm. (They're not called 'vital' for nothing) Our brains don't consider arms and legs to be a priority when our body temperature drops, and the time you spend training in the very cold water won't yield the same training benefit you get in warmer water. So if you can stand it, wait until we have a good warm stretch of warm, dry weather and keep training in the pool.
Raise the Bar has been hanging out with open water swimmers for almost 20 years now and we've been producing events with swims since 2008 so we've met a ton of new OW swimmers. Often those first few swims bring some unexpected challenges because the conditions are so different from the pool. Here are a few thoughts that could help you have fun & productive early-season swims.
There are many more great tips in this article Blueseventy posted on Open Water Swimming a few years ago and the info still applies. If you are gearing and psyching up for some early open water swims, read it! They suggest some super helpful open water accessories (thermal caps, gloves, booties) that are in full supply at Northwest Tri & Bike. Head over and stock up and we'll see you on shore soon.
Submitted by Patty Swedberg. email@example.com. Please submit your own tips and suggestions in the Comments!
Life Lessons from St. George
As you all know, the first Ironman World Championships in the continental US happened last weekend and 5 RTBers helped make history. Great work Casey Arbenz, Diane Haensel, Adam Heiner, Brent Mecham, and Doug Simms.
Here are their race takeaways.
A little perspective on this one.... Bill and I went to spectate this race with a lot of memories of past races for both of us - dragging our kids around for long days and remembering how grueling and important it was to wait for each others' finishes. Casey's wife, Annie, also races. Well. She wrangled the kids at Worlds's on a hot day with their signs and their cowbells like a champ! Bill caught this video at the end of Casey's very hard run.
Watch closely for Annie's cowbell and the kids trying to keep up with her, Casey's smile, and a really cool family connection. We loved it. And BTW, the day before the race the Arbenz family kayaked, and the day after they hit Zion pretty hard. Well Done Arbenz's!
M45-49, Bonney Lake
But the real challenge for me was waking up Friday morning with a totally unexpected stomach bug. It relieved me of all contents and nutrients and left me in bed Friday with only a quick exit to check in my bike and gear bags. Attempts to hold down some dinner failed in the middle of the night and I was ready to withdraw. It was my teenage daughter sitting next to me during one of the episodes who quietly suggested that I was here, I might as well try and see how far I could make it. She also reminded me of our family motto "We Do Hard Things" and I knew there would be no easy way out.
So I fidgeted through the rest of the short night and got up and headed into the race. Still feeling uneasy I slowly began taking in liquids, hoping they would stay down, and getting myself ready to go. Talking to my wife right before the race kicked off she reminded me that this was a choice and that there was no shame in opting out, I promised not to get hurt and headed to the swim start. I decided that I would keep going until I thought there was a risk of serious injury or until I missed a cutoff. And with that I was off.
The swim was relatively normal, but I knew it was going to be a long day when I tried to use my legs after the swim. There simply wasn't anything in the tank. So I set off trying to consume some food and liquid. I determined pretty quickly that instead of the usual "how hard can I go and still have something left to get to the finish line" I was thinking "how little can I do to make the cutoff and ultimately finish." For the first time in my IM experience I started trying to remember the cutoff times and doing math.
The bike was hard, as promised, with heat, wind and late climbs at elevation. And made worse with more emptying of my stomach and the recognition that attempts to hold down anything solid wasn't going to work. I even got hot with a getaway aid station tent as it was tossed unexpectedly by the gusts of wind. Could the day get any harder?
After the longest bike ride of my life, I was so excited to get upright and on my feet. I quickly learned that the gels I had used to supplement the water and Gatorade I relied on to get me through the bike were sitting angrily in my gut. So I decided it was time to walk it off and go natural and hope I could get things settled down with a few miles of walking it off and taking in only water and fruit at the aid stations. And it started to work so I started to jog and move my feet fast enough to get me to the finish line before the lights were shut off. It was a record long marathon for me but I made the cutoffs and my stomach pain stayed at bay and I continued to progress in the lowest gear imaginable. Finally I found the finish line and I was so glad to stop.
Sleep was easy Saturday night and when I awoke Sunday I felt wonderful. Go figure!
This IM helped me learn that the limits of our minds and bodies are far beyond what I've previously believed, that faith goes a long way, that good vibes, encouragement, and support of others actually does lift me up, and that given the will, We, can indeed, Do Hard Things!
Raise the Bar
Race reports, upcoming events, news, and more, from RTB.