This is my first real triathlon season...I dipped my toes in the water last year by doing a sprint in October, without any training on the bike and only one open water swim before the race. The swim that day sucked, to say the least! A hundred yards into the swim, I flipped to my rescue stroke and backstroked the remaining 300 yards. I then biked and ran to the finish. At the finish I said that I would never do another triathlon again. Then I remembered that I had already signed up for IM Raleigh 70.3 in May 2015. Being cheap, I did not want to back out of Raleigh, so I began training more intensely. I bought a trainer to get through the winter months, and hired a swim coach to work on my stroke & breathing. I spent all winter in the pool, on the trainer, and on the treadmill as cold and snow blanketed the Northeast.  

 

I had a good winter of training, getting stronger in the swim, bike and run. My swim lessons went well, and I could now cover 3000 yards without stopping and actually did not feel tired after the workout. My stroke was better, my breathing pattern became regulated, and now I was ready for my first triathlon of the season. My first race of the season was the Devilman Half Lite 50™ TRI: 0.80 Mile Swim, 40.3 Mile Bike, and an 8.8 Mile Run. There definitely was alcohol involved when I signed up for this one...Half Lite 50 in early May in New Jersey = cold air, cold water and all at a distance I had never done! A recipe for disaster. So race day came, Lauren was puking at the hotel (which secretly I was wishing was me), so Stancie and I lined up for the start. The race was an in-water start, so I thought at least I could acclimate to the water before we started. Finally the gun goes off and we start. Within 100 yards I start hyperventilating, can't catch my breath, and revert to the dreaded backstroke (which apparently is not that slow as other guys in my wave could not keep up with me). I then proceed to backstroke the remaining swim. I’m not sure if it was the cold water on my face, the crowded start or the most disgusting water I had ever been in, but I just could not get in a rhythm. With the swim done (after Stancie lapped me and asked how I was doing), I got on the bike and attempted to "catch up" for the poor performance in the water...BAD IDEA!!! I did well on the bike, but, after killing my legs on the swim and bike, had nothing left in my legs...worst run ever. I finally make it to the finish line, collapse and announce to Lauren that I am not going to do Raleigh in 4 weeks. Of course Lauren and Stancie provide words of encouragement, as did coach Tom Manzi, when I spoke with him the next night. While talking to Tom, we developed a plan to get over my "open water hiccups"....

 

Two weeks later while traveling to Massachusetts with the family, I went to Walden Pond with Stancie and our friend/tri-advisor Cindy. With much clearer & warmer water, I swam .45 miles without a problem. At the rest on the opposite side of the pond, I asked Stancie and Cindy to "assault me" on the way back to simulate race conditions. We made it all the way back to the other side of the pond without any hiccups. Confidence is coming back, but still not fully there. Fast forward another week, to May 23, my third triathlon ever and second of the season.   This is supposed to be a confidence building 400 yard swim in race conditions...and it was! My first OWS that did not involve backstroke. It was not the fastest, but it was done. My confidence is growing! The next day was the NAV-E-SINK OR SWIM Distance Festival and I was scheduled for the 1.2 mile swim...race morning nerves were off the chart as the gun went off. Approximately 200 yards in, it "clicked": I felt good in the water and got into a groove. Then came the foot to the face-- wow that hurt! After a quick blood check, I kept going, and the groove came back. I felt so good, that I decided to do 1.3 miles, as I went off course, missed a buoy and had to swim backwards for a bit (I guess I need to work on sighting next). Despite my off-course behavior, I finished 13 minutes faster than my goal and was riding high after the event. Next stop-- IM Raleigh 70.3 next weekend!