Last Sunday was the North Bondi Roughwater. It was the first race back after Christmas (let’s just say I’m still struggling to get back into a decent training routine) and my first double up (1km and 2km race at the same event) this season. I’m hoping to be in good enough shape by April to swim the Coogee to Bondi 5km  (like how I slipped that major bit of news in there without too much fanfare since I’m still kind of feeling a bit weak at the knees whenever I think about it) so I’m really needing to do distance swims wherever I can at the moment. That means double training sessions and race double-ups.

Doing a race double up is kind of a funny thing. It can totally mess with your head. Do you treat the 1km as a warm up? go hard? go easy? conserve your strength and energy or stretch out and try to find your pace early? Just so you now…those aren’t rhetorical questions! If you know any of the answers please let me know!

What I do know is that I didn’t get it right at this event. Well, the first part anyway. The 1km took me over 28 minutes. To put this into context, this was my very first event ever ever ever 3 years ago and my time was 29:20. My time for my third attempt was not a whole lot faster. You’d think I’d have some sort of analysis or theory to present as to why I swam so poorly, but I don’t. There was a lady swimming right next to me with quite a serious and distracting wardrobe malfunction, and I did find it kind of hard to focus during that part of the race….but honestly, that’s just clutching at straws as far as excuses go.

The truth is, it was a touch choppy out the back, and I didn’t really have a clear strategy about whether I would go hard or easy so i kept changing my mind. And I kind of went in with a bad attitude. I don’t know where it came from and I wish that nasty little negative voice that occasionally crops up in my head would shut the hell up.

Anyway, I knew it the whole race, and I knew it when i finished, and I knew it when I was waiting to line up and do twice the distance. To be perfectly honest, I was in such a crappy headspace that it would not have taken a lot of convincing me to give up and go home for a nap.

Fortunately (sometimes), I’m kind of stubborn. I put on my big-girl pants and figured I would hop in and at least give the 2km a go. Did I mention it was the first ever race for the inspiring first-season-swimmers Chad and Sonja who I had at least some hand in influencing into their idea to take up this crazy caper? Making me apparently the person who was supposed to be the example or the good influence or something). I had also talked my dive buddy Steph into coming to support and a bunch of mutual friends of everyone was there. You might think that I’m about to tell you how that all shamed me into swimming properly for a change.

Well, not exactly.

What did happen, was that the combination of those things got me back in the water. The funny thing about swimming is that it’s very much your own race, every time. And somewhere around the second can, inexplicably, I realised I was having fun.

The awkward rhythm and inability to get into a reasonable pace were gone. All of a sudden i was focussed and enjoying myself. It was amazing!!

Others around me were stopping or breast-stroking to sight and figure out where they were, and where the were going. I felt like I was on track without any effort at all. I let go of overthinking things andmanaged to get full focus on my technique.

My internal monologue was going something like this:

  1. Toes – brush big toes together.
  2. Legs – 2 beat kick. (Yes, unlike pool swimmers, ocean swimmers generally do a 2-beat kick…various reasons I should write a whole post about!)
  3. Knees; Stop bending them too much. Kick with the hips for the love of everything that’s holy, Jacki.
  4. Back and shoulder blades. Up and back. Good body position.
  5. Elbows. High.
  6. Hips: Rotating.
  7. Arms….hold. hold. hold. Big thing at the moment for me is this so it was pretty front of mind.
  8. Over the barrel.
  9. Palms down: No stop signs!
  10. Don’t cross that midline with your arms, Jacki! And not too wide either!

And most importantly, don’t over think it! If you get too tense you sink!

Believe it or not, this is a good thing for me. It sounds like a lot, but remember this is over 44 and a half minutes. If I’m thinking about this stuff it leaves a whole lot less room in my head for negative bullsh1t like:

  1. thinking about how much it hurts
  2. or how tired I am
  3. or that I’ve been sick. however long it’s been
  4. or that I’ve been injured. however long it’s been
  5. or why I can totally justify giving up and getting one of those nice water safety fellows to tow me in.
  6. or what else I should be doing, or who’s cleaning my house, or whether my husband bought milk so I can have a coffee when I get home…or, or, or, or……

Yeah….so where was I? Negative self-talk = boo, focus on the moment = yay. Bondi roughwater 1km = boo. Bondi roughwater 2km (same day) = Yay!

So what’s the end verdict? Well…the day was actually about a lot more than just the ridiculous voices in my head. For a lot of amazing and inspiring people it was their first race and they were ah.may.zing! Whatever my issues with a half-goo half-bad event day were quickly eclipsed by seeing so many people having so much fun.

Wort every second. 2 thumbs up!

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Photos courtesy of Steph!

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