Blown away! With a target of 57mins, 54.09 is a brilliant surprise.
The morning was smooth. Up at 5.30, on the bus by 6.30, train at 7.30, register just after 8, wet suit on, active stretch to get the blood flowing and in the water before 9 for a 9.05 start.
As we neared the off, I was thinking through start strategy. The number of people was impressive, and I didn't want to get caught up in that mess, so I drifted closer to the bank noticing that everyone else was drifting away from the bank. Their move to the middle was likely an attempt to catch the current, but having heard it was moving at 8m an hour, I figured the current wasn't worth fighting for. As the seconds ticked down, nobody noticed my wide open space near the shore, so that became my plan.
BANG and we're going. Heads down, arms flailing and white water churning the fight began, at least for everyone else. About 100m out, I had to move away from the bank to avoid parked boats, got smacked a few times, returned the favor but 30secs later there was space to move back toward the shore so I did.
We pushed on, and I focused on long, smooth strokes, finish at the hip, high elbows and breathing. Yes, focus on breathing. One of the many benefits from yoga is an awareness of breathing. Being present in the moment and noticing how breathing affects the brain and body and how they affect breathing. Relating this to swimming, when you don't blow air out under the water, it forces you to breath out then in when you turn to breath. The quick out-in, for me at least, sends a signal of stress to my brain, causing my stroke to quicken (not necessarily bad), shorten (bad) and body position to fall apart (very bad). Any panic or poor technique goes back to normal the moment I turn attention back to breathing, 'out the nose under the water, turn head, eyes open, oxygen in.'
Aside from a few shallow parts and a run-in with a stubborn tree, it was smooth-sailing.
Exhausted afterward, I've forgone the 2hr run that was intended for today. We'll see how this decision plays out in 2wks.
Pics from the race to come.