Craving the Racing Vibe

by tessa8m on August 21, 2012

in Race Recap

Hi There Everyone!

Hookay, I first feel compelled to say… WOW, what great input I received on yesterday’s post! I was actually pretty nervous about publishing my honest and blunt thoughts on the Healthy Living Summit, but it seems I am talking about something that really needs to start being said…. the “elephant in the room” type of situation. I plan on writing more along the same lines tomorrow for a WIAW post, so look for that in the morning :)

For now though, I wanted to tell you about the open water swim I did on Sunday right after leaving the summit!

I participated in this event last year and it was a fantastic time, so when I saw the race was on the same day as HLS, I did my best to negotiate attending both. After some major stress from getting out of Boston- traffic issues mostly- I came home, basically threw my stuff from the weekend into my house, grabbed a snack, and hightailed it to the race with only a few minutes to spare.

Since my legs have been feeling like utter crap for months now, I have not been participating in any races (except the 5k obstacle run) and let me tell you, I miss everything about races so darn much. I love the anticipation before the event, the crowds, chatter, nerves, camaraderie, the sense of excitement mixed with anxiety about what is to come…

Then the actual race comes and (usually) I feel great during it, perhaps a bit stiff in the beginning, but then I loosen up, find my stride, get into the beat of the song that is playing from my iPod, use other people as motivation to keep going when I am feeling exhausted. The second wind and bliss I feel surging through my body during the race, when I know I am close to the finish and am so tired, but able to push through and finish with all that I got…

God I miss running, racing, feeling good, just everything.

Sorry for that tangent, I just felt compelled to express such feelings right now, especially when I just participated in a race, albeit swimming, but I experienced some familiar emotions on race day!

Swimming is still something I can do without my legs screaming at me for a break, and I craved those race day feelings. Although I have literally not swam since this time last year (oopsie) I decided, “what the hell, let’s see how it goes!”

This event took place in a small, protective cove inland of a nearby harbor, so it was a very safe place to conduct such a race. Basically the course was a huge one mile loop and the people who opted to complete two miles swam around the course twice. I swam this with my friend and we actually debated the two mile... sooo so glad I didn’t though, the one mile distance managed to kick my patooty.

Even though I am still in good shape, especially cardiovascular wise, I assumed I would be relatively okay during the swim even after not getting in water for about a year…. Ehhh not so much! While overall the race was alright, I would have done much better if I actually practiced swimming more than ZERO times in the past 12 months.

Here are some prerace shots, courtesy of my friend’s dad with a stellar camera… what a difference an amazing camera can make!

My friend and I who competed… she actually swam in college, therefore is in much better swimming shape than me, and ended up doing well!

The race began at 12 noon with the 2-mile group leaving 10 minutes before the next wave of 1-milers took off. Even with the wet suit, the water was uncomfortably cold and I was not looking forward to submerging my head in there! Ahh well though, you do what you gotta do, plus I must remember I volunteered for this ;) I always remind myself of the whole volunteer thing when I start complaining about races, conditions and such.

At precisely 12:10 the horn blew, I took a deep breath of anticipation, and dove into the water to begin the swim. Anyone that has done a triathlon or open water swim before, knows what it’s like right at the beginning- a whole lot of people fiercely kicking and moving their arms and bodies around you. It’s safe to say the start of a swim race is utter chaos and I got kicked ermm everywhere, at one point or another. It’s to be expected though, and eventually I broke free from the surrounding crowd and attempted to find my groove.

As I said earlier, the whole not swimming for a year thing came back to bite me and I did tire pretty early on. Honestly though, I really wasn’t too concerned about this, as I was doing the race purely for FUN and to experience the vibe of an organized race once again.

I went on my back and took breaks when I needed to, pushed on ahead when I was stronger again, and slowly but surely made my way to the finish line. One thing that was interesting during the race, and amusing now that I look back at it, was the number of times my hands and body hit jelly fish. There were tons of them there that day (the non-stinging kind) and I freaked out a bit each time I struck one of their gross, emm jelly bodies. I started to freak myself out as I though about what else could be “lurking” below the surface, waiting to take a bite out of me (dramatic much?) but I managed to calm myself down and get through it.

In the end, I actually added about 4 minutes from last year’s time. I think that is a combination of not swimming for a year, and the fatigue I am still experiencing. However, I am really not perturbed by this and just getting out there again and seeing what my body can do in a race, felt familiar and fantastic.

I cannot wait to get back to my fierce and fighting athletic self… or I hope I can that is.

-What are your favorite aspects of a race day? I miss pretty much it all, a whole lot.

-Have you ever participated in an open-water swim? How do you handle the beginning, when everyone is thrashing about all around you? Triathletes can add input here too!

-Do you get a bit flipped out by the idea of open-water and the ocean, not really knowing what is lurking beneath?! I sure as heck do, but I do my best to calm myself down. Plus I am in the ocean constantly and nothing has ever happened (furiously knocks on wood) it’s all in my head!

See you all tomorrow for a WIAW post! Have a most delightful Tueday :)

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats August 21, 2012 at 9:17 am

only 4 min slower!? That’s awesome! I know what you mean about the race vibe, I’ve even done several 5Ks this year where I ran slow with my dad or a friend but I LOVED it because I just love being out there with other people! If you’re missing races maybe sign up for some fun 5Ks coming up and just don’t pressure yourself too much about speed :) I did one in december with my cousin that was too packed to even attempt to race, but it was a blast! We all had santa shirts and beards (I nixed the beard… couldn’t breath) and they handed out M&Ms and cookies on the course instead for “fuel”! It was hilarious.
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2 Kaitlin @4loveofcarrots August 21, 2012 at 9:33 am

for a brief moment every once in a while I miss swimming ha! I remember the first time and only time I did an open water swim it was a mile long race and I am almost positive it was the fastest I have ever swam a mile (I was a distance swimmer) because I was freaked out by the things I couldn’t see that may have been under me! But good for you for getting out there and doing it, even though you hadn’t been training for it. I would have talked myself out of it or told myself I wasn’t prepared!
Kaitlin @4loveofcarrots recently posted..HLS day 2


3 Amy Lauren August 21, 2012 at 9:35 am

I love the race vibe too. There’s just an awesome feeling I get when I toe the line and there’s nothing like it. Even the races where I haven’t done as well, it’s still been fun. You can watch the other finishers and they all have different stories about how they got to the line but cross with a smile.

I think it’s interesting you only added a few minutes to your time. It shows that you don’t have to exercise excessively to still be healthy and have a good time. Plus you look super happy and really great in the pics. I hope you figure out all your medical issues and can race more, even if you don’t want to be competitive it’s still fun.
Amy Lauren recently posted..Weekend Recap: Bursts of Confidence, Comfort Food, and Charleston Cooking


4 Laurie @ Love, Laugh, Laurie August 21, 2012 at 9:47 am

Yay good for you! I know what you mean about craving races and actually this post is extremely helpful to me! I love races, but my knees have pretty much knocked me out of running for awhile. I never thought about swimming races! Thanks!
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5 Alex @ therunwithin August 21, 2012 at 9:50 am

oh my gosh way to go! this is awesome. I am so proud of you for being honest. I like you have had this racing bug for a while. It was nice to do one finally. sometimes you just need that excitment that gets going during races.
Alex @ therunwithin recently posted..Trade em Up Tuesdays: I Need a Sign


6 Liz @ Southern Charm August 21, 2012 at 11:06 am

I love the the feeling of accomplishment after finishing a race – that’s my favorite feeling – to be able to say “hey, look what I just did!”

And I have never participated in an open-water swim and don’t foresee it in my future. I get so creeped out and am determined I will be eaten by either a gator or shark. haha. Those jelly fish would have had be out of the water in seconds!

BUT I have started swimming again. I’m pretty sure I need lessons because I forgot everything I knew 10 years ago in high school. Swimming is not like riding a bike!
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7 Cat @sugaraddictanonymous August 21, 2012 at 11:52 am

Ah! I don’t know how you did it! The jelly fish would have sent me over the edge! I love swimming and would love to have some events like that around here, but the jellyfish would do me in, for sure!
Cat @sugaraddictanonymous recently posted..One more day of rest…


8 Sam @ Better With Sprinkles August 21, 2012 at 12:28 pm

That’s so awesome Tessa! I’m glad there’s a way you can act on those “I-love-to-race” feelings without worrying about the fatigue in your legs (completely understand those feelings, I’ve only ever done one race and I’m thinking it needs to happen again soon).

Although the swimming would freak me out. I’m an awful swimmer (I’m talking like, I can doggy paddle and not much else) so an open water swim would terrify me. Jellyfish touching me? CANNOT HANDLE. Ew. I’m the girl that freaks out with seaweed underwater.

Although for some reason I’m determined that I want to do a cage-dive with sharks one day. Not quite sure how that works.
Sam @ Better With Sprinkles recently posted..I’m Not Actually Angry, I Swear.


9 Rach August 21, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Atta girl! I’m so impressed by you! I mean, only a four minute difference after hardly swimming for the last year… way to be! And I love those shots of you! You look like a pro! :)
Rach recently posted..Some days life isn’t so rosy…


10 Alexandra August 21, 2012 at 3:39 pm

AWESOME!!!! That race looks like so much fun :) And holy cow is that ever cool that you were only 4 minutes off your old time– I’m convinced you’re a beast :) Love all the pics!


11 Kelly@ShapeDaily August 21, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Good for you completing a swimming race without competitively swimming in a year! The only time I’ve actually done one of these was at summer camp a while ago, so it doesn’t really count. I can only imagine how chaotic the beginning is though, the start of any race is crazy let alone being in water with legs AND arms flailing about. The one thing in open water that I’m terrified of are jelly fish-any kind. I definitely would not have done well with that and probably would have start crying. Congrats though!
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12 caloricandcrazy August 21, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Sounds adventurous! Haha. I’ve never done an open swim before. I have yet to even do a 5k, so I should probably do that first before anything else :P.


13 Caroline August 21, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Sounds so fun! I did one sprint triathlon a couple of years ago, and swimming with a bunch of people around definitely was an adjustment! I held back a little at the beginning after getting kicked in the face haha, then I picked it up later when people were more spread out
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14 Anne@LoveMintChocolateChip August 21, 2012 at 6:39 pm

This looks so FUN!! you look awesome :)

HLS sounded amazing. Hope I see you there next year!!!!
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15 Vien @ We Dare Food August 21, 2012 at 7:08 pm

WOW! you did fantastic! hehe the idea of having something I don’t know swimming under me is the main reason I’ve never swam in an ocean/lake/any open water! O.O
hmm.. my favourite part of the race is listening to the crowd cheering!! It gets me pumped up :)
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16 HollieisFueledByLOLZ August 21, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Awesome job. I am so excited for you. I love every aspect of racing and race day. That is so awesome about completing that :)
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17 Erica @ For the Sake of Cake August 21, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Congrats on completing the race!

I am really NOT a fan of open-water anything! I honestly can’t tell you the last time I was in a body of open-water. Just not my thing!
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18 Brittany August 21, 2012 at 8:22 pm

SO happy that you did this race Tessa :D It seems like you had a lot of fun! You never let anything hold you back–an attitude we should all apply to our lives! And I’m a weird one… I actually LIKE the fact that when I am in the ocean I have no idea about what is lurking near me… ;)
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19 Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin August 21, 2012 at 8:40 pm

I’m glad you decided to do the swim after all – it sounds like it was such a good experience for you! And congrats on doing so well. Considering you haven’t swam at all lately, 4 minutes slower than last year’s time is awesome! :D

Umm yes an open water swim in the ocean sounds terrifying – especially when there are jellyfish in the water. Eek! I’m ok with swimming in lakes though. I used to do it all the time at camp when I was younger!
Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin recently posted..Boston: Days 4 & 5


20 Becca August 21, 2012 at 9:29 pm

Hey girl!
I Just found your blog and I can’t wait to read more. :) I am in Public Health as well and have a strong passion for nutrition and exercise.

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21 Kelly Michele August 21, 2012 at 11:54 pm

Hey Tessa! :)

I just have to say how beautiful you are! Your honesty in all things – the good, the bad, the ugly – is inspiring! I pray that you continue to fight for your recovery – you are awesome! :)

and congrats on your race! sounds like a blast!


22 Lauren (@poweredbypb) August 22, 2012 at 4:47 am

Nice job! This look’s like fun, I’ve never done an open water swim, and I’m not a particularly good swimmer but I’d like to get into it more once I am done with marathon training. I love race day, I love the anticipation and excitement before the race. You can’t beat the atmosphere either.
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23 Kat @ a dash of fairydust August 22, 2012 at 6:03 am

Wooow,you sure did a great job here,Tessa!
I love swimming,but only for fun as I’m not the best swimmer AT ALL… You know,I’m not allowed to dive because I have problems with my eardrums and as I was even more sensitive as a child (I got an inflammation of the middle ear IMMEDIATELY if only a drop of water found its way into my ears…),I basically never went swimming. :(
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24 Allie August 24, 2012 at 3:13 pm

How awesome that you made it to the race and just had fun with it!! I love open water swimming :)
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