Posted by paulrivas on:
Twelve weeks ago, I couldn’t swim 26 yards. I could swim across the pool the short way, in the shallow end, but I had to walk back to catch my breath before going again. Then I found a program to go from zero to a mile in six weeks.
I got coaching from my wife at home and the guy at the pool who I almost crashed into on the first day after he’d invited me to split the lane and I didn’t get it. I watched YouTube videos and I asked everybody I talked to for two months what they knew about swimming. If you were one of those people, sorry, and thanks!
It took me eight weeks, but I finally swam a mile in the leaky UCSB Campus Pool, the very pool where I’d taken how-not-to-drown lessons as a young landlubber.
My wife, on the other hand, is a born swimmer. Three weekends ago, with no training, she did the Semana Nautica 3-mile ocean swim down by the Cabrillo bathhouse. The next week, she did the 6-miler from Goleta Beach to Hendry’s in monsoon conditions; saw a jellyfish two feet wide and almost had to rescue her rescue paddler from hypothermia.
I had a lot of reasons for wanting to swim better, but what made the whole thing necessary was my wife signing us up six months ago for the 2011 Vineman Ironman 70.3 in Sonoma County, California last weekend, "one of the most popular and highly competitive triathlons in the world." It’s a 1.2-mile swim in the Russian River, a 56-mile bike ride past about a million wineries, and a 13.1-mile run past a few more wineries.
Have you heard of the Ironman, where they go 140.6? Well this is the Half Ironman, and we’d never done a triathlon before.
I spent the last 12 weeks swimming at lunch three days a week, playing basketball one day, biking+running one day after work and longer on Sunday mornings, and sometimes biking one other day. I rested one non-swimming day per week until the last couple weeks, when I rested quite a bit. My wife swam much less frequently and ran more frequently. We did the bike+run days together, although not at the same pace. I trained 12 hours per week, which amounted to a total time commitment of probably 20 hours per week after stretching, transportation, and having to eat one more meal per day in order to keep going.
There were 2094 finishers in the 2011 Vineman Ironman 70.3: 1400 men and 694 women. Running for Team Rivas Cultural Services and wearing a Paraguay headband, I was the only man in the race who had claimed Goleta on his entry form.
I swam the 1.2 miles in 41:44, averaged 17.4 mph on the bike and had to walk the last three miles of the run due to excessive cramping, but I finished in 6:56:55, three minutes ahead of my estimate. My wife finished in 7:22:16, a full hour ahead of schedule, even though her chain came off twice, including right before the big hill. On a better bike she might’ve beaten me!
For reference, our times put us in the bottom 10% of our 30-34 age groups.
We’re the softest of the hard core!