I was eager to get in the pool and work on my breaststroke this morning. Oh, how naive I was.
You can do a few strokes of breaststroke and think "yeah, this feels pretty good". The problem is that your legs start to burn. Breaststroke just takes so much power. Before you know it, your legs are burning, and you're screaming for oxygen. Not to mention the oxygen hunger on the breakouts.
I threw 100m of breast into my warmup. It was about all I could do. I was trying to push myself, and after 100m, needed to revert to free to rest. We did some breast kick during the warmup, too. I tried to catch up to my lanemates, but despite a perceived huge power output, I wasn't making up huge ground. Ugh.
Our main set was 8x100 (supposed to be 9 - oops). The first three were freestyle, which was fine. The next three were breast. I was mentally chiding myself for not working hard enough after a while, but I found my tank was emptying really fast. Incredibly, the 2 IM sets at the end were a relief.
Then we got some rest, in preparation for a timed 200 IM.
I had done two different 200 IMs in 3:20 on Tuesday, so I should have been really enthused. Instead, I was nervous. I didn't feel well rested, and wasn't looking forward to swimming the 200. It's weird; I love doing timed swims, because I love challenging myself. For whatever reason, though, all I could feel was dread.
...which might just be what I'm feeling the day of the meet, too.
I ended up facing off against my two faster lanemates, both of whom I suspected (rightly) were doing 200 free. I expected them to be a bit faster than me, but was hoping that I would be able to hang with them. I thought my dive start was ok, and I tried to settle into a relaxed first 25 fly. At the turn, they were both well ahead of me, which was a bit disappointing. My fly isn't that slow, but in IM, I'm more concerned about conserving energy (rightly or wrongly) than speed.
At the second turn, I got a good push off the wall, and a couple of dolphin kicks underwater, on my back, before I surfaced. While it was a very good start, I now had to calm myself down, and stick to my strategy of building over the 50. I did something like a two beat kick, and tried to give a strong pull. Unfortunately, I was watching the ceiling, which technically is a no-no. Come race day, I'll have to rely on the flags and lane markers to keep me going straight, and to know when to turn. I should be practicing it now.
It wasn't until I finished my backstroke that I got to peek at where the competition was. As I turned over to start breaststroke, I peeked to my left. The news wasn't good. They were WAY ahead of me, maybe as much as 30m and 20m. And here I was, starting the slowest of the four strokes. Was I really going that slow today?
My first breakout wasn't very good. I didn't push off the wall well enough, pulled too early, and didn't lift my head, leaving me way too deep for my first kick. Ugh. I tried hard to make breaststroke my strongest segment, kicking hard, focusing on decent sculling. The oxygen went away, and I'm not sure I really built, but I think the segment overall was about as quick as I could have hoped for.
The 50 free at the end is as much a relief as anything else. I reminded myself that my freestyle is much improves this year, and that I probably could reel in the field a bit on this stage, even if they were already mostly done. The change in muscle groups usually works to my advantage here, but I'm usually starting in oxygen deficit. I tried pretty hard to catch up, but my poor turn at the halfway mark hurt me. I just wanted to surface so badly. Ugh.
When I finished, I wasn't in a huge hurry to hear my time, figuring I hadn't had a great swim. As it turns out, I think my two lanemates had awesome swims. I finished in 3:12.3, which I was really pretty happy about. I suspect that they both did their 200 frees in under 3:00, which is mighty impressive, and makes me a tiny bit jealous (my PB is 3:08).
Something tells me that this wasn't as fast as I can go on the 200 IM. My nerves and perceived fatigue probably slowed me down a bit. Still, I'm going to have to deal with killer nerves on race day, so experiencing them in practice is maybe a good thing. A bit more aggression and attention to detail in the turns will probably help me get even faster in the future.