Sunday marked my second open water swim of the season and the longest one I have done in a while. Several years ago I was very involved in Masters swimming and spent a summer doing as many open water swims as possible. Last week I did some searching to try and find one of my old two mile times, just to have a reference point, but they seemed to have been erased from the Internet. 2005 was a LONG time ago.
The morning got off to a not-so-great start when I woke up, looked over at my alarm clock and saw that it said 6:15, which just so happened to be the time I was planning to leave for the race! Apparently although I had set my alarm for 5:30 the night before, I had neglected to actually turn it out. I jumped out of bed and got ready in about 10 minutes. Fortunately, I tend to arrive way too early for most races, so getting out the door at 6:30 got me there right on time.
I was asked at check-in if I knew that wetsuits weren’t allowed because of high water temperatures, but since I wasn’t planning to wear one anyway I just nodded and kept going. I had my chip and was body-marked by about 7:10, so since I had time to kill I decided to jump in the pool for a brief warm up. Was this really necessary? Probably not, but it seemed to make sense at the time. Of course I remembered after getting the pool that I hadn’t put on any sunscreen yet (one victim of my late wake-up/dash out the door). So after swimming about 400 yards, I got out and attempted to dry myself off before applying sunscreen. I imagine that I was just damp enough that it didn’t stick at all, but at least I tried!
Then it was time to line up in waves and get the race started. It was at this point that I finally saw Victoria, and caught a glimpse of Beth behind me (someone was a little off with her seed time). Victoria and I were in the second wave, so as soon as the race started we were headed down into the water and got going shortly after. I don’t have too much experience with dealing with mass open water starts and I also see no need to sprint at the beginning of (what I consider) a long race, so I was pretty much at the back of the pack when we got going. I got bumped a few time,s but nothing violent and soon settled into a decent rhythm. When we got to the first turn, I noticed Victoria slightly ahead of me. We maintained this same position for most of the race. Sometimes I was close enough to gain some benefiting by drafting, other times I could just see her ahead of me.
I spent the first lap getting a good idea of the course. I had looked at the map, but it’s obviously a whole lot different when you’re at water level and trying to see the next buoy. After the second turn there was a long straight away back to the start and I definitely went way too wide the first time around the course. I couldn’t see any buoys for reference and only had a general idea that I needed to head back towards the shoreline in the distance. Once I got a bit closer I could see the weird grated structure that served as the third turn buoy and aimed myself that way.
As I passed the start/finish and headed out to begin loop number two, I was definitely questioning my decision to sign up for this race instead of the mile. It’s not like I’m training for an Ironman and needed any kind of long swim practice! I also attempted to see the clock at the point, but couldn't, so I have no idea how well I paced the two laps. I felt comfortable as I started the second loop and decided that I would hold steady until I made the second turn and would then attempt to pick up the pace on the long straight away back to the finish. About halfway through the second loop, Victoria decided that she was tired of me just hanging out behind her and dropped back to draft on my feet. I figured that she probably knew that I had been just behind her for most of the race and when she did that I knew for sure! All’s fair in open water swimming. :)
Finally I made that second turn and headed back towards the start. I tried to pick up my kick and increase my arm speed, though I have no idea if I was actually successful in picking up the pace. I knew from the first time around that I could swim a lot closer to the middle of the lake than I would have thought, so I really tried to keep that line back and avoid adding extra distance by getting closer to shore. Then I was making the last turn around the weird grate structure and tried to kick it in to the finish. When my hands hit the bottom I was up and running to the timing mat.
Final time – 56:32, 1st in AG, 16th woman, 43rd overall
It is very rare that I even place in my AG group, so I was very happy with the win! Once again I lost the showdown with Beth, but I was closer this time! Only 30 seconds instead of 50. Progress. I had been thinking before the race that I should be able to break 55 for two miles, but given that we both finished similarly again, I think I did the best that I could on this course. While Victoria and I both walked away with medals, sadly for Beth she is a part of a young, fast age group!
I really enjoyed this race and hope that I can do it again next year. Maybe I will even attempt the Sunday double (2 mile and 1 mile) or the whole Triple Dip (those two races plus the 5k on Saturday)!