Saturday, June 16, 2007

Death Valley Open Water Swim Meet

I wanted to take pictures of the swim meet but when I got home I found my camera had been in video mode most of the time without my realizing it. How I ended up with a few pictures interspersed with the movies without my noticing either way I don't know.

My event, the 3k, didn't start until 10 am, so I slept fairly late for me and made eggs for breakfast and still got to the beach in time for the start of the first event, the 5k. From the beach we could see down to the 1000 meter buoy off a point, which seemed pretty far, and the rest of the buoys were out of sight behind the point. If you look at the bottom picture the 1000 meter buoy was near the second point, with the trees on it. All the courses were out and back.

The men's 5k winners finished in under an hour, and with 5 men finishing almost simultaneously. I posted a couple seconds of video and I've got a slightly longer video of the first woman to finish here. The picture below is the men's finish:

I warmed up before the pre-race meeting and then ate a banana. I watched the men's 3k start, then went to put on my swim cap and goggles. The women's start was five minutes later and I suddenly realized the other women were already lining up. I never thought of the card I was supposed to hand in as I got ready to start and I didn't see the person collecting them.

The worry I kept telling people before the race was that I wouldn't be able to finish under the 1.5 hour cutoff and that they wouldn't let me finish. One of the things I was distracted by was seeing that a few swimmers were still coming in from from the 5k after the two hour cutoff. So it looked like I wouldn't be pulled from the water if I wasn't done in time.

The longest continuous open water swim I had done was 1500 meters in international distance triathlons. I wasn't worried about the distance because I am comfortable swimming slow and steady and feel like I could do it for hours. But I still felt it was unknown territory--almost two miles. I worry about being slow and I was a little worried about bonking (running out of fuel). I thought about carrying a gel but didn't.

I settled myself in the back of the start and didn't have to worry about anyone else. The first 500 meters there were milk jugs on the buoy line, so it was easy to follow the line. Later, with 100 meters or more between buoys, I had to make more effort to sight the next buoy. I worried about recognizing the turn buoy, but a kayaker near me told me it was the double one. We swam out into the wind so I expected it to feel calmer on the return, but there were more and more boats going past and the waves from their wakes were annoying.

Mostly it just took a long time. My pace was considerably slower than the 1500 meters in the triathlon last weekend, so I must have settled into something less than even my race pace. I tried intermittently to keep up my effort and watch my form. Sometimes I felt smooth, sometimes it just seemed long. I had a little soreness in my back towards the end and I was generally tired, but I was neither out of breath nor were my muscles hurting. I seemed to have eaten the right things--my stomach was fine and I never felt hungry or out of fuel.

I saw the next race (2k) going out as I was swimming the last 500 meters or so. I did hear people cheering for me as I was coming to the finish--the nice thing about a meet run by my team is that even with my daughter away there were people who knew me. So I got the full finish experience even though it took me 1 hour 53 minutes 14 seconds. I was pretty proud of myself--it really was a long ways and this was my first swim meet. Next year's race is June 14.

Oops--my husband and kids are out of town; I should have asked someone at the race to help me with suntan lotion.

1 comment:

Isis said...

Congratulations on the big swim! I wish I could have been there to swim it with you. I like seeing the photos, though--several familiar faces!

Again, congratulations.