Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Race Report: Independence open-water mile and Aquathlon

My kind of bling.
I wasn't expecting great things for these races, considering my swim has been "meh" at best lately. But if you set the bar low enough, you might surprise yourself with a victory. I ended the morning with a 50-second PR for the mile and a 6-minute PR for the run-swim-run, although I'm confident the swim course was short.

I hadn't gotten very good sleep the night before. My alarm was set for 6 a.m., and around 10 p.m. the fireworks started. My lab mix is terrified of the loud noises and had to lie as close to me as possible... meaning lie directly on my chest for most of the night. Things calmed down at about midnight but I feared I wouldn't be going into this race full throttle.

Full night's sleep or no, I was up and at 'em early, ate some potatoes and drank some coffee, took the mutts out, gathered up my stuff, and drove the hour to the lake. I've done this race twice before (last year's recap here) but for some reason I couldn't remember how to get to the park! I found the lake, and drove up and down subdivision streets surrounding it, but couldn't figure out where the race was. I started thinking it had been held the day before. Finally, I spotted the cones marking the run course and started following them like a mouse does cheese. I arrived with about 20 minutes to spare, which, for this very laid-back race, was plenty.

I hadn't yet swam open water without a wetsuit this year, but I knew I didn't want to be shrugging it on and off again during the Aquathlon. I got in the water -- a bit cool, but not bad -- for a warmup without it, and after paddling around a bit, I was fine. The organizers went over the course, gave us a countdown, and we were off!

It was two laps around the lake and I let the faster swimmers get ahead of me (story of my life). I tried to swim strong and smooth, anchoring my hand in the water and pulling my body. There was a bit of scuffle around the buoys but nothing too bad. Back to shore, around the start buoy, and back again. I had a bit of trouble swimming in a straight line (again, story of my life) so I just made sure to sight every 6 strokes or so. That's a lot of sighting, but I didn't want to go off course.

I finished feeling good as I swam until I touched bottom and stumbled to shore. I looked at the clock to see a 36-something. Woo hoo! My official time was 36:41, a 50-second PR. Since I wasn't expecting a PR at all, I was pleased.

With a 36-minute mile swim time, I had 25 minutes until the run-swim-run started. I had a Gu, used the ladies' room, and put on shoes and socks. We had to wear or carry our race numbers for the second run portion, and I had forgotten my race belt! Thinking fast, I pinned the number to the sleeve of the shirt I had worn to the race, thinking I'd tie it around my waist as I took off. I saw a handful of ladies with their numbers pinned to their visors -- genius!

Another quick review of the course, another countdown, and we were off! It was a 2K run loop, another swim, and the same 2K run loop again. I started near the back and settled into a steady, strong pace, leaving slower runners behind one by one. There were a few short and steep hills and I just told myself, Power through the hill! It only sucks while you're running up it! Ha. Back to the beach, kick off my shoes and socks, grab my goggles and swim cap, and into the water once again. The swim was FAST and I'm sure it wasn't the 750 m advertised. Extrapolating my mile swim time, it was probably closer to 600-650. Before I knew it I was back at the beach, fresh socks on, shoes on, grab my hat and glasses, grab my shirt with my number pinned on, and off I went!

I came out of the water with a pack of about four other women. I didn't want to surge too early in case they were faster than me, but I was able to steadily drop them one by one. I was running strong and feeling good. I picked off a couple more people as we went up the hills, around the park, and back to the beach. I crossed the finish line in 32:55, a ridiculous 6-minute PR, which I know isn't accurate because the swim was obviously short. Assuming a 625 m swim, my run times were probably about 8-minute miles. (Like I said: Laid back race. No chip timing. We were one step above popsicle sticks.)

My time was good enough for third in my age group and a prize of a cool new coffee mug. Yay! Then, I headed home and took a glorious 2.5 hour nap. I had barely worked out for an hour total, but it was a hard effort, and I hadn't slept much the night before. I probably could have stretched or ran another couple of easy miles later in the day but... I just didn't want to.

All in all, a great race, a fun time, and a good showing. And inspiration to keep working on those lake swims for my upcoming 70.3.

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