View Full Version : Big Shoulders

April 1st, 2005, 01:28 PM
Anyone planning on going to Big Shoulders in Chicago this year? Doing anything special to train for it?

April 2nd, 2005, 04:46 PM
I am pettitioning my towns rec department to let me swim in ungauraded waterat a community lake. It is so hard ot find places to practice for open water events!!!!!!!!!

Matt S
April 3rd, 2005, 09:29 PM

I've swam the Big Shoulders 5K three years in a row, now. Fun event. Great venue. And the competition just keeps getting faster and faster, and younger and younger, each year. You will see Div I/II college teams out in force. I'm guessing they are using it as a preseason tune-up. You will also see plenty of typical Masters athletes. They may not be the fastest, but they are determined and they do finish the event. There are even a couple of real psychos who do the whole thing butterfly!

Training tips: it is easy to overestimate what it takes to swim the event. Just keep doing what you're doing for the 400/500 or 1500/1650 and you'll be fine. If you are a newbie to open water swimming, you would probably feel more comfortable if you did another open water swim, race or just plain work out swim, before Chicago. It's more to get familiar and feel comfortable than any kind of training mojo. Here's a little secret: for most people, swims of this kind of distance are not an endurance events; they're technique events. You will not be able to push yourself much beyond your aerobic threshold pace for an event that will last 60-90 minutes. Just find your comfortable stroke that feels about as demanding as going for a brisk walk, settle in, and enjoy it. Navigation can be challenging, depending on conditions, but if you stay with a pack, you can free-load off of your fellow swimmers. If you want, you can try to push yourself and race with your fellow swimmers. If you don't feel you are up to that, just go out for a Sunday swim and consider finishing the most important accomplishment. Another little secret: trying to compare swims in open water and determine whether you had a "good" swim or a "bad" swim is a lot trickier than in pool events. Conditions will vary (including whether the course is marked out to the precise distance, or is a little short, or is a little long) and have a more significant effect on your final time than your conditioning or race day performance. Similarly, the turnout will also vary, and it is difficult for you to say that 12th in your age group this year is a better swim than 15th last year. It's not a pool, and you can drive yourself a little nuts if you try to treat it like a pool event. All of which means that open water swimming is much more conducive to a laid back attitude. Just hit up a few veterans for tips, but they will be in the nature of how to make it more comfortable, more fun, etc. The tips will not be the difference between your finishing or not.

Now, how about a little local intell on the Ft. Collins 10K in Aug? Im' assuming that people fly into Denver, with much cheaper airfares, and take ground transport to Ft. Collins. Is this the case? Can you hook me up with any of the organizers? I have a ton of questions, but I realize you may or may not be the person to answer them.

Thanks & good luck. Hope to see you in Chicago,

April 4th, 2005, 01:24 AM
For the Fort Collins swim, defintely just fly into Denver International. It's roughly an hour and a half away from Fort Collins... depending on traffic, of course. I haven't been in touch with the organizers yet, but I'm thinking about the merits of doing the 2.4 mile distance for that one. After all, it's local.

As for the race, I've heard that the water's cold. Personally, I've done open water stuff up in northern Michigan (Harbor Springs Coastal Crawl) so I really doubt it could be too much colder than that!

Important things to remember when swimming out here... altitude is definitely a challenge (let me tell you, I love swimming at sea level, the oxygen just makes me giddy), and hydration is a MUST! If you don't drink enough, the altitude thing becomes more of a problem. Oh, yeah, almost forgot sunscreen... between the altitude and the sunny days, you can become a crispy critter pretty darn quickly!

April 7th, 2005, 05:52 PM
Hi - I'm new posting here, but have been reading for a long time. I am thinking about doing Big Shoulders. I live in MD, but my brother lives in IL and I would go and stay with him and do the swim in Chicago. I am currently training for several OWS this year - Great Chesapeake Bay Swim, Swim for Life, Sunfest (all three in MD), Big Shoulders (maybe), and Ecoswim in Bonaire (yay!). I caught the OWS bug last year and just love it! What other OWS do you do?