View RSS Feed

Open Water

My non-pool dips and discussions

  1. 07/07/12: Fourth Kingdom Swim (My First)

    by , July 8th, 2012 at 08:58 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    Fair warning: long blog post to follow ...
    The mighty [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Memphremagog"]Lake Memphremagog[/ame] lived up to expectations as I splashed in for the Kingdom Swim this weekend. I made it to the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont on Friday after a four hour drive from my home and took advantage of the early check-in before meeting up with my yaker and our families to head over to Prouty's Beach, where the swim begins and ends. We then headed down to our log cabin rental, which was one exit south on I-91 near Lake Willoughby, to check in before heading back to Newport for the Frontier Animal Society’s Pet and Swimmers Parade through the center of town and the Pasta Dinner, where we fueled up with lasagna, spaghetti, salad, and some chocolate cake. I met up with the two other Bennington area swimmers, Bethany (who swam last year and just got back from Ned Dennison's Cork, Ireland, swim camp) and Brent (my FISH buddy in Williamstown, who was also taking part in his first 10 mile swim) during the evening.

    The next morning saw overcast skies and some minor sprikles (as forecasted) as we hit the beach to unload our equipment. The area was well organized and the kayaks were placed according to the mileage on the east end of the beach with the starting chute on the the west. I met up with some other forumites, Kent from Arizona and Kevin from Maryland, before the race started. I was really bummed not to find Swimsuit Addict or Vivebene Safety is key for the event, and about five minutes before the 8am start numbers were called out for the swimmers that did not check in before entering the chute. Once everyone was accounted for, we lined up on the beach and waited for the mass start of 70+ swimmers into the 70 water to begin. I decided to be involved but not too engaged in the fray, so I splashed in towards the left of the pack as we headed out to the first buoy (S). I was able to weave towards the front and ended up sixth around the orange blob before settleing into an even stroke as we picked up yakers en route to Buoy 1. Let's introduce the course map at this point, as I'll be referring to it:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	KingdomCourses.jpg 
Views:	488 
Size:	85.7 KB 
ID:	6870

    The clouds held back the sun for my whole swim, although it brightened up between Buoys 2+3. My most excellent kayaker Bobby was right on top of navigation as well as feeding me every 30 minutes, all the while providing encouragement. Once I hit Bouy 3, the first long stretch was before us and the next buoy was out of sight. I wanted to get across the lake quickly so I alternated 20 strong swim cycles with 50 smooth ones, and soon we came to Buoy 4 through some mild waves (I was thinking if this is the worst, I am in good shape). I still had some energy left and asked the folks in the sherrif's boat which direction Prouty's Point was - got some laughs just withing sight of . Buoys 5+6 came quickly, and we noticed two things as we headed towards 6 - the chop was picking up with the wind and lots of swimmers ahead of us were shooting more towards eastern edge of Derby Bay (towards the "C" on the map) than Buoy 6. Bob kept me on a tight line to 6 due to the swells, and it felt like I was swimming perpendicular to it and not making much progress.

    The wind kept picking up and the skies darkened a bit on our way to 6b, to the extent that we both were thinking that the threat of a thunderstorm ending the swim might happen - thankfully it did not. On an encouraging note for me, we also started passing those ahead of us that didn't stay closer to the islands. Once near 6a, the support boat shouted that a lot of swimmers were being pushed hard into Derby Bay, so by staying tight to the islands we were avoiding the extra effort needed to get out to Buoy 7. Here is the part where I was really surprised - Bob for the first time mentioned the time, "It's quarter to 12." That means that I was ahead of the 4 hour mark with roughly 2.5 miles to go! That was huge motivation for me to refocus my stroke and mind on powering through the end of the race since it was miserable swimming conditions. It was great knowing that I was reeling in those ahead of me through the two foot waves that were pushing me down the course, instead of fighting through them.

    Between 7+8 I was able to catch two of the 6-mile swimmers, and at buoy 8 the support boat encouraged us that only 3/10ths of mile remained. Well, I am under the impression that it was longer than 3/10ths of a mile and maybe they added extra buoys in this lower part of the course because it took fifteen minutes to come in. I was alternating ten "breasterfly" strokes (breaststroke arms with dolphin kicks) and fifty freestyle strokes as my arms were fatigued and it felt really good to stretch out. I also swam backstroke at different points to help keep loose. Heading past the start buoy into the beach was tough, as the waves were moving heavily perpendicular to shore. About 20 yards out I was hitting bottom, so I took a brief moment before standing up to make sure my legs still worked, then scampered to the beach where my wife and son were waiting, and Bob's wife and son were taking pictures. We made it, with an unbelievable time of 4 hours, 37.07 seconds!

    I was offered a drink of water or gatorade, even warm chicken broth if needed, by the staff on the beach. They even passed sweatshirts out to help warm us up. It took about 20 minutes after finishing for me to be brave enough to sit down and the sun to make an appearance, so we headed over to the food tent were swimmer and yaker ate for free, and everyone else munched for only $5. I was thinking a cheeseburger would be great around Buoy 6a, and munched on one afterwards! Somewhere in this time I missed SA finish, and I checked out the time boards on the side of the building for the girls' numbers, but had no luck finding them. We did see the kid's swims (8/u-17 could choose 100yds, 1/4 and 1-mile) as well as the adult 1-mile. We stayed for the awards ceremony which was a great gathering for those getting awards, especially watching the little kids head up for their "Woodal" - a hand-carved wooden medallion.

    So my time was totally unexpected given the horrible head cold I had the past two week, since I trained a lot more before the 10K last year and was exhausted at the end of that. Having only swam three times I would have been elated to get in around the 5 hour mark. Maybe the break was needed? I think two things were key for me: having great sighting from the best wingman in the business, my buddy Bobby, and also the nutrition aspect, which came together from a lot of research on the marathonswim forums and other blogs by marathon swimmers. I used a maltodextrin-based feed, flavored with juice, on the bottom of each hour, and an electrolyte-based feed on the top of the hour. No backfires like the fruit cups I ended up loosing after the 10k - only some minor gas for a few minutes. I followed a suggestion of using a retractable dog leash hooked to my bottles, so I only had to swim to the yak for the feed. We strapped a crate to the back of the kayak, but the weight of the drinks would have left Bob doing wheelies, so we moved the drinks into the kayak, which was more accessible for him to refill bottles. I only had an extra dose of water once, and did not get into the gel shots or chocolate bar that were on board. To keep my mind from drifting like my body, I again reviewed the New Testament books of the Bible in order, and also spent a great deal of the swim praying. For me, being surrounded by God's Creation and having a lot of time on my hands makes for a great boost in my prayer life.

    I would highly recommend this swim to anyone that is looking to move above the marathon 10k swim distance, or even to come out for one of the lower distance courses as Memphremagog is a gorgeous lake, the swim is very well organized (they can arrange for a kayak and/or a kayaker for you if needed), and the activities surrounding the swim are great for adding to a family vacation. We had a blast walking down the main street during the parade and also watching the events unfold on the beach. We did not go out one of the two boat tours of the course, but was able to talk with folks who have swum the race in the past and use the maps to succesfully navigate the swim. Next year this will be the 9+ Mile USMS National Championship, a great draw to get more swimmers out to support that programs that are helped from this and other athletic events in the region. I am already looking to book the same cabin for a week next year, and my thoughts are also towards finding a longer swim to add to my list.

    Oh, I will get an album of pics up soon, but here is a picture of team "Can't Stop the Leake" (only my daughter was unable to make the trip):
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	DSC06294.jpg 
Views:	349 
Size:	179.8 KB 
ID:	6871

    Updated July 9th, 2012 at 12:22 AM by rxleakem

    Categories
    Masters Swim Meets / Events , Open Water
  2. Workout 06/18/12:

    by , June 18th, 2012 at 09:49 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    Today I was able to meet up with GregJS near his home, just over the Green Mountains from me, to take a dive into the Harriman Reservoir for a long swim. I took up his offer to paddle as we embarked on a 2.5-3 hr swim, and it worked out that today was the day. I slathered on a total of two coats of the Coppertone kids spf50 (with zinc oxide) and headed out from the house.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	harr.jpg 
Views:	191 
Size:	199.5 KB 
ID:	6853

    I met up with Greg at 1:40pm and we headed to the Oxbow Boat Launch area right off Route 9. I was interested in putting my feeding schedule to the test during a long swim, and also trying the storage and method of feeding. I have The Big Bobber cooler and have found that it does float in the water while fishing, so I roped it onto the kayak thinking that it would just float along. Well, it didn't. A few minutes after starting our swim around 2:30, I noticed that Greg had not caught up to me. I looked back to see the bobber sinking as it filled up with water! Must have been the force of dragging it through the water that did it in. It so happened that it sat comfortably over his lap on the kayak (minus the extra water, of course) and didn't impede paddling, so he just ported it that way for the rest of the swim.

    It was another glorious day for a swim. The water was clear and clean, with visibility to about 8 feet. The sun was shining high above through the blue skies, occasionally hiding behind a passing cloud. Air temp was around 74, water temp perceived at 69. We swam into a headwind the first half of the swim, as well as some passing swells from powerboats. Overall, not very busy on the lake and we picked out objects ahead to swim to.

    Here is a link to the path of the swim. We made it withing sight to the first island and decided to turn around and head back. Swimming from the eastern to western bank was perhaps the most scary part of the trip, as boats were coming in both directions. I used it as a midway sprint to lessen our exposure, and it turns out the boats stayed away until we were on the other side.

    I again used my safe swimmer buoy and experienced no issues with it. It did tug a little more today when the chop on the lake increased, but not to the point of being a distraction. It was fun swimming the reservoir, as there were no weeds to contend to . The only freaky thing was the random, but regular bubbles rising up from the abyss. I convinced myself that these were from the decomposing plant matter at the bottom of the lake, and not a snapping turtle or sucker-fish. Greg confirmed that the Harrimonster was reeled in at some point in the past few years, but could not fully confirm that it did not leave a spawn that might be following me.

    Ended up swimming 4.42 miles in just under 2 hours 28 minutes (1.8 mph pace). The feedings went well, although I am going to change the first hour to include a half feed of carbohydrate and electrolytes - I was really craving the salty stuff and didn't taste it until the 2nd hour. I was really fortunate that Greg (THANKS GREG!) was able to take time out of his day to slowly explore the Harriman with me, as well as let me borrow a cap (since I forgot mine). Great day for a swim all around!

    Oh, graduation was also a real blessing over the weekend. Emma's ceremony was not too long nor boring, and she went to the "all night party" as we rolled some deli meat and got prepared for her party on Saturday. Lots of family and friends came to enjoy the sunny afternoon, which included a bouncy house that only tipped over when I was in it. I also had a relaxing Father's Day, which included a hammock assembled by the kids and Lena, and a campfire and smore's at night. Adding to that, my big brother Bryan and family are visiting from Washington State for the week, so it has been fun catching up with them (including my ten-month-old niece).
    Categories
    Swim Workouts , Open Water
  3. Workout 06/13/12

    by , June 14th, 2012 at 12:04 AM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    Drove to Monterey this evening to join the PaceMakers for their Wednesday evening OW swim. Not California, silly, but rather Massachusetts (a much more reasonable 80 minute drive.

    I arranged with Brent to carpool, as he works on the way to Lake Garfield and is also doing the Kingdom Swim. Great to get the chance to know him better, and prove that I can get lost even while following the GPS with someone besides my wife in the car.

    Meet Bill and a total of five others for a swim in this gem of a lake: 70.5 degree water, visibility ten feet, and buoys making key sections throughout. I tried out my new Safe Swimmer orange buoy and found no problems with it at all, actually having to stop from time to time to make sure it was still attached! I had my sandals, shirt, shorts, keys, and phone secure and dry the whole swim.

    We swam to the big rock after the dogleg, stopping a couple of times to regroup before meeting two of the late-comers on the return trip. We went at a leisurely pace, enjoying the full blue canvas dotted with fluffy white clouds above the small chop and glistening evening sun of the surface. Not a boat to be seen, but plenty of birds sailing through the air and singing to us. Glorious Creation!

    All told, a great 2 mile swim in 70 minutes, followed by a small potluck if bbq chicken, fresh greens, potato salad and Tabouli, and some cookies! Some goof from Vermont only brought granola bars, but he seemed to get the hint that more is expected next time.
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMAG0845.jpg 
Views:	377 
Size:	201.9 KB 
ID:	6849
    Tags: berkshires
    Categories
    Swim Workouts , Open Water
  4. 06/02/12: Charles River Swim

    by , June 2nd, 2012 at 09:35 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    Dear Charles River Swimmers, the water quality looks great and we have received permission to hold the race tomorrow. Water temperature is 73 degrees.
    I swam in the Charles River during the fourth one-mile event! Testing out that Dirty Water. Tomorrow we'll see if any strange skin conditions result!

    The race started at 8am this morning, and I decided that I did not want to drive three hours this morning so I stayed overnight in Leominster at a Motel 6 right off route 2. I figured that I had an hour more to travel this morning, so I left at 5 and arrived at the Alewife T station just before 6 to catch the Red Line to Charles/MGH. I got off the train and walked to the Espanade , getting to the registration tent around 6:40am. Oh, did I mention that it was raining? Yep - steady drizzle with some stronger showers the whole morning.

    I checked in and decided to repack my bag before checking it after getting marked up. I took off my sweats and put them into a plastic bag with, keeping only my warmup pants and jacket (and wet shoes) on. By 7:30, I was feeling cold as the wind picked up a bit, shivering and the like. At 7:45 we had our pre-race meeting, and I stripped down to my suit - the field was split roughly in half with folks wearing wetsuits and not, with me not wearing one. I donned my yellow cap marked "3" and headed to the dock with my fellow racers as the gray sky hung low above the skyline to this glorious city.


    "No diving into the water because we don't know what's in there - we don't want anyone landing headfirst into a shopping cart."
    We all hopped in after being warned and enjoyed the warm water, although viability was not much farther than arms reach in the murky greenish water. After treading water at the start buoy for about a minute, the race was started as we took off west towards the Harvard (Mass Ave) Bridge. I noticed that my shoulders were tight, likely from not doing enough kinetic stretches before the event. After rounding the first buoy towards the Cambridge side of the river, we entered into the roughest chop on the course, powered by a steady wind coming out from the city center. The second buoy came much quicker, and after rounding that we made our way on towards the Longfellow Bridge. Here is where the taste of oil and gas entered into my senses, and I flipped over and swam backstroke for about twenty cycles. I was able to increase my stroke rate and catch a small group off the lead after the last buoy, and motored to the finish line.

    I am pleased with how I sighted the race, having only to make two major corrections throughout. I lift my head for a quick sight and rotate my head into a breath, usually every five or six arm cycles, until I get closer to a buoy. One of the things I love about OW swims the ability to watch as a mass of swimmers enters the water, and then take a peak during the race and see arms stroking just above the water. I didn't notice the water falling during the race, but the precipitation never let up. Maybe all of that acid rain helped to counterbalance the river water?

    After the race I made my way back to the tents and sampled some of the vendor's treats before getting some coffee and bagel. Due to the rain there were very few spectators and the swimmers just packed up and headed out shortly after finishing. I walked back to the T with my wet warmups and dried off before going up to the station's platform, as my repacking kept my dry clothes mostly dry. I met some other swimmers (not too many other folks walking around with numbers on their skins) on the train back to the station, and we talked of the swim and our need for a very thorough shower! They laughed as the Harvard stop went by, opting out of joining the master's group there for their Saturday morning practice. I got off at Alewife and took the long, raining ride home.

    So, how did I do? Not sure yet! I forgot my watch, and at the finish only our race numbers were shouted out to the timers. I checked with some of the folks I finished near, but they were fine with just getting to the end point. Once I get the info, I'll update this entry. As for now, I am happy that the event went off and I was able to take the plunge into the murky, I mean, mighty Charles. I would recommend this swim, as it was safe, well organized, and you can join me in 'going where humans should not go' (according to a friend).

    *** Addendum: Results for the swim are up, and I finished in 23min 56sec. If you have the facebook you should be able to see my picture album here (nothing too exciting). ***

    Just a friendly reminder to turn on your lights while driving in the rain for everyone's safety. Oh, let the little ducklings cross the road, too (I did this twice).

    Updated June 12th, 2012 at 12:10 AM by rxleakem

    Categories
    Masters Swim Meets / Events , Open Water
  5. Workout 04/17/12: first OW of year

    by , April 18th, 2012 at 01:12 AM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    The hotel pool was closed on Monday, so I had my first chance to swim during this trip when we got to the Mediterranean. I'll estimate 0.75 miles in 20 minutes in the chilly, clear water. Might be my only swim until we get home.

    Updated April 23rd, 2012 at 04:37 PM by rxleakem

    Categories
    Swim Workouts , Open Water
Page 3 of 3 FirstFirst 123