After a beautiful day Friday getting some errands done around time, my friend Brent stopped by the house to pick me up and we headed northwest on a three hour journey to the Adirondacks of New York, with the final destination of Lake Placid for the 2013 USMS National Championship 2 Mile Cable Swim, Betsy Owens Swim. I guided us though some great back road, agricultural settings until we hit Saratoga Springs ("Health, History, Horses") and picked up the Northway (I-87) before getting off on state route 73 through the High Peaks.
We arrived at our home for the night, Art Devlin's Olympic Motor Lodge, and checked in, admiring the showcase that this Olympic ski jumper from the 60's acquired from all over the world and the view of the ski jumps to our south from the property. Brent swam at Betsy Owens a couple of years ago, so we ventured north into town on foot, walking past the 400m outside speed skating oval, ice arena (home of the "Miracle On Ice" game from 1980 OG), and the Olympic Center en route to the Mirror Lake, home of IronMan Lake Placid and Betsy Owens swim. It was a little cool, but the sun was hanging brilliantly in the sky just above the mountains surrounding the lake. I dipped my hands in the water, a tad cool and thankfully not really warm.
We then checked out some of the shops downtown. Lake Placid is relatively void of major shopping outlets (only one small area with four or five shops), favoring traditional independent shops and restaurants in a town that has the hint of a European village. We ran into Jonathan, one of our Berkshire lake swimming buddies who was in town with his wife and daughter to race. He later shared that they bought a "passport" to check out the Olympic venues, and his daughter rode down the bobsled track! We ended up eating at a restaurant on the lake side, Generations, and enjoyed a relaxed pre-race meal before ice cream at Emma's Creamery and the nice stroll back to the lodge for a restful night's sleep.
We got up a little after 7am to a brisk temperature of 46, and I grabbed some coffee and a lemon poppy muffin from the lodge as we checked out and drove to the beach for 8:15. Check in started at 8am, with warmups on the course from 8-9. There is a great grassy hill on the start end of the course, and Brent had a chair that he put down to mark our little area. After debating about "warming up," since the report race temperature was 69 degrees, we hopped in and did one loop of the 1/4 mile cable in the counter-clockwise direction that was prescribed for the race. This was my first swim of this type, and the cable was suspended about two feet below the surface of the lake, with a large orange buoy at the turning ends and small buoys every 10m along the length of the course. Since the water at Mirror Lake is very clear, the cable is very early to see as long as the sun is out.
After drying off, we waited until the safety briefing and final attendance check-in at 9:15, where David and Ann reminded us that a total of 4 loops was needed to complete the race and that, although this is Open Water swimming, we were to be civilized or risk being DQ'd. It kinda reminded me of a scene from Lord of the Rings - we were lined up by wave (ten people) based on 1650 seed time and put into starting order, then proceeded to enter the water so that three waves were always wet. Just after 9:30am, every 30 seconds a wave is started in water (marked by a green buoy at a distance along the cable that offsets the distance to the two yellow buoys ending the race just before the beach), then the next one already in water swims up to the starting buoy and is counted down.
I started in the middle of the second wave of the first heat and settled into a comfortable rate, purposefully not hovering cable. Here starts the "Did you get the number of the person who ran me over?" issue, as many folks do not want to leave the cable and will be happy to engage in contact to stay on it. Incidental contact is always an issue, and if I am on the giving end I'll move around it as soon as I realize it. Others have no problem banging into you incrementally from toe to head - oh well. Expect the unexpected!
As usual, I spend much of the swim praying as I enjoy moving through the water, especially taking in the sites of the venue around the OW event. I caught some in the end waves as I approached the end of the third lap, and went around the turn buoy on the start of the final lap and went wide to get around another pod. I increased my kick and kept the turnover strong, passing some in the first wave before turning at the far end of the course for the last time (well, I swam a couple strokes past it ). I then kept going strong into the finish, where we were handed a numbered popsicle stick and advised to stay in order, handing in the stick as our race number was recognized once on the beach. I was seeded 15th and finished the race with number 10, which could change after the second heat completed their swim.
After a quick warmdown of 200m, I spent some time in the sun (air temp now 64) with Brent and Jonathan's family as he took off in the first wave of the second heat. I then got changed and vegged out, watching this Nascar of swimming, where folks circle around the rack and some bumping happens. Interestingly, one lady shouted that another swimmer should be DQ'd for pushing her underwater, describing in detail the man and his suit - she later, on the beach, sought him out and lambasted him a bit (to which he replied, "I was just swimming on the cable, you ran into me." to her shouts.
So, this type of an event really does keep the spectator interested. I have come to realize that contact is indeed going to happen, especially in this more competitive atmosphere. I agreed with Brent that for many of the point to point OWswims, there is more of a sense of just swimming and enjoying the journey, rather than "racing." I am sure that some swims may not feel this way, but I rather enjoy just getting out and going. My final time was 47:34.58, good for second place in my age group, just 30 seconds behind Brent. I am happy that he is the National Champ, and that I was able to be that close to him time-wise since I consider him a much faster distance swimmer than myself.
After the second heat finished (82yo Patrick was a great inspiration), we stayed for the great lunch that was put on for us and then the award ceremony. I met with some of the Middlebury Muffintops, as well as a Twitter friend, Alicia, that I have been following for about a year now (she was 2nd place on the women's side). New friends are great! I believe that it was announced that the 2014 National Champs will also be held during the Betsy Owens swim. I would recommend checking it out and making plans to attend next year for a great swim experience, in an area where you find fun for the whole family! If your lucky, it will not be as cold!
Was in NoVa for the weekend and got in a couple swims:
I dropped in at SpringHill Rec in the evening thinking the pool was open until 9 as usual. Nope, only until 8. I had 50-55 minutes to work out. I almost felt like screaching with massive swimming pool frustration! Instead, I just did some luxuriously deep shooters and pulled out my "bang for your buck" parachute.
8 x 25 DPK back shooters w/fins @ :40
8 x 25 DPK belly shooters w/fins @ :40
6 x 50 DPS free w/paddles @ :50
16 x 25 w/parachute, fins & paddles @ 1:00
-- did 4 of these kick with no paddles course
-- this is the most 25s w/chutes I've done and my back can feel it today
Saturday: Swim w/Teen Fort (this may have been a mistake, lol. she didn't seem in the mood for working out and wanted tips on her long axis strokes)
8 x 25 shooters w/fins @ :40
4 x 25 scull w/paddles
4 x 25 ??
4 x 50 torque drill w/paddles @ 1:30
100 caterpillar fly drill
8 x 75 kick w/fins @ 1:15
-- 25 flutter + 25 dolphin + 25 flutter
-- sprint the dolphin kick 25
5-6 backstroke starts
-- argh, very rusty since I can't do a start in any pool that I currently have access to in Pitt
-- pause while I did bungee cord pulls for Teen Fort
8 x 25 burst dolphin kick + cruise @ 1:00
3 x (25 AFAP breast + 25 EZ) @ 1:30
hottub, 20 min, trying to calm some of Teen Fort's pre-college jitters
Not too much to write home about. But at least I was in the pool. This is actually the first time I've done two swim workouts in a row since mid-June.
Made the long trek back to Pitt today. So sick of traveling and more ahead. Sigh. Lil Fort was somewhat despondent with her vacations ending. She seemed to cheer up when we informed her that we live next door to Sara Shepard of Pretty Little Liars fame. Very appealing stuff to 12 year olds. Wait, she turned 13 today. Round 2 of life with a teenage daughter.
IGLA Open Water Swim - 2 mile wetsuit category
I started off the morning at 4:20am with the alarm going off. Luckily I'd packed my bag last night, 'cause I wasn't in the mood to do much this morning. I stopped at the local 7-11 to get some Gatorade for rehydration after the swim, and got stuck behind some people with the late late-night party munchies. They were quite the sight, and a bit funny.
Well, I got going on my way toward Seattle, and got to the split where I have to choose which pass to go over. The shorter route (according to the new electronic reader board) was closed on Snoqualmie Pass due to rock blasting this morning from 5:00-8:00am. No way was I going to be able to go that way for a 7:30am checkin time. So off I went on the longer route over Stevens Pass, which also takes me quite a bit further north above Seattle. It worked out okay though. I got my McD's fix in Monroe, and then got my way to I-405 and back to I-90 to get over to Mercer Island where the swim was taking place. I still got there with plenty of time to spare. In fact, I was one of the first to arrive for the check-in.
After walking around aimlessly, I saw a couple people wearing CIBBOWS hats, and one of them looked like Janet (only from FB pictures). We said hi to each other and talked a bit. I'm pretty boring, and she figured that out right away.
I took a look at the course for the swim, a 1 mile triangular swim, counterclockwise, so all left handers around the course. Going down the first straightaway I noticed (along with everyone else), a huge boat (someone has $$$$) right near the line of the corner buoy. As it turns out, this was damn near spot on with the turn buoy, so it was much easier to look for the boat than the yellow turnpost in the water...plus this direction was heading right into the rising sun. The backside of the triangle looked to be pretty long, my only worry was getting lost out there. The final side back to shore was pretty easy to spot the finish buoys, so no problems there. There was a bit of plants/seaweed/crap in the water around the shallow starting/finish buoy. More annoying than anything.
The race got off right at 9:00, as the seconds were being counted down I shouted out "Have fun guys!", and put on goggles and went for it. I started on the far left of the group, and it seemed like everyone was off to a fast start. I just kept going hard trying to breakaway from the group. I was getting my legs and feet hit a bunch, and I think it was because I was actually cutting sideways across in front of everyone without even knowing it. OOPS! My stroke naturally carries me to the right I guess. We made our way down the first leg of the course, and I was right with another guy side be side. I let him get ahead and dropped in behind him for a little draft. I stayed with him around the first buoy, made the turn looked at the next buoy and got swimming again. The leader went somewhere else though. Took too sharp of a turn and was headed back toward shore instead of across the middle of the lake. He eventually got back on track. Along the backstretch I was passed by another swimmer prior to the 2nd turn buoy. I stayed in 3rd place with the 4th place guy turning even with me at the finish buoy of lap #1.
Now we were headed right back into the sunlight on the start of lap #2. This time the sun glare was way worse than the first time. Lucky for me I had a couple guys right in front of me, so I could follow splash bubbles underwater, or I could see their splashes ahead when I sighted. I was trying to see the big boat, but the glare was too much this time.
On the middle of the backstretch of the 2nd lap, I was I believe in 5th place after getting passed by another person. My eyes were killing me from my goggles. I use swedes, and they were cutting into my eye sockets a bit. I'm used to pool swimming, and doing intervals, where I can usually take my goggles off for a bit every 100/200 yards or so. I'm not used to having them on me non-stop for 30-45-60 minutes at a time. I just started treading water, put my goggles on my forehead, and began talking with one of the lifeguards on a paddleboard nearby. She asked if I was fine, I said yeah, just resting my eyes from the goggles. After about 30-45 seconds of my "break", I put my goggles back on and proceeded on. At this point I went into butterfly for about 30 strokes or so. Fly with a wetsuit on is so amazing, plus doing something different with my muscles felt good too. I didn't want to wear myself out so I went back to freestyle.
After rounding the final buoy for the turn to home, I found swimmer #6 coming up on my right hand side. Bad move buddy...that's my breathing side. If you're going to try to make a pass, you have to come by on my left. I saw him there, and knew we were close enough to the finish that I wasn't going to let him beat me. I paced right alongside him, we were looking right at each other the whole way, along with sighting forward. At this point we had two people from the 1 mile swim that we were lapping. There was enough space for me to squeeze between them, and the other guy had to go around a bit. At this point were were at the final intermediate buoy before the finish, I'd guess about 300 yards or so to the end. I poured it on, kicking like I know how to, and left the guy in the dust, not seeing him until we were on shore.
I finished with a 46:12 for my 2 mile swim, and I believe was the #5 overall swimmer in the 2 mile category. In my age group, I was #1, and got a handmade medallion for my efforts. Someone local made all the awards for the IGLA competition, so they are unique. Melted glass, colored blue/red/white/etc. and stamped with IGLA 2013 on them.
I was happy with the swim, and apparently I can still swim fine even on 1-2 days a week of moderate swimming...showing I don't have to be an animal age grouper anymore. Though we'll see next weekend at the Gil Young meet.