Sunday, September 25, 2011

New England Masters 10K Championships


I completed my first 10K swim today in Coventry, Rhode Island, at the 5th annual Flat River Reservoir Champion's Challenge. There were just over 40 total participants swimming in either the 5K or 10K events, with a mix of folks donning wetsuits or not. I choose not to, and was happy since the water temp was a warm 68 degrees. Here is what the course looked like - essentially we started on the south end of the lake, swam north for 1 mile, then went east for 1/2 mile, round a buoy and back for 5K, with those doing the 10K make 2 laps.


I swam this loop twice to complete the 10K


The race was started shortly after 9am, with all swimmers entering the water together, but the USMS registered swimmers in the 10K race starting 5 seconds later (so that the results can be certified). I was in the later wave, and found that since the field was not large there was no problem getting out from the start and through the pack.


I found myself near the front after the first mile, and looked back as I did some backstroke to stretch out my shoulders and found that a pack of 4-5 folks were bunched in behind me. No one was really interested to take over the point, so I keep churning. After we made the first right to the short buoy our group broke up a bit and I stopped for some hydration from my kayaker, Bob, who made the trip down from Maine to paddle with me.


There I am, to the right, in front of the pod.

I settled into a grove behind 2-3 folks through the turnaround and for the next mile or so. After another hydration break, I finished the last 1/4 mile of the 5K. All of a sudden a swimmer was headed towards us - I though it was a late starter but Bob confirmed it was the lead guy going for his second lap. I caught up to the group at the starting buoy and was surprised that most of them finished for the 5K, while I turned around for the 10K! haha - I guess it helped to pace with them as my split was 1hr 18min and change.


My right calf cramped up at the turnaround, so I was slowed down a bit to stretch it out. I tried a blackberry goo shot, which was just plain gross. For the rest of the race my right leg was bothering me, but I decided to get in a cycle of 40 hard stokes followed by 100 long/strong. It worked well back to the 1 mile marker, but my goggles kept fogging up so I was hampered there. I increased my hydration to 20 minute intervals, and decided after the far turnaround to try some food. One fruit cup later, and the way to sweet cherries I knew that was a bad idea! I keep moving and was not able to gain much on a gentleman in front of me, or lose ground from the guy behind.


The last 1/4 mile was tough; my arms were shot, right leg bothering me, and I was starting to feel nauseous from my failed fielding attempts. Bob was a great encouragement as always, cheering my on to finish as strong as possible. I came in at an official time of 2 hours, 46 minutes, 12 seconds. Not to shabby for my first marathon distance swim. I was spent after the race, and even got sick, but we were treated to a great post-race lunch and a chocolate bar shaped like a swimmer as an award.


Bob wondered what I thought about during the swim. I employed some counting (forward and backward), but I used much of the time praying for family and friends and also reciting the books of the New Testament in order by book (my son had a test at school this week on these). The end of the swim was tough, but I found that by focusing on these, I was able to block out the pain and exhaustion that I was feeling. It took me about 15 minutes to start thinking clearly again and try something to eat (Bob was kind enough to give me a shoulder rub).


I will post the final results once they are available, but I was able to average 2.25 mph for the race. Ray Gandy and the folks in RI put on a great swim, where safety was the number one concern. There were four buoys dividing the lake, two jet skiers patrolling as well as some other boats, and every swimmer had a kayaker to keep an extra set of eyes on the water. In addition, we had a great feast set up after the swim and a really energized feeling from all of the racers, family/friends, and volunteers that came together to make this event happen.


I never swam more than a 500yd as an age-grouper, and after just 2 years back in the water I am trying these longer distances with the hopes of tackling the English Channel in the next 6 years or so. Time will tell on that, but I am very thankful that the Lord has blessed me with the ability to swim, and has surrounded me with a loving family and friends to encourage me, even though sometimes I think I might be crazier than they think I am!


A special thanks to my family for being so supportive, my buddy Bob who (and his family that let him) came to kayak for me, and for the Bible, because if it was not for reciting the order of the New Testament books I am not sure if I could have finished!  


Thoughts for next year ...

  • No fruit cups or Goo shots (must find a better eating strategy) 
  • Put in more pacing work, and longer swims leading up to the event
  • Get a new pair of goggles leading up to the event, to prevent the fogging issue
  • Try some Dramamine to see if the nausea stays away


Sunday, September 18, 2011

5k Down, and a Great Weekend

I had a great weekend with the family in the Catskills of New York. This was a great time to spend together as we celebrated Lena's birthday on Friday.

We were invited to join my good friend from college, Chris (who is also Preston's godfather), get married to his sweetheart Rachel.  The ceremony took place in a cozy Russian church, with a reception at a romantic, refurbished barn, where we danced the night away until the cows came home!  (their British friends last longer than yours truly)

We stayed both Friday and Saturday night at the Inn at Stone Ridge, a wonderful getaway that was convenient to the weekend's festivities. We enjoyed comfortable lodging and fantastic breakfasts to fuel our day.

Before leaving on Friday, I was able to hop in the pool for a workout. I focused on alternating distance sets (500 to 1000 yards each) with minimal rest, and was able to complete 5k in just over 1 hour and 24 minutes. This is half the distance I will be swimming next weekend, and given that I had some kicking sets the time was right where I hoped it would be. I will have another long swim tomorrow, then a lake swim on Wednesday, a regular swim Thursday, then off to the race this weekend.



Monday, September 12, 2011

New England 10k swim in just two weeks!

After a successful 2.4 mileswim at the Peaks to Portland (Maine) in July, in which I swam without a wetsuit in 62-64 degree Atlantic Ocean water in a time of 49:54, I am now looking towards my first 6.2 mile swim on Sunday, 9/25, in Rhode Island.

Ray, the race coordinator, gave me a call last night and mentioned that 40+ folks are registered for either the 5K or 10K swims. I am going to be able to have my buddy Bob join me as my kayaker for the event, which I am really happy about.

I have been reading the Open Water forums at usms.org for helpful hints for this distance. I have had limited training this month due to Hurricane Irene pummeling Vermont. Our town had no main water supply for 7 days, and the Rec center where I train was closed for 2 weeks (one for yearly maintenance, the other since we had no water). Finally the major road traversing the southern border of Vermont, from Bennington to Brattelboro, was reopened this past weekend.

Today Lena and I traveled it on my motorcycle - totally different landscape with roads washed out and buildings gone. We were blessed to only have rain and wind at my home, so I thank God for his protection.


Don't Be Like Mike

My photo
Thankful that God has granted me a second chance (quite a few, actually) through my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I love the Lord, my family, and enjoy endless laps of swimming and circles on a motorcycle. Follow Jesus.