Saturday, July 25, 2015

Race Recap: Buckeye OWS 1-miler

Yeah. This happened.

Yes, I'm starting my blog with the results... weird, I know.  This is the plaque I was handed as I exited the water.  My first plaque!  I've never actually placed in a race that awarded plaques, so this is kinda special.  My friends all laugh at me when I talk about wanting a plaque.  My friend Erin said hers are all shoved into a box.  This one may end up in a box too, but right now it's sitting on my kitchen counter where I can admire it for the next few days.  

Okay, back to the beginning.  After doing my first triathlon a few weeks ago, I have been itching to do another one.  There is a local one being held tomorrow, but I am not anywhere near in running shape to do a tri.  In fact, I've only ran once since the triathlon, and that was a walk/run that still didn't feel quite "right" with my calf.  So since racing a tri was out, when I saw that Greenswell was putting on an open-water swim (OWS) today at the site of tomorrow's tri, I decided to give it a shot.  OWS's are kind of rare around here, and Antrim Lake (where we swam) isn't even a lake that allows swimming on a typical day.  I've ran by this lake dozens of times on the Olentangy Trail, but never thought I'd get to swim in it.  

Kinda pretty, isn't it?

Well, today was that day!  I actually didn't register until yesterday morning, only to find out that they closed out on all registrations yesterday evening... good thing I didn't wait any longer!

The race offerings were 2-mile, 1-mile, 0.5-mile and 0.25-mile.  I haven't been swimming far lately (most of my swim workouts are at Alum Creek and I usually swim less than a mile there due to time constraints), so I opted for the 1-mile race.  Because this race started a bit later (8:30 AM), I got to join Erin's CXWORX 30-minute core strengthening class at DK Fitness before the race.  Class was great as usual, and I high-tailed it over to Antrim to pick up my t-shirt and swim cap.  Not a lot of time to get nervous, as putting on my wet suit took me a good ten minutes, and after a selfie it was time to get the course instructions and start the race!

The course was a counter-clockwise half-mile loop that we swam twice.  My hubby informed me that Antrim is actually a quarry, so it's super-deep, especially in the middle.  Most of my runner friends were freaked out by the idea of me swimming in it... again, we all run by this lake all the time.  It doesn't smell the greatest, and it isn't exactly clean-looking from shore.   However, the water was really warm (no clue on temperature; I'd guess 74-75 degrees), and very clear once we got started. I positioned myself at the front of the field and at the "go!" we all carefully "ran" into the water!  There are some sharp rocks at the start; in fact a friend cut her foot at the quarter-mile swim today. 

It took me a good quarter-mile or more to really get into this race.  I had a slight bout of panic about 200 meters in, so I did a few strokes of breaststroke to re-sight the buoys and take a long breath.  For some reason, swimming with people all around me really bothers me.  I feel claustrophobic or something, and my breath starts to race.  Once I chilled out a bit, though, things were fine.  I focused on using mostly my arms for the first loop around the course, letting my legs relax and just lightly kick.  I felt my timing band fall off towards the end of the first loop, but I didn't even let this bug me me as I knew there was nothing at all I could do about it!  It wasn't like I was going to stop and start diving down to the bottom to find it LOL!  I figured at the finish I'd tell them my race number and they'd figure things out.

I felt much better on the second loop.  I was very alone... I could see some swimmers ahead of me, but didn't notice any around me.  I like it that way, though!  With around a quarter-mile to go, my triceps were starting to burn so I let my legs take over and started my sprint to the finish.  I felt good at the end--strong!  I knew there were people ahead of me, so I had no expectations upon exiting the water.  Which is why I was fairly shocked when the race director handed me that beautiful little plaque!  So, the truth: two women actually beat me.  One was Tracy H., who runs a local swimming training facility for triathletes (I did the 10,000 yard challenge at her facility in December, and she conducted the OWS clinic prior to the race today).  I have no issues losing to this four-time Ironman athlete!  The actual first place female finisher (who I think beat all of the men as well) was clearly a younger woman who admitted afterward to being "just" a swimmer--I think she was in her 20's and probably a kick-ass collegiate swimmer a few years ago (the Swedish goggles gave it away!).  Again, no problems losing to fast women!  So why did I get the plaque?  The other two women didn't actually register for the race.  Unlike running, where "bandits" are really frowned upon, it's apparently not a huge deal in OWS... or at least it isn't at little races like this one LOL!  So, the first place award was given to me.  

No results yet; Greenswell is famous for not posting until much later in the day or even not until a day or two after an event.  Plus, with my timing band falling off mid-way through the race, I'm not even sure I'll be listed or if my time will be accurate.  I did tell the man running the timing pad computer at the end what my race number was.  The clock read 28:02 when I exited, which if it is accurate, isn't too bad.  A 28:00 mile is 1:45/100 pace.  I'd hoped to go around 27:00, but I went a 29:02 for 1500 meters in the relay last year (1:56/100 pace), so this is definitely an improvement.  The way I look at it: every opportunity to swim in open water in a competition is a chance for me to figure things out a bit more.  I really want to be competitive in triathlons in the coming years... my body has told me that it's better for me to do multiple sports than solely focus on running.  Swimming is easy for me, yes, but swimming (training) in open water is totally different, and racing in open water is another story!  Unfortunately, there are not a lot of OWS races in Ohio.  I did find one in three weeks (options of a 2K-about 1.25 miles--or a 5K--just over 3 miles), but it's a good two-hour drive from here.  Just not sure I want to deal with that.  What I would love to do is the triathlon taking place about 30 minutes north of here in three weeks... but I am working super-hard to be smart.  And smart is not running right now.  I've been doing my PT exercises once or twice a day, and focusing on eating better as well.  I plan on trying to run again in the next day or two, to see how things are.  Hoping that this methodical approach to recovery will result in an injury-free fall/winter/spring etc.!

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