In November, Greenswell (a local organization that puts on races) had a half-off special at around Thanksgiving. All of their 2016 races were 50% off. What a deal! I registered for the MingoMan Olympic distance triathlon that day, as well as for the 1-mile open water swim at the Central Ohio Multisport Festival.
This festival includes the Tri For Hope (my first triathlon last year!), a variety of distances for OWS, SUP (stand-up paddleboarding), as well as a mini, sprint and Olympic distance triathlon. Such a fun concept, a weekend of racing! With my anniversary on 6/26, I didn't want to commit to doing a triathlon on Sunday, so instead I chose to sign up for the 1-mile OWS. It was only $15, so I figured if my husband and I decided to skip town to celebrate (as we often do on our anniversary), I wouldn't be out too much.
We did skip town (five kid-free days in Lake Cumberland!), but with my daughter's early-morning swim meet, we needed to wait until lunch time on Saturday to head out. Her meet was also the reason I ended up transferring to the 2-mile swim. The meet was supposed to start at 9 AM, but the 1-mile swim was at 8:30... and the 2-mile at 7:00. I realized that if I transferred to the 2-mile race, I'd be able to see her compete. No brainer! Of course, two days before the meet, they announced that her swimming competition would actually start at 8:05 AM. I contemplated skipping out on my own race, but in the end decided that I'd get to see her swim at least one or two races if I hurried out to New Albany after my swim.
I showed up at 6:20 AM for the "packet" pick-up, greeted by this gorgeous sunrise. Have I mentioned how much I love swimming open-water at sunrise??
I say "packet"... but there was no packet at all, just a swim cap that we had to wear. Umm, okay. Again, I'm glad I only paid $15 for this race. No t-shirt, no bling... and I was surprised that it wasn't even chip-timed. I spent the half-hour prior to the race chatting with a few other swimmers. I knew Betsy from the 10,000-meter swim challenge that I did a couple of years ago. One introduced herself to me as Macy, and I immediately knew she was Macy Weber, who a few of my MIT-coach-buddies had referenced before as a super-stellar triathlete. Their friend Julie came over and Betsy started to joke with Julie about how she didn't even need a wetsuit, she was so fast. Hmm... so here I am, with three women who clearly were accomplished Ironman-finishers... not sure what I expected, doing a 2-mile OWS race. Who else does that distance, except for serious peeps?! Needless to say, I took a breath and told myself that place didn't matter in this race. It was a chance for me to get a PR distance, practice going around buoys (with a 0.5-mile course, I'd be doing 15 turns!), and also swim in a crowd.
The race started a minute or two after 7:00, with an unceremonious 3-2-1-GO! There were 20 of us in the water (7 females, 13 males--I didn't realize this till after we got the results, although it did seem overwhelmingly male-dominated at the start). As usual in an OWS, the start was a bit dicey. Lots of splashing, kicking, etc. I tried my best to find my own lane to swim in and avoid the flailing arms. In my previous OWS's, I have had trouble with anxiety and catching my breath in races. I wanted to avoid this, so I told myself to just swim nice and easy, like it was a training swim. And it worked! I didn't have any anxiety at all, yay!
The race went really well, I was pretty much by myself after the first 200 or so yards. I could see two people in front of me (a male, and then a female that I knew was Betsy), but other than that, I felt alone, which was fine with me! I focused on my sighting, taking the turns around the buoys as tightly as I could, and just staying relaxed. I was surprise how LONG the loops felt. As I was approaching the start/finish buoy for the third time, I sneaked a peek at my watch and was shocked to see that it said 1.77 miles. I had another loop to go, and we were almost at 2 miles already! I contemplated stopping at that point. Maybe I'd miscounted.... but I saw Betsy and the other swimmer continue on around the buoy so I kept going myself.
Pace-wise, I increased my effort for the 3rd and 4th loops. I need to figure out how to set my watch to give me splits at each half-mile so I can see how much faster I got. I thought that maybe, just maybe, I'd be able to catch one of the swimmers in my vision on that last loop, but realized as we headed down the final straightaway towards the finish that it wasn't going to happen, and I was just fine with that! I had no clue how many people were ahead of me--or behind me! I swam into the finish and walked shakily onto the beach.
Julie and Betsy were the only two females there, so I was quite proud of my 3rd place overall female finish, especially in the company of greatness! Julie ended up winning 1st overall female with a 1:02, and Betsy finished just ahead of me as I had thought. Macy finished about a minute after I did. Overall, I was 6th (so three men beat me as well). We spent about 5-10 minutes discussing the length of the course. Julie and Betsy hadn't worn watches, and Macy's never started. One male swimmer had 4000 yards on his Garmin, which is 2.27 miles. Another had 2.7 miles after just three loops--he'd stopped early upon seeing this! The race director didn't think the distance was as far off as we were all saying... whatever. My official final time was a 1:05:30, which was a 1:31 overall pace for 2.44 miles. This is definitely at the faster end of my training pace, and since I basically treated this as a training swim, I am pleased with it!