Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Sail Beneath My Wings

This weekend, my plan was to participate in the Cascade Lakes Open Water Swim at Elk Lake, an event that other obligations have always prevented me from taking part in the past.  This year looked to be no different ... I struggled for awhile with the decision whether to attend my high school reunion or swim at Elk Lake.  In the end, I elected to swim as those I was closest to were not able to attend the reunion.

I volunteered to bring bagels up on Saturday morning which come to find out, assured me an awesome parking space near the day use area where the races would take place.  I arrived early which allowed me time to take everything in and visit with my teammates as they began to arrive (they had all camped the night before and had walked over from Little Fawn Campground to the day use area).  As we talked race strategy and caught up with one another - I hadn't been able to swim since Monday so we hadn't talked in a while.  They were captivated by my story of calling 911 and the paramedics coming to my home the previous morning (my neighbors 13-month old had had a seizure in reaction to a high fever - apparently relatively normal for young children - and she had come to me in panic).  As a result, I had opted to stay home on Friday to help with her older children and allow her time to attend to her youngest. I thereby didn't swim on Friday as I had planned.

This picture shows the course for the 500m time trial ... each buoy was 25m apart.  From shore, they seemed much closer than they were once we were in the water.  I swam an easy 200m or so as a warm-up about 40 minutes prior to the start.  As our start times were seeded 20 seconds apart, I didn't begin until 31 minutes after the first swimmer.  Earlier in the week, I had purchased a rash guard but discovered the morning of the swim that because it had 1mm of neoprene, it constituted as a wetsuit. Coach said, "Hey! You might even be in contention for age group wins because of it!"  It was a little too large and since it was a shirt and not a full body suit, it created a lot of drag.  I noticed this right away and could feel the pull and the flap of the fabric all along the course.  
The 500m race began on shore just beneath the sign shown in the photo and upon the word 'go' each swimmer ran out approximately 20-25m before the water was deep enough to actually swim.  In doing so, I went out too fast.  By the time I had swam about 200m, I was out of breath.  I swam a few breast strokes and tried to find my comfort zone.  Having difficulty breathing brings upon a bit of a panic feeling and in turn breathing is difficult again - making it nearly impossible to recover.  I tried swimming a little backstroke as well after I had gone around the last buoy.

I was being passed left and right ... somehow my seed time was 8:25 for the 500m - I doubt I could swim that in the pool let alone open water.  I don't know how I got seeded so high.  My comfort level doesn't abate when I see my team mate pass me on the right, knowing she had started nearly 2 minutes behind me.  I'm not enjoying this.

Somehow or another, I manage to make it to shore.  With relief, I stood up as soon as my hands touched bottom in the down stroke.  I was upright ... I was running.  Relief!  I crossed the finish strong and recorded a 12:13 finish.  Because I was the only one in my age group wearing a wetsuit, I got first. All I could do was chuckle.

As I sat on shore contemplating the next swim ... the 1500m ... I knew I wasn't up to swimming 3x the distance with which I had already struggled. I opted to scratch and headed home to pack up for the evening - the plan now was to return to Little Fawn Campground - the kids would get to play with their friends and I'd get to visit with my girlfriend.  The following day, I would swim the last swim in the short series - the 1000m.  I don't give up easily.  I wanted to give it another go.  This time I would go out slower ... and sans wetsuit or rash guard.

This didn't work out either.  One thing after another ... plans were derailed. Cold night. Shivering.  Didn't sleep well.  Depressed. Blah blah blah.  Come Sunday morning, I didn't have it in me. 

1 comment:

  1. like all races its hard not to get caught up in the rush at the start. You really need some kind of cue to teach you what a proper starting pace feels like. You'd be surprised at how slow it feels at start time!


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