Sunday, August 3, 2008

Tour of the Buoys

This morning I competed in the highly anticipated La Jolla Cove Swim Club Tour of the Buoys 5 mile swimming race. My sister and I arrived to the shores at 7:30am, I got my race packet, found my kayaker, Buck, and an hour later, we were off. Beach start, running, dove in, saw a stingray in the sand, freaked out, kept swimming, passed the first buoy and settled into my groove. Buck found me easily thanks to my Wahoos bright green cap from my old college club team; good thing cause I wasn't going to look for him. The first leg of the race I was swimming with people, but after hitting the kelp beds and turning the first yellow buoy 14 minutes into the race, I was alone. The long back leg of the race started to bore me and I had to keep my head in the game. Getting used to swimming next to a kayak and learning how to keep the proper distance was also a challenge. I wasn't really sighting at all, so not having a forward marker made it difficult for me to keep straight. The next two buoys were the worst part of the race, as I couldn't even picture the map anymore and I didn't have any sense of direction. I drank some orange gatorade but that mixed with the salt water made it feel like I was drinking some sort of alcoholic drink...not so yummy. Lap 1: strong, but my left arm/shoulder/back was bothering me from primarily breathing on my right side so I yelled at Buck to switch sides so I could start breathing left and keep him in sight. Good plan.
Lap 2: primarily left side breathing to the kelp beds. I took 298 continuous stroke cycles (596 strokes) to that buoy. Time check. "1:09, ok, wow I can do this. keep up the tempo and you'll go under 2 hours. If nothing goes wrong. If. stop that, you feel good. now go." The long leg was about 450 cycles. My mind became consumed with counting and keeping that tempo. No stray thoughts, no singing, not even a little Dorry (Finding Nemo, "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming, what do we do? we swim, swim.") I was feeling confident. Starting the turn back to the shores my kick was picking up as was my tempo. I faltered a little bit in there, and had a couple gatorade gulps and even ate part of a Hammer gel with some water. It was time to get this race over with. I looked at my watch, 1:46. I needed to pick it up. 600 yards left? I have no idea where I'm at. My mind starts wandering, delusions start overcoming me.
"NO! SNAP OUT OF IT! Okay, back on track. Just keep using that core, and let your arms recover, and then be strong, recover, strong. Oh final buoy thank goodness. Yeah for the surf bringing me to shore. Alright, get ready to engage those legs, you don't want to fall in front of all these people. So, swim longer-kick! Look out for stingrays, swim till your hand hits the bottom twice. Now, stand. Be strong. Run. Look back; okay no one. Run."
I looked up at the clock as I entered the finish line chute, 1:55.blur! My arms went into the air and a huge smile came over my face. I saw my sister taking a picture. Immediately my thoughts went to food. I need food.
Pizza and salad and yes, a little more gatorade.
I won my age-group, took 4th in the women's division, and 12th overall. Not bad for my first open water swimming race.
Here's a shout out to my college roommate and soon to be bride, Katie: Good luck in your 10k lake swim coming up! May the force of the pink ladies be with you.
To retired Sioux Girls: I've never felt better.
(pictures and possible video to be added when I get them)
Here is the video link on youtube:
Thanks Buck!

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