My friend Amelia and I teamed up to do one of the weekly Stroke-n-Stride races down at the Boulder Rez. They've been going on for years and I've never done one mostly because of the cost. I can swim with the masters group for 'free' (I have a yearly pass) then go for a run on my own so why pay? The fees are very reasonable-$20 if you sign up in advance. It's a bargain and Racing Underground do a great job of putting on a fun event but still, free is more of a bargain. Nonetheless I thought it would be fun to do it as a team and great practice for my open water tri's. Amelia's a super speedy runner and she also wanted to a get a hard practice in. It's easier to push yourself if you have a race and that's exactly the purpose of these races. There aren't awards for individual races but they do keep a tally of your points from all the races and most amount of points at the end of the season in each age group gets an award. So really these races are for training.
The other reason I've never bothered to do the Stroke-n-Stride is that it seemed so competitive. I've looked at the finish times and worried that I would be slogging away by myself at the back of the pack and it wouldn't be very fun. Lots of the uber competitive triathletes come out for these races to practice.
You have a choice of a 750 m/820.2 yard swim or 1500 m/1640.4 yard swim then the 5k run. Since my tri race swims will be 1000 m/1100 yards and 880 yards I decided to do the 750 m swim. I thought it would be fun to see how fast I could go for a short-ish swim and no bike and run afterwards.
The typical evening storms were starting to roll in and the skies at the other end of town looked downright ugly as I stood in the water waiting for the start. But thankfully there was no thunder or lightning and the race went on with just enough cloud cover to make sighting the buoys easy. I experimented with starting a little closer to the front but not in the heat of the pack. I normally start further back but I think I seed myself too far back because then I have to fight my way through the people doing breast stroke and I think that's worse than a few faster people passing me. The good news is I didn't feel the least bit afraid or nervous at the start and in fact was feeling pretty confident. When the race started I had to sight a little bit more than normal because more people were around me and I didn't want to run into someone or get kicked but I managed the crowd no problem other than some butt slapping. I wonder if there's any other sport where it's acceptable to slap a competitor on the ass? I couldn't find any feet to draft off of though. Every time I tried the person was too slow or swimming too erratically. I was able to focus on my stroke a bit and not worry so much about the people around me.
The last buoy was a bit tricky, somehow I wasn't sure at first if I was headed towards the right one and I think I drifted a bit off course. In order to motivate myself to go faster I picked out somebody to try to pass on the final stretch. For the longest time it seemed I just couldn't catch him but as we got towards shore I finally passed him. Ran across the beach to give the timing chip to Amelia and sort of wished I'd signed up for the longer race. It was done before I could blink.
I changed into my running shoes and did a short run in the dirt at the side of the official race course while I waited to cheer Amelia in. So many scary fast runners cruising past me. I kept waiting for the slower folks to come plodding along but they never did. I timed my run perfectly and Amelia came running for the finish just as I was nearly there myself.
I was kicking myself for not bringing my camera, rays of sun were poking through the dramatic cloud formations over the mountains. It looked like something out of a painting. Ah well, maybe next time.
Team Feat (a combination of our initials) came in 2nd out of 4 teams and 9th out of 113 overall (men and women). The 1st place team came in 2nd overall and was about 4 minutes ahead of us. Third place team came in 28th overall and was 4 minutes behind us.
I was 30/113 overall and would have been 1st in my age group by 1 minute, 21 secs. if they included the relay participants.
Amelia was 18th overall runner and also would have been 1st in her age group by 2 mins., 10 secs.
My time was 16:56 or 2:04/100 yards. I'm a little disappointed with this, I was sure I'd go below 2:00 but it's good feedback for what to expect for my races. Could be I went more off course than I realized. My time for the 800 m/875 yard swim portion of the Lory Xterra from last year was 17:44 or 1:55/100 yards. I suppose all of this depends on how accurate the course is measured and how closely I follow the course. I followed that Lory course very closely, it was a simple out and back. The Stroke-n-Stride course was more of a loop with the buoys further apart and only 3 of them for the whole course and thus harder to sight.
Overall a very fun race, great practice. There's only one more race for the season and it's too close to my tri but I think I'll have to try to do more of them next year. I can see the value now in practicing the swim in a race scenario plus it was fun.
DOCNA trial tomorrow. Only one day but 6 runs outside. Oh yes, and it's July so it'll be hot. I know, DUH, but I wanted to get in at least one day of trialing in this month lest our skills completely vaporize.