In all honesty I could have rolled over in bed and forgot all about it. This past week of recovery was long and annoying and unproductive on many fronts and filled with fatigue and twitchy legs and a screamingly painful calf cramp in the middle of the night and more fatigue and ennui. But 2 weeks ago before my Xterra I convinced a masters swimming friend to do the race. She was disappointed that the Bare Bones swim was cancelled so I told her about this one, that I did it last year and it was chip timed and really well organized and that I had had a lot of fun. We've been swimming together at masters, pacing each other, and we'd agreed to swim together at the Bare Bones so when that fell through we agreed to swim together at this race.
However this week was not so great and as race day approached I was not feeling the love. So tired. So uninterested. I swam twice at the Rez and once at masters already during the week because swimming has turned out to be excellent for recovery. Swimming was about all I felt like doing all week. But Jonny convinced me to go on a quick 1 hour trail ride up at Betasso on Friday night and this lifted my spirits a lot. Not enough to greet the 5:45 alarm with enthusiasm but enough to at least get me grumpily out of bed.
But once I get to the Rez and see the beautiful sunrise I feel a lot better and I'm ready to race. I start out in my sleeveless wetsuit then decide to change to the full. I was a little warm during the race but not too bad and I was glad for it while waiting for the race to start. Air temp. is probably 65-66 but the sun is behind some clouds and there is a little breeze while we wait for the race to start. Water temp. is supposedly 69 degrees but it feels more like low 70's. The thin cloud cover burns off while we're swimming and I'm plenty warm but not warm enough that I'm overheating.
The race is supposed to be chip timed and I didn't even notice that they didn't give me a chip when I checked in. I meet up with my friend and she points it out. I don't bring a watch because I couldn't find my old watch and don't want to risk ruining my new one in the water. And I think who needs it with the chip timing?
My goal for the race is a pace of 1:50-1:55/100 yards. This is the pace I hope to have a Nationals and today I want to see what it feels like. Last year my pace was 2:05/100 yards which was slow for me back then but I was recovering from Xterra Lory the weekend before. This year I'm recovering from Xterra Buffalo Creek, a much longer race, the weekend before so I'm not sure how ambitious this goal is. The plan is to get a long warm up in so I can start on the fast side but it turns out I'm only able to get a shortish warm-up in and then there's a lot of standing around before the start so I'm not very warmed up at the start.
There's a 2.4 mile distance and a 1.2 mile distance and they let the 2.4 milers go 5 minutes before us 1.2 milers. The course is one big 1.2 mile loop. Because there's no chip timing it's a mass start and there are 82 people in my group, not a lot at all for a mass start. Nationals will have over 200. Nonetheless we start near the back. Neither of us is itching to get kicked in the head at a practice race with our big goal races coming up. I count off about 35 seconds from when the starting horn blows to when we start swimming. I do it so I can subtract it off at the end and figure out my swimming pace which is the purpose of the race.
We start off together and are able to swim side by side for a while. The crowd is not big at all and it's spread out so much that I hardly have to dodge anybody at the start. I start off on the slower side, letting my heart rate work it's way up. After a couple few minutes I pick up the pace and I feel fine. About a third of the way through the race I lose track of my friend and I figure she's drafting behind me. I keep my focus on the pace since I want to push the pace for both of us. About half way through I find myself starting to close the gap on some people so I pick up the pace and soon I'm passing people left and right. I continue to pass them all the way to the finish and as I come up to the finish line I'm neck and neck with someone. The water becomes too shallow to swim and I charge through on foot to the finish arch. It seems almost every race someone beats me by a second or two at the swim exit and I'm determined to be first of the pack this time. And for once I finally am. Feels good to have a strong finish.
My friend is not behind me so I hang out at the finish to cheer her in. She comes in about 4 minutes behind me and she's mad. She missed a buoy and swam a good distance before a kayaker sent her back to the buoy she missed. She had been on my feet most of the way but got turned around in a clot of people at the turn buoy. Then to top it off she cuts her toe on some glass and it's a pretty deep gash. And of course all the sand clumps in the wound. It takes me a while but I finally locate the ambulance/medics and it's a good 1/4-1/2 mile from the beach. She rinses the wound out with her water bottle and I walk her to her car. She insists she can drive so I let her go. Thankfully she's o.k., no stitches but she does end up going to Urgent Care. $300 to clean a wound. I was horrified. But she's worried about infection and doesn't want to miss the race she's trained for all summer so I don't blame her.
My final time is 36:59 (gun time) or 36:24 if I subtract the 35 seconds that I lost due to waiting to start near the end. This is a pace of 1:43/100 yards and over 7 minutes faster than last year's time! I can hardly believe it, this is probably the fastest pace I've ever swum in a race this distance and while still in recovery mode. So happy I hauled my butt out of bed this a.m. It was a hard effort to be sure, probably harder than what I want to exert during Nationals but it tells me that a pace of 1:50/100 yards is totally realistic.
Water temp. approx. 70-71 degrees, air temp. mid to upper 60's
1.2 miles/2112 yards
36:59 gun time, 36:24 swimming time (1:43/100 yards pace) [44:05 (2:05/100 yards pace) last year]
3/10 Age Group