I got up at 4:30 this morning so I could be in Noblesville by 6 to get ready for the race. It was dark almost all the way there, but by the time I hit the beach the sun was on the way up. It was very pretty. I’m not a morning guy so this whole watching the sun rise thing is a little out of the ordinary for me.
I met up with some friends on the beach and we all kind of gave each other the wow-we’re-really-going-to-do-this look. I think most swimmers that are moderately serious could do an open water 10k, but regardless it’s still a pretty reasonably serious undertaking. After lathering my noggin in sunscreen (they Ok’ed swimming capless, hooray!) and applying some swim lubricants I got in the water a little early just to get a feel for the water temperature and talk with some of the people out there floating around. It was like 85ish in the water, with visibility that didn’t extend much past your elbow with your arm outstretched. Luckily the sun wouldn’t be in full effect for awhile, but I was dreading the accompanying heat that would come with it’s arrival. I don’t know how hot it got during the swim, but the thermometer in my car was over 90 by the time I left the lake. It’s fair to say that I felt cooked to about medium well by the time I was done.
The race had 3 heats. 1 and 2 were for 10k-ers and heat 3 was for the people doing the 5k or the 10k relay. I was in the second, slower wave which is good because I wasn’t particularly speedy today. I’ve learned my lesson about how fast I can actually go when warm water is involved and seeded myself appropriately. The start was pretty civil and I only ran into one person a few seconds into the race and it was just barely. We exchanged brief apologies since neither of us really knew whose fault it was anyways and then I proceeded to spend about 94% of the rest of the race swimming pretty much by myself. Within the first 1000m we spread out quite a bit and I never really spent any time in a pack.
Heat 1′s start
Sighting on this course was really hard for me. With all the sunshine that was rising up over the water and the buoys being really far apart I just couldn’t see them. Maybe I need to investigate prescription goggles, I have this problem way too often. The day before one of my friends described a swim she did as an easter egg hunt for little green buoys. Since this race was marked off with fat little orange bouys I kept thinking about one of my favorite Swedish words for this one… pumpajakt. It basically translates to Pumpkin Hunt. I found all my little pumpkins, but it wasn’t always easy. Luckily I did the boat tour the day before so I had a decent feel for what the course should be like, but it did stress me out a little to not be able to see where I was supposed to be going. Occasionally I would be able to see other swimmers and sight off of them, but as the race went on and we spread out that became less and less of an option.
My first length out to the 2500m mark was pretty rough. I wasn’t feeling so good and my stomach was really upset. I don’t know what set it off by I was cramping a bit and having a hard time finding a comfortable rhythm. I was really hoping this would subside since I had no desire to not finish a swim I had flow half way across the country for! After a little break at the supply boat for some water I started to feel better and able to just focus on my swimming. From here to the 5k mark was pretty much a blur. I hit 5k around 1:34 which was a lot slower than I was anticipating. I was thinking 1:25ish would be about right for me…. apparently not. I figured it was no big deal though since this swim was about completion not necessarily speed. I can worry about going faster at the next 10k whenever that may be.
At the 5k marker they had a boat with water and special needs bags if you had one. I passed on having a bag because I carried some gu packets on my person, but I really should have put some Gatorade or something up there. Water was good, but some sports drink would have been waaay better. Lesson learned. While I was there I saw my buddy Sully who managed to make it out to the race at the last minute. It was his first 10k as well and he was doing really good. We chatted a little bit while eating up some gu packets and then he took off for the second lap of his swim. I proceeded to have a sneezing fit. I don’t know what it is about fresh water lakes but I sneeze like crazy once I’m done swimming. Once I was done spazzing out I got back to business as well. I dolphin kicked underwater for about as long as I could stand it in an attempt to find some colder water (no such luck) and then got back to swimming.
I felt pretty good on this length. I was a little more confident on where I was going and spent a lot more time with my head down swimming without sighting so often. It was nice to take that stress off my neck for a while. As I started to fatigue a bit I made some variations to my stroke technique and pattern. Normally I just breath to the right side almost every stroke, but I spent a fair amount of time breathing left and occasionally switched to bilaterally breathing every 3 strokes. Little things like this were enough to change the dynamic of the stress on and in my shoulders and give them a little reprieve from the repetition of doing the same exact thing for hours.
At the 75oom mark I stopped at the boat for a little bit and ate the other gu packet in my suit along with some water. The volunteers on each boat were all really great. Friendly and positive… after all that time swimming by yourself it was nice to hear someone talking besides the voice in your head, and even better that they were telling you that you’re looking good and doing a good job!
Admittedly I started falling apart a bit in the last 2500m. I mixed in some backstroke to use some different muscles and I even did a little bit of butterfly just to move my shoulders in a new direction for a little bit. No matter what I did though I was dragging through the water. I could have really used some kind of electrolyte drink around this time I think. I was getting so hot and worried that dehydration would take me down despite taking in a bottle of water at each turn. As I got closer and closer to the finish I got more excited about the end but I couldn’t really get any faster. I had settled into a speed and that was all I had in me. As I neared the finish chute a few of us started to bunch up a little bit, this was the first time I’d been around other swimmers, that I could see anyways, in quite a while. I crossed the finish line at 3:23… not exactly the time I was looking for, but again I can’t complain. My pre race guess was 3:10, but when you factor in 3 stops to eat/drink I guess I wasn’t too far off of that.
Once I was done I floated over to shallow water where I could stand up and contemplated what had just happened. I just finished 6.2 miles in water under my own power… wow. The swim today confirmed two things for me… 1. I want to continue doing bigger and bigger swims, I enjoy the sense of completion involved in it. 2. I have lots of work to do to get there! Oh and if/when I ever do a majorly long swim it’s going to be in COLD WATER!!! This 80+ degree water thing is not doing me any favors. I’m excited to do some California swims in the next month, I should be much more comfortable in the Pacific than these hot inland lakes.
After the race we did awards and they had laid out some food for lunch. I nibbled at some stuff and drank whatever I could get my hands on. I was cooked and really needed the fluids. I managed to get a medal by default… 10th out of 10! Look out! I decided to look at it like this… I outlasted everyone in my age group :)
Once the awards portion was done my next priority was food! I saw a White Castle on the way into the race and during the swim I had determined this would be the perfect post swim food. The nutritional validity of that statement is questionable, the the deliciousity of my lunch was off the charts. I devoured a big pile of sliders, it was magical. From there I hit the grocery store for some more water, Gatorade, some snacks and I may have accidentally picked up a couple beers too… I figured I deserved an adult beverage after that swim! I’m in Indianapolis until tomorrow afternoon and then flying home all evening. The only undetermined part of my weekend from here is whether I actually do something with my remaining time here in Indiana or just sleep off my 10k… it could go either way right now.