Saturday, May 28, 2011

Jim McDonnell Lake Swim

I realized today that this triathlon thing has become extremely addicting and all I did was an open water swim today. It's also expensive, much more expensive than running. Although, the expenses are more than worth it and I'm not struggling to pay for anything. I'll gladly pay the Ironman entry fees when I'm ready for one. I think I went a little overboard with buying things at first and didn't care what it costs but I've calmed down and I'm planning out my purchases.

This morning I went to the Jim McDonnell Lake Swim in Reston, VA, put on by Reston Masters Swimming, at Lake Audubon. Today was the swim clinic and one mile practice swim. At the time I signed up I wasn't sure about my ability to swim a mile in open water so, I opted for only the practice swim. There are 1 and 2 mile races tomorrow. After the way the swim last weekend in the Hilton Head Triathlon (still waiting on pictures before I make the post) and the way the practice swim went today, I'm kicking myself for not signing up for at least the 1 mile swim.
It's a gorgeous lake which sits in a neighborhood in the DC suburbs. I had no idea there was a lake with houses on it that you can "boat in" this close to DC. Notice my shadow in the picture. If you click on the picture you can probably see a couple of the buoys. The turn is much to far out to be able to see.

The swim clinic was a good brush up on things I learned recently. It was also amazing to hear the races the clinic presenters have done. One of them finished first in a 24 MILE swim, yes TWENTY FOUR MILES. I have no idea how fast this guy swims but since the best 10K swim is completed in just over 2 hours, I'm going to assume 25 minutes a mile. That comes out to 10 hours of swimming! When I started swimming in January I had doubts about being able to make 800 meters so, I suppose anything is possible.

The course layout isn't very complicated, it's basically a modified oval with a dogleg right. It's also fun swimming in places that are marked no swimming. I'm still on the fence about swimming in the Potomac in a few weeks.

After the clinic I wetsuited up!...can you really not love How I Met Your Mother? Then went to stand in line. I was surprised about how concerned they are for your safety compared to a triathlon. They wouldn't let each of the swim waves into the water until they made sure everyone was accounted for. They also verified you were out of the water by making you turn in your bib number which was folded and stuffed in your swim cap. I suppose in triathlons they have the timing chip but who knows how well they keep track. While waiting I was talking with a gentleman who said he always likes to see big weightlifters, like myself, at these events. He was a decently big guy but said he stopped lifting weights a few years ago. I told him I'm just working on maintenance right now since endurance events are hard enough for me as it is and the added muscle mass would only make things worse.

The practice swim wasn't timed but the first swim wave entered the water at 10am at the earliest. I was in the 6th wave so I figured I started at 10:06-10:08. I don't have a waterproof watch so I didn't have my own time. Before we got in the water it was obvious people were nervous because of what they were saying. Over half the crowd at the clinic had never done an OWS. I got into the water and everyone kept saying the were going to start towards the back so, I decided to start up front since I felt 900% more comfortable in open water this time. Then we were off. The dogleg is only about 150 yards away so I figured I would try and stay as close to shore as possible. This wasn't a bad idea since I had a good rhythm going, the wave was small and no one was bumping into me. My swimming lines were horrible the majority of the race, around the first turn I felt a rock with my hand and was swimming towards a docked boat after the first turn. I started trying to sight more often but, I don't think it helped enough.

After coming back from the dogleg I started passing some people who had a better line to the first turn buoy. I managed to freestyle the whole time except for using breaststroke to change directions. It was difficult to sight since the next turn buoys were far away. There are two buoys in the bottom left of the picture, I was swimming towards the one closest to the corner. Luckily I don't think I was that far off from a straight line but, I'd still love to see what my swim line looks like on GPS. Hopefully, I can buy a a waterproof Garmin before the DC Tri. It was smooth sailing the rest of the way and I had a great rhythm going. I did drift off to the right on the long straightaway but, I realized all I needed to do was stay out of the shadows of the trees. This was easy since it was darker underwater in the shadows. Oh, my swim cap also felt like it was coming off at a couple points so, I did a deadmans float while I fixed it...probably not the best idea. Hopefully I didn't freak the kayakers out. We rounded a giant drain and headed back to the boat launch. I picked up my pace considerably after the drain for the last hundred yards or so.
I got out of the water and asked the woman collecting numbers what time it was, she said it was 10:43. Not bad I thought, given the 6-8 minutes after the first wave, I swam the mile in 35-38 minutes. I'm pretty pleased since I was expecting 40 minutes. If you factor in my horrible lines, it was more than a mile.

I went and threw my swim cap in my bag, pulled my wetsuit halfway off and went to watch the rest of the bunch swim. I'm guessing I finished towards the front of my wave, #s 126-150, since a lot of the people coming out of the water had these numbers. I also saw a good number of people from the 5th wave and one from the 4th come out of the water after me. I was very pleased with the swim and also upset I'm not swimming tomorrow. It's funny, there is a 50 minute time limit for the 1 mile swim tomorrow and the director said this should be more than enough time. However, for a 750 meter tri swim we had over an hour.

When the swim was almost over I felt fine and wouldn't have had any problems swimming farther. I'm confident I can do a half iron I just need to worry about the biking and running after the swim.

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