Monday, October 3, 2011

1Oct11 - Slam the Dam

Got up early with my dad and drove to the start of the race.  As I was getting my packet, I was greeted with the good news that the race may not even happen.  There was a storm coming and they weren't sure if it was going to go over the lake or not.  I looked out and sure enough, you could see flashes of lightning in the sky about 20 miles away.  We were on a sit and wait.  I unloaded everything anyway and prepared while hoping for the best.  We were told that the storm is moving in another direction but the wind will still be a factor.  The race director was asking if anyone wanted to change their race to the shorter one.  I think she was hoping we all would volunteer for this but there was not a chance in hell that was going to happen.  She told us to expect 7-10 MPH winds and a strong current going against us.  I just looked at my dad (Who has never paddled much before and never for a swimmer) and said, "looks like it's going to be an adventure"!
I did tell him that if he gets freaked out or has a real hard time handling the kayak, to let me know and we could bail.
We started the walk down toward the start.  On the website and emails we got, it stated 1/4 mile hike.  This is from point to point and not counting the several switchbacks that make the actual walking hike about 1/2 mile.  This was on sharp rocks and not fun at all.  I wasn't wearing shoes....lesson learned!
A good number of people were already in the water as I was getting in and greased up.  As soon as I said good luck to my dad, they started the race!  I looked back and there were people still walking down the hill carrying their kayaks!  BAD START!!!
I got going and took it kind of easy heading out expecting to be needing my energy for the "tough swim" once we rounded the bend.  There was nothing but nice calm water and gentle winds.  PERFECT day for a swim!
I got in a good rhythm and started to pick up my pace a bit.  I kept going a bit faster and faster as time went on.  I got to a point where I started to know that I was putting forth some real effort in my stroke.  This is where I normally back off a bit scared that I'll bonk during training and not finish the swim.  I decided to keep pushing it.  I figured, "Screw it, if I bonk, I bonk.  Lets just see what happens.  If I do burn out, I'll just swim super slow to the finish then not do the extra mile.  I have nothing to lose here".
This seemed to work so I got in a pattern of stroke counting.  I would do 100 strokes strong then 50 with a good pull but not as strong.  I was REALLY focused on my stroke technique and it was paying off.  I started catching and passing a lot of people.  I then caught up with my friend Scott Kunz who was paddling for his wife while she swam.  She swims about the same speed as me.  I started to pass her when she picked it up.  I wanted to drop her so I went faster, she kept with me.  For the next mile, we were side by side and taking turns trying to drop each other.  I don't know what our mile time was, but I know that both my dad and Scott were commenting that we were flying!  I was getting tired but kept at it anyway.  I stopped for hydration and she got ahead of me.  I was never able to close that gap again even though I got really close at the end.
At about 6k the wind picked up and the chop increased,  It was still barely anything but we were swimming against the current more now.  I skipped my last drink break to only take a quick sip.  I wanted to keep hammering away so my stop was under 5 seconds.
I finished strong and when I got out, I only had a few minutes until the start of the extra 1.2 mile swim.  I saw Josh and he looked uncomfortable and not that excited to get back in.  I soon felt the same way as I felt my shoulders starting to get tight.  With 3 minutes until the start, my shoulders were really tight and I was probably making the same "I would rather be done now" face that Josh was making.  We finally started and within 5 strokes, I knew that this would be a tough mile. 
First off, I was getting beat up.  I haven't done a mass start with that many people in a long time so I wasn't as used to it as I used to be.  I swam over people, got swam over, hit people, got hit, I got groped MANY times, and I even got a few handfulls of rear myself.  I even jokingly apologized to my wife because as I was taking a stroke and keeping my arm extended, a woman came right across me and I got some side boob action!  Mass starts are not my thing anymore.
I really don't like to draft but I really had no choice for awhile.  Got out of the first buoy turn and tried to swim on my own,  I was still surrounded.  There were just SO many people around.  I just decided to live with it until an opportunity comes up where I can be alone, or at least not directly behind someone.  I got to about 1/3 of the last part and I knew I was in trouble.  My shoulders were as tight as steel and no sign of them letting up.  My energy level was also in the toilet.  I had bonked!  The nice thing was that I did not care at all.  I was so happy with how well I did the first 8k that I did not care.  If I had not stopped, I would have still been able to swim strong for several more miles.  I took my sweet time coming back in.  I was greeted by my wife, kids, dad, and 2 sisters.  It is always an extra special finish when you have family there.  I got my goodies then headed to the hotel.  I had a difficult time getting undressed and stood in the hot shower for a nice long time.  I then napped with college football on as my wife was out shopping or doing w/e...I didn't care, I was asleep!
My dad did a fantastic job paddling for me.  I did have to keep asking him every 20 min or so to stop getting so far ahead of me.  The feedings were fast and effecient.  With a bit more practice, he can be a great support paddler. 
It was great having my family there to cheer for me as I finished.  It was a good swim overall and I'm very satisfied with my results for the final swim race of the year. 
I'm going to take a few weeks off to recharge and get myself motivated for next season.  I just want a break.
Pictures to come
10k swim done!!