Monday, July 26, 2010

Race Report: Peaks to Portland 2010

This is our life happening ... and it is happening right now. - Michael Chabon

That is my main reason I like doing open water races.
In those moments of the race, I live fully in the present.
Painful or exhilarating, I and everyone in that race, is right there.

Honestly I was feeling a bit complacent about this race, for many reasons, the biggest of which was that Kathy was unable to swim. She's been out for the majority of the summer with a back injury. It just hasn't been the same to train without her. I was, and am, feeling sad about this.
Kathy and I at the finish.

However in balance of this, our group had well over 20 swimmers join the 192 that completed the race, many of whom swam for the first time.

Julie taking a moment.

Peter, Claire and Bowen.

The morning was foggy and as we headed over on the ferry Peaks couldn't be seen. Even as the race started, Portland was not visible through the fog.

The start was modified several times in the days before the race. The final iteration turned out to be a good one. Four waves of 50 swimmers spaced by 3 minutes staggered by speed, fastest wave first. We had lots of room and I didn't get clobbered by any other swimmers. There was lots of space for at least 500 yards, almost the entirety I spent swimming arm for arm with Peter. Thanks dude! And then the kayaks closed in on us. I had to yell to one who crossed immediately in front of me. But he kept going. My arm hit the front end of his boat and I had to yell back at him "Don't cross the swimmers!" Someone later said I should have dunked the front end of this boat.

Karen my kayaker found me shortly after this just when I was starting to wonder, quite calmly I might add, if I would be swimming the rest of the race unescorted. She was great -- cheering, encouraging and rallying me on to the finish. Note the distinctive hat!

My arms hurt for much of the race. In retrospect I think my suit was too tight -- too new still. However I experienced none of the leg cramping that I have in past years so the change in training and pre-race nutrition seems to be working.

The water was cold, much colder than it has been at Crescent Beach. I don't know if this is just subjective or if it truly was colder. Even though I forgot my hoodie, the two caps I wore were just right to keep me warm enough.

We took a straighter route to the beach this year. I didn't feel any push of the tide and I'm not sure of whether this is due to the route we took or the timing of the tide. Most people I talked also didn't feel any push so I think it is the latter.

I had one guy (without a kayak) who trailed me for nearly the entire race. I have to say I admire his stamina. He looked like he was working quite hard keeping up a rapid cadence. Just as we entered the boats I stretched out my stroke and picked up my kick and was able to shake him loose finally.

Final stats: 2nd AG, 7th woman (7/78) and 36th OA.
Time: 53:38

Suggestions for next year:
Have the kayaks line up in numerical order: odd number one side, even number the other. This way it should correspond to the speed of the swimmers and reduce the chaos.

Can we please have water and gatorade through the awards ceremony?

Love the award towels!! Much better than a plaque.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Good bye to B70 Vision goggles

Nothing sucks more than a pair of googles that have lost their suck.

Both pairs of my BlueSeventy Vision googles have failed. At first I thought it was that my original pair was a size large. Nope. They worked fine for Chesapeake (thank goodness) but failed about a week afterwards and completely ruined what otherwise would have been a gorgeous beginning of summer swim in the lake. So I ordered a new pair of size small. The suck was gone after 2 weeks.
I have returned both pairs to Swim Outlet courtesy of their 60 day return policy.

Now, sadly, again I need a new pair of googles.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Feed the need

Tomorrow is a big training swim. See it started out with just trying to get together a few folks to swim to a local island for fun and as a practice run for the Peaks race next weekend. It has blossomed to over 20 swimmers of all speeds. I'm very excited. The water temperature is exceptionally warm for this time of year 63-68 degrees -- which for Maine is downright balmy.

It's been a relaxing week of vacation, fun swims and yes some surfing. I had no idea how fun surfing is. I'm definitely hooked. As I was out waiting to "catch a wave" I realized how much I love to be in the ocean. I love the feel of it on my feet as they hang off the board or as I float on my back in my wetsuit. I love swimming through the patches of seaweed. I love the adrenaline rush of seeing a fish swim beneath me or a school of small silvers jump out of the water in the sparkling sunshine. I love finding seaglass. I love the smell of seaweed and low tide. In general it's just a very very good time of year for me!

Last weekend was the Norway Triathlon -- a fun chance to try my hand at triathlon without really training -- ha ha! Indeed it was refreshing to try something new. The water was too warm for wetsuits which made it more exciting than the typical swim. That and the fact that I was swimming with Ange, a very tough competitor and dear friend, who definitely had her game face on that morning! We ended up 1-2 for women in the swim with her enjoying the limelight and running out first. Go Ange!

[break for fireworks going off in front of lighthouse with surf crashing and fog horn blowing-god I love living in Maine]

The bike was relaxing. I know I know its not supposed to be relaxing but I let it be. My chain did fall off at the half-way point but I managed to quickly get it on. Luckily I was off the bike just in time - it started to pour - pour as in torrential downpour followed by showers followed by torrential downpour. Exciting finish. Judging by the number of women in my age group who passed me in the last half mile, I could place a lot better if I just upped my game in the bike or run.

Final stats:
Swim 11.3 (3) Bike 50:34.8(101) Run 32:02.1(100) Final 1:33:48

22/68 women overall
6/14 women 40-44
3/137 swim
101/137 bike
100/137 run
72/137 OA

thus proving the point that swimmers don't always make the best triathletes --ha ha! -- and also that sometimes its just fun because it is fun.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ocean reaches temperate conditions

It always happens like this. It is freezing. Limb numbing freezing. I swim on the verge of early stages hypothermia donning 2 caps and a hoodie. And then all of a sudden it is gorgeous. This happened Monday. The first 6 inches all of a sudden felt good, comfortable, dare I say warm-ish. Below that of course was still a bit chilly but I hardly reached that depth anyways.

Buoy 44007 is reading 63. It is definitely not that warm at Crescent Beach.
Buoy CASM1 is reading 59. That sounds more likely.
But how can it be 4 degrees warmer out in the middle of the bay compared to right on Portland Harbor? Is there an oceanographer out there to explain?

It has also reached sweltering temperatures in Maine this week the likes of which I don't remember since 2002. 95 degrees.

Here's a refresher. Put it all in a blender.
1 cup cold green tea
1/2 cup 100% fruit juice
1/2 frozen banana
2 T coconut
1/2 c. pineapple chunks
1 T yogurt
1/2 scoop protein powder

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Swimming in the rain

Summer has arrived. I've enjoyed several swims at Kettle Cove and even swum in the pouring rain. Gary has been my faithful swim buddy - which I am so so grateful for. Not many people would swim in the rain. Actually no one else except for Kathy. How I miss her! She's due back this week and I'm praying her back will be better and she can get in and swim!

The ocean temp has been reading 57-60 on the buoy but in reality it has varied between ^&^%*( cold and just cold. I find that my two caps and hoodie are still required and every swim I exit with my right pinkie immobilized by the cold. Nevertheless my last swim at Crescent Beach allowed me a glimpse of some gorgeous orange, green and white coral and seaweed on the rocks as we swam over. I followed lines from lobster trap to lobster trap on the bottom of the ocean and saw dozens of baby crabs.

Peaks is coming up in a few weeks. And I've got the Norway Tri this coming weekend. Proud to say I've gotten in two runs and well....ahhem... no bike rides yet. Hoping for tomorrow. The weather will be good so no excuses for me.

I am contemplating swimming the Gloucester 1.2 Save the Bay swim on August 21st as well as the Rockland Breakwater 1.6 swim on August 28th. So many races and not enough time during these short Maine summers.

But overall I just feel fortunate to be able to do all this fun swimming. To have the time, the ability and the means.