Lake Erie 2 Mile Open Water Swim

Yeah so in case any one's forgotten or didn't hear I'm doing this little series this year called The Beast. Funny how the idea sounded so great in January during the middle of winter when these crazy ass endurance events were months away. "Sure I'll be able to do 8 of these, I'll have plenty of time to get in some swims, and get my bike mileage up, oh yeah while I am simultaneously trying to almost double last years run mileage..." Hmm thinking logically isn't always my strong suit. So yeah considering I can count on one hand the number of times I swam in the last three months, and that the longest bike ride I have done all year was 18 miles in a Duathlon, I woke up this morning quite a bit overwhelmed by the two events staring me in the face this weekend. (Oh and just to make sure I really am stretching myself thin I am also headed out to mark 5 miles of the burning rive course this afternoon. No worries I am sure that won't play a factor in the century ride I have to do tomorrow) :) WHAT WAS I THINKING???

So yeah this morning I was a nervous ball of energy. I wasn't sure if I was going to spontaneously combust, throw up, piss myself, or some combination of the above. I have never swam more than 1.2 miles in open water, and that experience is not one I remember fondly. (Longest Swim of my life I was so ready to be out of that water!) And oh yeah I was completely prepared for that having swam 2-3 times a week and got to wear a wetsuit to boot :)

Chatted up a bunch of my CTC friends as we watched them haul out the buoys for what was supposed to be an equilateral triangle based on the nice drawing they provided. Well we proceeded to watch as those buoys floated further and further east turning the course into an obtuse triangle. Not very good for the morale let me tell you! Oh and for the 2 mile you had to swim that thing twice, so if they didn't mark this thing accurately that was going to mean double the extra! Before we knew it it was time to get our asses in the water. We had to swim out a good 100 yards or so to get to the start buoy. My ankle chip holder felt loose (I have tiny ass ankles and the inside flap always seems to get loose since it isn't velcroed to anything) I was getting ready to adjust it when the horn went off signaling for us to start. Shit, forget the chip and get on your way!

I just wanted to swim comfortably. I knew I was in for a minimum of 60 minutes in the lake which seems like an eternity out there usually, so I relaxed and calmly made my way to the first buoy (the only one that seemed like a reasonable distance away) I was convinced I would be zig zagging all over the place with the long stretch between the 2nd and third buoys. But once we started I felt fine and actually really comfortable. I didn't push the pace, I just swam comfortably and sighted every so often, surprised that I was swimming in relatively straight lines.

A bit of confusion at the second buoy. In order to keep it from floating away they tied it to a sail boat. I intended to go around the boat but the closer I got I could see the boat was spinning and getting broadsided by a sail boat seemed like a bad idea to me so I swam to the buoy and slapped it then headed to shore. That third leg seemed a lot farther than it looked. Your depth perception gets all screwy out there. By this time I had gotten passed by a few swimmers from the one miles waves which started 5 and 10 minutes behind us. Man I would have a good deal of work ahead of me if this was my sport! But I had passed a few green caps from the wave before us and despite feeling like I was last I knew there were at least a couple of caps from my wave behind me.

Rounded the starting point and decided to glance at the watch. 31 minutes. Pretty pleased with that and figure at that point that despite the buoys obviously not ending up where they intended the course was legit. I had been swimming behind the same guy for most of the race and if I was a smarter gal I would have tucked in behind him to draft but I was content to swim at my own pace and not risk ramming into anyone. And as it turns out when we rounded the first buoy he looked like he was headed to Canada so I am glad I didn't follow him :)

Second time I almost reach the boat and I am looking to try and see if any swimmers are going around but I don't see any so I decide to slap the buoy again. A minute or so before I reach the buoy I hear engine in the water zipping around. Look up to see three jet skis racing right through the swim course. Freaked me the hell out. Certainly not how I want to go, ripped apart by Jet Skis? Not in the top ten most peaceful ways to die that is for sure. I had decided to push the pace from the boat til the end in hopes to even split the race so between upping the effort and freaking out about the jet skis I think my heart rate got pretty high. Definitely was sighting way more than needed this stretch because I was terrified of getting taken out by one of the jet skis.

Thankfully they ended up over to the west and away from the racers so I was able to focus on the next two caps ahead of me and push myself to try and catch them by the finish. I passed the green cap relatively easily but it was coming down to the wire with the pink cap ahead of me, I swam a bit to her right directly towards the finish chute and figured if I could get to the shallows before her I could out sprint her on foot to the finish. Unfortunately she spotted me and realized we were in the shallows before I did and got a few seconds head jump on me and I reacted two steps too late, running through the chute just behind her at 1:04:20something. We laughed and I thanked her for pushing me the last stretch, I know she was glad she saw me coming, girl was hauling ass when she got on her feet! Bridget said most of the other swimmers walked out of the water to the finish :)

So I am happy to be alive, and very grateful to know that I can swim 2 miles in open water without wearing myself out. Got my ass handed to me by those serious USMS swimmers, but not such a bad time considering the lack of training and no wetsuit. I'm very happy with the morning. Now if only I felt more confident about that century ride tomorrow! I can fake a 2 mile swim effort sans training but I have serious doubts about how I will fare tomorrow.

Now I am off to mark the burning river course!


Backofpack said...

Wow, that's awesome. And scary, swimming that far is hard enough without jet skis whipping through! Congrats on pulling it together - hope the rest of the weekend goes just as well.

DaisyDuc said...

Girl you are seriously just a naturally decent swimmer! You BEAST!! heehee! Don't worry about tomorrow, it is going to be a blast!

Brian said...

I'm jealous. I wanted to swim that this am. But 1 day out is my family limit.

Ryanaldo said...

if you ever get too tired swimming just float on your back. it is easier that way.

Matt Collister said...

That was fun. Something a little different. Something was in the water, though, and it plugged up my sinuses the rest of the day. Happens sometimes, in Lake Erie.

I guess swimming in the Lake could have much worse consequences!

ramblings of a runnner said...

nice job on saturday! i've got some good pics - hopefully steve will be sending them to you soon!

Anonymous said...

liz, brian here. swimming simply demands that you swim often. congrats !