Sunday, June 14, 2009

Race report - Park to Park Swim (2009)

Well, first of all I must just say that I awfully enjoyed it - I feel open-water swimming is my true metier, and of all the different components of triathlon the one that really suits me the best. I love running, but swimming in open water is playful and unpredictable in a way that is more like how training runs feel to me than road races (that said, I think I should be doing more of my running on trails and more of my run races in smaller races, because it would be more like this).

But it was not at all what I expected! That is the lesson, I suppose, of open-water swimming - I hope there were not too many newer or less fit swimmers in utter horror at how the race actually played out...

I had made a rash move which I will not repeat - non-negotiatiable social obligation c. 3pm in midtown which seemed tightish, timing-wise, but should have been perfectly doable. The race start was 11:45, and the time limit (i.e. time after which slower swimmers will be pulled) was an hour and fifteen minutes (thus, notionally, 1pm) - the race website said "Timed for a tidal assist, the swim should take about 5 to 10 minutes more than past years' 1-mile course," and this is what one would extrapolate from the time limit - an unassisted 2-mile river swim might easily take me, say, 90 minutes, and though I am not fast, I am not in the very slowest group of swimmers either. Clearly they were counting on a huge assist.

And then, of course, it was 11:40 and 11:45 and 11:50 and the poor race director was muttering about the unpredictability of the ebb...

Finally we got started around 12:20, but as far as I can tell, there was really not much of an assist at all! Race results are not yet up (and I am afraid mine may appear slightly anomalous, as about 5 minutes before the finish I felt the velcro strap holding my chip to my ankle finally unloose itself and drift down into the vasty deep! - I think the results were documented in any case, but it may not come right up on the computer!), so I can't say - I don't remember exactly when we started - but I was staggering up the beach and looking at my watch at the number 1:47 and making a calm but desperate set of mental calculations about how to execute the next hour in the most efficient possible manner...

(NB I did make it to where I had to be on time, but only by dint of being longtime master of the Fastest Shower in the East - even though I washed my hair two times just to make sure the Hudson was all out of it)

I felt very strong in the water throughout, with a good stroke and good sighting (EXCEPT - minor rant - for the fact that the final buoy, which we were conjecturally using to sight for a LONG time, was INVISIBLE from where I was swimming! I caught a couple glimpses, and then it would be lost again - it was more or less clear where we were all going anyway, I had been told by a nearby swimmer that I could sight off the little red lighthouse and I could always see swimmers on either side of me and ahead in a fan in front of me, so I was under no real apprehension as to where I was going - but of course as a person with no sense of direction I am all too familiar with this feeling!). But I would have to call it pretty much a straight-up real 2-mile swim - I will hope to get my exact time from the website, but it must have been 90+ minutes.

I will hope to go faster in another one sometime, but in fact I am very delighted to have had a real longer-distance open-water workout - I have my eye on iron-distance, a race like this is nicer than an Ironman swim (no crowding, not so much to worry about in the long rest of the day) but it is still a good way of thinking about building confidence and experience on different legs of the journey. I was not wearing my wetsuit - the water was in the mid-60s (not sure of exact temperature), pretty much perfect for a long swim...

6 comments:

Becca said...

The trail half marathons I used to do in California were the best races/runs I ever had.

Leah said...

Congrats! Sounds like a fun swim. And a very impressive accomplishment.

Wendy said...

Way to go Jenny! (Both on the swim and getting to your commitment on time!)

Swimming in open water introduces many more variables to the mix. I think you have to remain very open to the conditions on the day and be less concerned about time, more about feel.

Brent Buckner said...

Glad you had a good event!

Wetsuit over top of the chip strap would have been useful....

ShirleyPerly said...

Great job on the swim, Jenny!! Swimming in mid-60 deg water for so long with no wetsuit is amazing to me. I can't imagine doing so without a FULL wetsuit, actually. Glad you even made it on time to your next appt.

baker said...

hi- found your blog/report while doing some searches for the race results! We finished the swim neck and neck it turns out. I too thought it was quite a challenge esp. with no tidal assist. feels great to just complete a 2 miler though right? check out my report on the race- beyonddefeat.com

chris