Since I injured myself again this year, there was no reason not to do the Ridges Resort 5K Swim again this year. I wasn't as excited about the training this year, though, maybe because it wasn't a distance record. It could also be that all of Doug's marathons just made me want to run.
So, last Sunday, Doug and I loaded up the kids and headed up to Hiawassee. The Ridges Resort is a neat area located just up the road and across the street from the Brasstown Valley Resort. When we arrived, I noticed a distinct lack of teenagers in the field. Apparently, the team that has raced together for the last several years had a conflict. There were, however, a lot of triathletes. We all milled around and sized-up the competition while waiting for the start. I ate a granola bar and made several trips to the car to retrieve things I'd forgotten.
Scott Hanna is the race director. He is really nice. He gave the same speech as last year with similarly vague directions and we were off - trooping in line down to the dock for launching. A lot of people waded out to start this year. which didn't happen last year. Then, Scott counted down and we started in unison. After about 30 seconds of trying to find a clear area, I found my place. Looking around, I saw only men around me. "Cool!" I thought, "I'm hanging with the guys!" Number 123 was on my right. He had a beautiful relaxed stroke so I listened to Doug's voice in my head telling me to "elongate my stroke" and copied #123.
I did a good job navigating around the first island. It has three points (the point-on-land-adjacent-to-a-body-of-water/regular-old-point distinction was lost on some people during the pre-race meeting) and I rounded them decently close to the shore because that is the shortest line. My strokes felt good and I was pulling strongly. There was no trace of my yoga-induced shoulder issue. All was great. The water was green and cool and it felt effortless to glide through it.
Until I saw the bottom. Ugh. The bottom freaks me out. Maybe that is my problem with swimming in the ocean - I'm not deep enough to not see the bottom. So, I chose to move deeper to avoid the view. That was probably a mistake.
After rounding the points, I headed for the two-story dock. Turns out that there are two two-story docks. Scott had told us to get close to it - so close you could touch it so I headed way over there. The rest of the field did no such thing. So, there I was all by myself in the middle of the lake. Awesome. I sang a little of the song to myself as I swam. We had escorts in boats and canoes, but they never seemed to be very close to where I was. No problem - I knew I could finish without assistance and boats make waves, which are disorienting. At times, the wakes were so big that the tops of my feet and legs would hit the surface of the water as I was tossed around. Annoying.
I had worried since last year about whether or not to fuel during this swim. 2 hours of swimming shouldn't require any fuel and I have never fueled during my training swims. However, on a bike or run of the same duration, I would have some electrolyte drink or a Gu. And, I really ran out of gas at the end of the race last year. So, I couldn't decide. Despite some rash claims about taping a Gu to my chest, I ended up just putting it in the side of my bathing suit. Guess what? Gu is about the same buouancy in the water as I am, so it just floated around inside my suit. Eventually it nestled around my tummy. I felt better just knowing it was there.
Finally, I crossed the channel and could see the buoys (there were 6, 5 yellow ones in the water and an orange one at the finish). You could only see one of them at the time, though, because they were pretty far apart. I made a deal with myself that I could eat my Gu at the first buoy. "Better safe than sorry," I thought. "I'd rather finish with gas in the tank than drag-ass across the line." I reached the buoy and had a slug of my Just Plain Gu as I did some breaststroke kicking. Mmmm, delicious Gu. It's hard to breaststroke kick without your arms, though, so I flutter-kicked with my hands out of the water while I squeezed the Gu from the bottom to get it out of the envelope. I'm sure I looked like an idiot. After 3 tries, I had consumed most of the Gu, tucked it back into my suit and resumed swimming. As I did so, the canoe escort came past me. "You don't need a gel in a 5K swim," the woman sniped nastily. They weren't talking to me because I was swimming; they were just talking about me. I resisted the urge to stop them to explain my whole fueling plan and rationale. They had probably just come over because it looked like I was drowning and now they were making conversation. Still, they hacked me off.
And, negative motivation, it works for me.
"I don't see your asses swimming 5K," I thought to myself. "Assholes." And picked up my pace from "two hairs above forever pace" to "hair slower than 1K time-trial pace." I felt awesome. Either the extra calories or the mental boost from the Gu or the anger-induced adrenaline kicked in and I flew to the next buoy and then the next.
And suddenly, there were the guys! I was back! I saw them over to my left - right in line with the next buoy. Oops, I had veered right again. I fell back in behind them and it was delightful looking up every few (15) strokes to see their blue caps ahead of me. Then, just as suddenly, they were gone! When I breathed to the left, I saw them again - I had drifted right about 50 yards. I tacked back left but couldn't seem to stay there. Next thing I knew, they were way left again. We continued this way for the last three yellow buoys. I tried to sprint up past them at the finish, but three of us finished together with me in the middle, which threw the whole finish area into an uproar. Apparently, they weren't used to more than one swimmer at the time. Ha!
There were 6 finishers in the Women 35 to 39 age group and 79 finishers in the race.
My overall finish place was 35 and my age group finish place was 3. My time was 1:47:38.0
Here are the official results. Apparently #123 was the guy who finished in front of me! Funny how that happens.
And then, I ran up the hill and got a banana and then we jumped in the car and came home because Doug had a long run to do and the girls had a birthday party to attend. Next year, though, I'll bring some peeps so we can hang out and enjoy the burgers that Scott's group were grilling up for the finishers.