Today marks two weeks out from my P2P swim!! It is crazy how the last 5+ months of training have all culminated and have now boiled down to a final fourteen days before I swim the P2P. In honor of two weeks left (and also because I have been lazy/busy and haven’t written about them) I am writing about two races that I completed: the Wellington Lake 10K and the 3 mile Carter Lake Crossing.
Wellington Lake 10K
At the beginning of the summer when I was making my Colorado open water training plan I looked for long races that I could compete in and came across the Wellington Lake 10K. It was a great distance and perfect timing (1 week after my LA bootcamp and about 1 month before my P2P swim). Overall I really enjoyed the race mostly because it was nice to race somewhere I had already swum and was very comfortable. The course was a 2.5K loop. There were only about 30 swimmers and about half or a little more were only swimming a 5K (2 loops instead of 4). It was also fun because my entire family came out to cheer: mom, dad, step-dad, my two younger brothers, and of course Charlye. (Anthony had to work but I pictured him kayaking alongside me while I raced).
This was the inaugural year for this race which was being hosted by Colorado Represents Open Water Swimming (CROWS) people. Most of the swimmers clearly knew each other/were CROWS swimmers which to me made the atmosphere feel very insular. I knew a couple of swimmers from Chatfield but for the most part felt pretty on the outs. The start was an in-water start with the 10Kers in the first wave and 5Kers behind by a minute. I waded into the water and luckily bumped into a swimmer that I had treaded next to at the start of Boulder Bare Bones! It was nice to see a friendly face in the crowd. The race started and I sprinted to the first corner buoy, I continued to hold a fast pace trying to keep up with the lead swimmers about 3/4 of the way to the second corner. I reminded myself that 6.2 miles is a long distance and I needed to settle into my own pace. My goggles were foggy and the sun was shining directly into my eyes after I rounded the second buoy and was on the longest stretch of the course going towards the third corner. I sighted off of the splashing feet in front of me and watched as a male swimmer in an orange suit passed me and swam on ahead.
For most of the race I held a solid, steady pace. By the end of the first lap there weren’t any swimmers close to me, the lead group was off in the distance and no one was close behind. I thought I must be in 6th or 7th place since I thought the splashing feet from the first lap was a pretty big group of swimmers. I did three feeds from the feeding platform (over by the third buoy) on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th lap. The most eventful part of the actual swimming was rapidly changing winds which would in an instant whip up and create serious cresting waves that pushed you back and carried you up and down. On both my second and fourth lap, within 30 seconds of finishing my feed as I would start to head towards the third and fourth corner buoys the wind was intense. I fought my way through the waves until the died down again. The wind was so strong that many of the buoys on the course floated to different positions and had to be reinforced and repositioned. You can see on my Garmin map how by the fourth lap the second corner buoy had moved significantly. Another eventful part of my last lap was when I caught up to and passed the male swimmer in an orange suit that had passed me on the first lap. On the very last leg of the 10K the wind was really giving me a run for my money but I was determined to finish strong and successfully navigated the waves. It was great training to sprint through bad conditions at the end. Although I am hoping for great, calm weather for my entire P2P swim, it is important to be prepared and know how to sprint even when you’re tired just in case bad weather or currents creep up and threaten to derail your swim.
I finished just under 3 hours (2:55:23) and much to my surprise I was the first woman finisher, 44 minutes ahead of the second place woman. I finished fourth overall and received a Swim Outlet giftcard for my first place women’s finish. Initially they were only going to give a prize to the overall finisher which puts women at a significant disadvantage and practically guarantees that only men will be recognized. The race organizers recognized this misstep and emailed me the gift certificate 3 days after the race.
Carter Lake Crossing
This race was nothing like Wellington Lake, almost the total opposite. Instead of a small crowd of 30 swimmers, there were over 200 competitors. It was also a point-to-point race instead of loops so all the swimmers were shuttled over to the opposite end pre-race and swam virtually straight across to the other end. This race is also very well established, it’s been running for years and is part of a series of races called the Mountain Swim Series. They also had an advanced timing system where all the swimmers were given bands to put around our ankles that had chips. As you crossed the finish line an announcer called out your name and your time (unlike Wellington where I only knew my time and my place because my family members told me, the race organizers didn’t say anything to me as I finished). After the race you could go to the timing truck where they would print out a receipt that had your name, age, total time, pace, place overall, and place in your age division. They also had two massage therapists set up to give swimmers free 15 minutes massages after the race as well as snacks and goodies for the winners. They did overall winners (male and female) as well as age group winners. It was pretty amazing!!! I was so impressed with the organization and it really created a fun, positive, but competitive environment which I really enjoyed.
The swim itself was unlike the other two races I had done because I was constantly racing people around me. At Boulder and Wellington, after the first rush at the start I was mostly swimming at a comfortable pace not very close to other swimmers. At Carter Lake from start to finish I was racing people around me. Initially at the start, all 200 swimmers raced and were on top of each other. I was wearing a Jolyn tie-back suit and you better believe that I triple knotted it to prevent someone from untying it. I’m glad I did because within the first 5 minutes someone had grabbed onto my suit and tugged at it. Eventually the swimmers separated and shifted apart into a long line with small groups along the course. I constantly was trying to move up and race to the group of splashing feet in front of me. I consistently moved from group to group, keeping pace with the lead swimmer for a few minutes before making a sprint to the next group. Once I reached them I would take a few minutes to pace off of the swimmers before making my next move. It felt exciting and fun and unlike any race I had done before!
Jay Z and Kanye, who gon stop me, played on repeat as I pushed to hold a pace that I knew was distinctly faster than I had held in open water before. Finally the green turning buoy was in my sights and I knew I was close to the finish. I didn’t realize that the final buoy wasn’t straight across from the turn buoy so I had to do a little bit of adjusting. At the very end as I turned toward the finish line there were two male swimmers close in front of me, I was able to sprint past one and come in just behind the other. As I waded/ran up to the finish I saw the time was 1 hour 6 minutes and 15 seconds. I was beyond ecstatic because I knew no matter what I placed I was a whole 8 minutes faster (3 minutes per mile faster) than I was at Boulder Bare Bones. In the end I placed 19th overall (top 10%, woot!) and 2nd in my age group, just 2 1/2 minutes behind first place. I was majorly impressed with the 1st place overall woman, a professional triathlete, who came in at 56 minutes!!!! Wow.
Doing these races has helped keep me excited and on my toes during my training. They have also helped me further develop skills like sighting, pacing, rapid adaptation to changing environments, and open water sprinting to the finish! I have learned so much over the past five months and am proud of what I have accomplished thus far. I know that all of the training and races are building up to me successfully finishing the P2P, I can’t wait to take it on! 14 days to go……..