Sunday, July 29, 2012

What I do in an 'easy' week...

Big running mileage last week, so I'm taking it easy.

On the legs.

Elk Lake Swim Series. Races at 500m, 1000m, 1500m, 3000m, and 5000m.  Compete in individual events, the 'Short Series' consisting of the short three races, or the 'Long Series' in the farthest three.

Added Bonus; do all five races and earn the coveted 'Survivor' Mug.

Enough incentive. I'm all in. Swim 11,000 meters, or about 7 miles, in three days.

Except I've completed exactly two 2k swims in my life. Now I'm going to do a 3 and a 5 plus three others? In three days?

Typical NBC. OCD on steroids.

On the way out of town in friend Mary's RV, I pop open a quart bottle of warm water while running my mouth and not paying attention. That's when I learn the difference between water and club soda. I was soaked in seconds.

Not much can shut me up that quickly.

Arrival at my accomodations, the Elk Lake Hilton:

First night, 3000m. Choppy surface, windy. Started too fast and never felt comfortable, but got 'er done in a little over an hour. Goal for all races was steady pace, not hard. I want that mug.

Here's the race venue, with South Sister in the background.

Nice, huh?

5am, and about 36 degrees
Next day; run into Don, a fellow track umpire. We're both wearing Olympic Trials (track) gear at a swim meet. Figures: guys can't keep their sports straight.

500m: no wetsuit, so that was one cold warmup. Then 10 minutes waiting in the chilly air for my start time, hence the running in place.

Didn't like this race; I tangled myself in the buoy cord a bunch of times and never got into a rhythm.

90 minutes later, the 1500. This went a little better. Started easy, then jumped a gear at 600m and began dropping people. And I sprinted through the finishing chute again; being a better runner than swimmer, it's a cheap way to pick up a few places here and there.

Trying to get the suit off...

Later that day, I was beat. At least Zoe had fun on the inner tube.

Then I was volunteered to help another friend put up two tents, and then to gather firewood. Really tired, so I ate a big dinner and went to bed before s'mores. Big sacrifice on my part.

Sunday morning and the big boy looms (the 5000m); feeling much better after 7 hrs sleep, though my shoulders are tired. At the race venue, wary of attempting a swim 2.5 times as far as I've ever gone before, I see an experienced swimmer squinting at the far buoy and saying, "Oh my God." Not exactly reassuring to me.

See the cluster of white boats in the distance? The 1000m buoy is the orange speck to the right of it. That's a long, long way.

3 laps; I start very slow, and the whole field goes ahead. I don't care: my goal is to finish in one piece. Just easy spinning in the small ring. I get to the far buoy at 1000m and sneak a peek behind, knowing I'll see no one. Instead, there's at least a dozen people. I'm not last! And I haven't even started.

So it's into the next gear, still not hard, and I keep it smooth. 1st lap done, 2nd lap done, I'm feeling fine. Runner's high? Now I've got the swimmer's high. And I'm starting to smell the finish.

This is where I thought I'd be getting emotional. You know, a big personal best in distance, swimming with the big boys and girls, all that.

Uh uh.

I was LAUGHING out there. Just a grinning, Tarzan-like fool. I even kicked hard for the last 300m, and did a celebratory backstroke across the finish line.

Is it possible that my favorite race would be the longest one?

Final event was the 1000m; this was my slow victory lap. Not that I had a choice; arms were gone. But that still didn't prevent me from walking down one last swimmer in the final 200m.

Game, set, match. 4 podiums in 5 events, including a bigtime 2nd place in the Long Series for my age group, earning the coveted ceramic coaster.

Except for the last race when I was shot, the other four were pretty much on the same pace. I don't have many gears, but I can hold the ones I have.

And that Survivor mug?

All mine, baby. All mine.

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