Monday, August 15, 2011

Race Report: Wild Fish 2 mile swim

I'm afraid of sharks. Most people reading that sentence would say "well, that's a good an rational fear to have. Sharks can eat you, and therefore respecting and fearing them makes sense". My fear is slightly irrational though, as it has mostly prevented me from doing much ocean swimming in the 2 years we've lived in Boston. While I've now participated in 2 races that involved ocean swims, the thought of swimming mostly alone, even in shallow ocean water pretty much terrifies me. I guess I can be thankful that swimming with a large group in a race seems to distract me from this fear for the most part, I can get through races with ocean swims.

Collins Cove in Salem harbor was mostly placid and not at all what I expected for our swim, which helped a lot with my shark phobia. While it does have the feel of that perfect calm beach that would get terrorized in a Jaws movie, the fact that there hasn't been a shark attack in MA in 75 years helped me feel a lot better, and that it's a long swim back out to sea for a shark to be that for in looking for food.

When you look at the picture above, imagine an orange buoy in the middle of the opening way out in the distance. That's where the far buoy was in the race with buoys around the rest of the cove. The weather wasn't as sunny as this pic; it was the perfect overcast day where the buoys stood out great against the grey sky.

There were 198 swimmers split almost evenly between the 1 mile and 2 mile swims, with our 2 mile group getting an 8 minute head start on the 1 milers. I started near the back of the pack with my goal very simply to  finish under the cutoff. With the tide coming throughout the first hour of the race, I expected some challenging moments, but the first mile went surprisingly well.  I sighted pretty well, I wasn't as tired as I thought might be, and while I was at the back of the pack, I managed to PR the first mile by a couple of minutes, with the announcer telling me I was at 45:30 when I made the turn on the second loop.

The second loop was a little harder as I was pretty tired and not used to swimming in salt water for that long. I got a decent amount of chafing around the neck and underarms from the salt getting into where my suit was rubbing against me. I did make sure to eat a GU before I started the second mile, which helped a lot. I swam with the goal of just reaching each buoy taking a quick break and then swimming to the next buoy. This worked really, well with the exception on the way back from the far buoy where I had to take an extra break. Just a quick few seconds of catching my breath before I moved on.

As I got about 1/3rd of the way through the second mile I realized I had my own personal kayak escort who I assumed was assigned to me because I was last. I talked to him a little during breaks and it was nice having him there, though I did my best not to think about him being there. I hate being the one who holds up the volunteers from going home by being last.

Knowing that I had such a strong first mile, I was driven to go a good hard constant pace to finish the swim in a good time, which I can happily say I did. My time for the 2 miles was 1:37:43, which I'm super happy with. That gives me over a full 40 minutes to finish the last .4 miles on race day to make the cutoff, and means I should be done under 2 hours, which is my primary goal for the swim. Even better, I wasn't the one holding up the volunteers, as two older gentlemen finished after I did. I hope I'm as kick as as they are at that age. The oldest guy was 71, and did the 2 miles in 2:03.

Rach did even better than I did, putting up a 1:22. She did that even after running into a bunch of jellyfish. The jellies in northern waters bloom late and were way too young to cause her any pain, which we're both thankful for.

The weather hasn't cooperated today, as we had a long run planned, but we'll get it in this week yet.


  1. It's great that you were able to get an "official" swim in before Rev3. I'm sure that's a bit of a relief, knowing now that you can make the cutoff. How did you manage to carry a GU with you?

  2. See the great thing about train running is NO sharks. (just bears,rattlesnakes,mountain lions) Definitely no sharks

  3. Edie - I slipped the GU inside my wetsuit sleeve. I'd heard of people doing it, and it seemed like something to try. If I hadn't put it there, i would never have even noticed it. I'm going to put 2 in each sleeve for the IM.

    Chris - Good point. I'm planning to get more into trail running this fall.