Wednesday, August 7, 2013

HarborFest Half IronSwim

I woke up to my alarm suddenly dreading the fact that I had post-race brunch plans, because that meant I *had* to actually get up and go and do this thing.  I was really tired.  I was tired from all of the nothing that this weekend had consisted of thus far.  But alas, I dragged myself out of bed, threw on my swimwear (same ensemble as Slam the Dam, no wetsuit for this event), grabbed some Belvita breakfast cookies and iced tea and headed out the door.

About 2 minutes into my drive, I realized I forgot my Garmin - DARNIT!!!  I had really wanted to test out how the GPS worked for an open water swim.  It was 7:15 already though and I didn't think I had time to turn around.  So, I was gonna have to do this swim without any time keeping.  Turns out, the drive to National Harbor was super easy (definitely had time to go back for the Garmin) and I spent about an hour people watching after checking in.  I was wishing my partner in tris, Deb, was with me (Deb, please come back to DC!!).
I really really had to pee and couldn't wait for them to call my wave down to the pier (don't be grossed out -- this is the Potomac, I'm sure I only improved conditions!).  I held my goggles and jumped in.  Finally, it was time to start and get this thing over with.
Nobody has ever said that swimming is a contact sport, but this event certainly was.  From feet grabbing and getting kicked and swam over, it was nonstop, especially with everyone doing loops.  It never really opened up (the 2.4 milers were doing 8 loops).  Waves were crashing and I got a few large mouthfuls of Potomac water that I tried not to think too much about.  At one point I ran into a small marker buoy which I'm pretty sure is where the serial killer marked his dump site so he could revisit the bodies.  Overall, it really probably wasn't as disgusting as we all assume the Potomac to be, but it still kind of creeped me out.

Due to high winds, the course was altered a bit from the website and we were now going to be swimming 4 loops.  Ugh.  I hate loops.  It's very mentally hard for me to do loops.  The first segment was ok, kind of protected from the openness of the river.  The second segment was the longest and somewhat against the current, definitely the hardest part.  After we turned around that 2nd buoy, we were with the .... wait .... we're still against the current?!  How'd that happen?  At least this part was the shortest segment and then the final turn back to the pier.  Times four.  Yuck.

Now, any seasoned endurance athlete will tell you not to experiment with new equipment on race day.  That's exactly what I did though with my new pair of AquaSphere goggles.  I've used the brand before, but this was a brand new pair.  I had loosened them too much before jumping in and they were constantly filling with water.  This was no fun and I stopped and treaded water several times to readjust.  I doubt I can blame these stops entirely for my hour long performance.  While I wouldn't see my official time of 1:02:30 until the next day, it was well after 10:00 when I climbed out of the harbor (we did start later than expected, but still... I knew it was long).  Humph.  I had gone into this hoping for a PR on this distance.  Granted, it *might* have been a PR for a non-wetsuit category, but over an hour?! Geez.  Need to practice more.  Open water is a completely different beast than the pool.
The day quickly went from decent to great, however, as Jon, Ed, Cindy and Ingrid met me for brunch at the Gaylord, day drinking at McLoone's Pier House on the deck and then paddle boating to burn off some of those calories (I ate double the calories I burned swimming... oops!).  Came home and passed out on the couch.  What a great day!