Who is Ted?

I'm the father of two beautiful daughters and an amazing wife. For fun, I enjoy the long hours of seemingly endless suffering that endurance sports (mostly running, cycling and triathlon)provide. During my "down time" I'm an avid beer snob and self-described gourmet chef (in other words I like to burn things on a stove or grill).

Monday, July 8, 2013

Cancer Sucks Freedom Swim Race Report

Keeping with my trend this year of "going long,"  I found myself driving down Wadsworth early on Sunday morning.  My destination was Grant Ranch and the inaugural Cancer Sucks Freedom Swim Race.  There were three distances available to participants: 800 meters, 1.2 miles, or 2.4 miles.  Each distance was also divided into two categories: Wetsuit/ No Wetsuit.   I decided that if I was going to swim 2.4 miles, I really wanted to make the most of my $25 entry fee, so I opted for the no wetsuit category. 
We stayed the night with some friends who lived only about 15 minutes away as it turned out, and I arrived well ahead of time.  At least this allowed me to grab a patch of concrete next to the pool to spread out my towel and other things (Tip: when spreading out your towel with the soul purpose of sitting on concrete for 30-45 minutes, fold it into fourths and sit on it this way.  By being folded, it provides much more cushioning than a fully spread out towel).  I sat down and spent the better part of an hour just people watching.  There was an interesting mix of folks at this event: High School Swimmers, Triathletes, and well, just plain swimmers.  There were a lot of folks that were with their families which was fun to see.
At about 7:15, the race organizers had a brief meeting.  The swim was planned as a fundraiser for their 16 year old daughter who was diagnosed with non-hodgkin's lymphoma this past year.  She was also swimming and said a few words just prior to the start which was met with great applause.  All told, there were over 200 participants at this event, which is just awesome.  For me, this race wound up having added meaning because a close family friend was also diagnosed with this illness just a couple of weeks ago.  This is something that I think is really special about the endurance athletic community.  They are always stepping up to rally around a cause.
The race started in waves and they allowed us 2.4 swimmers to have the honor of going first.  This kind of makes sense given the time limit for swimming at the lake, but I also knew that it would be somewhat humbling as I would be passed by the 1.2 mile swimmers and the 800 swimmers a few minutes after we got going.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that the overall winner of the 2.4 mile swim, a woman who started 5 minutes after I did, passed me twice since the course was a 2 lap swim!
I jumped into the water with just about 3-4 minutes before the start of my race.  I adjusted my goggles and took a few strokes just to get a feel for the water.  My goggles were leaking just a tad, but I tweaked them and called it good.  I positioned myself at the very back of the group and waited for the start.  And then, we were off!
Within about 100 yards, it was clear that my goggles were going to be a problem.  I rolled onto my back and drained them, and attempted to get a tighter seal on them.  No luck.  I kept swimming but every few minutes, I would have to pause to drain the lake water from my goggles.  Finally after nearly 3/4 of a mile, I managed to get a good seal, and they didn't bother me for the remainder of the race.
 In a swimming pool, I have probably covered this same distance a handful of times, but I had never done a OWS swim of this distance before, so I really didn't know what to expect in terms of how hard or easy it would be.  I knew that I had the aerobic conditioning to do it but I wondered how sore or exhausted I might be from swimming that far.  It probably didn't help that we were out at a party until after midnight on Saturday, so I was operating on about 5 hours of sleep.   I took my time on the course, and really tried to focus on getting into a rhythm, and being sure that I had good technique.  For the most part, this worked well.  I believe that the rhythm aspect of an OWS is perhaps the most difficult of all.  Apart from trouble with the eye wear, there are kayaks, other swimmers, seaweed, etc. that can knock you off of the steady routine of swimming.  I did have some trouble with this at times, but if I worked to stay focused a little more, I was able to keep distractions to a minimum.  I was pleased because I was swimming in a straight line, and sighting fairly well.  As a result, I was able to put my head down and swim for a good chunk of time without having to look up and check my whereabouts.  In fact, there was only one point in the entire race where my line was off a bit, but that wasn't because  I was swimming crooked.  It just happened that I overlooked one of the midway buoys and so I had to swim over about 30 yards to correct myself.  I doubt if that cost me more than a few seconds time.
I passed through the first lap after about 42 minutes.  Not very fast, but I didn't mind.  I had been taking it easy, and without a wetsuit, I wanted to be sure that I conserved some energy for the second lap.  I also had a slight pain in my left ankle, which was making it a little difficult to kick properly, and so I'm sure that wasn't helping with my pace.  At any rate, I pressed on and got into the second lap.
About halfway through (just after my slight course correction), I noticed that I really wasn't breathing very hard, and I wasn't all that tired considering that I'd already been swimming for over an hour.    It occurred to me that I must really be "taking it easy" on the swim, so I decided to push a little bit harder.  I did this for the rest of the swim, although by that point it was too late to generate a negative split.  I reached the finish of the race around 1hr 27 minutes.  Not very fast, but I wasn't really trying too much.
11th out of 12 in this category.  But hey, who's counting?
 It's always fun getting out of the water after swimming for a long time, and even more so when most of the other swimmers have finished and are just standing near the finish line waiting for the awards ceremony to start.  It isn't uncommon for people to experience some dizziness, due to the fact that the body is in a horizontal position during swimming and the heart hasn't had to push the blood vertically up to the brain.  I could be a poster boy for this phenomenon.  As I moved into a standing position, it was a struggle to walk, and I felt this incredible forward momentum, as I stumbled forward out of the water.  This sensation continued for the next several minutes, as I made my way to my towel, and into the locker room to clean up a bit.  By the time I left, the awards ceremony had started.  It turns out the overall winner of the swim completed it in 49m 26s!  By the way, SHE wasn't wearing a wetsuit either.  Simply awesome!

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