Race Swimming

Boston Light Swim

On August 18, 2012 at 7:00 am I jumped into the water to start what would be an 8 miles, 7 islands, 1 swim journey. Last fall Mike K. came up with the idea of some of the Stiles pond Scummers doing the Boston Light Swim as a relay. I thought it sounded like a pretty cool idea. Originally it was going to be Mike K., Erin C., Jan D. and myself. Jan bailed on us because the water was going to be too cold! Just kidding Jan! It turns out that it was the day her son was moving in at college and she obviously couldn’t miss out on that. Karen L. another one of the Stiles Scummers jumped at the chance to freeze in the cold waters of Boston Harbor and take Jan’s place.

There were all kinds of swimmers entered into the event. Some had gone to the Olympic trials, others had crossed the English Channel and there was even another team from Stiles pond!

The Boston Light Swim is a tide assisted swim and it is import to start on time. That meant getting down to Boston by 5:15 for check in and heading out 8 miles on our boat to the start at Little Brewster island where the Boston Light house is. The night before at the mandatory meeting we were warned that any lightening could end the event before it even starts and that storms would be moving through early in the morning. Everyone was hoping they would stay to the south of us. When I checked my phone just as we were heading out to the start the radar did not look good at all, showing heavy rain coming our way. Thankfully we were not seeing any lightening that would have cancelled the event.

On the way out to the start looking back toward Boston you could see the rain coming down. It wasn’t raining by us yet though, so that was good. On the way out we decided that I would go first because I was going to drive the boat while Mike was swimming and we would have Karen and Erin swim in between us to give us time to dry off a little bit and be ready to drive. On the way out Karen casually mentions that she doesn’t do well on boats and needs to get in the water soon!! Uh oh!! I offered to let Karen be the first in the water but she declined and said second would be good enough. I think that was a relief to Erin because it delayed her getting into the water.

Let’s talk about the water for a minute. We were told the night before that the water temperature had been between 68 and 73 all week. Yeah, sure it was, it just happened to drop 5 or 6 degrees in one night! The official temperature after the race was reported to be between 63-64 for the entire swim.

Ok, back to the boat and the start of the race. The other thing we agreed on before the start was that we were each going to do 10 minute shifts. Why? Because Joe said do 10 minute shifts, duh!!

7:00 AM – The horn blows! I jump into the water. My first thought is “bullshit, this water is not 68 degrees”. I start swimming and for the most part I’m trying to calm myself down because I feel like I’m flailing about because I’m cold. After about 5 minutes I start to feel better and finally slow myself down and get into a little bit of a rhythm. Then just as I was starting to feel pretty good I see Erin waving me in. My first turn is over. Great now I can get warm! In my head I was thinking I wish I could swim a little longer now that I’m cold and used to the water anyway. I make my way to the back of the boat grab the ladder and Karen jumps in.

I’m pretty much freezing and shivering uncontrollably, not a big surprise really, but I thought after only 10 minutes in the water I wouldn’t have been that cold. I throw my sweatshirt on and wrap my large beach towel around me and continue to shiver. Mike is up next so while he gets ready I take over steering the boat. Erin looks at me and asks how was it, I lie and tell her it isn’t too bad. She knows I’m lying because I’m still shivering like crazy. Ten minutes later Erin is in for her first swim and to finish off our first rotation through the line up. In 40 minutes we manage to swim almost 2 miles! With the tide rising we were really moving as the race director had predicted we all would.

The water was relatively calm for an ocean swim and the rain that was on the radar never really showed up out in the harbor. The second rotation through was probably the roughest water we saw with a little bit of chop and the wind blowing the boat around a little bit.

We went through the rotation one more time and all decided that on our next time in we would go for 15 minutes at a time instead of 10. Actually my first 3 swims were 10 minutes and Karen was the first to start the 15 minute turn. At the pace we were going it looked like we would all swim only 4 times each.

As we closed in on the finish Erin would be bringing us in to the finish line. So as we got closer to the beach Karen and I jumped in to join Erin and finish together. Unfortunately Mike had to dock the boat and couldn’t swim in with us. Our official time was 3:13:24.

We ended up being the third team to finish. The first team was the other team from Stiles, finishing about 6 minutes in front of us. We gave them a pretty good run for the first half of the race, but as we passed under the bridge by Long Island they just pulled away.

Here is the path we swam

I had a good time and I would definitely do the Boston Light Swim again. Probably only as a relay because I don’t think I could last for 8 miles in the cold water and this year was considered warm! Thank you to Mike, Erin and Karen for including me on their team. It was definitely a great experience!

Race Running

Yankee Homecoming 10 miler – Race Report

I’ve only done the Newburyport Yankee Homecoming race a couple of times before this and have watched a few other years. Every year it seems that the weather is hot and humid for this race. Usually one of the hottest nights of the summer. This year though, the forecast was for 75 and a cloudy skies. Sounds like perfect running weather to me, at least compared to what you usually get.

Having done this race a couple of times before I knew that the second half of the race is the hardest part. There are a couple of hills that can eat you up if you start out too fast in the first few miles. My strategy was to do the first couple of miles as a warm up, pick up the pace to 7:20-7:30 for the next 3 and then let it out for the last 5 and see what I had.

Now what actually happened. I ran with Heidi, she forgot her watch and asked if she could run with me and I would pace her. Sure, no problem. Well, no problem for her, but for me it was a problem because it is tough to hold her back, she likes to go out fast!! Our first mile? 7:23. Yeah, that is close to 8. What about the next mile? How about 7:15! Those would be the slowest miles we did. At mile 5 we start up the hill and I notice that Heidi is falling back a bit and I ask her if how she is. She replies with “Just go”. I’m not ready to really go anywhere, so I just hold the pace going up the hill, right at 7:14. From here I know there is only one more hill at mile 7 so I start to pick up the pace and see how I feel. Mile 6 7:10 and I feel pretty good, not breathing too hard and feel comfortable. Picking up the pace a little more during mile 7 and I see I’m at 6:50 at the base of the hill. I finished up the mile at 6:57, but the hill has taken quite a bit out of me. I probably should have backed off just a little more. Next 2 miles are almost identical 6:56 and 6:57. The last mile I push with whatever I have left, which isn’t much and manage a 6:39 pace.

I was pretty happy with how the race turned out, even though I started a little faster than I planned. Official time was 1:11:28 for 7:09 pace. There is no starting mat so I lost about 15 seconds by starting back too far. It is good to know that I can start that quickly and still feel comfortable enough to run 7:10-7:15 5 to 6 miles into the race and feel like I could hold quite a bit longer.

Here is the Garmin history

Ironman Lake Placid

Ironman Lake Placid – Part Two….

No this is not the second blog of a two part blog. It is the first blog of what will be the beginning of my second journey to Ironman Lake Placid. This past weekend I went to Lake Placid to watch the Ironman and to volunteer. Having only participated in an Ironman it was a great to see it from the other side, the spectator side. Watching something like Ironman doesn’t really come that easy for me, I kept thinking that I wished I was out their competing. I’ve worked hard all winter and spring and I know that I’m in better shape now then when I did Lake Placid in 2011. I enjoyed going out and training on the course, even though we only did 1 loop of each event, I felt good being out there.

This time Ironman will be different for me, the goals are different. The last time it was about finishing and pacing myself conservatively, make sure to get to the finish line! This time though, I want to race. I want to push myself and see just how fast I can go at Ironman. Can I go under 12 hours? under 11 hours? How fast can I run a marathon after biking 112 miles?  Can I bike the course at 20mph? All those questions will be running through my head over and over during the course of the next year.

The answers to some of those questions will become more clear after I run my first marathon this fall. If I’m able to run a 3:10-3:15 marathon, I should be able to train and build on that fitness enough to reasonably set running a 3:30 marathon at Ironman as possible. Similary my biking has improved dramatically from last year, it is rare now that I bike under 20mph on rides and that includes rides over 60 miles. That is something I couldn’t come close to doing in 2011. Another good winter of hard training on the CompuTrainer and I feel like riding the Ironman course in 5:45 or 6 hours is another reasonable goal. Riding just half the course this past weekend I felt like I was close to that already. To achieve that bike goal though I will have to spend more time on hilly courses, that is going to mean heading to NY more often to visit my parents and climbing the mountains around the reservoirs or heading up into NH on the long rides. It will mean taking on Peekamoose mountain again, a climb that is much harder than any on the Ironman course. It will mean riding around the Pepacton reservoir with climbs that are as steep as the climb from Jay to Wilmington, but longer. It will mean lots of time on the bike.

The last time I signed up I can remember thinking to myself, “what the hell did I just do?”. This time I’m well aware of what I did and I’m looking forward to the challenge.