I don't care that I came in dead last for my age group. Or next to last for all women. I swam TWO FREAKIN' MILES in less than 90 minutes!
WARNING - THIS IS A LONG RACE REPORT.
A little bit of history before my race report. I've never been a swimmer. I remember taking some lessons as a kid and always getting water in my nose when I attempted freestyle. I hated swimming. I could tread water and do a side stroke and that was just fine by me. To me, swimming was a means to get my boogie board past the breakers.
When I decided to do Irongirl, I knew swimming was going to be a big issue for me. So about 3 months before IG, I knew it was time for some lessons. I could not swim across the pool once. And this was a hotel pool that was about 10 yards. I went to a teacher who specialized in kids because I needed to learn as if I knew nothing at all (yes, I blew bubbles through a straw).
I practiced and practiced and finally got to Irongirl but had to do the breaststroke the entire time. That was in between treading water to orient myself.
Even since then, developing swim endurance has been a challenge for me. I just didn't have it. I took more lessons. I went to masters groups. I had myself videotaped - multiple times. And my swim speed improved only in miniscule increments. And so my biggest fear in signing up for Lake Placid was completing the swim in 2 hours and 15 minutes. I signed up for the Reston 2 mile swim just to see if I could do it. If I could finish 2 miles in 90 minutes, or even 100 minutes, I knew I'd be able to finish 2.4 miles in 2:15. And then all I have to do is bike 112 miles and run a marathon. :)
Accustomed to the 3 minute or longer wait for my wave in triathlon, I got into the water with goggles in hand. No sooner did I get into the water, the gun went off. I was floundering with my goggles, got sunscreen in my eyes, and trying to start swimming but was just totally unprepared for how quickly the waves went. Only about 60 seconds between groups!
I needed about a good 1/4 mile to warm up and then I got into a good groove. Sighting wasn't too difficult. My goal was slow and steady and ON COURSE. For the most part, I was able to accomplish this for the first loop. When I got to the end of the first loop, the clock showed something like 59 minutes. But I had no idea when my wave start was so I didn't know how long it took for me to swim the first mile.
On to mile 2. I knew I was lagging behind as the swimmers became more and more spread out. That's OK - my goal was just to finish as close to 90 minutes as possible. Again, I got into a good groove although my arms were getting quite tired. At some point, I must have been spacing out because some kayakers kept blowing their whistle before I finally looked up and they pointed out to me that I had veered pretty far off course. Apparently, I thought one of the buoys was a turn buoy and I started cutting across - oops. I was really discouraged to see how far off course I'd gone and had to swim a while to get back on it. Wah.
My arms got more and more tired in the last half mile and I could tell my stroke was getting sloppy. Doing backstroke for a little bit didn't help matters any. I knew I was at the end of the pack of swimmers as the kayakers were swarming around us like vultures eyeing roadkill. FINALLY - the finish line - the clock said 1:49. Still no idea how long it really took me but I knew it was more than the 90 minute cutoff. I took a wild ass guess and thought 1:40. This would give me 35 minutes to do the additional .4 miles at IMLP. I can live with that.
But then I saw the results. Holy smokes! 1:28 and change. WOOHOO!!! Faster than I ever thought I could swim 2 miles. I know I'm still slow but knowing I have the swim endurance to finish the swim portion of IMLP before the cutoff has done wonders for my self-confidence. I am ecstatic. Mirror Lake - bring it on!!!