Steelman, or as I like to refer to it, Steel(wo)man report 🙂
This was by far my earliest wake up call to date. The race was about 1.5 hours away and we had to be there for day-of packet pickup by 5:30. That meant leaving by 3:30 and a 2:15am wake up call. When I went to WaWa (coffee shop) to get my coffee there were far more people just rolling in for the night than there were getting started for the day like I was doing. A few of my teammates and I drove up together so after meeting up and transferring all our bags we were off. Ride up was uneventful- except my friend Brian, who drove, put his contacts in the wrong eyes! That made for a fun time when it came to reading new construction signs!! But…we made it there safe and all was well. When we arrived it was still pitch black out (must get a headlamp) and already packed with people! Good thing we left as early as we did!
We headed over to the packet-pick up and then into transition. This race gave out Hoodies which was a nice change from a t-shirt. And they are super nice hoodies! Which is good, because no joke, that is why we signed up for this race! Once we were all set up the waiting began. At one point the RD came over the mic and announced that the water temp was over 80* and the swim would be wetsuit illegal (because it was under 84* you could still wear one, but your time would not be official). This made me very nervous. My teammate Kurt would have you think I “threw a fit” but in actuality, I was just scared of swimming that distance without a wetsuit. Even a strong swimmer like myself gets anxiety- open water can be intimidating. Deep down I knew I would be fine once I started- it’s all that waiting around that gives me time to think about it!
I did this as a relay with my teammates Kurt and Kristen. I was the swimmer, Kurt biked and Kristen ran. We have no allusions- we named ourselves the Slowskis. No joke.
Getting in was the most difficult part- it was so rocky and slippery! Once in, I placed myself to the outside right so that I could start with the crowd, but not IN the crowd. This proved to be extremely effective. The water was absolutely beautiful. Before the race, some girl was talking about how gross it was…obviously this girl has never swam in either NJ or the Schuylkill River before. This lake was gorgeous; I could have swum all day! The first 400 meters to the first turnaround buoy seemed to take forever so I had to glance at my watch; turns out I was on pace for a good time and from that point on settled into a nice rhythm. Only twice during the race did I have to break rhythm, once because some idiot who could not swim faster than me but didn’t want to pass him was zigzagging in front of me and once because it was very jammed at the last turnaround buoy. As I came into the finish, I was stroke and stroke with a guy swimming next to me. It was impossible to run in so you had to swim all the way up until the ramp in (where they had volunteer hotties guys there to pull people out over the rocks) and as we came to the ramp he made a smart remark about not wanting to get beat by a girl. It was then that I poured it on to the finish ramp! I heard a guy pulling him out say to him “yeah, you got chicked” and I couldn’t help but laugh. Of course, he proceeded to blow by me in the transition. All in good fun though 🙂
This was my best to date swim experience. I only wish I could have worn a wetsuit. My time was really good (31:04) but with a suit I could have gotten under 30, I know it!
So yes, with a time of 31:04 for 1550 meters, I officially have another PR 🙂
As soon as I came in and tagged Kurt, he was off on the bike. About an hour and some later he was in and Kristen was off on the run. I asked Kurt how the bike was and he replied, “you would have hated it” because it was FULL of hills. (we drove these hills home and let me tell you, those are some hills!!!) Kurt and I were starving and the way they had the food set up was through the finish. When they said we had to wait for our relay as a whole, Kurt and I took it upon ourselves to sneak under the fence and get some food. I know, I know…badass. The best part about being on the relay is that I got to see many of my teammates come in through the finish. About when we thought Kristen would be coming in, Kurt and I went to meet her so that we could all run in together. As suspected she was hauling ass and looking good and we all ran in as a team.
At the finish they had these super cold-soaked transition towels which only added to the amazing swag 🙂 Us teammates hung out post-race and ate some of the amazing food they had. It was the best food tent of all time- watermelon, grapes, peaches, apples, bananas, cherries, pizza, full bottles of gatorade, chicken fingers, hoagies and probably even more that I didn’t see. And even better- you could stay in the tent as long as you wanted and there was plenty of food.
Not only was this race fun but it was super well run and amazingly supported by great volunteers. The single only downsides to this race were that I did not think it was very spectator friendly and I thought the swim enter/exit was tough to navigate between the rocks and slippery mat. But seriously, this race was great and is definitely on the list for next year. As a relay again though, because no way in HELL am I doing that bike!!!
As always, some photos…
After the race, we had some lunch and headed home. It sure was a long day…but after I napped I had a major second wind and went out for 10 miles on the bike. This week starts half-marathon training; I have two tri’s left but my workouts will be a lot more run focused. I plan to keep up with my biking as much as possible so that I don’t lose my newfound confidence but I know I am going to have to trade some of my swim time in for running time. I genuinely love the water. Swimming to me is relaxing and freeing. I am starting to toy with the idea of doing a few open water swim races next year. New challenge? Perhaps so!