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Horsetooth Open Water Swim - SwimOther

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Fort Collins, Colorado
United States
Team Fort Collins
95F / 35C
Total Time = 3h 44m 16s
Overall Rank = 64/80
Age Group = Females
Age Group Rank = 32/36
Pre-race routine:

I got up REALLY early. Like 3am early. The race was starting at the opposite end than previous years and this created the logistical necessity of BUSSING everyone to the start. Which meant you had to be at the start earlier than usual. And I was a little worried about getting lost because I hadn't been there in a few years.

So I got up at 3am and took a shower (I had to shave, yes I realize the silliness of showering before spending 3+ hours in the water...but it helps me to feel clean and not have niggling chafe spots and feel like I'm putting sunblock on clean not oily skin). I put on my first layer of sunblock and got dressed. Then I filled my infinit bottles, ate a banana, and made two PB&J sandwiches. That was all I had to do, so I jumped in the car to head up to Fort Collins. I was staying with the COGirl/Macdaddy clan so I had about an hour to drive. I jammed out to my tunes, ate a PB&J sandwich, and only got minorly lost so I pulled into the parking lot at 4:30...pretty early.

I listened to my music for a little bit longer then got into the bathroom to put on my swimsuit and use the bathroom. I listened to a bit more music then finally walked over to the busses. I found my paddler and chatted with him until we decided to finally board a bus. If I'd boarded the busses earlier I could have taken a nap! The bus left maybe 10' later and drove us to the start.

I stood around with my paddler and his wife (also paddlng) chatting. We laughed a bit at the ridiculous long line for the bathroom (the one logistical nightmare of having the start at THIS end instead of at the other end where there are a bunch of bathrooms). I was glad I'd used the bathrooms at the other end. Peeing could wait until I was in the water. :)

At 0630 they did a quick "final instructions" for both the swimmers and the paddlers and then the paddlers got in the water. I put on some more sunblock (I got a blistering sunburn at Tahoe two weeks ago so I was a bit skittish) and stripped off my dry clothes. I put my bag in the morning clothes bins. I got my hair wet so I could put my swim cap on then stood around until they let swimmers in the water. The water was reported at 72 degrees but it felt warmer than that to me. I gently treaded water until the start.
Event warmup:

I didn't really do a warmup but I did a bit of gentle active treading water.
  • 3h 44m 16s
  • 10000 meters
  • 02m 14s / 100 meters

So my strategy was to go easy until we met up with our boats about a half mile into the race. I let everyone take off and I just swam out easy towards the boats. My paddler appeared next to me like magic. I picked up a slightly easier than steady pace. My nutrition plan was to drink some infinit and maybe water every 30 minutes. So at the first 30' I popped up and asked my paddler for my drinks. I quickly sucked down some inifinit and got back to business.

I now picked up a definite "steady" pace. The water was very calm at this point and I got in a good groove. At 33' I felt my Garmin vibrate in my swim cap announcing 1 mile. Slower than I wanted to be, but not bad. I maintained my steady pace. I stopped at 60' for more infinit. I tried to keep the nutrition stops really short to save time. The Garmin vibrated at 1:06, still on a 33' per mile pace. Slower than I want, but it's early.

Then the chop started. The third mile was VERY choppy. I even remarked on it when I stopped at 90' for nutrition. It made it really hard to get in a groove. I think my next Garmin tip was 1:41, so I knew I was slowing down and I figured it was just because of the chop. The chop went away for a little while again during that next 30' and I remember commenting about that to my paddler at the 2 hour feeding. It was short-lived though. The chop quickly returned and got worse.

By the time I hit the 2.5 hour feeding (which I thought was about 4.5 miles) I was getting thrown around like a rag doll. There was absolutely NOTHING resembling a good stroke going on here. My arms started to hurt pretty badly and I couldn't get in a groove at all. The chop was just too evil. The rest of the swim was just painful. I didn't feel like I was making any progress at all. The first buoy was supposed to be at about 0.8 from the finish line. Based on my Garmin vibrations I kept thinking I should be able to see it, but nothing.

FINALLY my paddler says he sees it and I can spot it a few minutes later. And I make it my goal just to get to it. Then to the next one. Which I figured was the turn buoy (based on the Garmin). But my paddler told me it wasn't, there was another one WAY out there that was the final turn buoy. Which nearly made me cry. I was far into the hurt locker at this point and realized that if the Garmin was right this race was going to be WAY long. In all honesty, I think it truly WAS long. The last turn buoy (0.2 from the finish) was near the boat ramp where we normally have started this race in previous years. And we got IN the water at the boat ramp where we always end. So, for YEARS the start/finish have been by these two (unmoving--concrete) objects. So why suddenly are they not good enough? Yeah, you got me.

I round the final turn buoy and start heading in the general direction of the finish line. I'm not entirely positive where it is. I pop up to sight and my kayaker is pointing me around another buoy. But people on shore are telling me I need to straight in. Everyone's yelling and I have no idea where to go and I just want to be done! I finally ask (at large), "Where am I going?" And thankfully they all tell me to head directly to the dock. I go there and cross the imaginary finish line and I'm done.

Some random thoughts people might be interested in based on my previous races:
1. I think I peed 5 or 6 times.
2. I actually wasn't very bored this time around. I was very engaged through about 2.5 hours. After that all I could think about was how slow I was and how much my arms hurt.
3. The overall winner was a girl (she swims for Univ of Wyoming) and she set a female course record of 2:18-something. So much for my theory of it being long.
What would you do differently?:

I don't know. I don't think there was anything wrong with my execution, I just didn't have a good day.
Post race
Warm down:

Unlike previous years where the finish area was so shallow you had no choice but to immediately stand up, you don't have to immediately stand up. This is a deep water finish. So I float around a bit and gently breast stroke up the boat ramp. I took off my Garmin before I moved too much and hit stop. It said 6.41 miles. So if you trust a Garmin in a swim cap to be accurate, the race was long. I got out of the water and got my dry clothes bag. I stood around for a bit just chilling. I drank the rest of my infinit (I only drank 1.25 bottles and had intended to drink 2). I rinsed off and changed into dry clothes. I hung around for the "awards" and then left.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Still trying to figure this one out. Based on my pool times I should have been faster. I don't know if it was the chop (2007 was the other really choppy year and I can't decide which year was's hard to remember what happened 4 years ago) or the fact that my arms have felt "off" for a few weeks now. I have only been back in the pool since April due to my multiple foot surgeries. But my speed came back so quick I really didn't think it was an issue. I might also just be too fat. Fat does help you float but no matter what you still have to pull that fat through the water.

Event comments:

I keep coming back to this race because it's a great venue and they run a fairly tight ship. For a completely volunteer organization trying to do everything bare bones, it's really well run. They start right on time and do a nice job. I'd like to see more post-race stuff and maybe a better goodie bag, but all the proceeds go to charity and it's a small race so it's hard to get big sponsors.

I don't like the switch in directions. I know they want all the bathrooms and showers and changing rooms for the post race area, but having ONE bathroom at the start for 200 people seems like a bad plan. AND having to do the transpo BEFORE the race meant that we had to get there a LOT earlier than previous years. And you know I like my sleep! Finally, I didn't like the sighting going in this direction. The "finish" end of the lake curves around to the right so it's hard to judge how close you are getting and the first buoy is a very late show. When we go the other way you can see that first buoy earlier which is mentally helpful. Plus I felt like going this way I was farther out from shore. That could have just been the higher water levels though.

All in all, I will keep coming back to this race until I break 3:15. I'd really like to go sub-3 hours but I guess I need to swim more.

Last updated: 2011-08-08 12:00 AM
03:44:16 | 10000 meters | 02m 14s / 100meters
Age Group: 32/36
Overall: 64/80
Performance: Bad
First two miles were each 33ish. Then I think I had a 34, then 35/35/36. Give or take a minute.
Suit: Speedo Lycra
Course: Point to point from the North end of Horsetooth to the South end.
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Shot
Water temp: 72F / 22C Current: Medium
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Bad
Breathing: Average Drafting:
Waves: Navigation: Good
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
Good race? No
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2011-08-11 10:35 AM

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Evergreen, Colorado
Subject: Horsetooth Open Water Swim

2011-08-11 11:15 AM
in reply to: #3639220

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Melon Presser
Subject: RE: Horsetooth Open Water Swim

Congratulations, Jen! Way to put yet another one in the bag, and a rough year, too. Chop can really take it out of you.

I have really enjoyed reading these 10K race reports and they were so helpful to me for my own. Funny, I wasn't bored either on my 10K (and haven't been on successive training swims since of that duration).

2011-08-11 12:18 PM
in reply to: #3639220

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Subject: RE: Horsetooth Open Water Swim
Wow.  Having never swam more than 4K in a race, I am continually amazed at long distance swimmers, and Jen you are the BT queen of that (but Yanti may be nipping at your heels  )   Thanks for the race report!
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