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Steelman Open Water Swim - Swim

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Quakertown, Pennsylvania
United States
Steelman Open Water Swim
80F / 27C
Total Time = 2h 03m 23s
Overall Rank = 140/165
Age Group = 40-49
Age Group Rank = 18/21
Pre-race routine:

Got up at o'dark thirty (aka 4 am) after a restless night with sporadic light sleep. Ate my usual breakfast of Siggi's yogurt, diced apple (1/2), cinnamon, and granola, drank some water. My friend H and her husband picked me up at 5 for the almost 2 hour drive to the race site. On the ride I drank water and Nuun.

We got there very early in order to secure parking in 'the good lot' which gave us plenty of time to do packet pickup, body marking, and shopping of previous years' gear. I picked up another fleece blanket for my dog(s), they love the one I got 2 years ago for racing. Other friends LT, P, A and D soon arrived and before we knew it, it was time for warm-ups. After debating which goggles to wear I went with my Rokas and waded into the water.

I think I ate a packet of Justin's nut butter before heading in for warm-ups. Now I'm forgetting what I did in what order but I did a Hot Shot to help prevent cramps (I think I may have done that around 15 minutes pre-race) and also did my inhaler (probably before warm-ups).

Event warmup:

Normally I don't bother with warm-ups but my coach suggested I get in for a little swim to loosen up my arms so I did. The water felt great, not to hot, not too cold. They listed the temp as 76 which was fine by me.
  • 2h 03m 23s
  • 5000 meters
  • 02m 28s / 100 meters

I swear he started us before my whole wave was in the water but thankfully it didn't affect me; I was at least in the water although not positioned where I wanted to be. Anyway, we're off!

There was more jostling for position than I recall in 2015 with a fair amount of contact. Finally people started to spread out some but it was still more crowded than I remember. While on land looking at the buoys, I thought they looked crooked. In the water, I totally concur! Geez, it seemed I was swimming a zig zag the whole time and needing to correct and recorrect my trajectory often, Apparently the end result wasn't quite as bad as it felt - my coach remarked I did a good job of swimming straight.

Nothing too remarkable on the first leg of loop 1 other than the jostling. Leg 2 yielded getting caught and swamped by the males swimming the 1.5 distance. Hit, pushed under, knocked into. Also got kicked in the wrist (thankfully not my head or face) so hard the guy actually stopped to apologize. I think he was breaststoking while he was sighting and that's when he nailed me. Oh well, it gave me something to think about for the rest of the leg.

Leg 3, loop 1: watch out for the weeds! 2 years ago they were troublesome and thick, grabbing arms and legs so I was hoping to stay inside the line far enough to avoid them this year. Either they weren't as thick or I managed to succeed at avoiding the majority of them because while I did encounter some it wasn't nearly as bad as before.

Leg 1, lap 2: OK, here we go again! Hang in there. Maybe 1/3 of the way after rounding the buoy my feet were threatening to cramp. I immediately tried to stop kicking to let my muscles relax before the cramps set in full bore. It worked, for now. Maybe halfway to the turn buoy a cramp began in my foot and started moving up my calf. Argh, no! 2 years ago I had stop-you-in-your-tracks calf cramps which I was desperately trying to avoid. It didn't get that bad but it was trying. Finally it worked its way out as I altered my kick.

Leg 2, lap 2: mainly being mindful of how I was kicking because my feet and calves kept threatening to cramp. Also I was constantly focusing on keeping a steady turnover and decent pull. Nearing the turn buoy I passed a 5K male, yay!

Leg 3, lap 2, the homestretch! OK, bring it home! I really tried to pick up the pace to have a strong finish. Stay out of the weeds. Pull. Kick carefully. Rotate. Pull. Stay on an accurate line. Pull. Catch that other green cap (5K male). Got 'em! Keep going, get to the finish! Finally I got to the final buoy, frantically trying to remember if they said anything about going around it before heading to the ramp. I didn't see the people in front of me go around it so I suppose we don't.

Got to the ramp and stood when the water was about waist deep. Standing was not an easy task! There was a guy in there to help people, I think I may have taken his hand until I got to the green outdoor carpeting. My legs were not working so well - it felt like they couldn't straighten up so I hobbled pathetically and carefully up the ramp to the timing mats, weaving a bit like I'd had too much to drink. My friends were there congratulating me but I didn't feel too victorious after seeing my time, just disappointed. I had really hoped to go under 2 hours, even if just by seconds.

What would you do differently?:

Not let myself get as rattled about the contact and the seemingly crooked buoys. I let myself get a little frustrated at both, especially the buoys, more than I should've. Continue working on improving my stroke and my pull to get faster and more efficient.
Post race
Warm down:

Wandered around a bit checking in with my friends to learn how their races went. All finished and all enjoyed it except for LT who surprisingly didn't place in her AG. She's typically in the top 5 women finishers overall and wins or gets 2nd AG but not this year, shocker! This made her very disappointed.

H and I were finally able to pick up L's shirt and swag (a great insulated tumbler).

I eventually got a couple pieces of watermelon slices and 1/8 of a bagel because I wanted Concord grape jelly. :) We got changed and headed to the REAL main event, Torre, an excellent Mexican restaurant we love. House made guacamole and chips, a Bloody Maria (spicy!) and my favorite entree helped lift my spirits some.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Not sure, although my sore shoulder would indicate some stroke flaws that need to be adjusted and worked on. Also, maybe the fact that I only recently learned how strong one should be pulling so I've been working on improving/correcting that. Maybe some of the mental 'static', too, with the buoys and contact. I should learn to block that out better but dang it, I don't like it, lol!

Event comments:

The RD works very hard to make this an organized, safe, well-run race and he succeeds.

Last updated: 2017-03-03 12:00 AM
02:03:23 | 5000 meters | 02m 28s / 100meters
Age Group: 18/21
Overall: 21/165
Performance: Good
Suit: TYR durafast
Course: Triangle, two loops for the 5K swimmers. Leg 2 is into the sun, leg 3 looking into the sun if you breathe right. A few weeds on leg 1, a bigger weed patch on leg 3.
Start type: Wade Plus: Waves
Water temp: 76F / 24C Current: Low
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Average
Breathing: Good Drafting:
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Average
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race? Yes
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

2017-07-12 2:41 PM

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Subject: Steelman Open Water Swim

2017-07-12 3:47 PM
in reply to: #5224189

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Denver, Colorado
Subject: RE: Steelman Open Water Swim
Great job! Your time for such distance is so impressive... I like the weed story
2017-07-12 7:32 PM
in reply to: #5224189

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Subject: RE: Steelman Open Water Swim

Wow, my arms hurt just reading this!! I'm sorry you missed your goal, but anyone who can swim 5k is a rockstar in my book!! I don't know what it is with people thinking it's ok to swim on top of you and or dunk you! certainly they can see you, so why are they allowed to swim over you?! You can't do that in the bike or run!! Great job handling that - especially the kick! You'll get your goal next year

2017-07-13 2:26 PM
in reply to: #5224189

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Englewood, Florida
Subject: RE: Steelman Open Water Swim

Great job!!! I think that the goal of 2 is a good one and with some work will be attained next year. I kept thinking about all of the struggles your legs gave you this winter and I am highly impressed with what you were able to do.


2017-07-14 7:57 AM
in reply to: #5224189

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Raleigh, North Carolina
Subject: RE: Steelman Open Water Swim
Awesome race!!! I've been cramping in the water the last couple of races - it's both frightening and debilitating. Glad you avoided it!
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