Crystal Lake 2 Mile Open Water Swim

Every year one of the local lakes, Crystal Lake, has a 1 or 2 mile open water swim race.  It’s a common event for triathletes (training) and swimmers alike and a good test of your condition before some of the common Iron distance events (Placid, Madison, Cedar Point, etc).

I enjoy it because about this time of the year I start not seeing a bunch of my local training buddies because we’re all going our own directions for our “A” Race of the season.

2011 I did it and it turned into a 3.5 mile race due to drifting buoys…

2012 was cancelled due to weather

So always something interesting!

I had a pretty relaxed attitude. I hadn’t swam in 2.5 weeks due to kid obligations and work. Thankfully, this is the one area of triathlon I can slack on and still do “ok”… although I knew if I RACED it, it would hurt. Also, my wetsuit is just begging to split down the middle at any moment. Huge rip in the back and another huge rip in the front. It’s just a matter of time.

The water was, and usually is, pretty warm. However, I needed wetsuit time. I think I haven’t been in a wetsuit this year more than half dozen times. Today was primarily a training day, so wetsuit it was – even though I expected to cook in my rubber suit!

I got there in plenty of time, I knew I’d have lots of buddies to chat with – and I did. Finally I got in and warmed up… wow, water was 75 I think? that’s barely wetsuit legal and for sure going to be toasty. I loosened up and watched the 1 mile swimmers go off.

I lined up center mid-pack. If I was planning to race I’d probably go a bit forward, as I expect I would leave most of the triathletes behind – but it was the pure-swimmers that I was concerned about. You could easily tell who they were… no wetsuit.

We started and immediately it was a mosh. A ton of triathletes just decided to play bumper derby – so I sprinted ahead and got into the swimmer mix. Well, that didn’t last long as most of them dropped me fast. But soon enough I had minimal contact but I was swimming pretty hard. However… it felt fine. So I decided to just hold onto some bubbles and see where it took me.

The first half mile I was in a solid enough effort and the pack split up – there was a group well ahead of me and group well behind and not a ton of us in the middle. Perfect. Hit the first turn around 14min.

The water was “ok” but not great. It tasted clean enough but you couldn’t see much except particulate matter and weeds. Not too bad all said.

I was getting tired on the return trip. Plus it seems I completely forgot how to bilateral breathe and every time I tried I starting snaking. Arg. I think it’s this wetsuit as I’ve always struggled to rotate properly in it, I never kick, and I just don’t have the same mechanics as in the pool. It was starting to cause me to fatigue more on one side, and this is a problem. Not even half way done!

I tried to work out the mechanics and bilateral breathe but really, it just didn’t happen unless I forced it and I forced it once something was complaining on one side of the body. In short, it was very messy and sloppy. It also caused me to not swim straight so I lost some time drifting in and off a straight path. Once I went back to breathing on one side I was much more straight. Arg.

I hit the turn around at 29min.. Huh… that’s an ok pace. I feel generally ok and I’m not too tired. Maybe I should race this and bring it in under 60min? That sounds like a fun target. Doing do would not be any speed records for me, this is basically training pace, but it would give me something concrete to shoot for, so I decided to go for it!

Soon after I made this decision I found some bubbles and chased them. Ms Green Suit was perfectly matched pace with me and I held her feet for a good portion of the way back out, which helped conserve energy. While doing this I continued to attempt to breathe bilaterally, which was pretty much a complete failure. But at least I didn’t lose pace due to drafting behind her. Eventually Red/Black wetsuit guy, who kept running into me from the side, just got too annoying and Ms Green Suit was probably getting annoyed with me – so I broke off I worked to drop them both.  I hit the turn around at about 44. Right on pace.

The final half mile I worked to distance myself. Ms Green Suit and I were racing. Mr Red/Black wetsuit guy we dropped. Back and forth we pushed each other. I’d pass her, she’s see me and speed up, etc. Repeat. Also, there was another guy who showed up to the party. I couldn’t tell much about him but he was on my tail the entire way.

About 200m from the finish everyone started to haul it in. Ms Green Suit pulled about 5ft ahead and seemed to match my speed stroke for stroke. I would speed up, she would speed up. The guy, he pulled ahead as well and was trying to pass her.  I tried to throw in another gear but I didn’t have it. I was seeing red by the time we could touch the ground and I hadn’t made up an inch on either one. We all started running to shore about the same time and although he did edge her out, I didn’t gain on them and came in a good 5-6 feet beyond (which was all of 1-2 seconds).

Then Houston… we have a problem. They wanted my number. I wanted to breathe. Nobody marked my hand, so the number was under my wetsuit. Eventually I was able to gasp out for them to pull my string (I couldn’t grab it in my condition as it was.. well… somewhere!). Finally someone in the crowd told them what to do, they pulled the string and unzipped me and I showed them my shoulder so they could record me. Took forever, it seemed.

final watch time: 58:12, final results time 59:43

Either way, just under 60min. Not bad poorly trained!

I hung around until the last finisher was in, chatted with friends, and caught the very end of the awards. Good thing… because I got one!! WOOT! 3rd place Clydesdale division.

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