Friday, July 31, 2009

IronGirl Triathlon Pre-Race Practice Swim

On the line to register for the pre-race IronGirl practice swim at Centenial Lake in Columbia MD. There were approximately 900 (?) participants attending this event with an even split between first timers and seasoned racers. I am in neither group, I am just an incompetent ultra-marathoner trying so hard to not come in last and yet really not succeeding. But I do have eating down (and people keep saying that is an important skill set for endurance athletes:-)
Right before I entered the water, I got my final picture (in case I drowned, was eaten by a gator, attacked by a shark, frieghtened to death by a fish or turtle or had some other catastrophe befall me---anyone know if there are attack foxes in MD lakes??) You will notice in this picture my camera's strap. Basically my waterproof camera is clipped to me when I am swimming. When I stop to ask someone to take my picture, I unclip it and hand it to the person. The camera's strap has two fishing line floats since I have yet to successfully teach my camera to float.

This is the view from about 200 meters after we started looking back to the ramp I had just swam away from. You will notice many 40-45 year olds lined up ready to get in the water and swim over me.
In fact I was kind of trampled a few times. Thank goodness I had my camera's floaties to rely on helping me! It definitely was more crowded this year and the swimmers were more spread out. Hopefully during the race my strategy of swimming about 100 meters away from all the buoys will help me in staying fairly isolated. Otherwise I am going to totally practice yelling "Shark!" every few minutes to frieghten and discourage swimmers from getting too close to me.

Here I am swimming along the course. This was taken during my second lap when there were very few people in the water. Each lap was ~1200 meters as per the Race Director who set up the buoys. My second lap I did not make it to the last two buoys but probably got 3/4th of the way to the turn around buoy. I was pretty pleased with my effort, although I suspect tommorrow I will not be able to lift my arms up at all!

After the swim, I was able to regain my sea legs (or is it land legs) while a nice volunteer took my picture. In fact this was when I decided to go for another lap if we were allowed (which we were). I was suprised that only a few of us were taking the opportunity to swim extra far because it is not often you get the chance to do long open water swimming and many ladies do use the IronGirl as a training event for an Olympic, Half Iron or Iron Distance triathlon.
The water temperature was pretty pleasant in the lake; however there was a lot of seaweed/seagrass which I found quite disturbing. Alas, I am optimistic next time I swim this lake they will have mowed (or whatever it is called when underwater), as they have the past few years.

I have participated in the Columbia IronGirl Triathlon the past two years. Each year I think I cannot lower the bar in my poor performance then exceed my expectations. Last year a ~20 minute T1 (going from swimming to biking) took me nearly 20 minutes. In the same amount of time some of the competitors were able to complete an entire segment of the race!!!

Well, I had such great fun I am back for another year.

This year I really have not swum much and my biking has consisted of Bike to Work Day and the Tour De Cure metric century that I turned into a 50 km bike event.

I am glad I am gracefully able to get out of my half Iron distance Tri in Sept because I will be presenting at a Regulatory Affairs Professional Society Annual Meeting (and I know I cannot show up and present with Seaweed in my hair, sporting triathlon attire and smelling of pond scum--or can I??) I am sure I can make the Olympic distance I will transition to (especially since this IronGirl is pretty close to that length).

I had alot of fun at the pre-race practice swim and enjoyed the camraderie that I associate with the IronGirl. It is a well run event in which all the competitors are so encouraging!
Now I just need to cram a little in the next 3 weeks!


joyRuN said...

A pre-race practice swim - freaking brilliant!!! I need to practice not freaking out when something touches me in the water, or when someone swims on top of me.

Runner Tammy said...


I also freak out when things touch me...and don't get me started on the seaweed (or water grass or whatever it is). I find is disturbing to be touched and ultimately covered in it. The nice thing about this race is that they do "mow" the seaweed for race day.

Being swam on top of is the worst. That is why I definitely could not do a pool tri unless you had your own lane the entire time. At least in the lake typically going a few hundred feet (or meters) away from the buoys provides space where no other swimmers are.


Carolina John said...

that is a crazy long practice swim. you are insane.

Runner Tammy said...

The crazy long swim practice is even crazier when you consider I basically swim 4 or 5 laps every few days at our local pool and consider it a workout.

If there is anything I stink at more then swimming and biking, I haven't found it yet...and in fact I have to say I am not overly fond of either event.

Next Tri I sign up for I need to find out if I can just sit out an event (jog that distance) and take a time penality.


CTmarathoner said...

very good, Tammy!!! I would like to do more open water swimming -I suspect that you are like me --although maybe not the fastest swimmer, you can go for long distances..sorry that i will be away for the self-trans marathon!!
I will make sure that Frank brings his camera.