Tuesday, June 7. 2005
The last time I wrote, I was planning on watching the 5K competition on Friday afternoon. That only partially happened. It rained ALL DAY LONG on Friday. The race did start ? there was no lightening, just rain. The race did not, however, finish. About 2K into the 5K race, the officials had to call the swim off. It was raining and blowing so hard by that point that nobody could see the buoys and the swimmers were having a terrible time trying to stay on course. The lead pack of boys was WAY off and the girls were all over the map. As they came around the first loop of the two-loop course, spectators waded in the water and yelled to swimmers to stop swimming and come to shore. Extra boats were sent out to pull swimmers in and make sure that everyone returned to the registration tent safely to check in. What a mess!!
Due to the weather, I was only able to loosen up for about 15 minutes Friday afternoon. It was better than doing nothing, but I would have preferred to have had enough time to shake out and completely loosen after the 25K on Thursday. Instead, I swam just a little bit and then played Frisbee on the beach. I did lots of reading, watched a movie and sat inside and watched the rain pour down on the beach.
Saturday was a little bit better. The 5K was rescheduled for 1pm and this time, the swimmers were actually able to complete the course. Sara McLarty and the two Canadian girls swam the whole race way ahead of the rest of the field. Sara touched them out and earned a spot on the World Championship team. The boys race was close as well. Ricardo Monasterio (Venezuala) and Chip Peterson duked it out until the finish. The others were not far behind. All in all, it was a great race with tough competition on both sides.
Later that night, most of the swimmers returned for the "Dash for Cash" race. We started in the sand, ran out into the water, swam about a mile in the gulf, and then ran back out onto shore for the finish. I was not at all happy with this race. I started off really well. I sprinted out into the water and was in second place (of the girls) right away. I kept a tough pace going and ended up catching and swimming with the last guy in the pro division. The two Canadian girls were behind me, but at a safe enough distance that I should have been fine all the way through to the finish. Well, it didn't turn out that way. In order to finish, we had to swim under a pontoon and banner and then sprint up onto the beach. As we approached the pontoon, I caught the last male. When we got to the pontoon, he was struggling to beat me into the finish and ended up shoving me under water!! He pushed me right into the pontoon and elbowed me so that I was completely submerged. The two Canadian swimmers ran right over me and by the time I figured out what had happened, I was trailing behind them on the run up to the beach. I finished fourth. A great effort, but not the finish I had hoped for in the sprint. I was not at all happy with a guy beating me up, a guy that I was not even racing!! Girls and guys were scored separately and he still attacked me!! No fun at all.
Moving on we come to Sunday, the final day of competition. For the first time all week, the rain eased up a bit. Sunday morning turned into a perfect day for a 10K open water race. We started on time, the conditions were great, and the race was my favorite of all three of my swims during the week.
The course was four loops and there was a water station at the end of each loop. Right away, I started off in the lead pack. I was swimming with Sara McLarty, Karley (from Canada), Beth Byrum, Claire Hawley, and Lindsay Barwegen. We held a pretty easy and controlled pace for the first two loops. Then, at the 5K mark, we picked up the pace. Sara, Karley and I stayed together but the others dropped back a bit. From that point on, the three of us took turns leading and drafting. At the end of the last loop, Sara pulled away and took the lead. She finished about 10 seconds ahead of me, and then Karley was third. Sara and I will be together in Montreal, representing the US in the 10K.
All in all, it was a good week in Ft. Meyers. I am excited to be heading to Montreal in July to represent the USA in the 10K and 25K events. Until then, I will be in Cleveland training and preparing.
Good luck to all of you who have races coming up this summer. Keep up the hard training and enjoy the competitions!!
Friday, June 3. 2005
Yesterday was the 25K. What a day. The race was supposed to begin at 8am... but that did not happen. The race was also supposed to be a 25K loop around the Island here at Ft. Myers beach... but that did not happen, either.
The weather here in Florida has been unusually rainy and stormy for this time of year. It rained Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. We were sure that by Thursday we would get a break. We didn't. We woke up Thursday morning to a downpour complete with lightening and thunder. We went to the starting point and waited to hear the new plan. We were told to return at 10am. When we returned at 10am we found out that instead of doing the pre-planned loop around the island, we were going to be swimming two loops down and up the coast instead. We were to start the race at 11am.
The organizers here in Ft. Myers did an excellent job of rearranging everything and mapping out the course. We started the race pretty close to 11am and it went well. The swimmers, coaches, boat drivers, officials, and safety patrol were all very flexible and eager to make it a great race despite the weather.
I started out with the lead pack of boys but lost them fairly quickly. John Kenny led the boys' group from the beginning and was followed by a few Canadians. The Canadian team, by the way, is here and is using our Nationals as their qualifying meet for World Championships. It adds to our competition and gives the races a bit more depth so we enjoy having them here. Despite their presence, however, the race only had a total of 11 swimmers - 7 men and 4 women. Quite a small field. On the female side, one of the women was Canadian. Since this is a selection meet, the top two make Worlds. This meant that the three Americans were competing for two spots on the team.
The race went well. I felt strong and smooth the whole time - and only had two minor jelly fish scares. It startles me when I feel them rolling over my arms and legs! Just rolls this time though - no stings. That's a good thing! I saw a few dolphins and was able to look around and enjoy the coastline the entire time. My boat driver knew the course very well and kept me going straight - he was amazing. My boyfriend came with me to be on my boat as my trainer this year. It was his first time seeing me compete and (obviously) being on my boat. He was awesome and made the 6 hour race fun for me.
I finished the race in first place for the females - winning with a time of 6 hours and 4 minutes. Erica Watts placed second and was followed by Kathryn from Canada and Rendy from the USA. In the boys' race, John Kenny was first and Sean Seaver also earned a spot on the US team (on his birthday!) Two Canadians took the other two positions in the top four.
All in all, it was a good race. It did not go quite as expected (in terms of weather and the course), but everyone adapted well and raced hard. Being flexible and easy going is part of what this sport is all about. We don't race in the pool - we race in the elements and yesterday we were faced with that aspect of our sport.
I'm a little sore today, but I'm actually not feeling too bad. I made sure to drink quite a bit of water last night (after getting chocolate peanut butter ice cream to celebrate making the World team!) I will loosen up a bit in the ocean today and I will get some extra rest. I'm hoping to be as near to 100% as possible by Saturday evening and Sunday.
I will compete in the "Dash for Cash" on Saturday night and then in the 10K race on Sunday. Today is my rest day and I will be a spectator instead of a competitor at the 5K race this afternoon. I will update after the 10K race (it's tough to get affordable internet down here!)
Until then... think sunshine and fast thoughts for all of the US open water swimmers down here in Ft. Myers, Florida!!