Last weekend I completed my first ever swim-only event – the Jim McDonnell a 1 mile open water swim in Reston VA.
I registered for the wetsuit division, thinking that I would be using use my wetsuit for EagleMan – but I’ve since found out that that water temp at EagleMan is likely to be in the 80’s.
When you register you are required to submit your estimated finish time so they can put waves together with people of similar abilities. I think I was a bit over optimistic when I registered with 29 minutes, not sure what I was thinking. Realistically I think I could finish in around 30 minutes.
The race started at 8:00am. Check-in for the 1mile race closed at 7:15, so I aimed to get there around 7am. What I didn’t realize was how many people would be there – as I was approaching the site, there were a lot of cars lining the streets.
I managed to get there in time and pick up the timing chip, swim cap, t-shirt and a nice gear bag too. I found the Warrenton Masters tent and said hi to the Kathleen, Mike, Kami, Charlie (he did the race butterfly, amazing!) and the others doing the race. The briefing was pretty simple, start in waves, swim to the outside of the buoys.
Course course map
My goal was not to go all-out, but approach it like I will the 1.2 mile swim leg for EagleMan only 2 weeks after this race.
The swim waves were small, only 25 people – this was very different to a triathlon start. Once we got under way I felt ok but was a little flat. I was also feeling quite warm in the wetsuit The water was around 77 degrees, just under the limit for wetsuits. At the first turn mark (the one at the very top of the map above), I had to stop briefly and adjust the neck of my wetsuit because it was rubbing a bit. I struggled to get into a rhythm, but felt I was swimming ok. I stayed with some in my start wave for a while, but didn’t get to do much in the way of drafting.. I must have been doing ok, because there wasn’t a lot of people passing me. The buoys were small and at times I had a little trouble sighting. This was good practice in navigation/sighting. I tried to keep a straight line, and I think I did ok, only occasionally drifting a little of course, or adjusting to swim around some people in front of me.
At the 2nd of the main turn-around markers (bottom left of the map above), I glanced at my watch – it was around 18:20 – a few quick calculations and I thought it might struggle to finish in 30 minutes. It was a long way from there back to the finish, and sighting into the sun was a little difficult. This last part of the race was good, I felt comfortable and had a decent rhythm. I did manage to pass quite a few people during this time, which I don’t often do in a swim race.
As I got to the finish line I was feeling pretty good, but was a little disappointed to see 31:13 on my watch (31:15 official time). My average heart rate was 155bpm max and 177bpm at the finish line. I’m happy with this, it shows that I didn’t exert myself too hard, this is right where I wanted to be (sub 160).
My preparation for the race wasn’t idea, but it wasn’t an ‘A’ race, so it didn’t matter too much. The day before the race was a busy one, finished off with a birthday dinner with friends at home. I had more to eat/drink than I usually would, which I think contributed to not really feeling ‘on’ for this race.
Based on this result – I think I have to reset my expectations for the EagleMan swim leg. Originally I thought could finish 1.2 miles in 35-37 minutes. If I add 20% to this race, I get 37:30, and that is with a wetsuit. So I am thinking that I might be in the 38-40 minute range without the wetsuit. Of course I should be more rested by EagleMan, so I may be a little faster, but I don’t want to go out too hard and ruin the rest of the bike/run legs. A few extra minutes swimming over a 5.5 hour race is fine.
Overall it was a good event. Well organized, and great post-race food/drinks. It was also nice to be finished and home by 10:00am. Next year I think I’ll try both the 1mile and 2 mile swims – in preparation for the 2.4 mile swim at Ironman Lake Placid.