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Thread: Kingdom Swim 25k Race Report (29 July 2017)

Created on: 09/02/17 09:02 AM

Replies: 7

swensonagger


Serious Season Racer


Joined: 07/19/10

Posts: 1,001

Kingdom Swim 25k Race Report (29 July 2017)
09/02/17 9:02 AM

My apologies for the delay in this race report, but life took over, and I was also awaiting the final results to be posted to the website for the Kingdom Swim.

My 25k swim dream began in late July, 2016, after finishing the Kingdom Swim 10 Mile United States Masters Swimming Championship Race. While awaiting the announcement of the age-group results during the awards ceremony, a round of applause erupted, but it wasn't for an award winner, rather, it was for one of the 25k swimmers closing in on the finish line on the beach. This particular swimmer stood out because she was taking strokes with only one arm. Once she made it past the finish line on the beach, she quickly requested ice and medical support. One of her shoulders had seized, and was in a lot of pain, but even that hadn't stopped her from toughing it out to successfully finish the race!

I was in awe of this swimmer's (and all of the other 25k swimmer's) determination and physical ability. All the sudden, my 10 mile swim felt overrated. When my name was announced as the 3rd fastest in my AG for the 10 mile race, I already knew that I had the desire to take on longer swim races!

Fast forward to early September 2016, when I officially registered for the 25k Kingdom Swim race. Since my previous 10 mile swim race had been longer, due to a buoy mishap, I had completed the required 2/3rds distance to qualify for the 15.5 mile race. I have a strong suspicion that the race director wanted more swimmers to qualify for the 25k race, and making the 10 mile race a little bit longer would do the trick. Whatever his motivations, he was successful in getting a record 40 swimmers qualified for the 25k race. Previous Kingdom 25k swims had been limited to 20 swimmers or less.

Similar to the training for my 10 mile swim race in 2016, my swim coach had me focus on speed and form during my weekday pool swims, and build endurance and practicing race day strategies during my longer weekend open water swims. I also continued to do the majority of my long open water weekend swims at the Cove, a private campground/recreation area a few miles past Winchester, Virginia. The Cove has several lakes, but I opted for the largest, which is approximately the same size as Lake Audubon (a 1 mile swimming loop). I did a few solo swims, returning to a floating nutrition station when needed (created by engineer Tom, my beloved and esteemed kayaker/support system), but the majority of my long training swims involved following Tom around the lake, and stopping every 30 minutes for water, nutrition, and salt pills. While training for the 10 mile swim in 2016, Tom and I discovered that marathon swimming is a "team-oriented" sport that involves a lot of logistical preparation and practice, as well as a confident navigator. Luckily, Tom, my life partner and best friend, is an outstanding navigator, and has intimate knowledge of my training and racing needs. He is also a great motivator, and knows when I require extra motivation to get me through the rough spots that occur throughout endurance training and races.

I did a tune-up race in late May at the annual Jim McDonnell Lake Swim, but most of my weekends were spent at the Cove. My training was right on schedule and my body was adapting well to the increasing mileage throughout June, but unfortunately I hit a setback in early July when I suffered a cycling crash on the way to the long course pool. Luckily, this was a low-speed crash caused by miscommunication between myself and a motorist near the Herndon Caboose, so my injuries were limited to road rash and bruising. Although, my muscle soreness lasted for a couple weeks, and my road rash took its sweet time to heal. I cautiously took that weekend off from open water swimming to aid in my recovery and ensure that my road rash wouldn't get infected. Luckily I was able to get in a 4.5 hour training swim down at Smith Mountain Lake the next weekend, which helped me regain my mental fitness and trust in my training plan.

Unfortunately fate intervened again when I developed a sinus infection two weeks prior to the 25k race. I missed another planned long training swim, but was able to get in a little over 2 hours at the Cove in the final weekend leading up to the race. As usual, "tapering" was mentally challenging, particularly due to the setbacks from the bike crash and sinus infection. Although, I had complete trust in my coach, training plan, and fitness. My coach had already provided a very successful path to the finish line of the 10 mile swim race in 2016.

The 25k race was scheduled for 29 July, but an alternate weather date was available on 30 July.

The race started at 0600 instead of the scheduled 0530 due to thick fog (although Tom and I were prepared for the early morning start with adventure lights on the back of his kayak seat, and chemlights inside of my swimmers float, floating behind the kayak, to aid me in sighting).

The air temperature was a chilly 50 degrees, but the water temperature was a comfortable 72 degrees, so the other swimmers and I couldn't wait to get in to warm-up!

Due to the thick fog I couldn't find Tom right away after reaching the first buoy (a smiling pumpkin, around 900 meters from the beach start), but he spotted me quickly due to the adventure light attached to the top of my goggles Once I was safely tracking his kayak, the glowing swim float and the bright red and green adventure lights (for port and starboard) helped ensure that I was still following the correct kayak.

The water was calm for the first 30 minutes, then after our first "feeding," we entered the main channel of the lake where it is always choppy. As I did in the 10 mile race, my "feedings" consisted of 80 to 100 calorie packs of pureed fruits (the type that are designed for toddlers). I supplemented that with 60 calorie applesauce packs, and small lemon bars that provided a small amount of protein and fat. I rotated every half hour between the toddler fruit packs, and the applesauce packs with one defrosted lemon bar square (Trader Joe's classic lemon bars). I also took an S-cap salt pill at the top of every hour, and sipped my water and electrolyte mix from Camelback bladders located under Tom's kayak seat. Marathon swim rules (applying to 10k or longer swims) are strict, and do not allow the use of wetsuits or any other devices that would assist the swimmer with heat retention, flotation, sighting, or pacing. GPS watches are allowed in some races, as it would be difficult for a swimmer to continually use the watch as a pacing device. However, metronome devices that can be heard by the swimmer are never allowed. The swimmer is also prohibited from making physical contact with any support boats, other than the quick hand off of nutrition, fluids, and other support items. As Tom and I experienced during our long training swims, strong winds and choppy conditions can make this final rule difficult to follow. There were times when Tom was blown away from me as we attempted a nutrition/hydration hand-off. Luckily, the winds were not excessive throughout the 25k race, otherwise, I would have ultimately been forced to hold on to Tom's kayak during feedings.

Things were going swimmingly until shortly after I crossed over into Quebec, right around 6 miles into the race, when my Garmin watch stopped tracking, but the timer kept running. Luckily Tom was also wearing his Garmin, so we ended up with a good track for both of us by the end of the race. It was probably a blessing in disguise that I couldn't see how many miles were left during the race, as that likely would have discouraged me, particularly on the back half of the swim! I do remember continually asking Tom how close I was getting to the border to cross back into Vermont from Quebec, and those few miles lingered longer than expected! I was relieved once I crossed the border, and could now see the islands ahead that I would need to round to make my way toward the finishing beach.

During the final 5 miles, both Tom and I had a hard time dealing with the main channel choppiness, as by then (12:30 pm on) the wind picked up, and the boat traffic had increased, sending endless rolling waves from the side. After rounding the final large island, I fought off several low points, as my shoulders and neck ached, and the water conditions worsened. Just as he had in training, Tom kept me motivated and helped me bypass the negative feelings.

I was re-energized when I knew there were only 3 buoys left, and was really happy to pass a swimmer...Tom told me that I actually ended up passing several swimmers during the final 3-4 miles, but they were out of my line of sight. I was so excited that my speed actually increased, which meant that I likely could have paced the entire swim faster, however, I was still pleased to avoid "hitting the wall," and finishing the race within the allowable time limit.

As I rounded the final buoy, around 900 meters from the finishing beach, I sighted for myself while Tom paddled on the side. Tom did attempt to guide me to the left-side finishing gate (apparently reserved for the 25k swim only), but I had been sighting on the right-side finishing gate, so Tom gave up and allowed me to do my thing. I was so thrilled to be back on solid ground that I managed to do a few high knees once my chest was dragging on the sandy bottom, and came running through the finishing gate:) The volunteers were surprised to see me running out of the water, and I calmly told them that I was simply accustomed to running out of the water from previous years of triathlons.

Tom later told me that a lot of the support kayakers were moving way off the course, which meant that their swimmers were going a lot further than 25k. Tom did an excellent job at keeping as true to the course as possible, especially in the choppy sections. I am very lucky to have an expert navigator. For my part, I kept either right behind him, or slightly to the left for the entire swim.

There were 38 swimmers starting the 25k race (both women and men of all ages), and according to final standings, I placed 12th out of all 38 swimmers, 9th for women. One woman set the course record at 5:49, but most finishers ahead of me came in during the 7th and 8th hours of the race. They allowed up to 10.5 hours before pulling swimmers from the water. I had hoped to finish in 9 hours, and that's what I did, coming in at 9:09. There were unfortunately 6 DNF's that either got pulled early, or after the 10.5 hours had passed, and I hope they are still proud of their accomplishment, as that was not an easy swim!

As I had learned during the 10 mile race last year, marathon swimming is a "team-oriented" activity, encompassing much more than swimming in open bodies of water. While some of the marathon swimmers met their volunteer support kayackers the day before the race, most of the marathon swimmers had months of practice with their support kayackers. I was one of the lucky swimmers that had a dedicated and well-rehearsed kayacker in Tom. We used every open water training swim to perfect our logistical plan, and quickly learned what worked and didn't work in all types of weather and water conditions. After talking with several experienced marathon swimmers throughout 2016 and 2017, I discovered that most of the swimmers had dedicated teams of volunteers that provided support during both training and event swims.

I have many supporters to thank for their expert guidance and well wishes throughout the many months of training:

Tom, my beloved and esteemed support kayacker, who made this 25k swim possible, and who gave up at least one day out of most weekends to support me in my long training swims. Tom ended up joining me at the local 50 meter outdoor pool to get in some swimming of his own (currently up to 2,300 straight...not too shabby for a self-taught swimmer)!

My parents Barb and Russ, and my brother and sister-in-law, Josh and Isabel, They always had many words of encouragement that helped me stay motivated.. My mom, Barb, is a life-long swimmer, and still swims in the protected cove area of their lake front home on Smith Mountain Lake, as well as at the local YMCA. Josh, Isabel,Tom and I started a new Strava group to keep track of all of our activities, and many kudos and motivating comments ensued.

Tom's parents, Sue and Dick (and Larry the dog), for offering kind words and motivations throughout the year, and leading up to the swim race. Also for the hospitality and great food during our visits!

My swim coach Eric, for once again getting me to the finish line of an epic swim race. Eric understood my crazy work schedule (working the night shift), and he offered me the flexibility I needed, while keeping me focused on the end goal. The one thing I never doubted was my fitness, as Eric had it all covered, from the weekday pool swims to the longer weekend open water training swims.

My good friend Mac and his wife Kathleen, who are both experienced open water swimmers. Mac has been giving me expert advice on marathon swims since 2015 when I did my first 10k, and he highly recommended the Kingdom Swim in Vermont.

My swim buddies from Lifetime, Laura (and Ronnie), and Anna, for joining me for swims, even though I had a lot of yardage to get done, and telling me that I was "crazy," which kept me motivated through the long pool swims.

My spin class buddies and instructors who kept up with my swim training updates, and gave me a "pass" for being late to class following long pool swims.

My Team FeXY teammates who sent me many messages of support throughout training and leading up to the race, especially Kristine W., Melissa, C., Pete and Leah C., Zoya and John S., Christina and Henry T., , Lisa A., Jeff W., and Andrea H. I particularly enjoyed a boost from the two Team FeXY Garmin Swim Challenges set up by our Workout Coordinator, Lisa A. These challenges helped me stay focused on my goal and have some friendly competition with other team members. While it is now more difficult to train and race with my teammates, I am always proud to represent the team in marathon swimming events!

My coworkers for putting up with constant discussion of marathon swimming and endurance training, and understanding why I wasn't able to pick up a lot of OT!

I plan to register for "Swim the Kingdom Week" in 2018, which consists of 8 days of longish swims, each in a different lake (varying from 3 miles up to 10 miles). The full distance for the entire week is 46 miles, but shorter distances are available for each swim, and a-la-carte pricing is available for each swim. It is a like a week-long fully supported camp for marathon swimmers. While none of the swims are considered to be races, you better believe I'll be competitive:)
* Last updated by: swensonagger on 9/7/2017 @ 7:05 AM *

Airborne All The Way!

Sara S.

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swensonagger


Serious Season Racer


Joined: 07/19/10

Posts: 1,001

RE: Kingdom Swim 25k Race Report (29 July 2017)
09/02/17 9:11 AM
Attachment: IMG_20170729_035421223(1).jpg

Early morning pre-race picture...slathered in Desitin (40% zinc oxide) for long-term sun and anti-chafe protection.
* Last updated by: swensonagger on 9/4/2017 @ 1:08 PM *

Airborne All The Way!

Sara S.

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swensonagger


Serious Season Racer


Joined: 07/19/10

Posts: 1,001

RE: Kingdom Swim 25k Race Report (29 July 2017)
09/02/17 9:12 AM
Attachment: IMG_20170729_080847396_HDR(1).jpg

Tom multitasking on the kayak, with me following in the background...

Airborne All The Way!

Sara S.

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swensonagger


Serious Season Racer


Joined: 07/19/10

Posts: 1,001

RE: Kingdom Swim 25k Race Report (29 July 2017)
09/02/17 9:14 AM
Attachment: FILE1953(1).JPG

Hydration break with a Camelback bladder (one full of water, the second one full of electrolyte mix, and a third for water back-up)

Airborne All The Way!

Sara S.

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swensonagger


Serious Season Racer


Joined: 07/19/10

Posts: 1,001

RE: Kingdom Swim 25k Race Report (29 July 2017)
09/02/17 9:17 AM
Attachment: FILE1924(1).JPG

Nutrition time every 30 minutes...either pureed fruit toddle packs, or an applesauce pack with a lemon bar square.

Airborne All The Way!

Sara S.

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swensonagger


Serious Season Racer


Joined: 07/19/10

Posts: 1,001

RE: Kingdom Swim 25k Race Report (29 July 2017)
09/02/17 9:18 AM
Attachment: IMG_20170729_155736787(1).jpg

Post-race bliss:)...and still covered in Desitin....it lasted through 9 hours of swimming!

Airborne All The Way!

Sara S.

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drrebeccajones


Nervous Novice


Joined: 07/29/13

Posts: 47

RE: Kingdom Swim 25k Race Report (29 July 2017)
09/03/17 11:04 PM

Amazing! Congrats on this fabulous swim and thanks for sharing your story!

Rebecca Jones

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swensonagger


Serious Season Racer


Joined: 07/19/10

Posts: 1,001

RE: Kingdom Swim 25k Race Report (29 July 2017)
09/04/17 1:04 PM

Thank you Rebecca, glad you enjoyed the long read!

Airborne All The Way!

Sara S.

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