Saturday August 20th, 5:00am
Wahoo, we are off in the mini to Lake Willoughby for a 4.75 mile point to point race, Jeff and I zip along the windy Vermont back roads with the Kayak on top, we make excellent time and arrive 20 minutes early at North beach, another fabulous day has been ordered up, it is shaping up to be excellent conditions in the deepest lake in Vermont. I reflect on last years swim, my time was 2 hours, 9 minutes and 50 seconds and I distinctly remember getting cold along with losing power in my stroke, ” time to put my cold water training to the test”, I think.
We gather at North Beach, Phil the race director gives us the go ahead to drive up to the south end of the beach, ” you will start from the south end, 9am sharp, North Eastern time, that’s maybe 5 minutes before, maybe 5 minutes after”. Jeff and I head up to South Beach in the mini, Jeff unloads the kayak, I get all I want during the swim ready, 2 feeds of Maxim, spare goggles and my teany tiny Mini Mouse. We are all set up on the shore, we wait.
A MERRY SEND OFF
I am thrilled to have some well wishers to send me off, Ron and Ann arrive from Colchester, it is there 17th wedding anniversary and they have come to Lake Willoughby as part of the day’s celebration, lucky me, Jeff has headed back down to the other end of the lake, he is going to leave the mini there for the finish, Ron has kindly agreed to drive him back, but will there be time? Again, only time will tell.
WHERE ARE OUR KAYAKERS
10 minutes before 9:00am, Deb arrives back to the beach, she and ” cat Stanley” are kayaking for Paula, I am relieved to see her back, I have been worrying about her, PHEW…… but still no Jeff, I start to consider my options should he not make it in time for the start of the race…
1. Talk to the starter, ” excuse me what time is the start, my kayaker is not here yet”, I say, ” 3 minutes”, she shouts the reply so all can hear, “3 minutes to race start”…. OK delaying the race start not an option, eighty six that idea.
2. Option number 2, I wait at the beach for Jeff and start after the other swimmers when he arrives, “EERRRRR”, the buzzer sounds in my head, bad idea and a SLOW idea, I am not one to sit on the shore and watch
3. Option number 3, I wade out with the other swimmers without a kayak and start alongside the 16 year old swimmer who was crowned champion at the 10 mile Greater Kingdom Lake swim last month, with a blistering fast time, she is said to be the fastest of swimmers, I will swim with her at the start and when Jeff arrives I will settle into my pace alongside the kayak, DONE, this is my plan B.I hand off my towel and flip flops to Ann, wish Noel and Betty farewell, ” tell Jeff to come find me, I’ll be the one in the blue cap”, and with that I wade into the water. The start horn sounds and we are underway. In the water everything feels great, I swim out strong and enjoy the feeling of racing through the water, there are 2 swimmers off to my right, 16 year old speedster and wetsuit guy, I don’t want to settle into my pace until Jeff arrives so I continue to swim hard and fast, what fun the thrill of opening up all the cylinders, I am enjoying myself. A short time later I see Jeff and his black and white baseball cap to the right of this little lead pod, “wonderful” I think, now I can move on over and rely on Jeff for navigation, easier said than done, this little pod seems to be attached to me like glue and has no interest in breaking up or moving over, my only choice is to power ahead, when I clear them from my side I cut over and pull alongside Jeff, ” hey bud, good to see you”, I send him the message with my best mental telepathy. I start settling into a rhythm and notice 16 year old speedster is still sitting tight behind me, wetsuit guy has long dropped back and it is me and this talented young swimmer, I reflect over the start, ” worked out great to swim out fast with this swimmer, it should set me up for a personal best time”.
I begin to think about my next feed, ” no 30 minute feed for me Jeff, I’ll take a feed at one hour and one hour and 30 minutes only”, I had told Jeff earlier this morning, I am starting to wish for a 30 minute feed, I feel thirsty, I swim on. My 25 minute pickup comes along and 16 year speedster is still swimming right there with me I can feel her on my toes, I have long settled into my race pace, hard but not unmanageable, my heart rate is under control and my stroke rate 70 to 74 strokes per minute, I move right towards the boat, 16 year old speedster follows. Feed time arrives, 15 seconds Gulp and Go and we are off again, the carb drink kicks right in, I feel strong, I complete a scan of my body, my face feels hot, my strokes feel long and I notice how much more powerful I feel compared to one year ago, I am pleased. Jeff and I continue on, he brings out Mini Mouse and I laugh, he rocks the kayak from side to side, I look puzzled, he pulls on his race number, it gets stuck on his cap, I laugh, what an entertaining time I am having thanks to Jeff, ” I wonder if he knows he is making me laugh”, I think, I am jolted back by a hand hit, speedster is back, this time alongside close….. We swim on, speedster pulls alongside and like a slingshot swims past me and off to my right, I swim on solo looking forward to my 1.5 hour feed, if you could drool in the water that would be me, I am so looking forward to my next feed, finally it arrives and I gulp down my maxim, my eyes are scanning, I can see the houses close to the north end of the beach, WOW could I be near the finish and could I break 2 hours?. No time to ask, Jeff shouts, you’re nearly there SPRINT IT.
Crikey Dick, I think, (in Kiwi this means Holy Smoke) and with that I jump into my ” I am swimming to shore pace”, and I swim to shore, and I swim to shore and I swim to shore….still no shore, I continue on but slow my stroke rate slightly and add more power to each pull,” much better and more efficient”, I think, I am pleased with the adjustment and control.OK, busted, I did peek, I lift up my head, ” still a good 1000 meters to go”, head back down and I continue to swim, such trickery from the Lake it looks so shallow, like I am already there, I can see when I breathe to my right that the beach is atleast a few 100 meters, so I swim on the bottom is so close, it’s teasing me, ” hey look, you can stand if you want to, go on do it, stand , do it, OK if you are not going to stand then take a little looksie, GO ON”, Yip that lake was talking to me all right, trying to wear me down, ” I am not going to listen”, and with that I look up, “DARN tricked by the lake”, I put my head back down and swim onwards, I can see speedsters boat finishing, ” under 2 hours, come on sprint it” and I do, I come out of the water and begin to run, too slow, I drop in and swim a few more stroke, my hands scraping the bottom, then I am up again, striding out of the water and over the finish line, ” 1 hour, 56 minutes and 36 seconds”, my arms go up, I am pleased.
A WONDERFUL WELCOME
I am treated to a big hug from Ann, Bridget and Cara, Ron is taking a video and then it is off to thank Jeff for the wonderful support and ask him what does this mean…….. I stand with the paddle demonstrating a jostling of the paddle from side to side, we all laugh.
Next up I go off in search of 16 year old speedster, to shake her hand, she finished in a time of 1 Hour 53 minutes and 39 seconds, ” congratulations, great swim”, I say with a handshake. Next up time to get some dry clothes and my camera, there are more swimmers finishing and I want to be there when Paula, Ernie and Jody all cross the finishing line.
So was I faster this year, YES, I finished in second place in the non wetsuit division and a whopping 16 minutes and 21 seconds faster than last year….HOORAY
What’s up Next?
Determine what you want to accomplish and lock your mind on what it takes to achieve that task or goal. Think about the path to success rather than thinking about the obstacles in your way.
-Coach Terry Horn, Burlingame, CA