An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Swimming in a washing machine

It's a common term that triathletes use to describe the mayhem, jostling, elbowing, kicking, frothy mosh pit that is the start of virtually every tri -- swimming in a washing machine.

Last night's aquathon was all that, minus the body contact. And it lasted well through the first half of the swim.

About two hours before race time, the wind started to blow from the north across Lake Washington. We were near the south end of the lake, meaning that there was nothing for miles to block the wind and calm the water. White-caps were blowing in to shore, with a decent swell going on top of that.

There was a missing Jet Skier just north of the race site, and the Coast Guard had a helicopter out looking for him from an hour before race time to well after we were done. I don't know that they have yet found him. An article said he was a "competent" swimmer... I think one would have to be more than competent in an emergency situation out there, with no wetsuit or floatation.

The water was warm, and I was considering not wearing my wetsuit. I'm glad I opted to wear it... Two weeks ago, at a different location on the same lake, we were dealing with multiple boat wakes, forcing us to breathe to the left or get a face full of water. This time, we were going directly into the wind to the turn-around, then surfing our way back in. I can honestly say I've never been in as rough a swim as last night. Rising off the top of a wave on arm recovery and slapping down into the trough. Ill-timed breathing as I involuntarily duck-dived through a swell. My goggles got water in them not from leaks, but just from the force of the water slapping me in the face.

It all calmed down a bit once we made the turn, as it was much longer between swells. Breathing easier. Timing not as disturbed. And I followed it up with a run a full minute faster than 4 weeks ago on the same course, and ended up 5th across the finish line (one ahead of me was a relay).

Maybe something about swimming in that particular washing machine cleansed me of something.

But it's not a swim I'd like to repeat any time soon.

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