Jim McDonnell 5K swim: race report

I decided to do this swim a few months ago because my love affair with open water swimming has always been a bit rocky.  I cover this distance in the pool all the time, but when you get into a lake, there are bugs and fish and branches and lake zombies to worry about.  However, I had no desire to race the distance.  I didn't do any specific race preparation, I didn't taper, and my ZOMG EXCITED race persona stayed home.  I had strict instructions to swim steady and easy, and that's what I did.

It's been on the warm side in DC here for the past few weeks, and when we rolled up to the lake Saturday morning, the "official" water temperature was 76º (the guy that posted the temperature commented that he had to boat around to several places in the lake before finding a wetsuit-legal-temp-spot.  Excellent.).  In a triathlon, there is no WAY I would swim in a wetsuit for 76º, but one of the big points of doing this swim was that I wanted to spend more than 35 minutes in my wetsuit.  The water temperature in CdA is usually around 65-67º on race day, and I wanted to make sure I was comfortable swimming for a long time wrapped up in neoprene.  So that was that.  Caroline made the better decision to leave her wetsuit at home.
There was a lot of standing around yawning saying, "I don't want to do this" and fussing with my goggles at the start (typical).  I was actually surprised by how many people still chose to swim in wetsuits, although most had sleeveless suits (almost none of them visible in this picture for some reason).  
And the poet was there, doing his thing.
My friends were all in different waves, so I got to watch some of them take off, but pretty soon it was time to splash down into the water.  It was WARM.  The waves were pretty small and there was lots of room in the lake.  Going along with my "taking it easy," instead of thrashing and fighting as soon as someone said, "GO," I just put my face into the water and started paddling along.  My unfortunately full-sleeved arm and bizarre delicate hand entry visible far left:
And the swim was pretty much unremarkable.  It was three one-ish mile laps of the lake - one tight hairpin turn, one two-buoy turn, and one turn around some crazy prison structure in the middle of the water.  On the first lap, I swam so wide on the two-buoy turn that I almost crashed into a boat.  The second lap wasn't much better, but the third lap I managed to swim fairly straight.
My goggles kept filling with water, and I tried the "backstroke dump" a few times, but then realized it wasn't working, so I stopped to tread water and fix them.  Twice.  I'm pretty sure that's what is going on here.
At the end of the first loop I realized I was being boiled alive by my wetsuit, so I stopped to yank the neck open for some cooler water.  It was glorious.  During the second loop I did the neck flap every few hundred yards, and by the last lap I was so hot that it became "strokestrokestrokestrokestroke breathe strokestrokestrokestrokestroke frantic wetsuit flap" and repeat.  The only benefit of the wetsuit is that it prevented me from swimming any harder than "ridiculously easy" because of how over-heated I was - that and I couldn't find any feet to draft off of.  But then suddenly it was the end of the third lap.  I know, my head is too high out of the water and my cap is about to pop off.  And my crazy recovery arm is crazy and I desperately need an eyebrow wax.
I swam until I touched ground and then started to charge up the dock and rip off my wetsuit.  
But then I realized I didn't need to go find my bike and start sucking down liquid nutrition on a stopwatch, so I stopped and instead, we ate. 
For some reason, all of the ridiculously fast women were safe at home in bed in other age groups, so this happened.  I don't often get to win, especially not in swimming, so I'm going to try really hard not to qualify it.
All in all, it bodes well for CdA next month, especially when I considered how much time I spent dicking around not making forward progress in the water.  Next up: racing 150 miles on the bike and 30 on the run, just to make sure I'm ready.

Also, in case you missed the crazy updates on Friday, shirts are now only $19 and there are two versions - a "puppies shitting rainbows" and a "faith not fear" version, so you can wear one safely to work/raise your children/clean the church pews.  I'm ordering them TOMORROW, so please let me know ASAP if you want one!  Right now the way the order stands, we're in a good place to not have a lot of extras, which means you will be a SAD SAD panda next week when you're the only blogger on the block not to have my URL dangerously close to your ass.  You've been warned.