Carter Lake Crossing: race report

Oooof.  Two weeks after a swim race isn't the best time to be writing about it but I like to keep track of this stuff plus I have some really unflattering pictures & a normal amount of selfies to share so here we go...
I signed up for this race as part of a bundle of three open water swims scattered around Colorado this summer for no other reason than I love to swim.  I've ridden my bike alongside of Carter Lake approximately one zillion times in the last three years but I've never actually been IN the lake, so I was excited to see if it was a disgusting swamp or perfect and delicious.  Logistics seemed a bit aggressive, we had to be at the race site several hours before the race (not to mention sunrise) to catch a bus to the start.  I rolled in at the end of the show up before X time or you will explode into fire window and managed to get checked in, on a bus, and to the start of the race with over an hour to kill before we actually were able to get in the water.  Hrrrmph, a little, but it was also nice to sit on a rock and watch the sun come up (sitting on a rock selfie, hi) and definitely a better option than oh crap am I going to miss the start because I wanted to sleep past 4am.
The race was advertised as three miles but the announcer with the cute Australian accent kept saying that it was five kilometres! as he chatted throughout the morning so let's call it officially it doesn't matter because we all swam the same thing.  I squashed into my freak, checked in on the dock and floated out and backwards to the start line.  The water was perfect, if not a bit warm, I discovered a hole in the leg of my wetsuit as soon as I got submerged but otherwise just sculled around chatting with some friends until it was time to go.  My wetsuit has abs drawn on it so I don't have to flex anymore which is a good thing in my old age.
I had high hopes for swimming in or maybe just behind whatever the front pack ended up being until I learned earlier in the week that Julie, who coaches masters where I swim, had gotten all of her pro triathletes to sign up as well as someone who swims at my pool who qualified for the trials last weekend, plus a stack of local superstars that I can draft off of if I'm lucky and also if I manage to slip a rope around their ankles without being noticed.  I warmed up a bit, felt okay, and decided at some point that I wanted to swim at an effort perfectly described as as hard as I think I can go without wrecking my race tomorrow.  I spent the first ten minutes cruising, letting my big fat steam engine warm up and enjoying the calm clear tasty lake, then built into the effort and started passing people.  I hopped on the train of two men thrashing side-by-side for a while, then decided to find out if that effort was too easy.  So I swung out and kept it controlled and pulled around them in about ten strokes.  That clearly annoyed them as they immediately thrashed their way back in front of me, so I hung out on their feet for another minute or so and then swung wide to try and pull around, and repeat this exact situation about six times until I finally got irritated enough to swim as hard as I could for as long as I could until they were far in the rearview mirror (about three minutes, I think) (do as I say not as I do).  Once they were dropped like whoa gone, I could see the front pack of olympic wildebeests about 500 meters in front of me and knew I would never catch them but hoped to pick up a straggler falling off the back for a free ride.  No one got dropped, I could see a swimmer far to my left and a couple of swimmers far to my right but since I was right on the buoy line I just decided to stay put and chug along.  Which I did, there was a bit of congestion as we all came together at the first turn buoy right before the finish and I swam hard enough to hitch in on a draft for the last hundred yards or so.  Sexy, right?
I had a few friends watching and swimming, so I hung out for a bit, chatting & drinking terrible coffee & combing the weeds out of my hair.  Once the overall winners were pulled out, I managed to squeak my way onto the podium (not really a podium just a hand-shake and a water glass) and then rolled home desperate for a nap.
One of the really fun things about living in Boulder is that as any kind of athlete, you really the lesson about racing whoever shows up.  Sometimes it's a normal local race and sometimes it's roll call for a stack of the best athletes in the world.  
That's fun, to get to play in that sandbox, to be in that environment on a regular basis.  It's both humbling and motivating to stand on a start line next to a group of people who lap me every 200 yards Monday and Friday mornings.  We're all just in it to see what we can do and this swim ended up being a peaceful way of reconnecting with racing after a couple of really rough months.  I had a good time doing what I love with an open and clear mind and that was enough.


  1. Always love reading about your life. Miss you, Katie!

  2. Congrats Katie! I am so impressed by anyone that can do any sort of swimming. My doggy paddle would never take me 3+ miles.

  3. Congratulations!! Racing who shows up is always the fun part and often more rewarding than we had planned :)


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