Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Chatty Time

This year the US Masters Open Water National Championships were held in Chattanooga TN. I've been through Chatty before, but never stayed there and been able to explore. Kelley was not too keen on the idea of me doing the 9.2 mile race, but I thought it sounded like a fun time. Instead I did the 2.4 mile race on Saturday. The road trip turned out to be just myself, and my RAM teammates Tom and KC. We're all pretty tight friends so I had high expectations of fun. The school year ended 3 days after the race, so Kelley and the kids stayed home. Tom's wife & kid also stayed home for the same reason, and KC's husband had to stay and work.

Tom got us to lie down on the sidewalk for this one
I took Friday off from work, and it's kind of a key point on my days off/weekends that I get to sleep in. This particular day off/weekend had me getting up at normal time friday, because they were meeting at my house at 9 am. Then we had to get up at 5:45 am on both saturday and sunday? this is suspect.

It takes about 8 hours to drive from Raleigh to Chattanooga. Our drive down was uneventful but filled with fun conversation. KC stayed at a different hotel, but Tom and I stayed at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Inn. It was a really cool place!
The train cars were converted to hotel rooms

Friday night we had a fantastic dinner, and got to watch the first race in the Chattanooga Swim Fest go down - the 1 mile. This was a lot of fun to watch, the winners finished in just over 12 minutes! There was some serious current going. We also did the packet pickup for all of our stuff for the weekend.

Saturday - swim 2.4 miles
 Up early at 5:45, I got some breakfast and we got out to Outdoor Chattanooga, the starting site. The current was being released from the dam at 46,000 fps, which I think is cubic feet per second.There was a large ferry to get us up the river to the starting line. First we had a delay getting the ferry to arrive, then the ferry had trouble hitting the dock at the start because the current was too strong. We ended up having to swim from the ferry to the dock, then wait a few minutes before the race start because they couldn't stay on the dock.

Me with Kristen and Jordan! So glad to meet her in person

ready to race!

Our chariot awaits
I'm walking onto the boat to the start. We had to jump off of this same gang plank to get into the water and find the starting dock.

That finish line awaits
Hanging with KC on the boat

My only goal for the race was to hold my stroke the entire time. Work on efficient pacing, don't start out too fast, don't have to backstroke or anything to catch my breath. The race actually started about 2 hours after it was supposed to start thanks to the ferry issues. It worked out in our favor though. First I got time to hang out with Real Food for Fuel after running with her husband in several events. And the later we got the more water made it through the dam.

That all meant that my race itself was pretty uneventful. Eventually I started swimming, then I kept on swimming, then I finished swimming. There wasn't a whole lot of traffic in the water. The fun part about being in a National Championship race is the other competitors. As in, 30 states sent their top Masters swimmers. I was talking to one guy who did all three races this weekend, who finished 5th place in the 1500 trials for the Barcelona olympics. The field was competitive.

I swam 2.4 miles in 41:39, good enough to finish 141/193 overall, 71/100 men, and 12/14 in my age group.

Me and Tom after the race

Saturday afternoon
We had the rest of the day to rest up for Sunday and check out what downtown Chattanooga had to offer. My favorite is the Tennessee Aquarium. They have a jellyfish exhibit that is mind-blowing.

Tubs of jellyfish

so cool

Me with KC
Sunday - pilot Tom's 9.2 mile swim
The star of the show was Sunday's race. Every 9.2 mile swimmer had to have their own kayaker to pilot and hand them food, give feedback, etc. I agreed to pilot for Tom, KC registered to have a pilot provided for her. Another  5:45 alarm clock, early breakfast, and we got out to the finish line at some school.

I wanted to be comfortable and recognizable
From the school we took a bus ride to the starting area where the kayaks were loaded. The hardest part of my day was getting the kayak in the water, then paddling upstream to the first buoy where I was supposed to meet Tom. It was the swimmer's responsibility to find their pilot in the water.

Before the race

I'm taking a selfie with a girl taking a selfie

Other pilots, starting line is in the background

Tom is in the water. Found him!
This race had a crazy packed start. I've never heard a sound like 99 incredibly strong swimmers coming at me like that. It got loud and crazy fast. Found a few pictures in the local newspaper to illustrate the point.

Bottom left, I'm in the red canoe

on the right
Tom swam pretty good the whole time but started complaining of pain about halfway through. He wasn't as well conditioned as he really wanted to be. Too much life got in the way of his training through the spring. Hey, it happens to the best of us. I'm posting this over a month after the race, life.

Tom in the water

Tom got surrounded by 3 women

Still swimming strong

That last picture is a key point. Dawn (KC's pilot) is on the paddleboard on the right. KC in the pink cap) just passed Tom. This is a key point, as they are lane rivals on our team but KC's never actually beaten Tom before.

Right when KC caught up with us and passed it started pouring down rain. I really didn't think I was going to get a picture of the two of them in the water. 

Tom coming into the finish

Dawn, KC, Tom, me
Tom finished swimming 9.2 miles in about 2:27:something. It was good enough for 5th place in his age group (nationally, mind you), but only 52/98 finishers and an even lower placement on men. I think this is the first time I've ever seen him finish less than 3rd overall. He said it's the first time in his life (D1 scholarship swimmer in college) that he's ever finished in the bottom half of a race. I thought he did great. It was also the first time ever that KC has beaten him in a race, she finished in 2:21.

We stuck around for the awards - they awarded top 6 in each age group so Tom & KC both got awards. Then changed clothes in the parking lot and drove directly back to Raleigh. 8 hours in the car smelling like river, yum.

Tom getting his award

KC getting her award
Happy friends!
Overall this was a wonderful set of races and a beautiful weekend with good friends. Chattanooga is an amazing city, and I will certainly go back sometime with the family. This was so much fun.

1 comment:

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I seriously can not even fathom swimming 9.2 miles. That's crazy. Those long swims just sound so hard! Swimming is definitely not my sport and I don't enjoy it enough to work at it so I just accept that it's going to be the weakest part of my tri.

Sounds like a super fun weekend, though! That's awesome that you go to be the kayak for Tom. You've been on the other side of that relationship from your Charleston marathon swim so can obviously appreciate having a good buddy out there supporting you. I bet it was nice paying that forward!