Monday, June 17, 2013


My friend Mark Lattanzi is an avid adventure racer who has been around the world doing some truly epic things on water, trail, road, and mountain, without benefit of the cushy aid stations, transition areas, wetsuit strippers, sunscreeners, SAG vehicles, etc that we pampered triathletes are afforded. This year Mark did the Carvin's Cove trail marathon and the Mountains of Misery century ride and thought he ought to add a 2.4 mile swim to the mix and call it his personal Ironman. Speedy Edie and I joined up with him along with three support friends - Rima, Steven, and Jen in a canoe and kayak. They were essential and much appreciated for keeping us safe among the light but present boat traffic.

Edie and I in our speed suits!

Mark had plotted out the out-and-back course and marked some way points with the odd cooler and found child's chair, and I had the Garmin 901XT to give us distance feedback. Edie and I opted for speed suits to get some practice in them.

Hmm, am I really going to do this?

I've done a 4500y swim (2.55 mile) before, but that was in the pool. My longest continuous open water swim was 1.2 miles in the only half-iron I've done. I wasn't really worried. I just planned to dial into that go-forever pace and enjoy the experience...and enjoy I did for 2.54 miles and 1:28:51!

So what does a person think about and do for nearly 90 minutes in the water? Well, the first ten minutes as we crossed Claytor Lake to the bluffs of the opposite side, I was annoyed by the chop, wondering if I was getting anywhere, trying to find rhythm for my breathing in the water, and working to get my bearings. I drafted off of Edie for a while, and Mark for a while, then I got comfortable on my own.

It wasn't long before Edie cruised off and Mark and I were swimming side-by-side. I settled in and was very present, very grateful, and very happy! I pretty much sighted off the boat and Mark to the sides and once in a while off Edie in front. Had a giant log been in front of me, I probably would have swum right into it!

As much as I love racing, it was really special to be able to enjoy such an intimate open water swim. The body went on autopilot and the mind was able to drift a bit. I checked in on my stroke regularly - high elbow catch, roll, using hips, legs up, turnover up. At the turn-around point we stopped for a few minutes and rehydrated from the water our awesome escorts had kindly brought.

The trip back went much faster. Mark and I came to the same conclusion that I was a little quicker in the still water and he was a little quicker in the chop. Edie was quicker in all of it!! I would say she finished 350 or 400m ahead of us (and we started together at the half-way point). The whole time, as I was sighting off of her, I'm thinking now WHAT is she doing, that I am not? Our observers noted Mark and I are pretty much non-kickers to Edie's efficient kick. I should add Mark does not really train for this either, unlike me.

I finished feeling really good - not tired, or sore - and today I am fine too. That's reassuring. We refueled immediately afterward with a nice cookout and potluck. Here's the Garmin data from the day! (funny it gives you an elevation chart!)


THANK you Mark, Edie, Jen, Rima, and Steven for making this possible and safe!!