Race Report - Swim Miami 2010

After a long winter confined to the concrete box, I took the opportunity for a quick escape from Ohio to attempt my first 10K swim - the Nike Swim Miami. After my first 5K last fall at Big Shoulders in Chicago, followed by 7 months of solid training, I thought I had a reasonable chance to put down a decent time. 2:10, maybe? 2:15?

Alas, I didn’t come close to either of those times. 10K is twice as far as 5K, of course - but that wasn’t really the issue. I didn’t even put together a decent first 5K. Actually, I fell off the pace before I was halfway around the first 2500m loop. So what happened?

But first, the venue:

Miami Marine Stadium

Miami Marine Stadium

In a protected nook of the Biscayne Bay with a direct view of the downtown skyline, the Miami Marine Stadium lends itself perfectly to Olympic-style 2.5K loop.

When we arrived that morning, the place was packed with age groupers and their parents. There were other events on the day besides the 10K, and apparently one of them was the Florida open-water Junior Olympics. We had an hour or so to kill before the pre-race briefing, so we got lubed- and sunscreened-up and stretched out a bit. I tried to scope out the race course, but it was tough to even see the buoys at the far end of the course. I thought, “I have to swim around that… four times?”

There was a small cordoned-off warm-up area about the size of a standard Olympic pool, and I swam a few “laps.” The water was comfortable (mid-70s) but so murky that I couldn’t see my own hand pulling beneath me. I noticed Eva Fabian and her brother warming up next to me.

Funny thing about the “Marine Stadium” as a venue - the structure itself is in a state of total disrepair. An adjacent sandy beach and grass field served as the registration / vending / race briefing / spectator area.

One downside to the Marine Stadium’s semi-isolation from the Atlantic was the water quality. As the basin is closed in on three sides, it’s isolated from the typical flow of water generated by ocean currents. As a result, the water visibility was near zero. This is a problem if, like me, you use people in front of you to help navigate.

The race, in brief…

Got smoked at the start by the National Teamers. There were five of them, plus a Brazilian ‘08 Olympian and 2-3 others in that ballpark. Tried to keep up (stupidly) and catch someone’s draft, but they were out of sight soon enough. Inevitably, halfway around the first loop I was huffing and puffing and getting passed by Masters swimmers.

Swam by myself for most of the final 8K. Didn’t have any feet to follow, and the sighting (which I hadn’t practiced over the winter) tired me further. Got confused by a couple rogue buoys and stray boat (!) on the back stretch of the course… probably swam an extra 500-600m over 4 laps. “Feeding station” consisted of volunteers handing out tiny cough syrup-sized cups of water and energy drink. Had to take about 10 (1 or 2 at a time) to get even a minimal feed. Unless, of course, you had a coach to hand you custom feeds (not me).

Where the hell is the finish?!

Where the hell is the finish?!

Small but vicious chop on the final 500m of each loop… swallowed a bunch of seawater… the last 7.5K was basically one long “dark place.” But I finished. 2 hours, 34 minutes, 15 seconds.

Finishing my first 10K

Finishing my first 10K