Fat Salmon 5K & Applegate 10K Race Report

Coming into the weekend I was feeling a bit anxious. This was going to be my first weekend with two significant back to back races. My first was to be the Fat Salmon 5K in Seattle, followed the very next day, and 7 hours away, by the Applegate Lake 10K. However when friday came around, I was ready to go.

I climbed into my car and headed off for the 3 hour drive to Seattle. While I left too late in the afternoon to miss the traffic, the good news was that the weather was looking very promising. I arrived in Seattle before sunset and headed off to take a look at the swim venue. It looked fantastic. As I stood at the finish that evening, the view of Lake Washington and Mount Rainer was phenomenal. I couldn't wait to see it in full light the next day. Unfortunately, the clear skies did not hold up for the race, and low gray clouds hid Mount Rainer in the morning. However the warm water forecast for the lake was accurate, and it was a comfortable 67°.

Fat Salmon Ranier H-L

Photograph by Bob Needham

The race itself is a point to point race, meaning you start in one location and swim 5K to the finish line, so finding transportation to the starting line was a top priority for me that morning. Luckily, friends of Bob Swims came to the rescue (again). In fact if it wasn't for the help of Diana McCandless (pictured below in the white cap), I would have never gotten into this closed race. On the morning of the race, it was Scott Mathews (in the green shirt) who came to the rescue by providing a ride to the start in his boat. This high speed shuttle was more than I had planned for; I held on for dear life as we headed off to the start. As soon as the race started, I picked a straight line to the finish using a tall building to sight on which stood adjacent to the waterfront park . Unfortunately, as the kayakers reminded me more than once, I needed to stay inside the white buoys closer to shore. In the end it was a great race. Lots of fun, and as is always the case in open water swimming, wonderful people.

2010 fat Salmon Boat Ride Small 2010 Fat Salmon Boat Ride 2

Photographs by Scott Mathews and Diana McCandless

Immediately following the race, I hopped into my car and headed south. After being tied up in traffic for a dozen miles because of an air show (it is the home of Boeing after all), I made good time and was greeted in Oregon by our typical sunny summer weather. Deciding a bed at a motel made more sense to my body than camping out did, I spent the night in Medford. On Sunday I was up at 5:30 for the second day in a row, and headed out to Applegate Lake. I had swum a 1500 meter race there a couple of years back, so it was familiar ground. When I arrived it was just as beautiful as I remembered.

2010 AL H-L

Photograph by Bob Needham

The race itself was an "in the water" start. The water temperature was a warm 72° so there was none of the usual muttering about the need to hurry up and get started once we got in.  Because of the length of the swim, a feed station was set up  (seen in the lower right hand corner of the picture below). Drinks were also available in a raft at the other end of the lake if needed.

2010 AL 10K H-L

Photograph by Bob Young

In addition to those of us that would be swimming the 10K, there were also people swimming a 5K. We all started off together like a happy family. The swimmers going 5K would go two loops around the 2500 meter course, while those of us doing the 10K would continue on for two more laps. As the sun climbed into the sky, the air temperature continued to rise with the forecast high for the day in the mid 90's. I was only 1/3 of the way into my race when my swim cap started slipping off. Feeling a cool rush of water over my head, I stuck the cap into my suit and swam on, grateful for the small amount of relief that swimming without a cap provides.

2010 AL Me H-L

Photograph by Joni Young

Just after the halfway mark I started to tighten up: the after-effects of sprinting the last 400 meters to the finish at Fat Salmon the day before. I slowed my stroke rate and focused on relaxing in the water. While a bit of self doubt tried to creep in, there was no way I was going to let these muscle spasms stop me. It took me the better part of the third lap to get past the physical and mental barriers I encountered, but once I conquered them, it was game on again. I swam strong, but admittedly began to suffer the last 400 meters. After fighting to stay on my line to the finish, I was thrilled to hit land and complete my first 5K - 10K double.

The goal of swimming these 2 races over 2 days was to experience being outside my comfort zone, face whatever may come up and develop confidence which I can carry into the longer swims I have planned. Looking back I can say I accomplished my goal.  I am hoping that this experience, along with those later this summer,  will allow me to take small steps toward reaching my goal of swimming the Catalina Channel next year.

Many thanks to the terrific organizers and volunteers at both of these outstanding events. Without them none of us could enjoy this wonderful sport.

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