Sunday, June 12, 2011

Chattanooga Rat Race 4.5 Mile Open Water Swim Race Report

Yesterday, I raced my longest open water swim race ever.

I have a strange attraction to races that I am 1. Not entirely ready to do and 2. Are too hard 3. Not many people want to do, so registration is still open.

This one hits all three points, so of course, I find myself at the starting line!

The rat race is supposed to be a downstream swim. I arrived at the start banking on that. The dam had been open ALL week....until 1am before the race. They said they would open it up again 1.5 hours into the race (at which point we would be farther downstream).

Also the night before the race, my little brother (who is 8) asked me if there were river sharks in this river. Nothing like brotherly love to REALLY get you nervous for a race ;-)

We showed up at the start, and I felt at home among all of the triathlon t-shirts. Yes! I am not the only crazy triathlete at these all swim races. But wait....they are all going to the 1.2 mile swim. y people left me for the short race. And I am on vans going to the start line with people who travelled from Baton Rouge and Cincinatti to get to this race. They all did 10K swims this year. Great.

We pull up to the start, and the water is so still, I am not sure which way the river is going. Awesome.

Then, we have to get in (and because of a short delay), we are waiting treading water and holding to to kayaks....going no where. Not much of a river!

And we take off. I am terrible at sighting, but luckily in a river (even a huge one), there is really only one way to go. So I don't worry too much about my line and I just swim. The race was REALLY well supported. Mind you, this is a large river with large boats--but I felt totally safe. There were support kayaks and jet skis by my side for the entire race. I didn't feel like I ever had to worry about being seen, I just had to worry about swimming. And swim I did. Because of that, I would recommend this crazy race to anyone who gets the feeling that they need to swim almost twice an Ironman distance swim!

In case you were interested, I am a slow swimmer, and I have done 5Ks before. What that means is that I have learned to bring fuel. I sipped on a electrolyte drink all morning, took a gel right before the race, and packed two in my bathing suits.

I really wanted to beat the 3 hour time cut off. That was my goal. I came in at 2:15! For a while when I was swimming, my mantra was "no bike no run no bike no run." :-)

You finish this race under a bridge, and people yell at you "you're done!" and that's the finish line!

On the one hand, I was 34th out of 40 people, and the last woman in. That is tough for the ego. However, only 40 people did the race. I don't know a lot of people who are willing to jump in open water for hours. So I have to be proud of my accomplishment. Even though it's tough to come in SO much slower than other people.

Also not my favorite picture ever, but I was feeling pretty good in this moment, so I figured it was worth sharing. And yes, my toes were VERY wrinkled after that long in the water!


  1. Sounds like a blast! I did my longest swim last weekend at 2.48 miles and that baby felt like it took forever!

    GREAT Job! I love swimming...maybe there IS a chance in hell that I'll someday swim even further.

  2. AMAZING! You rock girlfriend! :)

  3. That's pretty cool. I have my first OW race at the end of the month, but it's only a 2k...I think... I should probably go find that out

  4. AWESOME!! So proud of you! What an inspiration to go out of your comfort zone! Congrats.