Bare Bones Open Water Swim- July 27, 2013

DZ Associate Coach & Webmaster, Mike Mahoney, at DZ Blue Ridge Endurance Triathlon Camp 2012

by Mike Mahoney

It’s great to be in Boulder, where training opportunities abound for an adventurous triathlete. One of the great things about Boulder is that there are groups like the Boulder Aquatic Masters (BAM) putting on training and events all the time. The timing of our visit meant that Mike Coughlin and I had the opportunity to participate in BAM’s Bare Bones Open Water Swim this morning at the Boulder reservoir.

We lucked out on the weather- not only was it nice and sunny, but cooler than usual, with little choppiness on the water.

Mike Couglin and I at the startRegistration was as professional as any race I’ve been to, while at the same time as friendly as a local club meet. We couldn’t have felt more welcome.

Races came in half-mile, one-mile, and two-mile, each with a wetsuit and non-wetsuit category. Wicked! The water temp was easily warm enough for comfort “Bare Bones” and not having to get into a wetsuit meant more time to chat!

The course was marked and ready when we arrived, with an amiable volunteer to explain the course map, and triangular buoys coded by colour between turns and directionals. The starts were staggered so each group got going in the right direction. Warm up was available in within the buoy lined area, and many took advantage.

Quote of the day from Jane Scott’s race briefing: “If you want your exact, exact, EXACT time, bring your watch!”

Race briefing at the Boulder Aquatic Masters' Bare Bones Open Water Swim, July 27, 2013Mike and I were in the one-mile race, so we started last. Jane counted us down on the megaphone, accompanied by–I forget what It’s called; you know, it goes “Away, away away away…”– and then GO! Off we went into the sun.

I started strong, but it wasn’t long before the combo of a too-fast start and the altitude started to get to me. The trick I’m finding at this altitude is that the muscles are quite willing to go strong and use up oxygen at their usual sea-level rate, leaving the lungs to catch up. I slowed down and got into a rhythm.

Once the lungs caught up, I started swimming as strongly as I ever do. The cardio limit at altitude is a good training aid: I find that I have to concentrate on a more efficient stroke to keep moving satisfactorily.

The finish chute was split, with big signs for the different distances, and volunteers to sort us out and take our times.

Hamming it up for the camera at the Boulder Aquatic Masters' Bare Bones Swim, July 27, 2013There was food aplenty for after the race, and friendly conversation while watching the two-milers come in and waiting for the awards ceremony. Stand still for five seconds, and someone will walk up and introduce themselves. We met so many cool people and swapped so many funny stories I can’t keep them all straight.

I especially enjoyed Dan Rips’ jokes while handing out the draw prizes: “You snooze, you lose!” Only you didn’t: if you showed up late, you still got a prize.

All in all, this was a great fun race in a great venue. BAM puts on a race with the best of both worlds, know-how and friendliness. Here’s hoping the timing of our Boulder Experience camp allows us to be back for the Bare Bones next year.