Sunday, February 11, 2018

You Are In! - The SwimRun Adventure Begins

Nearly four years ago, I returned from Norseman with my eyes opened to a world of endurance racing and multisport challenges that I'd never heard about before. The most appealing event that I learned about from fellow competitors in Norway was Otillo - a SwimRun event in Sweden. "Otillo" translates to "island to island." In this challenging endurance race, you swim to an island and then run across it, and then repeat, repeatedly: 10K of swimming and 40 miles of trail running makes it a beast of an event.

In the past few years, SwimRun has become an increasingly popular sport in Europe. Then, it hopped across the pond - the first SwimRun event in the US was held in 2016 in Maine. The original Otillo event in Sweden is now a world championship race that you have to qualify to participate in. You can also get in by participating in regional SwimRun events and entering a lottery. The wheels in my head started turning as soon as the first US race was announced.

The thing that makes SwimRun different from triathlon (besides the absence of a bike) is that you do the race with a partner. The rules state that you have to stay within 10 meters of your partner at all times while swimming and running, and many teams have opted to accomplish this by tethering themselves together. The team aspect of the event appealed strongly to me, I think because in the early days of running with Shelly, we always behaved like a team, even when racing, and it was difficult to give that up and race "alone" in triathlon.

The appealing team aspect of SwimRun is also a challenge - how do you find a partner who swims and runs at about your same pace, and is willing to train for and participate in this adventure with you? Many have taken to Facebook groups and online forums to look for partners.

Luckily for me, I have a friend who's just as excited about this new sport as I am! Whiting and I met at a Smash triathlon camp three years ago in Arizona. We were placed in the same lane for the 100x100 swim at camp, and became friends that week. Whiting lives in Boulder and encouraged my move to Colorado. A couple of years later, here we are, signed up for not one, but TWO SwimRun adventures: SwimRun Lake James in April in North Carolina, and SwimRun San Juan Islands in Washington in September. The one in September is an Otillo qualifier. We immediately purchased new cool SwimRun specific wetsuits from our Big Sexy Racing team sponsor, Zone 3, which also sponsors SwimRun Lake James.
Another appealing thing about SwimRun - you get to use paddles to offset the drag of swimming with running shoes on.
Whiting and I had our first real SwimRun practice today. We swam/ran/swam/ran in the pool and on the treadmill at her gym in Boulder, and blew up our friends' Strava feeds with 4 workouts. We learned that the second swim was much more difficult than the first, and are both looking forward to our next practice set.
All smiles after our second treadmill run of the day today.
I'm thrilled to be back smashing myself on the weekend, training with a friend. It's exhausting and leaves you starving with jello legs, but there is nothing like it. I came home and emailed the race director of the San Juan Islands event; there had been some confusion over whether the acceptance email we received upon registration was acceptance into the event, or confirmation that our application had been received. He replied within minutes, "You are In!!"

Indeed, we aren't just in - we are ALL IN! I'm so excited for this adventure. I believe 100% that we are both going to love it and will be racing in Sweden one day. I'm really looking forward to our first race in April.

For an interesting and inspiring read about SwimRun, take a look at this article: Why a Swimrun Race Is the Crazy New Fitness Challenge You need to Try. Maybe we'll see you at the start line. :)