Sunday, June 10, 2007

Chesapeake Bay Swim

So I haven't blogged much about this but several months ago I signed up for the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim, a 4.4 mile open water swim across the Chesapeake Bay. The swim took place today . . .

A little back story . . . I didn't really train for this. I did a few 2500+ meter swims a few weeks ago, but then I got sick and crashed on my bike. This ruined any training I had going. I did two 1000 meter workouts to get a feel for the water last week. Not one to back down . . . I shrug my shoulders and head down to Anapolis, MD to get this done.

The morning of the race, we (me and my lady friend) get off the shuttle bus that takes you to the race start. It is overcast skies and spitting rain. I keep repeating how I hope the sun shows up. We have 1.5 hours till race start. We chill out on grass after picking up the race packets. Before we know it has stopped raining, and it is time for the pre-swim talk.

The pre-swim talk was very important because this where everyone learns about what the currents are doing. This is key. Today the current was taking us out to the ocean until 11:15 and then it was a slack tide turning into a current that pushes you into the bay. My wave (the slow wave) starts at 9:30, so timing which side of the race "course" you swam on would be determined by your pace.

The course consists of 500 meters to a set of buoys then you swim under the south bound Bay Bridge. You swim between the two bridges for most of the race. With 600 meters to go you swim under the North Bound Bridge and swim to the shore.

I have the wet-suit on and I am in full triathlon mode. I'm goofing off, doing stupid dances and jokes to occupy my mind before the race. I head over to the start beach before my wave begins and joke with people about the water being cold (it was 73, far from cold) and how I don't like to get wet. The start was a running start into the water. My mind was in full triathlon mode that this point. (Let's do work!)

The gun goes off, and I walk into the water (very un-tri style). If it were a triathlon, I would have jumped in the water like Randy Macho Man Savage jumping in a wrestling ring. Well, it turned out the first half a mile was like wrestle-mainia anyway. I was swimming around, under and over people. When the turn was made into the bridges, I stayed close to the South bound bridge. This resulted into a scrum with other swimmers everytime we came across another pylon. At one point I put my hand on another swimmers shoulders and just pushed him off me. There was no point of him trying to swim on top of me and I felt it was the nicest thing I could do. In Tri-mode I would have kicked him for good measure.

After the wrestling is over, everyone finds their pace and thing settle. Before I know it I see the first mile marker. I try to focus on just keeping my pace and not getting too tired. I notice I am swimming in the middle of the two bridges, so I start to swim towards the South Bound bridge. The current must have been working, because despite swimming in that direction, my general location in the channel never changed.

Mile 2 came and gone. It felt fairly long. I told myself just another half hour to get mile 3 behind me. This seemed to take another very long time. I just kept swimming. While swimming, I would entertain myself by singing in my head or just imagining being done. Mostly I just focused on my form, the current and trying to feel good.

Finally I reached mile 3. A little after the 3rd mile marker was the second food boat. I decided to grab on to the boat and stretch my shoulders. They were definitely a little soar. I stretch a bit and keep swimming. The 4th mile marker came up way too quickly and that is because it was placed poorly. I start swimming with a purpose thinking I'm close to the end. At this point my shoulders felt like two hot irons were in each of them. With each stroke, my arms were crying. Screw it. I was almost done. Well, this almost done feeling lasted for about 40 minutes.

The biggest tease is seeing the shore very close and then crossing under the North bound bridge and seeing the finish about 600 meters away. My form was completely destroyed and my shoulders ached. This section was shallow enough to almost walk it in. I stopped a few times to stretch but I swam it in.

Coming out of the water, everyone cheers for you. Awesome. Someone get me a beer!

So . . . 2 hours and 21 minutes later I managed to finish the cross Chesapeake Bay Swim. My lady friend finished in 1 hour and 41 minutes. (I'll be worried when she cycles faster than me.)

It was a lot of fun. I think they should have created a race category based on who trained the least and got the fastest time. I am almost certain I won that category.

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