I feel like I can hold my own in the pool as a middle of the pack swimmer, but put me in OW and I crap out, for lack of a better phrase. Where the swim is concerned in tri, for me it is about surviving it; just making it out the other end without drowning. OK, I exagerate a little. The Hudson River? Kind of freaks me out. It suddenly seems so much bigger when you are actually in it, rather than running along side it as I often do. I had a repeat experience of my tri last year (same river). So here we go...
Check in started at 10:30 AM and the race was scheduled for 12:10. I got there right at 10:30 cuz that's how I roll. Got my number and swim cap and went to check out the course looking down river to find something I could sight for when we were out there. I found a place to sit and called my friend Laurie for some calming down. Mostly just to hear myself talk my way into a less panicked state. It worked, Thanks Law!
I decided to get my wetsuit at least halfway on and then spotted one of my ride leaders from my bike SIG I just finished up. I sat with him and chatted for a while. I should tell you now that he is an awesome swimmer and took 3rd OA. I see him at my pool always in the 'very fast' lane. Congrats John!! I also spotted a fellow blogger Christopher @ Beyond Defeat. He is a NYer and a super fast runner, does tris and the OWS events. It was so nice to meet him and his friend. He did considerably better than me, but I think almost everyone did. I had to pee so badly, but there was no way in hell I was going to struggle with my wetsuit in the public restroom. I decided to wait until I got into the water. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I peed in my wetsuit.
I hesitate to even call it a race, since I was not operating in race mode, but it is what it is.....
Had a GU and we got into the holding 'pens', I was in the first group to enter the water (Damn my last name at the beginning of the alphabet; it did not server me well here today). The entry was a short jump from a pier and we kept dropping in like lemmings, one after the other. The water temperature was 61˚F. It was a bit shocking at first, but I started to acclimate pretty quickly especially after I peed; I was enveloped in warmth....ahhhhhhhh. Once every last swimmer had dropped in there was a huge cheer and the countdown started, we were off. I hate swim starts. I am not an aggressive swimmer. I try to be, but I'm just not, I lack the confidence for it. However, I did keep swimming to the end of the pier and headed south around the buoy. The current was slightly against us, but not too bad, but I was working for sure.
I took my inhaler about an hour before the swim start, but I felt like a fish out of water, except I was in the water. I just couldn't get my breath. I was starting to panic (flashback to NYC Tri last year). After some distance when I just couldn't take it anymore, I rolled on my back and just tried to get my head back in the game. I had to do this once more before I finally found my rhythm and was able to do what I set out to do: repeat my mantra, "long and strong", sight every 5-6 strokes and get comfortable and steady. Seriously, this took probably half a mile to get to this point, way too long. Then I was zig zagging all over the place (clearly my sighting needs work), and the buoys seemed to take forever to arrive. And then, when you think you are at the last one and it's not the last one, I was like, UGH!! Keep swimming. Crap! When I finally did see the end, it was like Hallelujah!! Thank you sweet Jesus!
My thought process for the length of the swim went something like this (and I won't use quotes cuz I am a lazy typist):
Oh crap, here we go.
Damn all these people.
This is so hard.
What was I thinking?
Why do I do this to myself?
I can't do this.
Where the hell are the kyakers?
Ok, roll over and get a grip.
Should I keep going? It's so far.
Ok, let's go.
Why can't I calm down?
Why can't I breath?
Just swim, long and strong, long and strong.
Roll over, get a grip.
Were are the buoys?
How did I get so far off course, ugh.
John is probably done by now.
How will I do this next weekend?
This chop is killing me.
What is that taste? Diesel?! Gross!
Ok, here we go, now I'm settling.
Not too bad.
Sighting isn't great, but I'm managing.
How the hell do they do 2.4 miles for Ironman?!
Wonder if Tom made it to the finish.
I'm going to be so hungry when this is over.
What did I just touch?! Oh, a stick.
I can't see shit under the water.
I'm glad my goggles are not fogging.
Why is it taking so long to reach that buoy?
elbows high, long and strong.
four, five, six, sight.
There it is! The finish.
Hurry! NO! don't hurry, just stay steady.
ok, pass that guy.
Follow those caps.
I made it to the pontoon and up the steps. I was unsteady on my feet and felt like I was still moving, I have never been happier to be on land. Actually that's not true. I took a sailing trip to Menorca once from Barcelona. We hit a storm. I sat up all night with a friend keeping watch. I have never been so terrified in all my life. The waves were over our heads and crashing down on us. I really thought I was going to die that night. I literally kissed the ground when we arrived back.
Tom and my son were waiting as I exited the water. I got a nice finishers medal (which I really wasn't expecting). My final time was 57 minutes. I was 179/197 (I know, right?), three people withdrew and several others (50?) were a no show.
Now, you might expect me to be disappointed, and maybe I am just a little. For me, being my first open water swim of the season and given the fact that I suck in OW, I was happy to have swam the distance. Another thing that surprised me and made me happy: I was not tired after this swim. Yes, I had trouble getting my breath, but I was never fatigued. I also had no shoulder fatigue from wearing a full wetsuit. I fully expected that.
I know I should be unhappy with my result, but I am not. I am too jazzed about heading to NH and my first HIM. I may not be a star on the swim, but at least I know I can get the job done. I'll be more in my element on the bike (for sure) and the run. I leave tomorrow which will give me a week to train on the course and in the lake; sweet.
Wishing you all a happy Memorial Day weekend. Ok, now I am fatigued...time for bed.