The Kingdom Swim: Nothing Short of Magical (Part III)


Reaching a goal can be quite an emotional experience and if I had my choice, I would let someone else take over while I’m processing what just transpired. In addition, after swimming for so many hours, it’s just hard to stop. My body goes haywire. “What? You don’t want me to keep on swimming? But… Then feed me!!!” At times like this, I wish I had a friend with me, like dear Sarah during GCBS last year. But I don’t have that choice, so soldier on I must. It helps to have little goals: #1 eat, #2 say goodbye to my wonderful kayaker, #3 shower, #4 attend award ceremony, #5 rest, #6 eat again.

It took a while to do all those things. I even had to go into town following the awards to run an errand (MISSION CREEP!) before I could sit in the beer tent and put my feet up. Since the ten-miler was also the 9+ Mile USMS Open Water National Championship, awards were given six-deep into each age group. Since no age group had over six participants, everyone who stayed for the awards got USMS hardware to hang on his/her “I-love-me wall” or to make his/her head coach proud. Wahoo!

Hanging out in the beer tent turned out to be one of the most enjoyable things I did on my trip to the Northeast Kingdom. Oh, yes, the beer was great despite the fact that I’m not much of a beer drinker, but the company and the conversation were even better. I was still star-struck by the swimmers I’ve heard of and admire, who turned out to be quite friendly and unassuming. Plus I got to meet many swimmers from the East Coast, who were happy to share swimming stories and plans. What a lovely evening it was! During that time, the last swimmer to finish the Border Buster came in, and all the swimmers in the beer tent walked down to the beach to greet her and cheer. Reminiscing of that moment still gives me goosebumps. What a wonderful sport this is, in which its athletes celebrate each other’s triumphs, no matter how long it takes to reach those goals. Dinner at Prouty Beach was delicious and plentiful and by a surprising turn of events, I was committed to applying for the 2017 installment of SCAR. I capped the evening in Newport, surrounded by swimmers enjoying well-earned ice cream cones.

The following morning, I packed my campsite and started the journey back to South Florida, already awaiting my return next year to the magical Northeast Kingdom of Vermont for the Border Buster.

Lessons learned

Kayak escort – Swimming while escorted by a kayaker represents a whole new level of the sport for me. It incorporates the notion of teamwork. Swimmer swims. Kayaker guides. Swimmer lays out logistics. Kayaker keeps her eyes and ears on safety. It is so much easier to follow one’s kayaker than to attempt to spot a buoy! For my next supported swim, the Suck, I’ll already know what works. I had a fantastic escort who kept me right on those buoys.

Hydration (CarboPro/Gatorade mix) – I brought more than I thought I needed. I nearly drank it all. But then again, I swam longer than I thought I would.

Nutrition (banana/apple baby food in squeezable packets) – I didn’t eat at all. My stomach never felt like it needed food, though I was afraid that if I did eat it, I would get stomach cramps.

Pacing – I was very pleased with my pacing once I settled in. I was also glad that during training days that I was feeling off, I saw the workout through completion. That gave me the confidence that I could finish the swim even though I wasn’t feeling fantastic.

Speed over time elapsed.

Adequacy of training – A rule of thumb is to swim the distance of one’s race in a week as a minimum. I stuck to that rule, but added long swims of increasing length every other weekend. My mentor had recommended breaking those long swims by stretches of time, twenty to thirty minutes each, with a little rest in between. Three weeks before the race I did my longest pool swim, a 13K, followed two days after by a 10K time trial. I felt my training had been right on point, though when my mentor asked me what I would have done differently, I said I should’ve swum more at a tempo pace. Something to be discussed with my coaches…

TRACK.RS – A new tool offered to marathon swimmers by the Marathon Swimmer Federation. Not only TRACK.RS provides the swimmer with post-race data, such as the actual location and speed vs. time, but it also allows one’s ‘fans’ to follow one’s progress in near real time. Once I returned home, many of my friends commented on how fun it was to check on my progress. I blushed.

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