Swim the Suck race report, part II

First part here.

So, we all took off at the sound of the horn. I let a lot of the speedy swimmers, like Penny Palfrey and Martin Strel (!) head off first. I started out and a short time into the first few minutes I stopped to try and find Tony. I found him and waved to him, then put my head down and got swimming. A couple minutes later I saw him far off to my right still searching for me, so I waved again, and just a few seconds later, he was beside me. Tony told me later that even at my first feeding (00:30) there were still kayakers calling out numbers and looking for their swimmers.

As I stated, this was my first escorted swim. I loved the thought of just breathing and not worrying about sighting. I still had the urge to do it for the first little bit. This was the first time for Tony as well. He’d never escorted a swimmer before. But I got over the need to look ahead really quickly and just swam.

The first feeding took quite a while, or at least it felt like it did. But the first feeding came up, and I gulped too much, like I described in Part I. Another thing that happened during the first feeding was that someone came up right behind me and, despite my efforts, ran into my feeding cup twine. I tried to get as close to the kayak as possible without touching, but I just couldn’t avoid her. No problem. She looked up, apologized, untangled herself, then kept on swimming.

After my hacking fit, the feedings just kept coming. At some point early, either between feed 1 and 2, or 2 and 3, I recalled someone in one of the forums, describing their EC swim, said, “Swim from feed to feed.” I started to do that. I really felt like I was running out of things to think about. I tried not to look too much to the right (the side I breath on) because at some point there were mileage markers. The last thing I wanted to know was how far I’d gone.

In fact, prior to the swim, these were the instructions I gave Tony: Under no circumstances should you tell me how far I’ve gone unless a) I said the safe word (which was “armadillo,” feeling confident I wouldn’t accidentally say that word, like “Did you see that armadillo I almost swam over?”); b) I was over half done, and c) I was swimming well over 2 MPH. I did not define well in c). I left that to Tony.

Anyway, I started to swim feed-to-feed. They kept coming. Tony would ocassionally disappear from my view to go ahead and clear a log out of the water, but otherwise he stayed right next to me. The bank floated by. At some points, only a couple, I felt like I was getting help from the current.

I did managed to fixate on trying to pee. I had read about how to pee while swimming. Granted, I had little opportunity to practice this skill. I didn’t want to try it at my usual masters practice. (I’m still certain they will someday devise a way for the water to change and thus show the whole world who’s peeing in the pool.) Anyway, I tried to pee between the feeds. Didn’t work. My friend WaterGirl suggested peeing while feeding, it being easier being vertical. Couldn’t do it. It didn’t work. Finally I just decided to drink as much as I could. At some point I wouldn’t be able to hold it.

The glorious moment came somewhere around the 2:00 feed. I was swimming, thinking of nothing particular, when I felt the urge. I concentrated, and then it happened. Yeah! I could do it, and not stop swimming. Task accomplished. In fact, I’m an overachiever. I completed the task two more times over the following 2+ hours.

My feed plan included liquid ibuprofin at the 2:00 feed. At the 1:30 feed, I told Tony to skip it. Of course, after that, I started to get a feeling I’d need it. Still, shoulders felt good. Back felt good. I kept being anxious about my back, afraid it would hurt again like in the 10K. But so far so good.

At 2:00, I told Tony to start feeding me my ibuprofin at 2:30 until complete. I read from another marathon swimmer that you can avoid the difficulty of trying to swallow pills by just adding some kids ibuprofin to a feed bottle. So I did. A full server, which I think was 30ml. Have no idea how that translates to mg.

Anyway, for the next three feeds I drank from my ibuprofin bottle. It was still Crystal Light, but with the medicine mixed in, it tasted a little different. No big deal. I don’t know if it was my long swims the week of this race or the meds, but I really never got sore during the swim.

Feeds came and went, until 3:30. I had been counting the feeds, so I knew where I was time-wise. I figured I had to be around 6 miles. So far so good. I did not use my safe word. But Tony told me at this feed, “Only two more.” I thought, how’s he know how many feeds I have left. I asked out loud, “Feeds?” “No,” he answered. “Miles.”

I was astounded. Not possible. Even with a good push (which I knew we weren’t getting), that would be quite fast. 8 miles in 3:30? Turns out, a motor boat had passed him about 15 min prior and told him 2.6 miles from that point. He guessed we had 2 miles to go.

So I threw the feed cup at him and put my head down and swam. I swam hard. I thought, Wow, I could finish this in under 5 hours! How exciting. Tony told me later that he had to paddle harder than before to keep up with me for the first 15 minutes after he told me that. I felt great. No longer cared about any soreness, if it had appeared.

The next feed came quick. I thought Tony had stopped me early to tell me something, but no, it was the 4:00 feed. He said the finish buoy was an orange blip way off on the horizon. I didn’t want to look; I took a quick glance but didn’t try that hard to find it. I didn’t want to see it.

At 4:30 he stopped me and asked if I wanted to drink or just finish as the buoy was only a few 100 meters away. I answered by swimming hard to the finish. I decided at that point to sight every 100 strokes. Even thought I didn’t need it, I wanted to see the buoy get bigger and bigger. It took a while, but it did get bigger. At 4:44 I touched it. 10 miles in less than 5 hours. w00t!

endingGlad to be done! (Photo by Phyllis Williams)

Next, lessons learned.

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