Monday, July 15, 2013

Swim Across America - Nantasket Beach

"Long have you timidly waded holding a plank by the shore,
Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,
to jump off in the midst of the sea, rise again, not to me, shout,
and laughingly dash your hair." - Ovid

I don't know if I laughingly dashed my hair, but on some level I was a bold swimmer. That was, without a doubt, the HARDEST thing I have ever done in my life!!! Both physically and mentally, but I'm so glad I did it and finished. (No matter how many times I wanted to bail while I was out there.)

Chop man, chop. But more on that later.

I have to say that Swim Across America is an AMAZING organization! The event was run so well, everyone was so nice, and the whole experience was incredibly uplifting. I urge you, if you live near where one of the swims are held at the very least volunteer, find a swimmer you know and donate, or hell...SWIM! I'm trying to find FIVE people to do it with me next year. Yes, I got tossed around like a piece of dead kelp and I cant wait to train harder, smarter and get back out there next summer and raise even more money!

Speaking of raising money, with the very generous support of my friends, family and colleagues I raised $1,115!!!! That made me the 8th highest individual fundraiser for the event. And here I was afraid I wouldn't be able to raise the $250 that I had to to be allowed to swim. The people I associate with and surround myself with ROCK! With the Boston Harbor Relay swim (google it and have your mind blown) and the Nantasket Beach swim combined, SAA raised $300,000!!!! $150,000 each was given to The David B. Perini, Jr. Quality of Life Clinic at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and The MassGeneral Hospital for Children Cancer Center. It makes me smile to think of all the amazing work your dollars are going to do.

That all being said, this swim kicked my ass! (Remember, dead kelp?) It wasn't the darkness/deepness of the water, it wasn't extreme saltiness of the water (for what it's worth, the New England coast is WAY saltier the the Gulf Of Mexico), it wasn't the mass of people, it wasn't necessarily the waves, it was the chop and the current. See, most of the swim was done past the breakers, you should have been golden. "Golden" being a relative term. Let me backtrack.

I know that I trained well for this event and that I am a very capable swimmer. I also know that I did everything in MY power to get ready for this event. (With the exception of going to a beach and swimming, but doing that alone is just madness. What was I going to do, have my husband treat water and act as I buoy? I enjoy being married....) Now, if you're all, "pft! how hard could it be?" Here's what you do....go out in the ocean (still water won't work for this) make it through the breakers and then turn and swim parallel to the shore in a straight line and report back to me. Do this all while wearing something so tight, it will make you feel sorry for the rice in boudain.

I should have known that this wasn't going to be beach swimming business as usual when 1) they wouldn't let the mile swimmer do their full distance and cut it back to a 1/2 mile for everyone, 2) they completely changed the coarse and 3) the event kept getting delayed. By a grand total of 45 minutes (I think).

This'll explain things for you. I would swim, with someone on my left ahead of me about a body length. I would swim five strokes, he'd be on my right. I'd look up to site and I'd be FACING the shore. Insert "expletive deleted here."

The important thing is I swam out, and I know I'll do it again, and do it better! I also know that I wouldn't have been able to do it had it not been for the help of a Swim Angel named Trevor and a life guard name Allie. If y'all ever run across this blog and are reading this, I know I already told you a few times, but...thank you, thank you, thank you! 

I did get some "free" technique advice out there. One of the other swim angels was hanging about and said, "Hey, you're a REALLY strong swimmer. Did you know you're pulling REALLY hard with your right hand?" "Funny," I said, "because I'm left handed and was try to compensate. Guess I'm over compensating." I was very aware of this in the pool this morning.

Favorite part of the swim? Allie had asked me why I decided to do this swim, you know who was I swimming for? She asked me this as I was clinging onto her surf board & engaged in some very negative self talk. "For my mother in law and my Dad. She passed away from her second bout with breast cancer a few years ago. My Dad, he's fine now....but he had to have a third of his tongue removed. They both loved/love the water, so it's rather fitting that I'm....ok...we're swimming now."

People battle and succumb and survive cancer every single day. I could let the Atlantic Ocean bitch slap me around for a few more minutes. I made sure I swam until my finger tips scraped sand and made sure I ran through the finish line. No matter how much help I needed to get there. I finished on my own.

I WILL be back next year. Who's swimming/volunteering with me!?!

So maybe I'm not exactly Ovid's "bold swimmer", but I will be. For the moment, I choose to take Emerson's warmer and fuzzier approach....

"Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Before I launch into picture-palooza....three more things....

1) I have to publicly say thank you to my husband throughout this little endeavor. From the endless swim talk to carting my ass out to Walden Pond he's been awesome. Nothing says let's work a full work day and then stand on the shore while your wife swims lines in a lake where some dude wrote some poetry. Also, he's been wet suit putter oner extraordinaire.

2) Also, thank you to my friend....let's call her InkyLady and Mr. InkyLady for coming out to Nantasket and supporting me during my swim. It was great to see your pretty face and I can't wait until we run a 5K together!

3) Speaking of 5K's that's what is next. The Chestnut Hill Reservoir 5K. This one is pretty much in my back yard, so time so loose a bit of my sea legs!! Before that, it's already time to start thinking of open water season for next year. I emailed Coach Bill of Breakwater Sports Training, explained my current swimming "issues", what my short term and long term swimming goals are, and I have a video evaluation this Wednesday evening in Watertown (appropriate) where we can look at my stroke together and come up with a plan. How exciting! I feel like a "real" athlete!

*** Biggest "I wish I had" take away, and great advice for anyone about to do any type of open water swimming or triathlon...I wish I had clear goggles. All I had were mirrored and tinted blue. With the grey skies and chop, I REALLY wish I had clear goggles. I'll be ordering some with my next pay check. Have options! We cannot control nor accurately predict the weather.

Now....THE PICTURES!!!!!

My swimming pool / ass kicker for the morning

My "Rookie" tattoo!

Why I swim.

Setting up the course

I considered my Carolina Blue swim cap a good omen, as that's where my husband went to school and he proposed on campus.

Ready to rock 'n roll! (or be rolled around by the chop...)

The "mile men" now "1/2 mile men" waiting to start.

Walking down the the start

Waiting to start. I'm somewhere in there. The blue caps are the 1/2 mile swimmers and the while caps are the swim angels.

I'm somewhere in there....

The Angel Swimmers

Presenting the checks to Doctors from Dana Farber (he swam!) and MGH Children's.

Proud of my towel. Proud of myself. Proud of the money we raised. Proud to be part of such an AWESOME organization. Shallowly proud of how good my arms look!


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