Nanticoke Swim & Tri 2015

I know this blog has gotten rather heavy on the eating part of things, and not the swimming part.  I swear I still swim!  Just lots of things going on over here, and it's all I can do to keep cooking for myself and not go to Pasta Plus or Sardi's every night for carry-out.  But I did my usual Nanticoke 3-Mile Swim, and I love doing a write-up of the swim here.  It helps me remember what the conditions were like, what I was thinking during the race, and why I keep coming back when the water is always freezing :-)
We had a cold winter, and spring was just not arriving fast enough.  I knew that meant another cold race, but I have both a full-sleeve and sleeveless wetsuit, so no matter the conditions, I'm ready.  And this year, even though the water was chilly, we lucked into wonderful warm sun and very little wind, so the warm day and the cool water balanced nicely into really amazing race day conditions!
But this story will be boring without a little drama, right?  I had an awesome Saturday with Eric running some errands he needed to do with his car, then a Derby party for my friend Michal's 30th birthday.  Complete with dresses, hats, and mint juleps!  We got home and I prepped for the next morning, occasionally getting a knot in my stomach thinking about the open water swim I was about to do, but as it was going to be my 5th year in a row of this race (I didn't have a blog in 2011), I wasn't over-thinking it.  I cut up apples, made a bag of pretzels (simple carbs on race day, I can't handle anything else), grabbed a protein bar for afterwards, and packed my bag with my swimming stuff.  You know how when you have something in the morning you HAVE to get to on time, you keep waking up every 15 minutes thinking you over-slept only to find out it's 2am?  I suggest setting two alarms, because it'll ease your mind that even if one fails, the other will go off, and I've slept better ever since!

So my alarm(s) went off just fine, I changed into my suit, grabbed my bag and food all ready to go, kissed Eric goodbye, and headed off to the Eastern Shore!  Well...not quite.  I got everything in my car, turned the key...and nothing, just a few clicks.  My battery was absolutely dead.  My car had just been in for service, and while they had noted the battery had a bit of corrosion and might need to be replaced, they said they would give it a full charge and see how things went.  Apparently they did not think I needed a new battery on Friday, but I definitely needed one on Sunday.  A few expletives later... and I called Eric to come downstairs because my car wouldn't start.  I got the jumper cables out, popped the hood, and was ready to go when he came down into the parking lot and said there was no way he was letting me drive all the way to the Eastern Shore with a jumped battery.  I told him there would be plenty of people at the race who could jump me to get back, if needed, and he said, "You've never had your car die on you in the middle of driving it."  He had a point, and he said he was driving me to my parents house to use one of their cars instead.  Why is he so much smarter than me?

So I dumped all my stuff in his car, and he drove me to my parents.  I had no key or garage door opener, and they were in Virginia.  He asked what I would do if I couldn't get in, or find a spare key for the cars, or...  I cut him off and told him that at some point, I'd just have to accept that I couldn't make it to the Eastern Shore today.  Luckily, my parents keep a spare key super hidden in their backyard for emergencies, luckily, my parents have kept the spare car keys in the same drawer since we moved into that house 20 years ago, and luckily, there was the van there in the garage, ready for me to zoom away to the race!  I once again switched all my stuff into another car (praying I hadn't lost anything in the now 3 moves), and got moving.  My only cut-off time was 8:30am, when the youth triathlon starts and roads start to close in the race area.  I certainly didn't speed, but I kept my eye on my GPS ETA, which stayed around 8:20am the whole time.  And I made it there before 8:30!!  They will let you in after 8:30, but arriving before would be one less thing to worry about that morning.
So the first thing I did was get several of the other swimmers' phone numbers from my team.  If I had had some emergency people to call, I would have had a few more options in the panic of my car not starting, but as it was, we don't have anything in place for that.  Now at least most of the open water swimmers have each others numbers and the ability to call if something goes wrong before, during, or after our open water races!

Otherwise, the morning was a breeze.  I chatted with the other Columbia Master's swimmers there, "warmed up" in the River, which was really really cold and gave you a headache when you put your face underwater, and listened to the pre-race meeting announcements.  Before I knew it, we were being ushered into the water, single-file, so that our timing chips would activate.  We lined up, splashed around a little, and I was infinitely happy that this year, the sun was out and the wind was practically non-existent.  3-2-1-BEEP and we were off!  Our usual trip down the jetty, then swimming around a large triangle of buoys twice before heading back into the jetty to finish.

The difference between this year and the past two years was immediately apparent.  You could actually see the buoys, all of them!  There are two buoys along each side of the triangle, and the previous years I could only see one buoy at a time (barely), while this year I could see the two smaller buoys in line with the large turn buoy at the end.  Also, because I was close to the lead group, there was a stand-up-paddleboard lifeguard staying with them, and I could sight him as well.  Generally, I didn't feel lost or hopeless or tossed around, I just had 3 miles ahead of me to get through.

We turned at the first buoy, and while I wasn't gaining on the lead group, they were still in my sights and I was able to again see the line of buoys and the SUP lifeguard with them.  I kept pressing forward, making sure not to let anyone pass me, but I wasn't passing anyone else in turn.  This leg of the triangle would have a bit of current to it, but I didn't have to compensate too much as I headed towards the turn buoy.  On the last leg of the triangle, I'd be facing the sun, but it didn't end up messing up my sighting, and I could once again see where I was going.  I felt a little bit of current pulling me off-course, but lifeguards weren't paddling up to me and telling me to correct, so it would have been worse.  I headed out into my second lap around the course.  I could no longer see the SUP lifeguard with the lead group, but I was unsure if he had left their group or if I was too far behind.  But once again, the sighting was great!  I wasn't too tired, so I kept just picturing a shark on my feet and made sure to maximize each pull.  I passed two swimmers very quickly on the 2nd side of my 2nd loop, so it appeared I was passing some people still on their 1st loop, not people who had been ahead of me this whole time.  But I used that as motivation to push faster and not lose any ground I had on anyone behind me!

I prepared to be swept out to sea right before entering the jetty, which has been typical in years past, but wasn't an issue this time (or maybe my being hyper vigilant was helping me out).  I swam into the jetty, and it's always the longest part of the swim: you think the shore/finish is right there, but it's a good distance of swimming before you're finally pulling yourself out of the water on jelly legs and running up the beach until you hear your timing chip beep!  I felt great about my swim, the conditions were awesome!  I looked around and saw a few guys in wetsuits, and a girl with her hair out of her cap already.  I assumed I got 2nd female, which was totally ok with me!  I saw Andrei had finished ahead of me, and we cheered as Sarah, Jamie, Bart, Reg, Tracy, Julie, and Steve all finished their swims!  I don't think we have one group picture with all of us in it, but we tried really hard this year and got a few good ones!
And when I finally checked the official results, I discovered the girl I had seen must have done the 2-mile swim, because I was first female!  I was 6th overall, but the first female to finish.  After the crazy morning, I was so so happy that I had a car I could borrow from my parents and show up and race!  I owed them and Eric a huge thank you for having a part in even getting to the race, and it was awesome to have such a huge reward of finishing first.
Most of us stuck around for the cookout and awards after, and we cleaned up pretty nicely in the awards :-)  I was first female, Sarah and Andrei were both third overall in their genders, Julie and Reg won their age groups, and Tracy, Jamie, and Steve were all second in their age groups.
It was a great race, and I can't wait to swim it again next year!

Nanticoke Swim 2014
Nanticoke Swim 2013
Nanticoke Swim 2012

Popular Posts