You know, for weeks we've been out suffering in the craziest ocean conditions... training for 90+ minutes every Saturday through the rough chop caused by high winds... the kind of swimming where you can hardly actually even get a full stroke in because your arms constantly get cut off by the water slapping you in the face when you're trying to breathe...
Not that I should ever complain about perfect ocean conditions... it just seems like since we trained for the RoughWater swim, we should have had the RoughWater swim. Instead, today we did the 28th Possibly Annual Double SmoothWater Invitational Swim.
Seriously, the water was almost perfect today. It was as clear as I've ever seen it in 5 years and with no wind at all, it was like swimming in a lake. A really really deep lake with clear blue water and turtles. :) I said almost perfect because it really could have been 4-5 degrees warmer. Then it would have been perfect. Then it would have been like swimming in Kona.
Anyway, I brought my wetsuit down with me but in the end chose not to wear it. I knew I would be cold, but didn't think I would die. And honestly, I just couldn't pull myself out of the competition. I thought it would be pretty cool to win my age group, though when I saw Jana's name on the start list I immediately assumed I would not. If you followed any of my blog posts about the North Shore swims this past summer, you may remember me talking about her- we've raced swimming for all the years I've lived here. She used to beat me by just a little bit every time, but starting last year at this race, I've got a clean 100% win record against her. Funny that I had a baby and came back stronger. :) That said, though I figured she'd beat me today, I wondered by how much, and I knew a wetsuit would not give me any real answers to that question.
Here's Nalani and me before the start. I know nobody ever actually believes us when we say it is cold here... and ok, it is not as cold as you guys get on the mainland (obviously)... but cold is relative and when your body is adjusted and used to 80+ degrees all the time, high 60's/low 70's before the sun comes out is cold.
I gave Moana away to my friend Andrea before the swim start. Moana is getting smarter these days and knew that we were leaving her as we said goodbye... and she cried and cried and cried... oh it broke my heart! And I was sad for Andrea who had to deal with this upset child... though she better get used to it b/c she is due with her first (a girl!) at the end of April. Andrea watched Moana last year at this race when she was just 6 weeks old. It was easier then and Andrea said she just read a book the whole time while Moana slept. Ha! This time was different, as you might guess! In good news, Andrea said Moana calmed down as soon as she walked her away and out of our sight. I worried about her during the whole swim but found out later that she had a blast flirting with all the old men at the Elks Club.
Andrea was in constant motion chasing Moana around... and trying to keep her from climbing up on the bar.
Meanwhile, back at the beach, the race started as we were all standing on the beach chit chatting* and all of a sudden a whistle blew and we were like, "Is that it?" So we put our goggles on and ran into the water. There were only maybe 40 people doing the swim today, so it wasn't a crazy start at all. I saw Jana off to my right early on- we were side my side and I did not feel like I was swimming hard. Hmmm. Maybe she hasn't been training much? This is the kind of event where you can't really fake it so if you haven't been training, you're not going to do really well... hmmmm. I hopped on Nalani's feet and she pulled me out to the first turn buoy which was maybe 800 meters off shore. There were no more buoys until the turn-around buoy which was 2+ miles downshore... funny story about that... as I was putting on my caps (yes, I wore 2!) a woman on the beach (who was not swimming) asked me where the second turn buoy was. She said, "I see the first one way out there but don't see the second one. Where is it?" I laughed and told her she couldn't see it because it was that far away.
Anyway, at the first buoy was where we were to meet up with our escorts. Each swimmer in this race is mandated to have an individual escort. Mine was Scott on his surfboard. He was equipped with a water bottle and two GU's for me. The plan was for him to stop me at 45 minutes and 90 minutes for GU and water. In the past, I've done this race on just one GU, but since I'm pregnant this time, I wanted to be sure my blood sugar didn't go low so I planned on taking two. Anyway, at the first 45 minute stop I exclaimed to Scott that I just couldn't believe how nice this was! Perfect glassy conditions. He agreed. Took my GU, swig of water, and back to swimming. I could barely see Nalani's escort up ahead in the distance. She was having a great swim! I figured beforehand based on our time in the pool the last 2 weeks that if we both had good swims, she would get me by about 6 minutes... I was guessing she would put just under a minute on me per thousand meters... that's what she does now in the pool anyway.
Blah blah blah. The race went on and on and on and on. And on and on and on and on. Perfect swimming in perfect conditions. I saw a huge turtle like 40 feet beneath me. It was that clear. Finally at the 90 minute GU stop I asked Scott where everyone was?? There was no one around me at all! He said there was a small pack way ahead and everyone else was a good bit behind. Hmmm. I wondered where Jana was. I hadn't seen her at all since the very beginning.
Kept swimming... caught some waves in at the end... ran up the beach... heard 1:58 flat(!!!!!)... a 4 minute PR! I then immediately started shivering out of control. Blue hands, blue face, blue arms... I ran over to the sunny part of the beach and took my suit off and replaced it with fleece. Shiver shiver shiver shiver... I saw Nalani and was so proud of her for her 1:52! And just what I had guessed... 6 minutes. Another friend/training partner of mine was sent from heaven and gave me a thermos full of warm ginger honey tea. Let me tell you, that hit the spot! Within about 10 minutes my teeth stopped chattering and I felt okay.
Andrea brought Moana over and she gave me this HUGE smile so that was really nice to see. Moana was a super champ today... 5+ hours awake with no nap (she set a new record today with that!) before she finally succumbed to sleep while waiting for lunch/awards.
They served us an awesome catered lunch! And the awards at this race are good too. Turns out, I won my age group! I think I was 5th female? Jana came in at 2:03 and the others were further back than that. I got a pair of Blue Seventy goggles, though I don't think I can wear them b/c #1 they're pink, #2 they're not tinted and I swim outside all the time, and #3 I haven't worn goggles other than the swedish ones since I was 13. Anyone want them? First person to email me with their address gets them. :) I also got a bottle of champagne... exciting, except that I can't drink it... yet. We decided that we will take it to the hospital with us and drink it after Scrappy is born in July.
* I did not tell Jana that I am pregnant. She'll figure it out when I start showing up to swim races next spring/early summer with what looks like a basketball under my suit.