Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Evolution Of Thought During A Two Hour Ocean Swim

On the plan this morning was a 1:40 ocean swim. A couple of us met at the beach all dressed up in our matching suits and I brought the coffee knowing that we would need it both before and after this swim.

Getting in is always hard, but with the first stroke today it was obvious that the ocean conditions were just as perfect as they could be and immediately I thought, "This is going to be a great swim!" The winds were down, the water felt warm, and it was exceptionally clear. We've had conditions like this before, but it's not all that common for it to be this good.

Early on in this swim, I was just as happy as could be. Swimming in this perfect glassy water... looking at the reef and fish (I missed the turtle but Nalani and Jennifer saw it!)... my stroke felt long and strong and smooth and powerful... ahhh. This is the life. Before we knew it 30 minutes had passed. We stopped to regroup because Jennifer and Brett were going to turn around and go back early. Jennifer is on a rest week this week and Brett was just being a wimp. Lol. But at that stop Brett declared that he was having a blast so he was going to keep going with us rather than turn around. That left Jennifer alone going home, but she was cool with that, as were we b/c it was just so nice out there. I know I know, breaking rule #1 about never swimming alone in the ocean... blah blah blah... but she wasn't totally alone. There were plenty of people out swimming and kayaking and stand up paddling, etc.

So we decided to go another 20 minutes, which would put us 50 minutes into the swim, then we would turn around and go back. Those 20 minutes just flew by and all of a sudden we were half done! It was so easy! It was so joyous!

And the Double Roughwater turn-around buoy was right there. In our sight. Really. It looked very close. How could we be this close and not go touch it??

I was game. Nalani declared she was game. And of course Brett was all in at this point. So we swam. And we swam. And we swam. That buoy was a bit further away than it originally looked. Probably another 600 meters. But we got there eventually and stopped to tread water and admire our accomplishment at how far we had just swam. This is so awesome! I declared. Brett just kind of laughed ominously and said, "Well, we're only half done." Indeed. Looking back toward Diamond Head, it did appear that we had a heck of a long way to go to get back to where we started.

The problem with an out and back swim like this is that our winds typically blow east to west. And since we swam east to west the whole way out, well, we were just cruising right along with the chop going or way so we didn't even notice it. But by the time we turned around, the winds were howling and the chop was strong and we faced about 3500M straight into it.

We took our GU's (which by the way taste awful when your tongue is all salted up from ocean water) and headed back. Immediately it felt like we were swimming in a washing machine. Couldn't get a full stroke in. Slapped in the face with water when you're trying to breathe. Don't bother looking up to sight because you can't see anything anyway. Chop chop chop.

OK, Michelle, you're fine. Just relax. Don't fight it. You're good in the chop.

I stayed with Brett for a bit but then he is just so strong that I couldn't do it anymore. He declared at the end that since he's so tall he doesn't feel the chop like Nalani and I do. He compared us to boats. Smaller boats get tossed around a lot more in choppy water than longer boats do. Ok. Whatever. I couldn't keep up on the way back. Nalani and I swam side by side though so it was good to have her there, and I knew that since she wasn't pulling ahead of me that she was struggling like I was.

After about 35 minutes of this inefficient smacking of the water that we called swimming, I just stopped. I needed a break to mentally regroup before heading in to shore. Nalani saw that I stopped and stopped too. Immediately she blurted out, "This sucks."

Maybe you have to know Nalani to appreciate the magnitude of that comment. She never says anything negative. Always super positive. So to hear her say that I knew she really meant it. OK, somehow we were going to have to figure out how to get through at least 20 more minutes of this. This last 20 minutes was our punishment for being greedy earlier and needing to touch that damn turn around buoy. Had we not needed to do that, had we just stuck with the plan, we would have been done by now.

We silently treaded water for about a minute and tried to regroup. OK. I said, Let's each say one positive thing and then we'll swim the rest of the way. I said, "I'm not cold." She said, "It's really clear." And without another word we resumed swimming.

Those last 20 minutes are kind of a blur at this point. I tried to remind myself of how positive I felt during the first half of the swim. That I wasn't cold. And that the water was clear.

I'm not cold. The water is clear. I'm not cold. The water is clear... 

And then I just tried to turn my brain off. Stop thinking about how much longer. Just shut your brain up and swim, Michelle.

Eventually we made it to shore. Phew. At least we had good hot coffee waiting for us. I think Nalani's face here says it all.
In the end, I'm glad it was that hard today. Had it been easy, I think we might have lost a little respect for the distance. Being humbled can be a very good thing sometimes.

And now I need to go pass out on the couch.


Teresa said...

First off CUTE suits...secondly, when will we learn that it always "sounds" like a great idea! Awesome job though and it made for a great blog!

Beth said...

Oh gosh. I would have been so sad to be so far away when it got windier and choppier!! Way to get through it! And I like your tactic - each say one good thing and then keep swimming. :)

Aimee said...

Oh my god! I cannot believe you swam for 2hrs. in the ocean! Wow! That is just amazing! But, that would have totally freaked me out!

Running and living said...

Great mental work out there! In the end, an awesome swim!

cheryl said...

Wow - great swim. And to even have the opportunity to swim a 2 hour ocean swim, I'm a little jealous (being landlocked and all)

cherelli said...

2hrs of open water swimming - insane!! Certainly sounds like a good prep for the big swim though...yikes.

Katie A. said...

Ugh! My brain has been playing tricks on me lately, too. But it's amazing what you can do when you turn it off! Congrats on a great swim!

LOVE tha Moana pic! Can't believe she is two! Happy B-Day Moana!

Lizzie said...

You guys are AMAZING!! Apart from the whole finding it tough towards the end, you're almost convincing me that ocean swimming is fun and not to be feared :)

Roz said...

This is a good post!

Jon Gilchrist said...

humility is a powerful equalizer, yes? I think it's amazing U swam that