Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Double RoughWater Swim 2011

I'm trying to decide whether or not that was fun.

In the beginning it was fun. Toward the end of the swim it was not fun. But then we finished and got dry and started drinking champagne. Then it was fun again. :)

Sitting right here at my computer (even though the buzz has mostly worn off) I hardly even remember how irritated I was in the last ~30' of that swim.... even though I specifically reminded myself to not forget how shitty that was. Hmmm. Our brains are funny. I won't soon forget the jellyfish stings though b/c I am starting to get welts all over my body and they itch like mad.

OK, back to the beginning. Check out my awesome supporters! Scott lead me on his surf board and Moana hung out and played on the beach with a friend of mine. Moana loves being body marked.

Can you believe this is Moana's 4th time at this race!?! She is a seasoned veteran at this point. I just read over my Double RoughWater reports from 2008 (the year I was 6 weeks post-partum) and 2009 (the year I was pregnant and they should have called it The SmoothWater Swim) and 2010 (the year of the torrential downpour and nasty brown water). Kinda funny to read those b/c they bring back memories... though I should have read them over again before this morning because then I would have remembered that every year this race starts with a very unceremonious yell of the word "GO!" while we are all standing on the beach chit chatting and then we all look around at each other and wonder was that really it? And then we run into the water and start swimming. Same same this year.

Scott and the other escorts were waiting out at the first turn buoy that is maybe 800M off shore.
It was a little windy this morning but didn't seem crazy or anything (at first). I felt good and strong and confident and felt like I was swimming well. That's pretty much the story of the first 90'. Boring I know, but that's life when you're ocean swimming.

I definitely noticed that the water was not as clear this morning as it typically is. Seemed very opaque (not necessarily brown/dirty but just not at all clear). Turns out the water was just pretty much thick with jellyfish and if we weren't swimming into jellyfish we were swimming into jellyfish bits and pieces. I was getting stung a little on the way out but not really worse than other times I've been out there so it didn't bug me too much. But then it got bad.

~90' into the swim I swam through what felt like some of the worst jellyfish swarm I've ever been through. At that point it was like adding insult to injury b/c while I felt like I was swimming fairly strongly, the wind chop was very challenging to swim through and it was tough to get a good grip on the water when it's moving like that.... and seemed like it was just taking freaking forever to get back (I was not imagining this- found out at the end I was 53' out and 1:13 back! Clearly I was stuck in a wicked current b/c usually our splits are more like 1:03/:59- usually its a little faster coming back, not 20' slower!) Anyway, choppy opaque water, strong head current, wicked jellyfish stings... twice on the way back I stopped and asked Scott if we were even moving?? Where the hell was that turn buoy?? Ugh. I was over it at that point. Apparently Scott was over it too- he told me afterward that the chop was so bad that he had a hard time keeping up with me on his surfboard (hence there are no videos from this part b/c he couldn't just leisurely paddle with one hand next time me like he did on the way out when the chop was going with us...). The thoughts going through my head were significantly less happy at this point... I was thinking about how much Benadryl I was going to have to take later to avoid the huge itchy welts I was surely going to have all over my body.... and I was having thoughts like I am not a terrorist why am I being subjected to this electric shock torture?? It was bad. Just shocking sting after shocking sting and it seemed there was no way out of it and I could not see them- only felt them. It really did feel like torture.

(While sharing war stories afterward pretty much everyone had the same story- wicked jellyfish stings the whole time. Nalani said she was grabbing them and pulling her way through them- like swimming through jello. But not quite as fun as that would be...)

Anyway, I was swimming as well as I could have and I never felt super tired or anything (which is a result of all that swimming I have done these last 6 weeks) but it didn't really feel like I was 'racing' either... mostly b/c no one was around me for much of the time. About 50-60 people were there swimming this year (bigger than years past) and I was 10th out OA, 6th woman and 1st on my age group. Once again the women totally outclassed the men at this event. Top 2 finishers were men but then Vicky was 3rd and Nalani was 4th OA... 5 more people were enough ahead of me that there was no chance of me catching, and there was no one within striking distance behind me either so I did not have to bust ass or race to the finish or anything. This picture of the finish shows about how lonely it was. :) And I know this looks calm and easy... and in the channel coming in it was calm! The chop crap was probably 3/4 of a mile off-shore where we did the bulk of the swim.

So I won my age group which was cool (4th year in a row) but really I'm just lucky that I am old and all the fast female fishes are younger than me. :) Top 3 women were 30-34 then the next 2 were 25-29. 2:06 was only a minute faster than last year and 8' slower my fastest time but as I always say, conditions make such a huge impact in a race like this. I did feel stronger this year than I have ever been before at this race though so it's a bit disappointing to have had it take so long but it is what it is. In good news, this swim did not trash me anywhere near the degree it has trashed me in the past (the champagne afterward, well, that's another story! :)

Starting tomorrow I'm going to hang my swim suit up for a while and become a runner.


Angela and David said...

Finally an upside to living in the midwest! No jellyfish. Hope that benadryl gives you some relief. And I have a feeling that no matter what you were telling yourself while you were out there, you'll be doing this again next year.

Molly said...

Congratulations! That sounds so miserable, I can't even imagine, but you conquered it as strongly as you do everything else! Enjoy the break from swimming :)

Matt said...

wow, congrats. Sounds like an interesting day..

Ginger Spansel said...

Ouch on those stings. Ditto what Molly said!!

Beth said...

Oh Michelle - that does not sound very fun! Not the pristine, beautiful waters I imagine in HI. :) Congrats on a great race though!! I hope the welts aren't too bad today. Oh and Moana with her body marking is the cutest ever! :)

cherelli said...

Good thing you do have some tough swims behind you in your "mental tool kit" as that one sounded super tough!! Well done on getting through it, not sure I could cope with that many jellyfish stings...enjoy the change of running (sans jellyfish!)...

Teresa said...

Wow! What a day. Congrats....more videos...I wanted to watch you swim :)

Kiet said...

Sounds like type II fun borderline type III. That's one way to get over swimming real quickly, onward to the run and I"m sure you'll run yourself until you are sick of doing it too.

Mary IronMatron said...

Yep. You'll be there again next year! Congrats on the AG win. And don't call yourself OLD b/c some off us are even OLDER!!
So, tell me. Why jellyfish at this swim and not in Kona? When do they come out and why?