Saturday, August 4, 2012

Longbridge Swim, Sandpoint, ID

The skies looked clear, the temperatures mild, the water smooth. I'd never walked into Sandpoint, ID under clear, sunny skies, and I couldn't help but feel a little excited swimming my first true open water swim. I met Bryan Rowe and Jayne Anderson for a quiet ride into Sandpoint, where we met Janine Fraser. She had thoughtfully picked up our packets for us, knowing the lines may get long by the time we arrived. I recognized a handful of people, some of whom I knew through triathlon, others from the pool, and still others from school. To be in a crowd filled with incredible swimmers made me feel a little overwhelmed, but I had decided to treat this swim as nothing more than a swim. It would be like swimming two laps around Bear Lake. Nothing more.

Picture by Jayne Anderson, our event photographer and cheer-
leader. Bryan Rowe, myself, Virginia Knight, and Janine
Fraser enjoy the sunshine during the safety meeting.
After the safety meeting and national anthem, the group of us Longbridge swimmers raced toward the 18 school busses that were to serve as our shuttles to the race start like. Rosi Guerrero had recommended I try to seat myself on one of the first few busses in order to be in the water in time for the start. Bryan and I ended up on the third bus, but it took a little work. I crawled under bus two and three because the drivers had sandwiched them so close together so only the skinniest of swimmers could fit. Bryan fit. Now that I think about it, I may have, too, but Jessi Thompson had graciously allowed me to borrow her BlueSeventy wetsuit, and the last thing I wanted to do was rip it. No, the last thing I wanted to do was explain to her HOW I ripped it.

We started between the bridge and someone's house. Thank
you to those homeowners who allowed us access to the water
through your backyard!
We crossed over the bridge that I would soon be swimming alongside and looked over the water. I kept telling myself, Just two laps around Bear Lake. The distance may have been more accurate than the water conditions. Water temperature good; halfway into the swim: Water conditions choppy. Bryan and I started with the group in the water, so our sendoff was marked by the bullhorn. All I remember, though, was the 10-second countdown. I managed to avoid flopping arms and lethal kicks, but I felt as though I had launched myself into someone's blender. It became quite clear, quite quickly, that my idea of "open water swimming" in Bear Lake contrasted sharply to what Ironman CDA's swim would feel like. Just past the 1/2-mile mark, I got a taste of it, too. Literally. I swallowed/inhaled/gulped a wave, and it nearly felt like a punch to the gut. I quickly rolled over to cough/splurge/choke it all out, but it took several more strokes to get my arms, head turns, and breathing back into sync. It one thing to try to breath, but it's an entirely different experience when you have to breath, watch for the next "big one," and try to burp all at one time. For the next mile, all I wanted to do was burp. No such luck.

I'd like to say I was intentionally looking up to Jayne for
this picture, as I can't believe how far over I am rotated.
All I can think is I was doing everything I could to keep from
swallowing even more water. That first mouthful didn't taste
that good.
I made it to the other side in a time of 53:41, 88th out of the water. I didn't really have a goal set, but I will say my unofficial goal was to come in under an hour as one of the first 100 finishers. It took me about a half a mile to feel like I was actually doing more than struggling with the water. When I finally went from horizontal to vertical, that bubble in my stomach left me with an incredible urge to vomit. Or burp. Yet I couldn't do either. All I could do was imagine Ironman: to swim even further and then attempt to hop on my bike. Not just hop on it. Ride it. I've got some work to do.

I also need to figure out my contact situation. Just like at Lake Stevens, everything in my left field of vision appeared blurry. I asked my classmate, Kari Budd, (who, by the way, finished 17th overall) if she could see it. Nope. Nothing there. And then it hit me: Look in your goggles! Sure enough. I know my friends had tried to explain that was a stupid place to store it in Lake Stevens, but apparently I decided to do the same here. It was tucked securely onto the lens of my goggles. Brilliant.

Tomorrow I join my fellow classmates, Kari Budd (swimming) and Danielle Slaughter (running), as the cyclist in our Troika team. Look out for us, as we'll be the PT Cruisers out on the course!

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