Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Slam the Dam

I was so nervous about this event.  2.4 miles.  This is what I consider the "marathon" of swimming.  It's the iron distance to the sport in the same way that 26.2 miles is the marathon of running and 112 miles is the century (plus) for cycling.  This was double the distance I've ever swam, my arm has been injured for weeks, and even worse, there were no walk breaks, no coasting down a hill.  This was keep pulling and keep kicking... or sink.  The water temperature was in the 80's and my desire to carry on all my luggage meant no wetsuit (aka security blanket) for me, another scary factor surrounding this event.

There was some uncertainty about who was going to this race.  Deb wasn't sure she could swing the trip and Jon already told me he was out since he's got 2 other trips the same month.  How the heck was I going to do this all alone???  James was going to Vegas with me but didn't offer to accompany me to the event, and Ed wasn't even flying in until Saturday.  This might have been the most stressful part, not having race company or a sherpa.  Racing alone is lonely, not having anyone to talk to before the race or greet you with a smile at the finish, I wasn't looking forward to it.  Luckily Deb *did* find a way to make it happen and arrived in Vegas around 10:30 Friday evening just in time for a quick bite to eat and few hours sleep before our 5:00 wake up call.

For once it wasn't difficult for me to wake up considering I didn't sleep at all.  Contacts in, new tri-top on, shorts, Mamma's Fools jersey and I was ready to go!  After a brief encounter with casino security (there was some kind of attack in our hotel and they were worried I was the victim) and an attempt to get into the wrong car in the parking lot, I was finally off to pick up Deb.  The drive to Lake Mead was uneventful and the lake was beautiful with the sun coming up over the mountain, definitely an instance of the calm before the storm.  Deb and I sat in the car until it was time for the pre-race briefing and before I knew it, the horn was sounding beginning the start of this uncertain swim.

I waded in and let most other people move past me before diving in and setting out.  A few early collisions with another girl, but it wasn't long before I separated myself from the group and settled into a rhythem. As I slowly made my way buoy after buoy, I did some calculations, counting the buoys (20 total), knowing I was 1/4 done... 3/5th done... 7/20th done... I saw Deb not too far behind as well as a couple other people.  We were not last!  Just passed the halfway point I started getting really hungry (pizza!!) and my fingers started hurting.  I had to stop to adjust my goggles a few times, but was otherwise really comfortable in my swim ensemble.   There was one girl just ahead of me that I kept in my sights and saw her make the final turn (and then she slammed right into my bad arm - ouch) so I knew I was close to the home stretch.  Only 5 more buoys to go and then the swim to shore.  I picked up the pace as I was just so ready to be finished.  stroke, stroke, kick, kick... I knew my prediction of 2 hours was optimistic (based upon my 1.2mi wetsuit time), and indeed heard the start of the next race just before my final turn around that last buoy but I no longer cared about time and just wanted to be finished already.  The water was clear and it was getting shallower... finally it was time to stand up and walk out of the lake.  I DID IT!!!! 2:10:50*.  I'll take it.

I felt dizzy and water logged as I made my way out of the water to collect my medal, and was surprised to see Deb standing there.  It turned out she got really cold and called it a day after 1.2 miles.  It was nice to have her there at the finish.  We collected some food but didn't spend too much time hanging out.  After a quick detour to Hoover Dam we returned the rental car and grabbed a cab back to the strip.  James had been out exploring casinos and made his way back to meet me in the room and Ed's plane just landed so he was checking in.  Shower and lunch and then a couple of fun days hanging out in Vegas, losing money on stupid football bets.  We ate the Bellagio buffet, saw the Penn & Teller show, went on a ride at the top of the Stratosphere and explored an off-strip restaurant and casino.  All in all a good weekend, my arm hurts a lot, but I am so pleased with myself for completing this swim!

*Official race results post my time at 1:59:55, however this seems impossible considering a) my own watch wouldn't be *that* far off and b) the 1.2 mile event started at the 2 hour mark (schedule-wise) and this was before I passed the final buoy.