6 football fields up, 6 football fields back - x 2
Last year, because all of my friends were doing it and I didn't want to NOT do what the cool Ironkids were doing, I signed up for the Ohio River Swim. Pick your poison, they offer a host of distances all the way up to 2.4 miles. And why would I choose any distance less?? Exactly. Anyway, last year, I went in a bit under trained but only a little. This year, obviously was a different story. Before I forget though, I want to say, in case they read by chance, that the race is a great one! It's fairly small, run in a laid back manner but supported by really nice volunteers....oh, and the race is shirt is awesome!
Normally, as has been well documented, I can be a real basket case when it comes to racing in the water. I've been training myself to straighten up and act normal so as not to scare the other swimmers. You would think that this would be my least favorite event but it's not. Infact, it's my favorite. Swimming relaxes me, a lot and I love being in the water.....it's almost like hanging out in really soft butter. And I love butter.
So, here were my goals....
1. Get in the water when I was told to and act normal. Keep my heart rate down.
2. Start swimming when the horn blew.
3. Swim close to others, swim against others, get hit and be ok with it.
The first wave was the men. All the men. Lots of men. Speedos. You get it..
As soon as they took off, all 38 of us ladies hopped in....and as soon as we did...we started drifting, quickly, down the river. Yeah, One woman shouted, "hey, look where we are!" Within one minute we had all floated at least 20 yards from the starting line. We had to keep swimming just to stay even with the start. I knew then, ominously, this would not be easy. We were told to hang in there for 3-5 minutes and then we would be sent off. Funny thing was, the men were literally NOT going anywhere, they were still right in front of us. Thanks current.
So, the horn blows, and since there were so many people, the water was super choppy and sloshy. Party in the bathtub. I put my face down a few times but when I would turn to breath I would get a mouth full of water. Hmmm, no thanks. Plan B. So, I waited about 15 - 20 seconds and sure enough, no water turbulence. I still had a few people around me but finally I could start swimming without all the drama.
And within 100 yards I was passing people, a lot of people. For one it made me smile and two, it felt pretty effortless. I was cruising and put on my favorite Cold Play album and sang into the water.
I did get hit in the head once. It was by a really nice guy that was training for Ironman Louisville. He's a paraplegic who was doing the backstroke and I just got too close. I also swam rib cage to rib cage with one woman for awhile. I kinda wove my way in and out of people the entire race. Got kicked by a gentleman doing the breaststroke. That was my fault though.
I felt like a water warrior. Just last year I was at wuss status and this year it felt like I was earning my water wings. I won't lie, the second loop was a bit tougher. The turn around buoy looked like it just kept floating farther and farther away. Once I reached it, I had to hold the rope it was attached to and pull myself around the buoy, the current was trying to pull it away and suck me under.
The big victory was that I watched Shark Week every day last week and never thought that a shark was going to eat me once in that river. I was so proud of myself. My one and only goal was to be the previous years time.
last year - 1:58
this year - 1:49
BIG difference. Especially considering the current. My overall was 21 out of 38 in the women. I was mid pack for the ladies. Last year I was way towards the back. I also saw women coming out of the water behind me that looked MUCH more professional than I do. Not that I don't but when you see someone in their sponsor looking swim gear and they have an Ironman tattoo you just assume that you're getting ready for a martial arts style beat down.
Next year, one of my big goals (if I can muster up the courage) is to enter the lottery to swim across the Chesapeake Bay. It's 4.4 miles. Not many people get to do it. You have to have someone vouch for you that you can swim that far and you have to meet time requirements. This is equal to someone who is afraid to fly, sky diving for the first time.
I'm living proof to everyone who is a massive chicken in a chicken costume, that even if you're afraid, you can get past it and have success and find something in life that brings you great joy. Even if it's with the very thing you were terrified of in the first place. Ok, maybe you won't have a good time with snakes and spiders but never say never....