View RSS Feed

swimsuit addict

Success!

Rate this Entry
Yesterday was Stage 1 of the 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim. I was 1 of 7 swimmers attempting the 18.3-mile stretch of river, from the Rip van Winkle Bridge (connecting Catskill and Hudson, NY) downriver to the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge. The challenging thing about the swimapart from the distanceis that this part of the Hudson is not so much a river as a tidal estuary. Simply put, that means it flows in two directions rather than one--the current shifts with tidal cycles every 6 hours or so. Our swim was timed to start at the end of the flood stage, when the river was still flowing slightly north, and to last through the south-flowing ebb stage, when the current would be with us. If necessary, we could run slightly into the next flood stage, before the current became too fast to swim againstthe race timeline called for pulling swimmers at end of ebb tide or when they can no longer make headway in flood.

Going into the swim, it seemed like this stage would be doable for a swimmer maintaining a 30-minute per mile pace. At 6h09m, the ebb window was a relatively long one (they vary significantly by stage, depending on a ton of stuff I dont understandtides are really complicated!). And the maximum ebb current was predicted to be fairly fast, at 1.7 knots. Still, the rivers flow doesnt always conform to predictions, and things like strong winds from the south can slow progress substantially. So going into the swim I was facing two uncertainties: Would I be able to swim continuously for 6 hours or so? (My previous longest swim was 2.5 hours.) And, if I managed to do that, would I reach the bridge before the tide turned?

The day started off well. I travelled to the stages loading area near Catskill with friends and fellow swimmers Rondi, Lisa, and Gilles. Dave was already there organizing things, and we started sunscreening up and getting our gear ready. Our other two swimmers arrived, kayakers started trickling in, and our big escort boat pulled in and tied up. (Each of the 7 swimmers would have an escort kayak, plus there was a large boat and a zippy little zodiac-style boat to provide support to the field throughout the day.) Dave passed out 5-gallon buckets that we could store our feeds inthe buckets then fit into a molded depression on the sit-on-top kayaks being used for the swim. I stashed my various thermoses and solid food containers in it, then found met my kayaker and went over my feeding schedule with him. Soon we were ready to get underway. We loaded our gear onto the boat (the kayaks and zodiac were already on board), boarded the swimmers and kayakers, then all headed up to the bridge that marked the start of the swim.

It was an overcast day and a little cool. It took about 20 minutes to motor up to our start point, which gave me time to start feeling a little nervous. Now that everything was ready to go there was nothing to think about except for the swim ahead. When I looked downstream the river stretched on and on, yet I couldnt even see the bridge we were swimming to, and I wondered what exactly I had gotten myself into. But while I wasnt at all sure I would be able to finish the swim, I knew that whatever happened that day I would get to spend a good long time in the water I loved, and that at the end of the day I would end up on a comfortable boat with friends who would be supportive no matter what. That was reassuring.

The boat stopped a touch past the bridge, and I huddled downstairs near the engine room with most of the other swimmers while the kayaks and kayakers were unloaded. Once the kayakers were in place, we determined that the tide was still pushing north, but getting close to changing. Dave said a few words, we each jumped off the boat, and positioned ourselves under the bridge. The water was pretty warmmid- to upper-70s. There was a brief countdown, and we took off swimming.

The journey down the river was really pleasant. I made sure I started off stroking very easy and comfortablyI was going to get to do plenty of swimming, so I didnt want to get all excited and swim hard at the beginning. My kayaker was soon beside me to my right, my preferred breathing side. I planned to feed every 30 minutes, and the only interval that seemed long to me the entire day was before my first feed. After that one, I kind of knew how it would go, and trusted my kayaker to keep track of the time and signal me when it was time to stop and feed. Its funny, I bought a wristwatch with a stopwatch function before this swim so that I would know how much time had passed, and how long to my next feeding, but I think the only time I looked at it during the whole swim was at 0h21m minutes in.

As for feedings, for this swim I wanted to experiment around with having more solid foods, and more real food, than I had taken in during the MIMS relay. Before the swim, I experimented around with different stuff, and even tried making my own GUs, which I put into freezable push-up popsicle molds. I charted calories and sodium content of various stuff, and ended up with a feeding schedule that seemed more like an extended picnic on the river. I kept my tried-and-true liquid feeds (a juice mixture, and heavily sweetened tea) on the hours, and used heavier stuff (solids, purees, or chocolate milk) on the half-hours. My kayaker also offered me water at each stop.

Heres what my 14-course Hudson Valley tasting menu ended up looking like:

0h30m Raspberry/apple/orange juice
1h Herb tea w/ agave nectar
1h30 Chocolate milk
2h Juice
2h30 Peanut-butter & jelly pop
3h Tea
3h30 Chicken sandwich pop
4h Juice
4h30 Yogurt drink, Pear puree
5h Tea
5h30 Chocolate milk
6h Juice
6h30 PB & J pop
7h Tea
7h30 Yogurt drink

These worked out well for meI seemed to tolerate everything well, I felt energized after each feeding, thought they were all yummy, and looked forward to the next one. My favorite was the pb&j pop. The chicken-sandwich pop took the longest to eat, and tasted kind of bland. I ended up drinking less than the planned 8 oz of the liquids each time, which means I got less than the 250-290 calories/hour I had planned, but I ended up feeling strong and having good energy throughout the swim, so I dont think that was a problem.

Between feeds I stroked down the river and had a very enjoyable day. The Hudson Valley is gorgeous. I passed some landmarks I recognized, but a lot of the swim I just watched pretty wooded riverbank pass by, with some small mountains in the background to my right, and some sweet houses and little towns dotting the landscape every now and again. I chatted with my kayaker some during feeds, and we both agreed how beautiful it would be to do this stretch of river again during foliage season. Sometimes my elbows and wrists felt a little tired, and about 3-3 hours in all my musclesupper arms, forearms, lats, neck, upper backstarted feeling achy. I thought about asking my kayaker for an ibuprofen on my next feed (I had packed some in my just-in-case bag, along with extra cap and goggles and extra food and cookies). But I didnt, and eventually the achiness subsided and I started feeling good again. When I talked with Dave afterwards he said that is common on long swims.

For a while I could see other swimmers in front of me, but they soon got out of sight. After a couple of hours Gilles and his kayaker came into view, and we swam near each other for awhile. There was little boat traffic on the river, but whenever anything big or interesting passed by I turned over to do backstroke and look at it. I saw various birds flying around above me, and sometimes indistinct shapes swimming by below. It was pretty mesmerizing just stroking along and occasionally noticing the sun being further along in its journey through the sky. I never really felt tired or lacking good energy, just a little sore in my muscles. Whenever I started dwelling on that, I would try changing up my stroke in some wayincreasing stroke rate, kicking a little more, exiting earlier, rotating more, letting my head hang more restfully in the water. That seemed to help, either by using the muscles a little differently, or by focusing my attention on something other than the soreness sensation until other thoughts drifted into my head.

After a while I spotted the Saugerties lighthouse to my right, and I felt confident from then on that I would be able to finish the swim. That must have lifted my spirits, because from there on I felt really great and light in the watermy stroke felt smooth and long and effective, and I wasnt achy at all anymore. Once I could see the bridge ahead, it was tempting to keep on looking up to see how much progress I was making, and I did that for about the next 100 yards. But I knew from our boat trip on this stage that you can see the bridge well before you get to it, so I managed to be disciplined after that and not look up at it between my feedings, and was rewarded by how much closer it seemed after 30 minutes of steady swimming. Finally during the 5h30 feed my kayaker told me he thought I would make it to the bridge before my next feedwe seemed very close at that point. And I did, finishing the swim in 5h50m. I turned over and did backstroke so I could see the bridge overhead as I finished, and blew it a kiss as I crossed under.

After I finished I floated around in the water, did a couple of back flips to stretch out, then climbed up onto the boat. Rondi, Dave, and Lisa were waiting for me and all gave me hugs and congratulations. Very soon after Gilles climbed aboard. Out of 7 starters we had 5 swimmers who finished the stage. Forumite Leonard Jansen got very close but was done in by the changing currents. Our seventh swimmer, Bill Dailey, swam strong for several hours before retiring.

On the boat afterwards, Rondi said the days swim was equivalent to a 13-miler unassisted by current. I still cant quite believe I swam that far! We had close-to-perfect conditions yesterday, with cloud cover for most of the day (the sun peeked out a few times just to say hi), little wind, and mostly flat water that was very easy to swim in (there was a bit of gentle chop when the current was at its strongest). My kayaker Teddy was really wonderful and encouraging the entire day long. In fact everyone involved in the swimfrom Captain Greg, Richie, and Amanda on the Launch 5 boat, to Clare and Mary as the swims boat crew, and all the swimmers and kayakerswas incredibly positive and supportive. I ended up feeling very grateful that I had such a terrific setting for attempting my first extended swim.

Today I am at home resting. I did an easy swim at the Y this morning1200 yardsjust to stretch out and get blood flowing to my tired muscles. I am amazed by Dave and Rondi, who are swimming again today, and tomorrow, and the day after that, etc. I go back upstate on Monday to be part of Stage 4. Tomorrow Ill review my feedings and decide what I want to do differently the second time aroundmaybe more solids, and definitely a second pb&j pop!

Submit "Success!" to Digg Submit "Success!" to del.icio.us Submit "Success!" to StumbleUpon Submit "Success!" to Google

Categories
Uncategorized

Comments

  1. pwb's Avatar
    Awesome. Simply awesome. I loved reading your description. It left me with an impression of you peacefully strolling down the road in almost a zen-like state of bliss and "in-the-now-ness." Wonderful to read, but even more awe-inspiring to imagine.

    Well, everything was inspiring to read except this little throwaway line:
    sometimes indistinct shapes swimming by below
    though I gather there's nothing dangerous in the Hudson.
  2. aztimm's Avatar
    Sounds like a fantastic swim! With all the detail you provided, I felt like I was there swimming next to you!

    I can't imagine doing all the feed stuff like that, sounds part science experiment, part nutritionist, and of course part taste tester. If you don't like it, you probably won't eat it, then it won't be of much use to you.

    And I found this very interesting too--
    I chatted with my kayaker some during feeds, and we both agreed how beautiful it would be to do this stretch of river again during foliage season.
    About 6 years ago, when I was working at the airline, I flew to Cleveland to visit my brother and family for a weekend in October. They live south of the city (Chagrin Falls), and there was a place where you could rent canoes, they drove you up to start, you finished at the rental place (and your car). My brother was with his 2 younger daughters (about 6 and 9 then), I was with his oldest daughter (about 12); the oldest got rather upset that I actually made her work so much.
    It was amazing to do that in a canoe and see the foliage, I'd bet swimming would be even better.
  3. qbrain's Avatar
    0h30m Raspberry/apple/orange juice
    That has swimsuit addict written all over it.

    3h30 Chicken sandwich pop
    That has WTF written all over it.

    the day’s swim was equivalent to a 13-miler unassisted by current.
    I think I swam that far too... this week.

    I still can’t quite believe I swam that far!
    I am really really impressed. I think OW is for crazy people, especially between bridges... especially especially in the Hudson, but WOW, what a feat. I bow down to your swimming prowess.
  4. sydned's Avatar
    Thank you for sharing this. Amazing, helpful, and inspiring. I can't wait to try my own swim of that distance! Yay for you!!
  5. swimsuit addict's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by pwb
    Awesome. Simply awesome. I loved reading your description. It left me with an impression of you peacefully strolling down the road in almost a zen-like state of bliss and "in-the-now-ness."
    That's really what it felt like. When I was writing up my blog, I felt like I didn't have much to say about the swimming itself, other than "I swam along, and swam along, and swam some more!"

    Quote Originally Posted by pwb
    Well, everything was inspiring to read except this little throwaway line
    I'm as skittish as they come, and I wasn't scared, so there must not be anything to be frightened of! I was actually remembering the pretty little fish that swam right under me during one of the test swims, and hoping it had come back to say hello.
  6. swimsuit addict's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by aztimm
    Sounds like a fantastic swim! With all the detail you provided, I felt like I was there swimming next to you!

    I can't imagine doing all the feed stuff like that, sounds part science experiment, part nutritionist, and of course part taste tester.
    Thanks! It was a fantastic swim--I feel really lucky I got a chance to do it!

    The feeds thing is relatively new to me, and I'm still trying to figure things out. This swim was fun because it wasn't so much a race, so there was no time pressure with the feeds--I took things rather leisurely, so could experiment with interesting food. I think real marathon swimmers are more focused on getting enough calories and electrolytes and all those good things down as quickly as possible. Chewing takes valuable time, hence the liquid formula and gel stuff.


    Quote Originally Posted by aztimm
    It was amazing to do that in a canoe and see the foliage, I'd bet swimming would be even better.
    Foliage-viewing is a big thing here in the northeast--I think there are lots of foliage tours by boat in the Hudson during the fall. I'm sure swimming, or kayaking, or canoeing during that time would be great--my kayaker's eyes really lit up when I mentioned it. The water would be a bit cooler though!
    Updated July 9th, 2011 at 09:25 PM by swimsuit addict
  7. swimsuit addict's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by qbrain
    That has swimsuit addict written all over it.
    That's my regular drink during swim workouts too! I love it.

    Quote Originally Posted by qbrain
    That has WTF written all over it.
    I'll just say it involved a chicken sandwich and food processor, with a push-up popsicle mold making it quicker to eat and less messy to store. Not bad, but not as tasty as the other stuff either.

    Quote Originally Posted by qbrain
    I think OW is for crazy people. . .
    Hmmm . . . what was that big event in Hawaii you're signed up for again? The Waikiki indoor hottub swim?

    Thanks for the kind words. I'm really enjoying discovering how magical swimming out the big wide world can be!
  8. swimsuit addict's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by sydned
    Thank you for sharing this. Amazing, helpful, and inspiring. I can't wait to try my own swim of that distance! Yay for you!!
    Thank you, and good luck on your swim! Do you have a blog or somewhere I can read about it?
  9. evmo's Avatar
    What a beautiful narrative. I'm so happy for you, Dave, Rondi, et al. Wish I could be there. Cherish it!
  10. swimsuit addict's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by evmo
    What a beautiful narrative. I'm so happy for you, Dave, Rondi, et al. Wish I could be there. Cherish it!
    Thank you Evan! I wish you could be here too. Maybe next year!
  11. jim thornton's Avatar
    Magnificent is so many ways!

    Magnificent writing. Magnificent swimming. Magnificent feeding.

    Maybe it's all the time I spent living in the Midwest, but you might consider making a slight verb change in future chronicles, i.e., change "feed" to "eat."

    There was something just ever-so-slightly livestocky to lines like " the only interval that seemed long to me the entire day was before my first feed."

    Alternatively, you could go truly whole hog here and design some sort of snorkel-cum-feed-bag that would allow you to steadily graze throughout the next 18 miler. I am sure that Amanda, with her patent proficiency, could help you here. Maybe there could even be a nozzle-with-funnel protruding from the back that would allow your kyaker to refuel the feedbag without you even needing to stop stroking?
  12. ourswimmer's Avatar
    What a fantastic experience. Congratulations!
  13. jaadams1's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by pwb
    Well, everything was inspiring to read except this little throwaway line:

    "and sometimes indistinct shapes swimming by below"

    though I gather there's nothing dangerous in the Hudson.
    I had almost the same thought as I read through the story. That's one thing I don't know that I care for in OW swimming.
    Very nice swim though. Anyone making those journeys down the Hudson River on the 8 Bridges Swims deserves the best rewards possible.

    Congratulations!

    As far as the feeding...I wonder what it would be like to put my normal food into a "to-go container" like you did for the swim: A Big Mac, w/ large fries and a Coke!
  14. swimsuit addict's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by jim thornton
    Magnificent is so many ways!

    Magnificent writing. Magnificent swimming. Magnificent feeding.

    Maybe it's all the time I spent living in the Midwest, but you might consider making a slight verb change in future chronicles, i.e., change "feed" to "eat."

    There was something just ever-so-slightly livestocky to lines like " the only interval that seemed long to me the entire day was before my first feed."

    Alternatively, you could go truly whole hog here and design some sort of snorkel-cum-feed-bag that would allow you to steadily graze throughout the next 18 miler. I am sure that Amanda, with her patent proficiency, could help you here. Maybe there could even be a nozzle-with-funnel protruding from the back that would allow your kyaker to refuel the feedbag without you even needing to stop stroking?
    Actually, I think I'll keep to the standard OW lingo--it amuses me, for just the reason you describe! (I hail from rural lands as well.)

    I just hope that fits of giggles resulting from imagining your contraption won't compromise my feeding efficiency tomorrow!
  15. swimsuit addict's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by ourswimmer
    What a fantastic experience. Congratulations!
    Thank you! It was a really delightful day!
  16. swimsuit addict's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by jaadams1
    I had almost the same thought as I read through the story. That's one thing I don't know that I care for in OW swimming.
    It's funny, when I told my former age-group coach I had gotten into open water swimming he couldn't believe it--he recalls me as "the girl who wouldn't get into the outdoor pool until all the bugs had been scooped out." I actually remember things a little differently there, but it's true I've always been critter-phobic. Swimming OW has helped me get over that, somewhat.

    Thanks for your kind words on the swim! And the hamburger-and-fries meal might mush up quite well into a pop--the coke might want to be consumed separately!