Most people celebrate Father’s Day in the traditional way, with barbeques and gifts of Old Spice and cheesy neckties. We thought we would do something a little different this year, and decided to swim fifteen miles. To each his own, I guess.
The setup was this: the US Masters 25K Swimming National Championships were being held in Noblesville, Indiana, near Indianapolis. The swim was held in Morse Reservoir, which is a magnificent lake with tons of recreation (read: motor boats) and beautiful homes. One small leg of Morse, though, is narrow and a no-wake zone, which makes it an ideal place for open water swimming. The race director, Dick Sidner, sets up a 5,000 meter course, so five loops is 25K. Dick really knows how to run an event like this, and there just aren’t that many opportunities where you can knock out a 15.5 mile swim in an organized way. One of the things I was most looking forward to was that my sons, Bill and Gordy, would be escorting me in a kayak. In addition to spending some time with them, it would be a chance to practice following a boat instead of having to “sight” buoy markers the whole day.
Seventy hearty souls had signed up for this madness. They came from all over the country, and had swimming resumes you would imagine; English Channel, Catalina Channel, Manhattan Island, and the Straits of Gibraltar crossings were commonplace. Everyone is so friendly at these events that it was easy to get to know some of the other Channel wannabes like me.
Saturday morning arrived, and the weather was dreadful. We would swim in heavy rain, but lightning is a problem. Dick and the local authorities decided to postpone the start of the swim by two hours, to 9:00 a.m., at which point the lightning had moved through the area. But, just like when the flight attendants on a turbulent flight make everyone really read the safety card, everyone paid close attention to the instructions of how the race could be suspended if more storms blew in again during the day. As it turned out, that was the end of the weather, and Gordy even got sunburned later in the day.
I had made the tactical decision to “swim through” this event. My logic was this: We’re only eight weeks from the English Channel swim, so resting and tapering now (knowing that I would have to plunge right back into heavy workouts, only to rest and taper again all in a few weeks) wouldn’t be the best timing. Plus, in my arrogance, I thought that I could incorporate a 15 mile swim into the other training I have been doing. Hence, I arrived in Noblesville tired and sore from our regular training regimen. It was clear that most of the other folks there had taken the different tack and were focusing on this event as something of the season’s culmination.
You learn a little something from every swim that you complete. Noblesville was no different:
- I can swim 15 miles even when I am tired from training – in fact, I was achy and sore even on the first loop.
- Apparently, not everyone can swim that far, even when they are fresh – a number of people received the “DNF” (did not finish) designation.
- I have to do something about leg cramps (I get cramps in my calf muscles all the time, but the quadriceps and hamstring cramps are not easy to just ignore). I am told it is a potassium problem, so I went out and bought a whole mess of bananas today.
- Bill and Gordy are great fun to be with and are good kayak escorts, particularly when they aren’t arguing with each other or running over the swimmer.
- My Infinit Nutrition drink (www.InfinitNutrition.us) is great fuel for these swims, and we practiced shortening the feeding intervals to 20 minutes from 30 minutes later in a swim.
- If anyone cares, it took 23,512 strokes to cover 15.5 miles.
So, we made it around the 5K course five times, and it was a painful seven-and-a-half hours. It is another challenge met and another notch in the belt of experience.
Today, I decided to give my shoulders a rest and not swim, and it felt like I was playing hooky or something. Tomorrow, I will stop feeling sorry for myself and be back in the water.
Lots of work to do before England – we leave two months from today.
See you at the pier. I will report back.