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Race Result

Racer: Reid Kiser
Race: Nanticoke Three Mile Swim and Triathlon
Date: Sunday, May 4, 2008
Location: Bivavle, MD
Race Type: Swim - Open Water (Other)
Age Group: Male 35 - 39
Time: 2:06:43
Overall Place: 33 / 62
Age Group Place: 5 / 7
Comment: Toughest swim I'll ever do

Race Report:

This is a long report for an epic swim starting an epic week.

According to the registry list, 73 peope signed up and 62 finished. I am unsure of how many:
1) didn't make the trip to Nanticoke
2) saw the conditions and made the decision to swim another day
3) started and became so sick and disoriented and stopped
4) how many were lost at sea.

I have seen rougher conditions, but never anything that people paid $55 and voluntarily swam for several hours. Shawn and I decided to sign up for this race several months ago as part of this year's IM training plan to start of epic week (ending with TdS).

Wow, 3 miles seems like a long way, but we decided if you can do this 2.4 miles will seem that much easier. There's no doubt I swam 3.5 miles on this day.

Training background: I am not a swimmer. Sure, I grew up water skiing, scuba diving, back yard pools and loving to be in the water, but baseball and football were the sports you did growing up in Texas. I never considered swimming for exercise purposes until moving to Reston and seeing an Olympic pool within a 5 minute walk of the house and saying, I should start doing triathlons and diversify from running. I have found a new assion for swimming in 2008. I put down a solid base of swimming this winter by increasing volume and frequency and an obsessive focus on balance and technique in the early months. Technique and efficiency didn't come into play on this day, but hopefully they will in Roth. Today was about the will to survive and place this effort and experience into the mental bank.

Pre-Race: I travelled with the Clarks. We stayed with Julie's cousin Mark the night before to avoid the 7 hours of driving in one day to race. We had the traditional pre-race dinner at the Green Turtle in Salisbury included 5-6 beers and a shot of tequila followed by the Ironman cartoon before bed. It was a 10 a.m. start, so we were able to sleep in until 8 and drive the 20 miles, pick up the chips and settle in for the start.

We looked out at the water and the wind was blowing straight across the river right to us. It was white cap city and the turn buoys were small specks off in the distance. I was beginnig to fathom what was needed for the day (it wasn't about bilateral breathing, arm position, sighting during a stroke or drafting off another competitor). Fortunately, the water temperature was perfect for a full wetsuit (no neoprene cap or booties).

Mile 1: The first 100 meters was behind the jetty, but into the wind. I stayed with Shawn for a bit until I looked up to sight forward right into a huge way and my big AquaSpheres filled up. I went to clear them and realized I could stand up. I looked at Shawn and saw a laughing smile as he keep cruising out to the river. It was swim, stop, fix goggles, find buoy, find another blue cap, wade and wait for the next big wave to find anything that indicates my direction and the next buoy. The intermediate buoys were extremely limited or I just never saw them. I may have seen two in the 1500 meters to the first turn. Fortunately this part was along the shore so it wasn't too hard to stay on line. No complaints here as who has enough buouy for a 3 mile triangle (a lap format may have been better logistically, but half us would have quit after the first lap). Halfway through the first mile, I stopped and realized I could stand up once I started to keep having to reset my goggles. I looked back and could only see three people behind me and five in my vicinity. I said to myself, this may be the day I finish dead last.

Mile 2: After what seemed like an eternity to finally get to the little bitty turn buoy, I made the turn and tried to find the next turn buoy. Having 20/10 vision was useless. I could see a couple of paddle boarders, one boat at the one itermediate buoy and anothe boat way off in the horizon. I figured that must be the direction I should go. This was the worst leg for me. It was mostly directly into the wind and chop, people were scattered everywhere. When I though I was way off course there were several others further off, so I didn't feel too bad. It was just swim 25 meters, stop, bob, and find the boat (which keep drifting away from the buoy) and swim some more while sucking in the brackish water. I was wondering if I would have chaffing issues, but at this point the body glide was holding up. I wasn't over heating either. Finally the first hour was nearing an end and the next little pink buoy was visible but still far off. The mental motivation was get to the next buoy and it should be down wind/down current and only a mile to go.

Mile 3: I made it to the last turn buoy and stopped. I had a few laughs with the 5 other people taking a break and joking about where do we go now? The final stretch did have more marker buoys but they really seemed to be in a zig zag but this was probably more of a water current issue. the last mile was better and was able to swim a 100 meters at a time without sucking in too much water. It still felt like something was attached to my ankles and that I was swimming in place. The jet skiers keep yelling at me to get back on course, so I would make a perpendicular turn and head back out to the marker buoys. Suck in some more exhaust. At this point, I was getting a little bit angry and frustrated that I had to fight the chop. I just wanted to get this done. I did have the opportunity to grab a couple of fish in the last section on accident. It was a little freaky, but this was a day to gain experience and exorcise demons. I am gaining comfort in murky waters.

Post Race:
I made it out of the water and sort of ran to the finish. This seemed silly given there was no one around me and it wasn't going to break a PR. I immediately went to the water station and started gargling out all the crap. It was a strange feeling to no longer be in the water and riding the waves. Julie and I waited for Shawn as we were concerned that he may have been suffering from motion sickness. He made it in shortly there after and we proceeded to just hang out and grasp what had just happened. I ate 3 hamburgers and 3 hot dogs chased by a Mountain Dew and we hopped in the car for the drive home.

Final Thoughts: Swimming in dark nasty water is survivable. Finish what you start. This sport is voluntary, find a way to enjoy the days that aren't ideal. 2.4 miles of swimming in a controlled canal will be much easier knowing the opposite extreme of swimming in the perfect storm.