Nothing like an adventure and today is shaping up to be just that, I wake before the alarm at 3:00am, suit on, sun lotion applied, now time to get together the final bits and bobs before our 4:00am departure, I go about scooping up my gear, Jeff downs his coffee and my sister Robbin rustles up some delicious scrambled eggs, followed by porridge.
Cynthia, Deb and Paula arrive, we pile into 2 cars and are on the road, there is little traffic and before we know it we are at the Charlotte Marina, as we go by the flag pole I notice the flags, they are all dancing in the wind, hmmmm, I contemplate the implications, perhaps a little wave action today. For now the Marina is calm, Jeff loads the boat…….
We stack our bags up front and off to one side, all aboard, Jeff drives, Cynthia casts off, it is 6:15am when we leave the marina, the sun is rising in the sky, it is a glorious day, ” this has been one of the most amazing things I have been fortunate to experience on this journey to the Channel, the magical sunrises and sunsets during swims”, I think quietly to myself, we motor out into the Lake….
This trip we have my friend Tricia’s GPS, she has kindly printed a map of the Lake with Waypoints marked and lent us her handheld GPS to help navigate, as we pull out from Charlotte Marina all the islands and peninsula’s seem to blend into one land mass, ” this way” we all decide, the boat picks up speed and motors out into the Open Lake, ” funny the arrow on the GPS is pointing in the opposite direction”, Cynthia and I say in a quizzing way, ” must be off a bit”, we comment, reassuring each other that we are not sure that we are going in the right direction but there is no way the GPS is correct, how could it be right?
We drive and we drive, ” that’s 4 miles already”, says Jeff, you guessed it we are off in the wrong direction, we turn the boat around and retrace our steps, now let’s all repeat after me, ” The GPS is never wrong”, yep, you guessed it, we made a minor detor, but on the up side, it is beautiful, sheltered from the wind and calm, we all laugh and enjoy the scenery…
We finally make our way to Burlington, including our detour we have covered 17 miles in the boat already, one of the two gas tanks is close to empty, ” fuel up?”, I ask Jeff, he agrees, I pull out my phone and trusty goggle takes us to a fuel dock, well near it anyway, Cynthia eyeballs us to the actual pumps, thanks Cynthia. We tie up the boat and see the hand painted sign on the wall hours 8:00am – 8:00pm, I glance at my phone, 7:15am, ” Oh dear”.
The Best Plans are flexible…..
We discuss the options and all decide better to wait here 45 minutes than to run out of gas during the last leg of our swim, ” we have plenty to do, reapply sun lotion, go over feeding plans, the Spot Tracker tracking system and grease up”, I say.
We plop ourselves on the dock, I take the time to reread the instructions of the new GPS Spot Tracker, I activated it yesterday, it is set up to send out a location every 10 minutes to a shared web page that viewers can follow to see our progress during the swim. By 8:00am all the final details are double checked, fuel tanks are topped off and we are on route to Oakledge Park our starting location, we arrive to see much of the beach closed due to Blue Green Algae, ” there is a section open”, I announce merrily, Blue Green Alge can’t be in that 10 feet, right”?, I laugh.
Paula and I jump off the boat, Paula jumps first, I follow…..
The water feels great, it is shallow we half swim, half wade into shore, time to clear the water, I stand on the beach and watch as Paula swims out and gets her fins and hand paddles on, she raises on arm to give me the sign that she is ready to go, I enter the water, the stop watch starts we are off…
As soon as we make our way out of the bay I feel to wind gusting, the waves hit my back and jostle us around, the New Zealand flag on the back of the boat dances in the wind, I work to find a rhythm and time my breathe to avoid a throat full of water, Paula swims strongly beside me, she doesn’t miss a beat in the waves.
Our first feed arrives, Deb feeds Paula, Cynthia feeds me, Maxim a-la-fishing pole, I snag the feed up and am swept away from the boat by the waves, the line lets out, feed down, I drop the cup and swim away, Cynthia reels in the feed cup with the pole like she has just caught a big fish, a “Maxim Fish”, we swim on, one feed goes by after another, by my 4th feed I notice something, ” hey my Maxim tastes weird”, I keep my mouth shut, drink it, then swim on.
The next feed is a fruit punch flavored Maxim, I tentatively swallow, ” sweet, this tasted great”, I suck it down in 20 seconds and swim on, then I notice something else, ” why are we still seeing Vermont”, I ask myself angrily, I glare at the crew, ” Why is there land on my left?”, I crossly think again, my mood shifts, I am ticked off, ” what are they doing, New York is across the lake not down it”, each stroke I take slaps the water angrily, ” Hey, Lady, you are swimming, your job is to follow, not question, besides they have a better view than you, a map and a GPS, SHUT UP AND SWIM”, you got it I give myself a good swift kick in the pants, ” you know this stuff, now behave and swim”, I do, I pull my socks up and get down to business, the pace picks up and I no longer look for Vermont, or New York, I just swim, things feel great, the waves are good training, the only thing is that the feeds are tasting worse, I down them anyway, I know I must take in every drop.
“Where did you swim from?”
On we swim, I notice big sailboats alongside the boat, every now and then Cynthia, Deb and Jeff point and wave there arms at a boat to alert it that there are swimmers in the water, suddenly I see shoreline to my left, the boat pulls up and Paula and I swim in to shore alone, I sight and see a beach, ” sweet, no cliff to climb up”, as it gets shallow I notice zebra mussels on the rocks, ” wonder if they’re sharp”, I ask myself as I let my hand brush over them, ” Yip, sharp”, I decide to go on the “float in on the belly technique” and take the possible shredding of my suit rather than my feet, now it is too shallow to belly float, I crawl on hands and feet, I clear the water and shoot my hands up, New York, New York.
I notice someone else on the beach……..
“OH MY GAWD, WHERE DID YOU SWIM FROM”, bellows a friendly lady from New York, I have in ear plugs but can still hear her strong accent, “Burlington”, I reply, she turns to here party sitting 25 yards away, ” OH MY GAWD, SHE SWAM FROM BURLINGTON”, she shouts excitedly, ” WHERE IN BURLINGTON?”, she shouts again, ” Oak ledge Park”, I reply, she turns back to her friends, ” OH MY GAWD, SHE STARTED AT OAKLEDGE PARK”, she scurries over the her friends and reappears with a bottle of water, ” WOULD YOU LIKE SOME WATER?”, she shouts, ” no thanks, I have to swim back now”, she turns back to her friends, and louder than ever ” OOOOHHH MY GAAAAWD, SHE’S SWIMMING BACK“, I smile, here I am amidst of a 2 way crossing, the stop watch is running and it is time to get back in the water, this energetic, friendly lady doesn’t know me from Adam and is ready to pull me up a deck chair and throw another Hamburger on the grill and what’s more I am catching a little chat, “be would be rude not to”, I decide, I turn to her, ” time to go”, I say as I begin navigating the slippery rocks, ” SHE’S GOING BACK IN”, she shouts to her friends, ” WHAT ARE YOU TRAINING FOR?”, the friendly New Yorker is not ready to let the visit end quite yet, I turn my head and shout, ” THE ENGLISH CHANNELL NEXT MONTH”, “OOOHHHH MYYYYY GAWWWD, OH MY GAWD… SHE’S TRAINING FOR THE ENGLISH CHANNEL”, she shreeks to her friends, ” ARE YOU SWIMMING THE CHANNEL TOO?”, she shouts to Paula, before I slide under the water I hear her reply, ” No I’m just the friend”, I swim away, Paula swims back to the boat, 4 hours, 51 minutes, Vermont to New York, for Paula, outstanding, she boards and peels off her wet suit.
I break my code of silence….
So, remember my goal of keeping my mouth shut and ” just swim”?. Well it has been going well, the odd word here and there at a feed, like ” 2 advil next feed please”, or ” great day for a picnic”, but now I am about to break it, I look at Paula, ” hey she is not JUST a friend, she’s MY friend and I am going to make sure she knows it”, I hatch a plan, feed time arrives, I down my feed and shout ” Hey Paula, your’re not just THE friend, your’e MY friend”, head down and I swim off, as I turn to breathe I see a wide mouthed grin from Paula, we swim together alot, hours side by side, we never say a word, yet we share so much, today it went into words, if just for a moment.
Vermont, ” The Green Mountain State”
I feel great, my body feels peppy and I am excited to be on the return leg of the swim, my feeds have been getting more and more disgusting, I watch Cynthia and Deb mix them in horror, knowing soon it is time to swallow that putrid stuff, ” must be that it is heating up in that plastic container, I can’t tell you how vile it tastes and smells, still the memory of hyponatremia after the 25.2 fresh water swim is clear in my mind I know despite the foulness of it I need the fuel and nutrients to keep my body strong and system in balance, I dread it anyway but know I will obediently take in every drop.
What’s on the menu?
Fortunately I’ve packed some treats and fruit punch flavored Maxim, they are all yummy, ” nothing to do but look forward to the peaches, pears, Jellybabies and fruit punch Maxim”, I declare, I do and savor them when they arrive by fishing pole.
Hours go by…..
I have lost track of time, my world is now 30 minutes at a time, from one feed to the next, I study the crew, they make me smile by pulling out my favourite rubber duck and twirling the sun umbrella, then I see Paula getting back into a suit, ” she is coming back in the water, fun”, I think, in she comes and we swim on towards Burlington, I know we are getting close, just a few more ghastly feeds to stomach, ” how about I just fake the next feed, tip it out, I am nearly there, come on it will be fine”, I debate the idea in my head, ” NO ALL FEEDS FINISHED”, there I said it, oh dear now I really have to take it down, I watch the girls pouring the hell juice in my cup, : Oh No”, I shudder at the thought, Jeff stands with his arms crossed watching me, I drink it and swim off, ” that’s it, NO MORE FEEDS, I AM FANGING IT”, I declare, the plan to nail the finish before the next 30 minute feed it due. I swim hard, Paula stays right with me, stroke after stroke, “oh no”, I see the feed cup come out and the ghastly Maxim is being poured into it, “not yet, not yet”, I sprint harder and then it happens, I see golden sand, ” the shores of France”, I visualize it in my mind, I sight and see bathers on the beach, on I swim, then stand and jog in, along with Paula. On the beach there are not just bathers, my son, Soeren and daughter, Heidi are there with their Grandparents, what a welcome, I go to hug Heidi, ” Yuck, what’s that white stuff”, she asks, ” Grease”, I reply, we do our best to hug without smearing grease all over her, an ” air hug”, then goodbyes and Paula and I head back to the boat, what an adventure.
Motoring Homeward Bound
Paula and I get situated on the boat and Jeff motors us back to the Marina, we pull in to the dock at 6:45pm, unload the boat, reload the car and all drive home, we share tales of the day tired and happy, it has been a good outing and one that will be remembered, I learnt some more valuable lessons to help me in the Channel, got the chance to practice feeding off a boat again and had some valuable mental training, not to mention a 8 Hour, 31 minute and 19 second training swim, I am pleased, BIG thanks to my boat crew, Jeff, Deborah and Cynthia, to Paula keeping my company for many hours in the water and notching up her third Lake Champlain crossing and my sister Robbin for getting up at 3:00am and fueling me with eggs and porridge, a team effort for sure.
What’s up next? Sleep, Yoga and Body Work work with Kate Graves and 60km of swimming this coming week.
3 Weeks of Heavy Training remaining, How will it progress? I’ll keep you posted
Concentration is the ability to think absolutely nothing when it is absolutely necessary
– Ray Knight