I awake to overcast skies, Jeff and I pack up and pile into the mini for the 1 hour drive to Newport, we leave home late, on the drive to Newport I plan an arrival strategy, this will be tight, but the good news is all my feeds are packed, the bag with all my supplies is ready to set on the boat, we both are lathered in sun lotion, all we need to knock out on arrival is check in, unload the boat and for me to make my way to the start chute, no worries, right?
Jeff pulls right down to the beach, we notice all the other kayakers are all ready situated, that’s us in the mini unloading, I snag my race number, then Jeff and I head up to park the car, on with the grease for me then down to the boat to launch Jeff, not a moment to spare, well maybe just enough time to duct tape my New Zealand Flag on the kayak, ” that will be fun to look at”, I think. I wave Jeff goodbye as he paddles away, I scurry off to the starting chute.
It is confirmed I am one of the last swimmers to line up, all the other swimmers are ready with their caps on and goggles down as I make my way to join them at the start line, on arrival I hear ” 3 minutes to start”, ” no worries Mate”, I giggle to myself, ” what a little monkey I am, next time leave ON TIME!”, I give myself a good talking too and then go about relaxing and focusing on the swim ahead, ” 10 miles, goal = long strong strokes, pull hard, fast feeds, no peaking like a seal and there is nothing you need to ask Jeff, keep your mouth shut and swim”, ” OK, race plan in place”, I relax, now I wait.
The 3 minutes goes by fast, ” Take your mark, BEEP”, the starting horn blasts, we are off, I am the one on the left, black suit and black cap, should be easy to see me, there is only 75 or so of us running into the lake…..
Next it is out to the first buoy, around we go and then on a long straight where Jeff is waiting to slide up beside me in the kayak…
I have not swum in Lake Memphremagog since September 10th, 2011, it is firmly implanted in my brain, 15 hours, 30 minutes and not to forget the 30 seconds of a battle between me and ” the Lake” , from Newport Vermont to Magog, Canada….so who won? Well I made it to Magog and walked out of the Lake fair and square, however ” the Lake” put up one heck of a fight. But on to today’s swim, yes ” Lake”, I am back.
So that is how the swim begins, me and ” the Lake” catching up, the water feels great, there are 75 other swimmers around me and Jeff paddling by my side, I am happy. The first hour blazes by, my speed feels perfect, fast but not so fast that I can’t hold an even pace. Jeff and I make good time weaving in and around other swimmers, ” I love the flag on the boat, only there is not enough wind for me to really see it”, I ponder the thought for the next 30 minutes while I wait for my next feed.
One hour, thirty minutes comes and goes, a quick 20 second gulp of my 300 ml serving of carbo drink and I am off again, next feed, 2 hours ” ooooohh, 2 hour feed I can’t wait, at 2 hours I get slippery little peaches”, I savour the thought, my latest yum yums is tinned peaches, they slide down super fast and are soothing on my throat.
” The Lake” wants to play….
As I am patiently waiting for my slippery little peaches to arrive at 2 hours I notice things begin to jostle about a bit, but the main thing I notice is that my New Zealand flag is dancing around in the wind, ” what fun, ” The Lake” wants to play”, I giggle underwater at the thought, ” it is like we are cat and dog teasing each other, we aren’t really supposed to get along, but we kind of do, in a rough each other up sort of way”, I think.
So that’s what we spend the next few hours doing, the Lake tossing me about and me punching right back at the lake, every stroke I attack, I am thrilled with myself, what a good time and how lucky am I to have some wave action today, good for my training.
The Smurf song…..
That’s how we bounce along hour after hour, me watching the New Zealand Flag dance in the wind and smiling at Jeff, Jeff navigating the waves and the course like a champ and finally me and the lake wrestling with each other, it feels like we have all fallen in to a good routine, my feeds are going great, fast down and no unexpected feed coming up, I am not talking to Jeff, he is not talking to me, we are in a good rhythm. Now for the goal I forgot to mention, yip, it’s the pee goal, important to pee regularly during the swim, you may well laugh but it’s not as easy as one might think, so my goal today is to pee once every 30 minutes, sorry lake. So what of the smurf song? Well for some reason today when I hum the smurf song I pee, ” got to remember not to hum that when I am on land”.
The Final stretch…..
In 2010 I swam the same course, glassy flat water and blazing sun, my time 4 hours, 42 minutes, today before I know it my 4 hour feed is here, I stuff my mouth with slippery little peaches and ask my only question of the 4 hours, ” left or right of the buoy?” I ask Jeff, I can see a buoy a few strokes in front of me, Jeff answers right and I am off, I can now see the bottom, ” must be close to Newport”, I say to myself, I continue to pull hard, I study Jeff’s face to see if there is any give away as to our proximately to the finish, nothing, Jeff is expressionless, so I resign to the fact that it makes no difference where I am in the lake my only job is to swim and I do, I sing the smurf song and start dreaming of my next feed of maxim, “it must be near my 30 minute feed time because I am hungry”, I think, as I think the words Jeff points ahead, the final buoy and I am a mere hundred or so meters from the finish, ” WOW, I can’t believe it’s over already”, I think and go about sprinting to shore, images of the shores of France crowd my mind as they always do at the end of a swim, in I sprint until it is too shallow to swim, then I right myself and run in, 4 hours, 32 minutes and 19 seconds, I am pleased.
Go team mates
Some of my team mates are already on shore and some are still to land, everyone has terrific swims, I dash off to shower and change then it is time to watch my daughter Heidi’s 1 mile race. She lines up with the other youth swimmers, the lake is choppy, the starter horn sounds and the kids are off, what a treat watching these young swimmers dash off the beach and into the water…….
29 minutes later Heidi lands back on the beach, along with her team mate, she is thrilled, I am beside myself with excitement, we all hug.
Next up it is off for ice creams and back home, what was the conversation home? Well it was about our next open water swim of course, seems that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, Heidi loves stretching it out in the Open Water too.
So what is my next big Swim? Lake Champlain 2 way crossing Saturday July 14th, 16 miles plus
Will I swim from State to State, Vermont to New York and Back? I’ll keep you posted
” If you take responsibility for yourself you will develop a hunger to accomplish your dreams”
– Les Brown