Saturday September 25th the day of the Triathlon
Location: Sachuest Beach ( second beach), Newport RI
Air Temperature 68 degrees, Water temperature 65 degrees.
After arriving from Vermont late last night we are up early for the 6:00am check in for the race, I am scheduled to swim the 750 meter swim leg of the Triathlon, followed by a 12 mile bike and 5km run completed by my teammates Claire and Jacki.
Our plan this morning is to pick up our race packs early, then go back to Jacki’s house ( just a few minutes drive from the beach ) and fuel up with hot tea, banana on toast and a protein drink.
When we arrive at the beach to check in at 6:00am it is still dark, a gusty warm wind blowing and the waves loudly crashing in the background. We struggle to see as we sign up for our one day US Triathlon Membership,” be sure to sign both places on the form ” says the guy collecting the forms, due to the darkness I can’t read what the form says but know it must have something to do with liability
” participation may result in bodily harm or death”
We pick up our race bags ( check), scope out the transition area ( check ), get our race numbers( check), walk down the beach to view the swim course ( problem) , the waves are crashing angrily into the shore and the swim course is not marked.
I ask a volunteer if she knows where the swim start is, ” they may have to cancel the swim” she says. Shortly after the loud speaker blasts information about start times and swimmer waves. OK we think we are good. We head back to the house refuel and return to the beach at 7:15am, the team swimmers are due to go off at 7:45am, perfect timing I think.
As we pull into the parking lot we see Ray a pro who is racing today, ” swim is cancelled, it is a day for the land sharks” he announced through the car window. Those who are not strong swimmers are saved, the surf is rough and they would be at a disadvantage if they had to navigate today’s conditions in the water, the Triathlon is a different ball game today and one more favoured to those strong on the bike and run.
For me I am out….No Swim Portion No Race, RATS I wanted to play, Jacki and I regroup within minutes, we both knew what we each had to do, Jacki had to go race with our team mate Claire and me, the solo swimmer had to go get my cold water training swim in.
I have already decided I was going to swim regardless of the swim being cancelled due to the rip tide, 3 foot waves and water that was choppy from the wind. A quick calculation, no one to swim or paddle with me = problem, I drive back to the house to ask my husband Jeff if he will be my eyes and walk along the beach while I swim, he agrees, ” how do I help you if you get in trouble ?” he asks, “make call for a rescue” I replied.
We park at the end of second beach, two piece Tankini, cap and goggles I am ready to go, I walk into the water sizing up the situation, breaking waves rolling in, I am going to have to get out to swim beyond those crashing waves, I move further out diving under the waves as I go, the water is 65 degrees and feels great, I am quickly out past the breakers and amongst the surfers, ” Hey the water’s warm today” says a friendly surfer sitting up tall on his board waiting for his next wave, ” sure is” I reply, I notice the thick full length wetsuit, he must be cooking in that thing I think to myself. I am feeling surprisingly good in the 65 degree water today, the 58 degree 2000 yard swim in the lap pond that I had on Thursday is making the ocean feel like a warm pool.
I swim parallel to the beach, I am being jostled about like a cork, bobbing up and down as I swim, I am swimming a few hundred meters offshore to avoid the bigger crashing waves, yet I am still encountering white caps, some crash on me, others I have to abort my breath to the side to avoid inhaling a mouthful of salt water, a fake breath, I put my head down for a few more stroke cycles without getting air then try again. I lift me head occasionaly to sight Jeff, the waves are too big, I can’t see him and can barely make out the beach, ” I wonder if he can see me ” I think, I make it down to the end of the beach and turnaround, I begin the return swim, I feel strong and comfortable in the water today. On the way back the waves are more frequent and I notice how much I am drifting left away from the shore, I have to pull harder to stay in sight of the shore, I am making good ground and am super excited to run into a number of ” clear jellies”, not the stinging jelly fish but never the less still slimy feeling like jello, good training for me to navigate. The waves get bigger, some of them are picking me up and tipping me on my side and back.
Today’s wind is an on shore wind, making the waves closer together only 6 seconds apart and the water choppy, there is also a rip tide, a current pull under the surface water that sweeps across the beach and out. Today it is pulling me away from the beach and I have to dig deep and pull hard with each stroke to stay in sight of the shore, I am drifting out and change tactics now sighting every few strokes to stay better on course, it works and I am a few hundred meters out from my exit point. The swim in is hard, I have to fight the current, I weave in and out of the surfers and body surf a few waves in. One hour and ten minutes, 2. 4 miles and the swim is complete, I am pleased.
Jeff said I looked strong on the way down and slowed down on the way back, fighting the current I told him, ” could you see me I asked?’, ‘ I would see you, then a wave would break and I would lose you, then see your arms spinning as you stroked through the water”.
I dried off, wrapped up and then off to see how the Triathlon team feared in the bike and the run, then it was relaxing on the beach followed by lunch, yoga, packing up for tomorrow’s 10km swim and two big steaks for dinner. The temperature is due to drop overnight, how will the water be tomorrow in the Flat River Reservoir where the 10km swim is being held? I’ll keep you posted.
|Second Beach Training Swim