Back to the swim- I showed up early on Saturday morning to volunteer before the race because I wasn't able to help out at any other races this year, so it was quiet and empty in Riverside park as the sun lit up the buildings across the way in NJ. It was going to be a beautiful day, I could feel it. I helped set up the start area and kept busy with little chores until it was time to get myself ready to swim. I really enjoyed volunteering, even if my job was silly at one point (I was directing swimmers to pick up their chips, lest they should walk away without it) because it kept me busy and occupied all morning. The alternative would have been pacing at home and then getting nervous waiting at the start area, so I was happy for the distraction. Besides, the NYC Swim crew consists of really nice, fun people.
I managed to catch up with a bunch of friends before the race and talk about things other than swimming, which was a great way to spend the morning. Before I knew it, it was time to line up in the corrals and I had to wave goodbye to my buddies. Sally and I were separated for the start, she was in the wave right before mine and I was sad to be starting without her. We always swim together and so I spent most of the race glancing at the swimmers around me hoping to spot her. When it was our turn, my wave hopped in and treaded water for about a minute while Morty counted down. It was nice to be able to adjust to the water for a second before taking off, I like it much better than a beach start. There were only one or two dopes in wetsuits in my wave that swam on top of everyone as we made our way out to the first buoy, but everyone else was behaving themselves. Really, it is always the wetsuit folks trying to swim over me, I'm guessing they just don't feel it through the suit when they hit you. The water temp was PERFECT for a long swim, around 70 degrees and so crisp and clear. No one ever believes me when I say that the Hudson is clean and beautiful, but it was.
Pumpkin House peering out at the river from 184th St and The Cloisters peeking out from the trees of my beloved Fort Tryon Park. It was a fun perspective and looking for landmarks kept my mind occupied as I pushed further north in search of the finish. My shoulders and back were aching and I was simply getting tired. I could see several buoys ahead, but one of the ones I was using to guide me suddenly started moving and I realized it was on the back of a BOAT. According to my hubby, some of the finish buoys had drifted upstream and had to be brought back by the support boats. The finish area was generally confusing, but that might be the result of exhaustion, and it wasn't entirely clear when to turn towards the finish. Unfortunately, the kayaks didn't direct us to turn soon enough and everyone seemed to be drifting upstream as we tried to head for the shore. That was really tough at the end of 6+ miles and it made me a little nervous because the alternative to swimming really hard for the finish was to smack into the rocks north of the finish line. Eek. Luckily, no one seemed to get hurt, but it was an unwelcome challenge after swimming so far.
At the end of the race I was all smiles, I swam 10.2 Kilometers! Wow! The quest for bigger and better things continues...
So, if you're thinking about taking your swimming up a notch next year, I HIGHLY recommend looking into the Little Red Lighthouse Swim. It was a beautiful course, well organized, and really fun.
I managed to come in #135 (out of 299 entrants/284 finishers) in a time of 2:23! My original plan to come in under two hours was adjusted when Morty explained that the tide wouldn't be nearly as fast as years past, a point that was made obvious by the lead finisher's time of 1:48 (vs 1:20 in 2011) so I am more than happy with my time. I took it easy, pacing myself like I would for a marathon and I know now that I can tackle the distance and probably at a faster pace next time.