Sorry it's long . . .
This was the 2nd time I have done the 4.4 Bay Swim. The last time I crossed was in 2008. I didn't feel like I was trained as well this year, so I was a little nervous going into today. I'm a morning person, so the 11:45 start time for my wave did not thrill me. As is typical with me, I was up by 5am this morning and then spent the next 6+ hours just . . . waiting. I ate a normal breakfast of yogurt and cereal with the kids around 6am. The whole family left around 7am to meet my carpool. My friend's husband was driving a group of us to Sandy Point. Dave was taking the kids across the bridge to hang out with Hayden's godparents and their 2 kids, and would meet me at the finish to drive home.
Today's swim was slated to be the hottest crossing on record, with an official water temperature of 78 degrees at about 9am this morning. I tend to get hot easily, so after arriving at Sandy Point and picking up my packet, I spent the next 3 hours waffling back and forth about whether or not I should wear my wetsuit. With such a late start, I had brought a bunch of food to eat beforehand, since I would eat and drink nothing during the swim. Throughout the morning, I nibbled on a banana, a mini bagel with peanut butter, and a Cliff bar. I also downed 2 water bottles of Cytomax and about five 8oz bottles of water that were provided by the race team. Just before the pre-swim meeting, I finally decided to wear the wetsuit and took the rest of my stuff to the bag drop area. No changing my mind at that point.
Pre swim meeting said the current was relatively minor and the wind was fairly calm. Conditions were good for a relatively fast swim. Soon enough it was time for the first wave to head for the corralm, and those of us in wave 2 went into the water to try and stay cool before the start. And after what seemed like an eternity, during which I was sweating in my wetsuit, it was finally our turn to head for the start. Shortly thereafter (15 minutes after wave 1 went off), wave 2 started and there was no going back.
The start of the swim is pretty congested. About 300 fast swimmers all trying to squeeze between 2 sections of the Bridge to get into the span. It was a good half mile before I felt like I was not bumping into bodies left and right. I tried to get into a smooth rhythm and conserve energy, since it was going to be a very long swim. The conditions were basically what had been reported, the waves were rolling, but not too bad. I didn't feel like I was fighting to maintain position for the first 1.5 miles or so. I was quite warm in the wetsuit, but thus far no cramping in my legs. Then, in what seemed like an instant, the current started pushing everyone hard towards the southern span. I could see some people literally swimming perpendicular to the direction of the swim, trying to keep from getting swept outside the spans and thus being pulled from the swim. I managed about a 45 degree angle, and hoped it was good enough. I was in a long section that had no pylons, so it was really hard to determine how close I was to the southern span. After about 20 minutes of hard swimming, the current seemed to slack off again and I was able to make more forward progress.
The rest of the swim was just an effort in staying focused in keeping my arms moving. The biggest problem for me with such a long swim is just doing the same thing over and over again. Stroke, stroke, stroke, breath, stroke, stroke, breath, over and over again. I started by singing American Pie in my head and that lasted about a mile. After that, I started in on the whole libretto from Rent. That kept me until somewhere around mile 3. At that point, I couldn't even concentrate on the lyrics. I started singing the ABC's (currently my son's favorite) over and over again. By mile 4, I wanted nothing more than to get out from between the spans. That little distance after the mile 4 marker before you can exit the spans seems to take forever. I finally was able to turn out the spans and head for home.
The next challenge was getting through the spans and around the corner. I was so tired by then that it took me a while to escape the bridge. Then it was just putting my head down and stroking for the finish. Every time I took a breath to the left, I could see that wall. It seemed endless, but I finally reached the finish. I swam all the way up the beach and didn't stand up until I could see the timing mats a few feet in front of me. I stumbled across the mat and was done. At that point, I wanted nothing more than to get that wetsuit off!! I was so hot. I sat in the medical tent for a few minutes while I downed one bottle of water and dumped another over my head. I started to feel better then and went to find my friends. Maybe half an hour after I finished, they announced that a severe thunderstorm was heading our way and that they were shutting down the event. I was very glad I finished when I did. I found Dave and the kids and we boraded the bus to head back to his car. Surprisingly, it only took us about an hour to get home. I was totally expecting worse.
All in all, a good day. I was glad I did the swim again, but it will likely be a few more years before I do it again. But I'm sure I will do it again. You can't swim with the ABC's without getting the Bay bug at least periodically.