Last year I decided to enter the lottery for this race. Every time I go to Ocean City, which is quite often, I think how cool it would be to swim across the Bay.
You don't find out until January that you even got in. I started training as soon as I learned I got in. I joined Tri2BeMore swim sessions with Coach Liz and my buddies Bryan and Moe. Those two were my biggest supporters for the last five months of training. It's fun to get in the pool and chase two old men for hours--it makes them feel better that a young guy can't catch them.
Training for this race for five months is boring. I think I swam 6000 yards a week. And as hard as that was, it wasn't enough--I still should have trained more.
Finally the week of the race arrived. I was getting the blues that I wasn't participating in Eagleman. That's definately on the list for next year. So I had the blues, and nerves. I have never been this nervous before a race before.
Of course my MMTC family was supportive-- even with all their plans for Eagleman, my friends still gave me words of encouragement and support. Even Tim "CB" Delss stopped by my house to give me pointers on hydration and nurtition.
One of the things I didn't like about this race is you have to arrive by 8am but you don't go off until 11. You have to park at the far end, and take a bus back to the start, to register and get your chip, then wait for two hours to start.
After two hours we had the pre-race meeting where the Race Director gave good pointers about the current.
Finally 11 o'clock rolled around and off we go! There were two waves: fast and slow. I volunteered for the slow wave to make some people feel better. Right away I could tell the other swimmers weren't triathletes. They were starting slow and being polite. I heard "excuse me!" and "no, you go ahead!" I felt bad kicking that old lady, but it's what I'm used to.
We got into the channel, between the bridge spans. The first current hit, pushing me north, but luckily the next wave of swimmers (that started 15 minutes after me) was already on my tail. The school of people pushed me back on course.
The coolest part of the whole race came next--we spread out, the water was calm, and I just enjoyed the view and swam along. I was starting to enjoy my swim, thinking about my fellow MMTC'ers--ahhh, I dont have to bike 56 miles today! And ahhh, I dont have to run a half marathon today! By mile 3 I was praying for the pain of a hot run.
The volunteers were great. One kayak guy stopped to check on me and I asked him for directions to Ocean City. Luckily he got my sense of humor. I went on with no issues until about mile 3. Then fatigue started kicking in. I swam to the food boat and ordered a cheeseburger and fries. This selfish bastard would not give me a beer, and told me I had another mile to go before cheeseburgers. I had to settle for a few sips of Gatorade, which by the way was the best beverage I have ever tasted by that time, and a few Gu blocks I found in my wetsuit. I think they were left there from Columbia Tri.
Within 20 minutes of my break I was spent. I was genuinely afraid, for the first time ever in any race, that I wouldn't make it. I felt like I was carrying 25 pound weights in my hands. I could see the four mile buoy, and I knew I only had 10 minutes to get there by the cut off. I fought HARD to get there. I was two minutes late. But I never got the shoulder tap, so I kept on. From there you can see the course change heading to the finish line. The current was actually pushing me in the right direction (for once) and when I could see the finish line, I knew I might live. I still had to fight to the end. You swim along the rocks to get to the finish line, and I felt like I wasn't even moving. It took me 30 minutes to go .4 miles but I did it! Getting out of that water felt like a rare accomplishment, but I won't do it again. That's a long time to be swimming.
Sorry my race report was kind of long. Trust me, the actual swim was a lot longer. Once again, thanks to friends and family for all their support.