---- and how much work I need to do on my swimming!
Background -- Good friend and 7 time Ironman, Carl Rosen, lets me know about this annual swim that will be taking place on January 3, 2009. I quickly agree to join in. Sounds like a great training swim and after swimming a mile in the pool with training buddy Carrie this past Monday, I feel ready to go. Saturday morning, Jan. 3rd, 2009 -- it's a beautiful morning. Temps in the low 70s, sunny and winds at about 8 mph out of the ENE. A slight chop where we would be swimming, but overall, pretty good conditions for the ocean. 9:50, and our group (masters swimmers, 25 yrs and older doing the mile swim) is off. After about 2 minutes, I was swimming all by myself -- because everybody else was already way out in front of me. No worries for me about getting kicked by another swimmer -- one of the small benefits of being the slowest person in the water.
Well, I'm going to quickly note some of the lessons that I learned today during this humiliating STDFL (second to dead _ _ _ _ _ _ _ last) performance and then I'll let an e-mail exchange (below) between me and a few good friends/training buddies, Chris and Tony, describe the rest of the day.
1) Don't trust the website re: whether or not you will be permitted to wear a wetsuit. I was the only one wearing a wetsuit. Normally, a wetsuit will give you an advantage with increased buoyancy. Even more humiliating is the fact that I had this advantage and still came in STDFL!
2) If you're going to wear a wetsuit, put body glide on your neck and underarms and possibly other areas as well. My neck was rubbed raw by the chaffing of the wetsuit and my underarms stung like hell when I showered afterwards.
3) Try really hard to swim in a straight line. I'm certain that I swam at least an extra quarter of a mile with my "serpentine" like pattern. On 4 occasions, "bay-watch looking" kayakers redirected me and saved me from swimming across the pond to Europe. I must admit, the third and fourth times I swam off course were on purpose just so that I could better get to know these ladies that might wind up having to save me from drowning --- just kidding, I really never felt like I was in any trouble at all.
4) Know the landmarks on shore so you can gauge your progress along the way. Also, focus on smaller landmarks and use them as intermediate goals. If you choose larger buildings for intermediate goals, you can see them from a much further distance and it takes a really, really long time before you feel like you're making any progress. There were times when I felt like the current might possibly be pushing me backwards.
5) When you finally do make it to the finish area, stay focused and don't let any of your buddies that either weren't swimming or, had already finished a very long time before you, distract you so that you run in a direction that takes you away from the official finish line allowing others who you legitimately beat, to finish ahead of you.
With that said, this mornings 39th Annual Fort Lauderdale Rough Water Swim was a great way to start off the New Year and an awesome training experience.
Caption: John Clidas, 48, from Fort Lauderdale gets directions as he heads to the finish of the 39th Annual Fort Lauderdale Roughwater Open Water Swim.
Now, please enjoy what I think is an incredibly funny e-mail exchange between a few good training buddies about this morning's event:
Tony: How was your swim?
John: STDFL --- second to DFL! But I finished! And chances are that I can only improve -- I can't really get "much" worse although I guess I could still slip to plain old DFL. The winner of the 5K swim was only about a minute behind me -- boy was that close. How embarrassing would that have been -- someone swimming 3.1 miles faster than it took me to swim 1 mile. Oh yeah -- another highlight ---- a Sun Sentinel reporter took my picture and asked for my name. I can only imagine what caption or comments he'll have to go with that picture ---- maybe "dazed and confused 1mile swimmer exits water just slightly ahead of the 5K winner". Oh yeah, another highlight --- I came in first or second in the un-official wetsuit division ----- did I mention that there were only two people wearing wetsuits one of which was me --- so I guess I actually could of come in DFL in that division. But wait, there's more. Chris Howard was there to misdirect me away from the official finishing mat (chip mat) to see if he could help me wind up DFL as opposed to STDFL --- with friends like Chris ---- you know the rest.
Tony: Breaking News: Sun Sentinel head lines,Special Needs Swimmer struggles but finishes swim without assistance!
John: That's a good one! It's kind of like one of those human interest stories.
I can't wait to pass Chris Howard on the run at St. Anthony's!!! I'll write that headline: "Special Needs Swimmer Passes Special Friend on The Last Leg of St. Anthony's Triathlon"!! This trash-talk should help to improve Chris' training and eventual performance -- it works every time.
Chris: Chris overslept. Never would have hung with you guys, anyway. 70 miles is way over my pay grade at this juncture. (this was a reference to the bike ride that Chris missed this morning)
Technically, I didn’t misdirect John, rather when he came out of the water and approached me instead of the two-time Olympic gold medalist waving a massive red flag in the middle of the exit shoot, I merely pointed out that if he wanted to go from good to great and be the best at being the worst, he’d need to wait a few seconds for the last place swimmer. This discussion nearly took long enough to process in his water logged head that he almost did it. Almost. It’s gotta suck, when you suck so bad you even suck at sucking.
I’m up for anything relatively mild tomorrow am (swim, bike, run or any combo thereof). Any takers?
p.s. Kidding aside, swimming against the current, dodging jelly fish, navigating a little rip at the exit point and that distance weren’t easy in rough water, so I’m proud of our short bus project, John. I’m certain I would have struggled to get through it (albeit with the dignity of trying it sans illegal wetsuit), and have the utmost respect for John gamely fighting the elements and what appeared to be himself for a good hour out there. You da man!!!!!!
p.p.s. By the way, was that other email a throwing down of the gauntlet for a gentlemen’s wager (one dollar plus bragging rights) re: St Anthony’s? If so, IT’S ON BABY!
p.p.p.s. The other guy with a wetsuit was legitimately over 80 years old. He couldn’t walk. They had to escort him up the beach, and frankly, the suit looked very thin (2 mil?) and perhaps was a neutrally buoyant poly pro suit. Conversely, not to cast dispersions on John’s efforts, but I’d wager he’d wear about the same thickness of wetsuit he was wearing if diving in the north Atlantic. I’m just saying. Anyway, he had the decency to ditch his water wings before reaching shore, so at least the pic of the twin caterpillars clinging for dear life onto his wet forehead as he exited the heavy surf as if he were a landing onto the shores of Normandy won’t be besmirched by the little duckies.
John: Hmmmm -- let me address your points in order:
1) Overslept, 70 miles is too long, over my pay grade at this juncture, I had to do laundry, my panties needed to be ironed, etc. etc. etc! Come on Mr. Howard --- man up already and get in the game dude! Remember, there are two things in life: 1) Results and 2) Excuses . Lately, all I'm hearing out of you is #2 (doo-doo ---- lots of it too).
2) Regarding me "sucking so bad that I suck at sucking" --- okay, I'll give you that point after today's performance. But heck, a year ago, I couldn't swim 50 yards in a pool without having to stop. Watch out buddy --- my improvement trajectory isn't really that bad. More instruction to develop some technique coupled with more time in the water and soon enough I'll be able to ride in your wake effortlessly and sprint past you at the finish.
3) Did you say that you're up to "anything relatively mild" tomorrow. Wow -- I guess that's a big leap going from spectator to "relatively mild" participant. Do you think you'll really be up to it??
4) Thanks for your effort in acknowledging my "effort". I knew you were capable of finding something positive to say --- even though every other sentence had a counterbalancing dig (i.e. "short bus project", "dignity of trying it sans illegal wetsuit", "fighting the elements and what appeared to be himself for a good hour out there"). Okay, these were funny lines.
5) Regarding that "gentleman's wager" for St. Anthony's --- you're on! You don't know what you just got yourself into. You have all to lose and absolutely nothing to gain. Face it, you're the odds on favorite to kill me in this race. But I'm still going to give it my best to whoop your ass! And yes -- I have just thrown down the gauntlet!!!!
6) You're right about the (only) guy that I beat. He was wearing a neutrally buoyant poly pro suit which technically, is not a wet suit. So there you have it -- I did come in first in the un-official wet-suit division! By the way, can you provide evidence that this guy was 80? Do you even know who the last place finisher was and how old he was? I'm calling BULLSHIT on your race reporting!
Okay -- with all of that said, thanks so much for writing, and helping me to write the other piece of, what I think is going to be a most humorous and entertaining blog entry.
I still love you and I'm absolutely, positively just having FUN with all of this craziness.
P.S. Have you already come up with an excuse for blowing us off for the bike ride tomorrow morning?