Another amazing open water swim race has come and gone. Honestly I’m so exhausted I don’t know how much I can write but I will do my best.
I’ve often said I race partly for my swim family, partly for nature, partly for fitness but mostly for life. Every swim teaches me something profound about life and this was no exception.
Here I am before the race:
I was really nervous as I always am. Great Salt Lake is so unpredictable and my last 2 years have been very tough for me, even 2012 when I was so well prepared was a beast. Both of those years there was wind advisories and the races were nearly cancelled. I was praying so hard that we would get smooth water for once…
And my prayer was answered. Smooth water!
When you enter the Great Salt Lake it is like no other experience I can describe. Your whole body screams with all the salt. Your tongue swells up, your nose burns, and any soft skin let’s you know quickly it doesn’t like it. All this adds to the challenge.
But luckily I decided to go for it and this year my friend Anna came with and she did amazing! A lot of my other friends weren’t in town or didn’t swim for one reason or another. In fact, it looked like over half the swimmers were new to GSL. There was one group from California that flew in for the race. They go to races as friends all over the country. How fun is that!
So they started the race in an odd way. We had to climb over all these rocks and I had flip-flop sandles on. I felt like I was going to slip and break my ankle. It was kind of nuts.
Here I am trying to get down to the start:
Then the race started and within the first 5 minutes all the sudden my whole right side cramped up. I felt like I could hardly move. It seemed like I would have to pull out with that much pain so early on.
Luckily there was an awesome kayaker who helped me calm down and encouraged me to try another stroke so breaststroke it was. It seemed to strain my side less and after about 3 sets of 100 the cramp was mostly gone. (I count strokes in batches of 100)
I was still doing a lot of breaststroke but then worked in 100s of freestyle and even got a 150 in. It was so shallow that it was hard to do a freestyle stroke for a lot of the race.
There’s me in all that water. Surrounded by nature and all that water. It will never get old. So beautiful!:
See how close the kayaker was? He was a lifesaver and was so encouraging.
I also decided to not worry about sighting and just swim. The current was very light so I didn’t have to worry about getting pulled inward like I did last year. I was confident enough in the kayaker that I knew I could just swim. With my lazy eye sighting is not my strength but it’s especially hard at GSL because there are no trees or big objects to sight on so it’s sort of a fruitless enterprise. I’m glad I abandoned it all together.
So, I kept going in batches of 100 strokes. Another one and then rest 20 seconds, and another. Finally I got to the spot to run in and it was probably 200 yards. I actually speed walked because I was worried about turning my ankle on that type of rocky/sandy beach. (Plus I was exhausted).
Eat your heart out Bo Derek! 🙂
Here’s the crazy thing- cramp, stops, breaststroke and all I finished in 1 hr 4 minutes. Last year it took me 1 hr 23 minutes! Almost 20 minute faster this year! I still can’t believe that!
It just goes to show a lot of obstacles can be in your way at the beginning of your goal but if you keep going, do 100 more, and then another, and another, you will finish. Like I said, swimming teaches me about life. And what a perfect lesson to learn this week starting a new job for new company, doing something new!
I will never forget crossing the line and knowing I did it! Cramp and all I did it! Please take my story and set a bold goal. People of all shapes and sizes can do awesome things.
Thank you to the organizers, kayakers and my friends for cheering me on both at the race and away. I might not have done the race at all if it wasn’t for all the wonderful encouragement.
It feels good to be Rachel today!