We timed our vacation well. The week we spent in Rhode Island last month just so happened to be the same week as the 35th Annual Save the Bay Swim AND the 40th Annual Blessing of the Fleet 10 mile road race.
This husband + wife team divided and conquered. I opted for the swim, and Dave took on the run.
I started getting prepared for the Save the Bay swim months ago when I amped up my weekly Master swim practice, hit up the Mad Dogs Wednesday night OWS at Pass-A-Grill, and kicked off my fundraising efforts. Each swimmer is required to raise $300 to participate.
I begged and pleaded and some how convinced friends and family to donate to the cause.
A huge thanks to…
- my mom (the best mom in the world)
- my dad (my adventure buddy)
- my sister, Kathleen (my fashion icon)
- Michael (my sister’s boyfriend who I want on my team if the Jeopardy category is sports)
- Kelly (my swim team buddy!)
- Jordan (my “Emerald Faerie-Peace Corps friend who up and moved to Saudi Arabia on me and I miss her.”)
- Ed (my “I’m running across America” friend. I’m dead serious here. Check him out. Pretty impressive. )
- Jan (my bad ass Iron (w0)man friend who kicks major ass at every race)
- Terry (my “we met through our love of hippie music and look at us now we are triathletes” friend)
- Brooke (my “Peace Corps BFF who is amazing and beautiful and crazy and we like to sing Sugarland at the top of our lungs together”)
- Jena (my Tampa running buddy and fellow iPhone blogger extraordinaire!).
That reminds me. I owe some folks a beer! And, if you are feeling left out; no need to worry. There is always next year.
We arrived at the Newport Base super early. After checking in, we ran into some of Dave’s friends and chatted a bit. I was still debating if I should wear my wetsuit for the race.
The day before was my first swim in this wetsuit as I ditched the long sleeved one I purchased and went with a sleeveless one I borrowed from my friend Stephanie. It is never a good idea to wear a new “outfit” on race day, so I knew I was taking a chance, especially since while testing it out, I experienced some rubbing behind my neck.
I turned my anxiety to twitter, where some friends offered their advice.
I didn’t want to be the one schmuck (or two) without a wetsuit, and I surly didn’t want to be at a disadvantage because I didn’t wear one.
What? Me? Competitive?
I decided to go for it. With the help of BodyGlide.
I had time to do a quick warm-up before toeing up to the start where I positioned myself on the front line. I spotted the finish which were two very small balloons across the bay and chatted with other swimmers about a spotting strategy. This was my first open water swim race that wasn’t along the beach or on a course with buoys to lead the way.
I did once, very stupidly, swim for hours from one island in Fiji to another island. I’m still alive to tell that story; however, we had to pay a local to take us back on his boat. Kids don’t try this at home.
When the gun went off, I was out like a bat out of hell. I remember seeing Trent, a Providence College swim teammate and very good friend of Dave’s, out of the corner of my eye who was swimming the race backstroke. Show off.
I maneuvered myself around some overly ambitious swimmers who insisted on lining up at the front before finding my happy (s)pace. I quickly realized that I had no clue where I was going, so I sped up to find some other swimmers, and pulled the ole “I hope you are a good spotter because I’m spotting off of you” technique.
This technique can go either really well or really bad.
Luckily, the swimmers I was spotting off of knew where they were going. We traded off leads across the bay, with different people taking off at different times to try to find a better route. I was convinced that we were winning the race.
It was a nice little mental strategy. Picturing yourself running out of the water all Baywatch style can be quite motivating.
But when I crossed the finish line I was handed a popsicle stick with something like 40 on it, and when I walked out of the water there was Trent basking in his glory of a top 10 finish. 1.7 miles of backstroke for that guy.
Dave tried to snap a picture, but you can see how awesome those turned out below. Definitely not making it to the photo albums.
After grabbing the race swag (a nice towel and shirt) and kissing my husband, I lined up for my free massage. Nothing is better than post-race massages. Shit, pre-race massages, during race massages, I-don’t-care-when-massages, I’ll take it.
While this wasn’t a race per say, I treated it as one, and was happy with my overall stats.
I felt strong, performed well, and now have a base for future Save the Bay swims.
Maybe next year I’ll have my Baywatch beach finish.