Friday, June 27, 2014

Lessons

I started to include this in my last post, but that one was getting a bit long so I chopped it off. Also, I have been offline for a while because of a trip my wife and I made to the coast. More about that in a later writing. Now, I want to set down in words some things I learned in our recent Chicot Challenge.

1. It is worth it. I have invested a huge amount of time and energy into training for the Challenge each of the last three years. It was all worth it. Training for this swim is now an integral part of my  yearly athletic cycle. It is also part of my personal program, I hope, to prevent myself from becoming a Type 2 Diabetic (it runs in my family). If this training and effort prevent me from becoming diabetic, it is and will be more than worth it. Also, I wound up putting a bit of money into this year's swim. For Chicot III, I rented a pontoon boat and a room from South Shore Cottages. That also was worth it. In addition to the training, time, and finances, last year he swim itself became a sufferfest. That was even worth it. Randy Beets recently posted on Facebook some pics from 2013, photos I had not seen. Every view I made of every shot gave me that sense of satisfaction one gets after a long, hard endurance effort. It was indeed worth it. This year's swim was a much easier effort and, consequently, I found myself thinking about the 2015 swim almost immediately after I crawled out of the water. It was worth it. I am as excited now as I was in the weeks leading up to the swim.

2. My nutritional strategy worked; my nutritional strategy had problems. For this swim, I incorporated everything I had learned over the years about what powers the body in an ultra marathon event. That was part of the problem. Although my strategy worked in that it provided me with the needed energy, the same strategy was way too complex and some of the substances I ingested didn't tank mix with other foods. For example, the drink I called "Rocket Fuel" (there is a commercially produced liquid by that name, but this was my own concoction) didn't mix well with the ice-cream. My rocket fuel is a mixture of Red Bull, Gatorade, and creatine. It is powerful stuff, but highly acidic, and it clashed with the ice-cream making me feel a bit queasy. Also, the Peanut Butter Cream Pie was too difficult to eat in the water. I managed to get only half of one down and going into the pit with it was at least eight ounces of lake water. Yuk! Thankfully, I didn't suffer any repercussions from the lake water. None of which I am aware.

One more note about food. The foods I ate for the swim are not foods I normally consume or recommend to others. In short, I ate a lot of junk, but during intense and prolonged exercise, the body is limited to what it can digest, and what it needs at that particular time. In short, bad carbs (high glycemic) are good carbs during a marathon swim but not for everyday life. I repeat, for any diabetics who may read this: I drink Red Bull once per year and consume Peanut Butter Cream Pies and ice-cream, well, not too often.

3. Get somebody to grease my shoulders before the swim. Duh! I have never had chafing problems except on a very small scale, so for a long swim, I normally just use a little BodyGlide under my arms and around my upper lats. On this swim, I started getting raw on the top of my left shoulder where my beard was making contact with the skin. I called for Vaseline and rubbed my shoulders down only to create a nightmare with my goggles for the next hour. This is marathon swimming 101, but it just has never been a problem, so I didn't grease down the top of my shoulders ahead of time. Live and learn.

4. Having the larger crew was a help. When it came to actually looking out for me, Robin Bond and Randy Beets were my primary caregivers. In fact, Robin was never out of her kayak for over eleven hours. Incredible. However, having the pontoon with my son and Paul and my wife and Justin was energizing, motivating. Maybe that's vanity, but it is still the way it works. Having more eyes on me drew out a better performance. When the pontoon temporarily left to ferry Forrest and Paul back to South Shore Cottages, I went through patch of bad swimming and sagging motivation. When the pontoon returned, so did my mojo.

5. Nothing succeeds like success. With a good swim and a great start on fundraising, I already have setup a ring binder, and I'm writing notes and ideas about how to do things better next year. Some of the sections in the notebook are: training, publicity, goals, T-shirts, nutrition, weight, and sponsors. I have never sought sponsors, but with a little help, I could do a lot more. For example, my primary way personally to raise funds for the DFM has been through selling T-shirts, and I have been limited to how many shirts I sell through what I could afford to buy. With a sponsor or two, I could purchase and sell a lot more shirts. Live and learn.

I still have a bit of catching up to do so most likely I will post every day for the next few. Good swimming or running or walking or whatever you do to care for your body. Remember, your health is a gift from God, and you are the only one who can care for it.