Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Short Report

I plan a more full write up about my experience at the 2014 Swim the Suck. For now I will only give a summary treatment of the week and the race. For the week, I

biked 5 miles
swam 27,625 meters,
and ran 21.08 miles.

With Lexie Kelly, the women's winner,
just before the start at the
Suck Creek Boat Ramp.
The Suck was great, and every year it is bigger and better. Karah Nazor, the Race Director, has become a star in the sport, and gaining a spot in her race has become a coveted goal of open water swimmers everywhere. As usual, I met some cool people, saw some gorgeous country, and had a wild swim in a cold river turning in my best time by 19 minutes. Wow. All that training paid off. At fifty-eight years of age, I set yet another athletic personal best. Justin Nunnery did a extraordinary job as my pilot, and he even managed to push me over the final few miles.

I had epic battles with swimmers I didn't know. The one battle I wanted, I sought, I prepared for, however, didn't materialize because Randy Beets was a no show, and I still don't know the whole story on that. I even wondered how I could or would swim when I found out only minutes before the start that Randy wasn't coming. My uncertainties, however, disappeared early in the race when a young woman swam up and challenged me. She came up on my left and seemed very determined to pass. I resisted. Maybe she could see the gray beard and that drove her. I don't know, but the water was clear enough that I could look at her underwater, and I noticed she was kicking very hard, like sprinting fast in the pool. Who does that?

Eventually she did pull ahead when I had to slow down due to pee problems. I had never had trouble peeing on a long swim. I do have to slow down and relax, but for some reason my bladder began to fill to the point of pain, and I just couldn't get it out. Finally, I stopped completely and treaded water. When that didn't work, I rolled over on my back and then I started having some success. After that I peed another five times during the swim but never had an issue and was able to do the deed while continuing my stroke.

I fed only on ice-cream, and I fed fast. Afterward, I asked Justin if anyone fed as quickly as me. I think he would tell me if someone did. He said no one was as fast. He even related to me that he delayed one feeding by three minutes so I wouldn't be stopping when everyone else was. Most swimmers feed every thirty minutes. For this race, I went forty-five because I thought that was sufficient and on that schedule I would reduce one feed for every two I took. The idea was to beat Randy Beets, and I was looking for any edge I could get.

Randy weeping in fear the night before
our scheduled battle. It was all
too much for him.
Late in the race I was swum down and challeged by some guy who looked me in the eye every time he breathed to the right and I to the left. Another swimmer caught us both and for a while the three of us duked it out. One would pull ahead and I would push and pull even. This happened over and over and over. Justin was on my right, one of the other swimmer's pilot was on our left and another pilot was behind us. We battled for maybe a mile. I remember thinking, "This guy won't give up." I almost capitulated. Why suffer like this? I thought. Then I noticed Justin watching with interest when I breathed his direction. I pushed a little harder breathing on every stroke and even kicking a little. I began to pull away from the other guys, first a half body length, then a full body length. Encouraged, I swam harder than I thought I could without totally blowing up. Eventually they weren't in my sight anymore.

That's when Justin started challening me. "I need you to pick it up, Zane."

"What?" I thought incredulously. I had just emptied the tank.

But I gave it the old college try only to be stopped and told, "There are four swimmers up there. Catch them. Pass them."

At the Suck, you can see the finish for about a mile and a half. The four swimmers were about two hundred meters away between me and the finish. "Are you crazy?" was what I thought but didn't say. I pushed the best I could, and this was the part that wasn't fun anymore. I wanted it to be over. That big red buoy that marked the finish was only a little red dot forever and a day it seemed. I did catch one of the swimmers about a half mile from the end and then had to fight him all the way in. I got him by a second or two. The other three got away. At that point I didn't care.

I swear, endurance events make me temporarily stupid. When I climbed out, I kept looking at my watch trying to figure what my time was. I went through all the screens and couldn't understand why I couldn't find my time. Later, I suppose when some blood made it back to my brain, I saw the time in the big numbers I love my Garmin 910XT for. There the time was big as day  where it had been all along, but I hadn't recognized it. Four hours and twenty minutes, nineteen better than my best set last year. Nice.

Justin and I didn't hang around too long but headed to town to find a television. We found a Buffalo Wild Wings where we were able to munch on chicken and watch Mississippi State put a Beetsdown on Auburn. With a double Beetsdown day, we were both happy and slept well before rising the next morning to make our journey back to the flat land of Mississippi.