This is my second year of racing or being ‘athletic’. Therefore, I have been repeating races I did in 2009 the last few months, the Great Hudson River swim being one of them.
It’s a time to reflect, compare, contrast and ask “Why on earth am I swimming 1.3 miles down the Hudson River on a Saturday morning?” Bragging rights are cool even though all my friends are over me swimming in the Hudson, BUT, I have my first ever Half Ironman race (the Quassy Rev3) this weekend so I looked at it as a training swim, especially since the distances are almost exact.
The night before the swim I made some stir fry and basically did a lot of work. Unpacking that is… I was still sorting through boxes after my move a week ago. Erika was away this weekend it was a perfect opportunity to stay in and organize!
I was up at 7… unpacking still…
I went to (Coach) Todd’s place at 11AM so we could walk up to the start. He cooked up some egg sandwiches and gotta say, not great pre-race food. Ila, Todd’s wife and my good friend, said she would just see us at the finish. Last year she escorted us to the start, took pictures, etc, etc. BUT like I said, it was year 2 and all our friends were way over Todd and I’s crazy swimming stunts.
We made it to the Christopher Street Pier by 11:30 and got checked in. I was number 12! No, that doesn’t mean I’m fast, it is merely because my name is Baker and ‘B’s’ are in front. This is also a bad thing which I will explain in just a hot second.
Todd and I quickly jumped into our wetsuits and greased up any areas that might chafe… ie: armpits, neck, ankles.
Marty from NYC Swim started to make the pre-race announcement when Regina from Chiu on This introduced herself! We follow each others racing history but have never physically met! It was awesome to hang out and as it turns out she is also racing a Half Ironman this weekend! A few words from Marty and then LINE UP for the start! SIDENOTE: I’m not normally one to get upset, but this one gal asked “what happens if someone doesn’t show up on the other side?” with a little chuckle. Well, during the Brooklyn Bridge Swim in September that happened because a man died during the swim. So, yeah, I was upset at that comment.
LINE UP means exactly that, you line up in numerical order. I am number 12 out of 250 so that’s in the front. Fine. Then, once we are ready everyone moves into the water single file starting with 1. The problem is that if you are in the front you have to wait until everyone is in the water before starting, duh, it’s a race. Did I mention that the water is ice cold?
We started filing in off the pier and I made it in okay with just a slight shock from the 60 degree temperature.
SIDENOTE: Lets have a talk about experience for a moment. It’s critical. I was flashing back to last years race (my first open water swim) and how I was freaking out when I jumped into the frigid water, hands in the air (like ya just don’t care) so they wouldn’t freeze, heavy fast breathing. Ha! Now I was bobbing around having a blast. Todd and I were even BS-ing about what we did the night before. “Not much man… *bob* *splash* just unpacked some boxes and made some stir fry.” “cool… cool.”
As soon as all the swimmers were in, which took maybe 5-10 minutes, Marty sounded the horn and we were off!
Unlike last year, I didn’t wait for the fast swimmers to go ahead, I started right into the soup! People are on top of you and touching your feet, it’s mayhem and if you have any fear of drowning, this isn’t the place for you. As soon as we rounded the first buoy and took a left into the Hudson going South someone kicked me square in the eye socket; 1- inducing pain, 2- flooding my eye with toxic water. I quickly released the water and dove back in, unfazed, but a little pissed off. I kept saying “Its not their fault, they didn’t know I was behind them.”
This was my third pair of goggles and by far THE BEST! They are the Aqua Sphere open water goggles and aside from the kick to the face I didn’t have any water leakage the whole swim and my visibility was great!
Unlike last year where I stopped at times to take in the fact that I was in the middle of the Hudson and I was tired, I dug right in and didn’t stop. I learned a new trick the Tuesday before the race, swimming at Todd’s pool. “Sighting” which basically is every third breath, you look forward and fixate on a target.
I noticed that during the second half of the swim I was zoning out and just cruising through the water. I was really having fun out there and had no fears.
As we entered the Battery Park stretch (or the last 1/4 mile) things got bumpy. Giant swells were making it difficult to sight at a very crucial moment, the point where e needed to make a hard left to get into the Marina and not get dragged out to the Statue of Liberty. Once I saw the sea wall on my left and knew I was in the safety of the Marina I picked it up a bit to try and ‘sprint’ the finish. Its a lot different than running, that’s for sure.
As I climbed out of the water I was thrilled to have completed this race yet again! We got our medals and then I hosed down in the clean water area. I then found Todd and Ila (Todd finished 5, 6 minutes ahead of me) who were hanging out watching the swimmers come in. My time was 53 minutes and change, which is wild as it shows you just how many variables go into open water swimming. That’s a full 10 minutes slower than last years race where we had the current gong with us!
Swimming is by far my weakest of the three triathlon disciplines. Its not that I’m bad at it, as I wasn’t fatigued from the swim, I’m just not fast for some reason. Oh well, I will just play catch up on the bike and on foot!
We proceeded to go to the Lobster Roll Cart and get some food. It was a perfect swim, and a beautiful sunny day down on the Battery.