Saturday, June 22, 2013

MId Hudson To Newburgh Beacon Part 2

As I'm swimming I see a head in a blue swim cap pop up between me and the kayak. It was Grace. She had jumped in to pace me for a while. She circled around to my left hand (port) side. And just like that, still tired, and a little cold, I was having so much fun. I felt like a genuine marine mammal. It was awesome. How could I possibly be having so much fun? Apparently I picked up the pace while Grace was swimming with me.
I did not know it at the time. But apparently there was actually a race going on and I was in it. Sometime after Grace left, I saw a red kayak come up on my left. And then it fell back out of sight a few breaths later. Five or six times the red kayak appeared and then fell back before it finally pulled ahead. 
There was one more feed. The bridge was so close. But I wanted that juice anyway. Margrethe told me if I sprinted I might be able to catch Hannah again. I wasn't sure I had a sprint in me. But it was too late for witty repartee so I just swam for it.
I still kept wandering off to my left and trying to correct it.
I had been so good all race long about not picking up my head to sight. I put my trust in Margrethe, my kayaker, and she delivered big time.
But now I was starting to see the Newburgh Beacon bridge every time I took a breath on my left side.
It was definitely not moving any closer. I know I probably shouldn't look at it at all but now I could see it without even trying and it was definitely not moving any closer.
In fact despite my best efforts it looked to me that it was actually getting further away.
Margrethe kept signaling how close we were. (Hannah was just seconds ahead but I couldn't see her or her kayaker)
And then finally I could see the bridge when I took a breath on either side. Then I knew that it was not actually getting further away at all.
The sun must have been low enough in the sky. Because I swam through the shadow of the northern span of the bridge and came back out into the sun before I actually started swimming under the bridge itself. I could feel the shadow as much as see it. It felt cold.

Now the Newburgh Beacon bridge is a double bridge. There are two separate spans about 40 meters apart. Swimming under it actually takes around a full minute.
Margrethe kept signaling and waving me on. Then I saw Agent Orange on my other side. My ears were full of water so I couldn't really hear but I think there was some cheering and waving on board. I made sure that I was completely clear of the southern span before I stopped swimming and looked around. 
"How do you feel" Margrethe asked me. 
"Tired. Hungry. and a little cold"
I swam over to Agent Orange. They dropped a ladder into place. I grabbed on to the ladder and for just a moment I wondered if I would be able to climb out. But I managed ok. They wrapped me in a towel and I sat down in the sun. 
I knew the finish had been close but I didn't know quite how close until I watched the video later. 
Meanwhile I got to watch Todd finish. He was just a few (maybe 4) minutes back. He threw in a few strokes of butterfly in the last few yards. Nice
I was obviously more bothered by the cold than either Todd or Hannah. Because I was the only one curled into a ball next to the heater in the cabin of Launch 5, wearing all my warm clothes, sipping a small nalgene of hot coffee with milk. 
By the time we got to the dock I was mostly warmed up again. 
Gayle was waiting on the pier with our little guy. She greeted me with chocolate.

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