The 10.1 km — longest swim ever

With Slam The Dam canceled last Saturday and me having nothing better to do, I decided to try for the 10 km that had eluded me for quite some time. The longest I’ve ever swam in a pool or open water was 9000 yards (about 8300 meters) in a pool.  I really prefer swimming early in the morning.  RBAC’s longcourse pool isn’t available on Saturdays until 11 AM so I had to wait until then to start.  I had figured out an inverted pyramid that would take me to 10.1 km which was fine.  I was going to start off with 1300 meters and descend by 100s to 1000 meters and then work my way back up by 10s to 1300 meters. I had just gotten a Finis Neptune (waterproof mp3 player) so loaded it up quickly with a bunch of songs and off I went towards the pool.  No time like the longest swim of your life to fiddle with a new gadget, right?

Having done 6000/6100 meters on a regular basis, I felt pretty confident that I could pull off this 10 km easily. I brought 2.5 L of hydration with me and no food.  I really don’t like eating while swimming and like Jamie Patrick, when I do eat while swimming, I eat whole food (pasta, energy bars, etc.).  I almost brought something with me to eat and decided not to in the end.

I was *so* glad that I had the Finis Neptune. It made the time pass by a lot quicker.  My dad used to work for United Airlines so we got to fly a lot when I was growing up. He bought my sister and me our first Walkmans.  Pretty soon we’d just listen to music when in the car or on planes.  I wouldn’t bring anything to read with me and just listen to music the entire time, even long haul international flights.  Come to think of it, I forget when my sister basically stopped listening to music.  Anyway, if something like music and sleep can carry me on flights across oceans, you can bet that it can carry me through a 10.1 km swim.  The intervals passed by really quickly as I’d just get lost in what I was listening to or what thoughts the song provoked. Lots of Green Day, Foo Fighters, Silversun Pickups, A Silent Film, Bad Religion, M83, Savage Garden, Jimmy Eat World, All-American Rejects, and some random things here and there.  First song up was Foo Fighters’ “The Pretender” as that’s the first song I had loaded and the second one was Green Day’s “Extraordinary Girl” (appropriate if I do say so myself). I credit some of that music to getting my body to do some of the tightest, fastest, most powerful flipturns that I’ve done in several years.  I think Jimmy Eat World’s “Nothingwrong” was one of my favorites for that.  I noticed too that A Silent Film’s piano songs are great and pacifying to listen to while swimming too.

During the second-to-last interval of 1200 meters, I started noticing the lack of food in my system. I was very adequately hydrated as I was downing 250 mL between each interval (with usually a 60 second rest, sometimes longer if I wasn’t ready to go yet because of drinking or fiddling my goggles or Neptune).  Something felt off though and I figured it had to have been lack of food.  When I was at the 4500 meter mark I was 2 hours into the swim and knew then that this would take me a little over 4 hours to finish.  And since I had started this at 11 AM, I was swimming straight through lunchtime. I had eaten a 3-egg scramble for breakfast at 7 AM along with some rice noodles around 9 AM since I knew that I wouldn’t be eating again until mid- to late-afternoon (I was right).  I remember looking at my watch at the 8400 mark and being excited that every stroke I did now was going to be the farthest that I ever swam!  I felt okay at the 8800 meter mark though to go for the last 1300 meters to carry me past the 10.1 km mark.  I went off really excited that I was going to finally hit the 10 km mark and curious on how that would show up on my Garmin 910 XT.  I didn’t want to miss it incrementing so paid close attention as I got closer to that point.  At the 9950 meter flipturn, Foo Fighters’ “Come Alive” ironically came on and carried me through the 10 km mark!  That timing was just perfect.  I looked at my watch right after hitting the 10 km mark and saw that it had switched from counting in meters to counting in km.  I felt better than I had in days!  I was a little sad that I was now in my last 100 meter as the last 4:18 hours had been a lot of fun.  I smell a 12.5 km coming up perhaps…

I did notice in the locker room that while I normally can see the faint outline of my rib cage, after my swim I could see individual ribs without having to suck my gut in.  I washed up and figured that friends were congregating at Mission Wines since my phone sounded like it was having a seizure (usually happens when sending out the bat signal to come to the shop).  None of them knew yet that I had just accomplished my longest swim of my life (so far). I was going to go to Mission anyway as I wanted to celebrate my achievement.  My friend Eunice said I was crazy for swimming for 4 hours.  I think I’d be crazy if I wasn’t doing this.  I picked up a book at work the day before called “Drive: The Surprising Truth of What Motivates Us.”  I’m curious on what it says. My motivations are still a) being grateful that I can physically do this after having my pelvis surgically broken twice and never wanting to take my ability to physically do anything for granted ever again and b) to see if I can do it.

The next day I was back in the water and swam an easy 8.3 km (inverted pyramid starting at 1100 km working down to 700 km and back up to 1100 km).  Unfortunately after that swim I cut the skin just under my left underarm pretty badly with my razor.  I was able to swim my usual 6.1 km workout yesterday.  I scraped the cut while showering yesterday though and it’s still hurting.  I decided to take this morning off in hopes that giving it 48 hours out of the water will help it heal.  I’m two workouts behind now in my workout schedule to hit the 500 swim miles. I do have some buffer room though and swimming at my home pool on Sunday which wasn’t in the schedule.  With my Neptune, I have no problem with doing a double workout day later too.  I’m grateful that I enjoy swimming so much that it doesn’t feel like “exercise” to me.

I lay there in the dark and I close my eyes
You saved me the day that you came alive
The reason you left me to survive
You saved me the day you came alive

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