In college and high school I did the 6am practices and never got used to getting up, in fact, I think I grew increasing allergic to them. So waking up at 6am to swim in the cold Med for the Neda el Mon Costa Daurada 7.5k is beyond what I thought I was capable of at this point in my life. But because I have Gibraltar lurking over my head, I will do just about anything to prepare.
We were alerted by the weather report that Saturday we would experience the first fall weather this season and Sunday it would move into winter weather. This is Barcelona in a nutshell; everything is so dramatic and extreme. I am a cold person, in the summer I pack winter clothes to survive the air-conditioning in my mother’s home. I sleep with at least one down comforter all year round. I just don’t warm up quickly and as I write this, more than 5 hours after finishing today’s swim, I still feel cold.
I did expect this swim to be cold (water temp. 19C or 66F) but I figure that all of the cold water swimming I could do now willmake me stronger for the conditions we might experience in Gibraltar. I am all about preparation; all about getting the tough parts over with first. This helps me tremendously mentally.
Mau and I were committed to swimming together and thank goodness for that. Mau propelled through the first 5k. We planned on switching positions around 3k, but there was no hope in hell I could lead him. I learned a lot about my OW swimming here. I am a fast fish in a tank; in a pool I love to push myself because I have nice lines drawn on the bottom of the pool to keep me in a straight line, I have walls to flip and rest on. I basically have a very controlled environment. While an OW swimmer could get bored and anxious in a pool, I am relaxed and happy. When I swim in the sea, however, I save a lot of my energy expecting to have to out-swim a shark, run into a rip tide, or who knows what? I am cautious. Mau on the other hand excels in the ocean, it is truly his playground; he was flying at a fast pace and I was pushing myself beyond what I had been comfortable with in the ocean. But I trusted him and I trusted myself so I went for it. We flew. Eventually I took over the lead, but a leader I was not. I started swimming out to sea instead of staying along the coast. Fortunately I kept looking back and seeing Mau further away toward the coast, so I was able to correct my direction. But that was another advantage of having him swim with me. He is experienced in the ocean and can navigate a whole lot better than I can.
About 1k out from the finish we had to swim around a rock/mini mountain that jutted into the sea. The water was all out of whack here; I kept swimming and felt like I was getting nowhere. I imagined this is what Raine was describing as not being able to get through a current. Water was moving in big swells behind me and at the same time flushing back from the rocks pushing me in the opposite direction. There was a strong wind spraying water as well. It was a confused and angry sea and a great experience because I was mentally getting bogged down. I started focusing on how much I hated this swim. This is something I will work on; one thing I learned from the books by Scott Jurek and by Lynne Cox is that you must dimiss negative thoughts during races or swims. It’s just not helpful to be negative. Adding to my frustration here I began to freeze and shiver. But fortunately, by the time we passed rock/mini mountain, I could clearly see the finish and I turned on my pool turbo. I never kick while I swim unless I am pushing myself so my legs felt strong while my arms just spun to get me out of the increasing cold water. I could not get out of the water fast enough.
We finished really strong and quite early in the race (thanks to team leader Mau I was the first woman out and we finished just under 2 hours) so it was another great accomplishment that helps build up to Gibraltar.