New Year’s Eve Swim

New Year’s Eve….I went to bed at 8:30 pm on New Year’s Eve. I didn’t ring in the New Year at midnight. But, I didn’t feel like I missed out on much either.  In the three days leading to New year’s Eve festivities I had done a lot, including a 10k+…swim on New Year’s Eve.

On the 29th I had celebrated my birthday (its the 30th) with friends.

On December 30th I went to Masters swim where I got to do 50 yards of “my version of butterfly” Fly  solo to celebrate my birthday (Thanks, Maria!), and then in the evening Carlos and I joined my friend Karen for the Atlanta Botanical Gardens Holiday lights display.

Then I went to bed about 8:30 as I had a 2:40 a.m. wake up call for New Year’s Eve. Dynamo was having a “ring in the New Years” celebration where at 3:30 we could start swimming to go for 14,000 meters; at 4:45 was a second group going for 7,000 meters; and then the standard swim at 5:45.

My coach had said the 7,000 wasn’t enough of a challenge, so go for the 14,000. I thought about it and…I knew I could do 7,000 even though it was farther than I had ever swam. The thought of going farther did strike a little fear in me. So, I knew I had to (and wanted to) push my comfort zone and do more.

I did the math and to do 14,000 would take me 4:40 if I held a 2:00/100 meter pace. We (technically) had 3:30 to finish. So I set my goal was to swim 10,000m. And that is about double of what I have ever swam…ever.

I had been speaking with Jennifer, with whom I normally swim, and knew she would be there. I was so relieved to have a friend with whom I swim regularly to start swimming with. Most people there are faster swimmers and being in a lower lane, I don’t mix with them much (it’s hard enough to get to know people in your lane sometimes!). Knowing Jennifer was there just took an edge off my anxiety. I had a friend there. It just made me much more relaxed mentally. Also, she was determined to swim the full 14,000 and had a plan.

The tarps were already off, so we didn’t have to pull them (hooray!). A few pictures were taken and then…we got in about 3:35.

3:30 a.m .group
3:30 a.m .group

The event went very well. They had written sets so we weren’t straight swimming for the entire distance. All we had to do was keep track of where we were in a set…which was easy! My plan consisted of keeping a moderate pace and switching things up with gear which swimming with sets took care of for me.

It started with a 3,000 meter warm up. This included some stroke (not fly!). Then to the main set which included some with fins, paddles, and such and other options. Of course you could chose to swim it as you like. I kept (mostly) to the written workout. Some people swam with fins most (if not all) the way and used various equipment at various times. It was pretty much up to you. I don’t like fins and kept the time with them on to a minimum.

Maria, the swim coach, came over to me in the warm up and we chatted. We agreed – 10k was a pretty good goal for me. Not that I am selling myself short. I know I can do 14k given enough time. But, I have some other goals right now, and with that in mind I had no problem deciding to aim for doing twice as much as I have ever done in a swim.

Jennifer and I were the only ones for a few minutes in our usual lane, and then my friend Adam joined us. I never knew when he jumped out but saw later he went for 5k. Others joined in to our lane so, aside from about the first 300 meters, it was never just Jennifer and me. People in the lane where I swam included Dynamo Coaches Andrew Shanks and Brent Pease.  I always enjoy swimming with them. They are faster, but never make me feel like I am in the way. And FYI – Everyone in our lane was faster than me, and no one made me feel like I was in the way. I am not sure what they were thinking sometimes but….they never showed it!

To let you know, this was a Dynamo multi sport effort. last year a small group did 13,000, and this year they opened it up to the Masters swim. Pro triathlete Haley Chura posted a blog about last year’s event, and really worked to build interest in this year’s event. Dynamo Multisport coaches Shanks and Brent were in the pool, and Maria and Matt were on deck …until Matt had to go coach the 5:45 Masters. I remember being surprised that Matt asked me, by name, how it was going. I don’t interact with him much. How did he know my name? Anyway, I was doing pretty well and enjoying myself, which I told Matt.

We were all in different places in various sets, and wearing different equipment. And at 4:45 we had more people join us who were doing the 7,000 meter challenge. And this is when you appreciate swimming with regular swimmers – we all agreed we will have to pass each other and, we will just be courteous and aware. I did make one BIG swimmer faux paux about 2.5 hours in where people where gathered at the wall and I attempted a flip turn when I should have just turned around. I partially whacked someone. Not hard because I realized it just before it happened, but too late to not hit him. I stopped and apologized and he was a good sport. Really – I felt guilty, and he was gracious  enough such that I felt a bit more guilty!

Lots of gear on deck and lots of swimmers in the pool
Lots of gear on deck and lots of swimmers in the pool

My only annoyance was I had to stop twice during the 3.5 hours to go to the bathroom. I have never had to go so much during any event ever. And scurrying between buildings in the cold and being wet was not a highlight. Holy cow!

Time FLEW. Literally. When I swam all I thought of was the lap (or length) I was on.  I couldn’t tell you if I had been in there 1 hour or 3 or more. It was a timeless void. I was in a happy place – literally only thinking which lap I was on in the set, if I had to go to the bathroom, and when I would take in nutrition. I love training and racing because I get to enter that timeless void….I am focused on on the task on hand. And it means I am having fun.

As 7:00 a.m. approached the teenagers gathered at one end of the pool. It was their turn for the pool. I had, at this point, thought I hit 10k. And at that point I just slowed and fell off. I had felt strong throughout   – never like I wouldn’t make my goal. I had felt fantastic. Let me say that again – I felt fantastic which thrilled me. I believed that, given time, I could have done 14k. But – that wasn’t my goal.

As things went, the master’s swimmers needing/wanting to finish 7 or 14k condensed in to 3 lanes. Even in a 50 meter pool that wis cozy. I had my goal so I got out. Jennifer continued on.  As people finished the swim, lanes were given up to the teen aged Dynamo swimmers. The first people doing 14,000 were done about 7:30 and ended with butterfly! Jennifer finished a little after 8 a.m.  Way to go! She had a plan and stuck with it.

I went to the shower about 7:10 and realized, while getting dressed that I was 500 meters short. Cindy said “Put on your suit and finish” (joking I think) but I thought “no. I am tired and it is good.” And I wasn’t sure. Maybe I had missed something. I was making excuses. I joined Cindy, Maryanne, and Linda for breakfast (and Jennifer joined us when she was done! Woo hoo! We gave her a congratulatory hug), and I went home.

…And then I started to stew. And stew. And then I saw a post by Maria saying 16/20 did 14k, and 4 did 10k+.

I really was near tizzy status (yes, I am admitting this): I had settled. It was really bothering me. Carlos, my husband came home from errands just before noon and said “Go back. I can’t handle you like this and you will be much happier after.” So back I went to Dynamo…and swam 1000 yards (just to be sure I got it!).  I knew I could…and I wanted to. My pace for the 1000 was over 30 seconds per 100 yards faster than that morning! I think I worked out some of that anger I had been stewing on all morning.

So – it wasn’t perfect but…on New Year’s Eve I swam 10k+. And I am good with it. In fact, I am proud (and learned that I should have just gone back right when I realized my error instead of letting myself stew). There is a certain pride in going back to finish what I started. And that was important to me. Important enough that I used my lunch break to finish. And I was quite happy falling asleep at 8:30 on New Year’s Eve: I was dreaming of a 3 hour ride on New Year’s Day with friends 🙂

I actually am considering to go the distance (15k) next year: start ramping up my swim a bit before so I am better prepared. I had a fantastic time, and (again) never felt like I wasn’t going to make it. And with a little focus and work, I can comfortably make 15k without compromising my work towards primary goal. Nothing like realizing things really are limitless in life…and setting goals to live it!

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