2 Bridges Swim 2014

This weekend I was supposed to be in Connecticut racing Rev3 Quassy. But along with the rest of the Rev3 pro series, the pro race was canceled. I tried and failed to get into 2 other races: Escape from Alcatraz (well in advance of the race, I was told the race was full, only to find that racers got added to the start list) and Raleigh 70.3 (was ONE half a day past the deadline and was turned away, then same thing happened as with Alcatraz).  I struck out with racing a triathlon this weekend.

As annoying as that is, I’m beginning to think racing a triathlon this weekend was not meant to be. I am just starting to recover from the bout with pneumonia I came down with after Knoxville and traveling to a race probably wouldn’t have been smart. And there's a huge silver lining. Being in town this weekend allowed me to participate in one of my favorite local races: the 2 Bridges Under the Walkway open water swim race.

I did this race last year and loved it. The swim takes place in the Hudson and starts on a boat ramp just north of Poughkeepsie. It’s the easiest course in the world to sight because all you have to look for is a 213 foot bridge stanchion. But sighting was probably the only easy thing about this year’s race. It was windy (maybe 20 mph or more?) and as a result, the water was super choppy. The water wasn’t warm – 65 degrees or so – and neither was the air, also in the low 60’s. Before the race, co-race director Dave Barra said, “you’re gonna get your money’s worth!” We did.

When I entered the water, it wasn’t take your breath away cold. I wasn’t wearing a wetsuit and expected it to feel much worse. From the gun, I went as hard as I could, my best strategy for staying warm. Once we made the turn north after the first buoy, things started to get hard. Since the wind was blowing from the north, it was just wave after wave in your face. I could see the Walkway ahead of me, but I knew from last year that bridges seem deceptively close when you’re swimming. The reward for battling the chop was rounding a buoy for a 1000+ meter stretch of down river, with the current swimming. I swam about half of this stretch at max effort, but backed off as I approached the second bridge (the FDR Mid-Hudson Bridge), knowing that once I turned north again, things would get ugly.

The last 500 meter stretch was where mental toughness took over. I knew I had to get through a tough stretch of water to get the finish, and I was getting cold. There’s just no quitting when you are swimming in the middle of a river. I reminded myself that Amy was waiting for me at the finishline, put my head down, tried not to swallow too much water as the waves were crashing in my face, and swam my arms off to the end.

When I got to dry land, I was immediately hit with a chill. I crossed the finishing mat and immediately sprawled out in it because it was black and was warm from the sun. People were kind of confused so SJ helped me move away. I wasn’t really able to think or talk and within a minute or so had full on shaking shivers. SJ removed me to the car, put the heat on full blast and I curled up in the back seat with Maya (for extra warmth). I think I stayed there for about 45 minutes, but I was so out of it, I don’t really know how long it was. As a result of this performance, I missed the awards ceremony and missed hanging out with my friends after the race. I haven’t seen the results yet, but am almost positive I won the 2.5k non-wetsuit division.

Even with the aftermath, I’d do this race again tomorrow. So for anyone looking for a challenge, or just a chance to swim in a beautiful section of the Hudson, mark your calendars now for next year’s race.

 --Bec