Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Warning: HOT coffee!

One of my favorite races took place summer of 07. After reading Lynne Cox's book Swimming to Antartica, Brian and I decided we should enter an open-water long distance swim race. I mean, we were "Ironmen" right? How hard could this be?

Oh wait, in true "open water swimming rules" you can't wear a wetsuit. And the water is not exactly tropically warm in San Diego. Nonetheless, we were undaunted.

I have never been hypothermic so often - during summer. Each practice ended with shivering on the beach and then thinking I was in heaven once hot coffee, tea, cocoa - anything warm was found.

While racing, each swimmer has a kayak escort. You aren't allowed to hold onto the kayak, but your support crew can throw you a drink, GU, etc. Steven, supporter extraordinaire that he is, was my escort. (Seriously - this is a big, B-O-R-I-N-G job! Imaging kayaking at snails pace next to someone for several hours).

Brian brilliantly decided we could combat hypothermia by drinking coffee. Just as I started to get chilled in the first lap I asked Steven for the thermos Brian had made for us about 5 hours prior. Ohhhhhh the anticipation of great tasting, hot coffee, with caffeine in the middle of this crazy swim!
FIRE!!!!! Scalding, Holy Great Balls of Fire - what did Brian do to this coffee? Not only could I not drink the beverage, but I now had burned my mouth and face where I had spilled the dumb stuff!

The swim carried on pretty uneventful, except for a few times when I ran into seaweed and had moments of pure freak-out-ishness, thinking some sea monster was coming to get me.

We finished in 2hrs 21min. It was by far, one of the most fulfilling endurance races I have competed in. We are going back to race again this year, and I am making the coffee. Sign up and join us if you are up for a chilly long-distance swim!

10 comments:

Sarah said...

I must have the same Thermos. I make hot tea, ski all day (leaving thermos is freezing car), then burn my tongue with the first sip on the way home... every time. I just refuse to believe that my Thermos is that powerful

Maggs said...

I think that would suck...burning your tongue during a swim. I did the double rough water swim 2 years ago (4.6 miles...but at one point I ignored my kayaker and swam towards shore convinced that's where I needed to go (I failed to eat for the 2 hour swim)...and made is 5.4 miles) Anyway...when I got out my tongue felt funny and I could barely talk...it was swollen because it absorbed some salt because I swim with my mouth open. Took 3 days before it was normal again. I've since learned to close my mouth when swimming.

The race is in December every year...and the water is relatively warm (compared to Cali). You should do it sometime.

ADC said...

A chilly swim? No thank you. I've done Oceanside once and it was freezing. But would actually love some coffee during a swim break.

Brooke said...

BRR...I do not like the sound of that!

Teresa said...

That sounds like a ton of fun....the coffee that is :) Those are the times when a hot bath tub sounds good for an entire 24 hours post swim. Have fun training!

Bob Almighty said...

I don't know maybe it's the psycho New Englander (genetically bred for being cold 7 months out of the year) in me but I don't think I could ever do hot coffee in the middle of a swim, even in freezing temps...

Kathleen @ ForgingAhead said...

Wow, check you out! Endurance swimmer on top of all your other achievements. Impressive. And I'm loving that Steve is right there...what a great guy.

Hey, you should know about www.morganfiller.com - she's an amazing endurance swimmer and gem of a person.

LB said...

First off, sorry about the coffee (again). Rookie mistake to try something new on race day. Who knew the cheap thermos would work so well. Hey, at least Steven didn't lose your only Gu (that was the fate of poor Allan sitting 20 minutes back).

Check out the strokes! My head position is awful and you can see the beginning of an amazing high elbow recovery. you have excellent head position and are starting the atomic windmill recovery :). Sooo much better now!

rocketpants said...

Wow...5 miles of swimming! Brrrr for that long...even in Aug can be a bit chilly for 2+ hours! Nice job. Bummer about the hot coffee and burns. I'm sure you have it better sorted out now.

Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...

I am still super impressed with you guys! WOW - even the 1.5 miles would be a challenge! Yes, hot coffee would do the trick. And now that I think about it, I think hot coffee on the pool deck before swimming would be good as well. But - we'd never get into the water then...:)