Wind and current

Stage 2, Kingston Rhinecliff Bridge to the Mid-Hudson Bridge, 19.8 miles, July 26, 2012,

Swimmers: Grace, Rondi, Lisa, Janet

Today started out much like yesterday: cool, grey skies and peaceful, green landscapes. We splashed under the Kingston Rhinecliff Bridge after an early morning shuttle to the start by the NYS Bridge Authority and Launch 5.

The current took a couple of hours to pick up, but we had a gentle tail wind that rolled us along past Kingston and Rhinebeck for the first few miles. I found it hard to get going, and it was only when the current picked up that my engine started to rev and I stopped feeling like a rusty old car. Today the cloudy skies were a little too somber for my liking, plus I didn’t like their threats to darken and make things more blustery. There were some beautiful long, peaceful stretches that included views of passing barges and the Esopus Meadows lighthouse.

Four hours into the swim and approaching the big bend into Poughkeepsie, adjacent to the home of Franklin Roosevelt, the tail wind and current really picked up and we were flying along. I stopped and took a big feed and then proceeded to bonk. It took a lot to summon myself back to pace and complete the final five miles. I think we all found today tough, though there was no question we weren’t going to finish. It was just a very long stage.

Today’s Scenic Hudson prize goes to Lisa Neidrauer for her fantastic swim.

Janet Harris, with Terry Laughlin as swim support, finishing Stage 2

And a big thank you to all the amazing, supportive and helpful volunteers: John, Patty, Ryan, Terry, Suzie.


The fun has begun

Stage 1 Rip Van Winkle Bridges to Kingston Rhinecliff Bridge, 18.2 miles, June 25, 2012

Swimmers: Grace, Rondi, Jaimie, Leonard, Hannah

Today was a great start to 8 Bridges 2012. They skies were cloudy and the river calm for the most part. This fits the mood of this part of the river, so when the sun did peak out it seemed wrong. Rain showers blew through before the swim, and then in the final stages when an electrical storm zipped by followed by a burst of heavy rain.  Many of the swimmers were in their final finishing stages at this point, though Jaimie Monahan had to exit the water to wait for the storm to pass.

The tide was fantastic today and had Grace, Hannah and myself swimming over four miles per hour. I found it so peaceful and thoroughly enjoyed every minute. Everyone finished! I was thrilled to see Leonard Jansen finish strongly after having a tough day with this stage last year. Now he can move onto Stage 2 for 2013. Leonard took home the Scenic Hudson Stage 1 gift, a beautiful framed photograph of Stage 1 Hudson River scenery, of course.

Leonard approaching the Kingston Rhinecliff Bridge
Leonard Larson finished with Stage 1.
Leonard finished with Stage 1

Dining on the Hudson

It’s storming in New York City this morning—I’m hoping the Stage 1 swimmers 100+ miles upstate are having better weather for the beginning of their amazing journey down the Hudson. Meanwhile, I’m making final preparations for my swim tomorrow.

It’s storming in New York City this morning—I’m hoping the Stage 1 swimmers 100+ miles upstate are having better weather for the beginning of their amazing journey down the Hudson. Meanwhile, I’m making final preparations for my swim tomorrow. Inspired by Stage 2’s route past the Culinary Institute of America, I’ve added a couple of new feeds to my menu—rice pudding, and a homemade cookies-and-milk concoction. Looking forward to a lovely day on the Hudson—the river is spectacular and inspiring in any weather!


I’m starting to get organized for my  Stage 1 swim tomorrow. I also was involved with the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim yesterday, and that required a lot of focus up until late last night. Fortunately, it went well, with a 100% completion rate.

One of my last moments of down time was at the start of the week, during my small, weekly yoga class. The instructor is very good about tailoring the practice to what the students have going on. Another classmate was also preparing for a big athletic undertaking, so Monday’s class focused on our upcoming efforts. The instructor chose the theme of the elephant, or sanyama (sp?) in Sanskrit, to help us focus on our strength.

I found the metaphor

helpful for a different reason: because elephants are known for being stubborn. For me, that trait is every bit as important as strength in a marathon swim undertaking. It’s not big muscles that keep you going several hours into a swim. It is simply

the stubborn desire to finish what you started.

The other helpful image that popped into mind relates to one of New York City’s more unusual annual activities. One night a year, the circus comes to town–and elephants get here by running through the Queens-Midtown Tunnel. They trot in a line, one after another, some of them dressed up in their circus finery as they pass under the East River. I imagine it must be rather bewildering for them–from the lineup to the transit through the tunnel to their emergence in Midtown Manhattan to their parade across town to Madison Square Garden. And yet they do it, somehow trusting that everything will work out.

That’s what I’m going to try to do tomorrow–stubbornly head toward the finish, not caring that the activity is perhaps a bit unusual, and trusting that everything will work out. I’ll be thinking of elephants the entire way.

Christmas in June

It’s been like Christmas around here lately. I know, it’s usually cold at Christmas, though not where I am from. Fun packages have been arriving via UPS, with more to come.

++ Last week, boxes and boxes of GU Energy Labs chomps and gu arrived at David’s work. I can’t wait to try some of the new flavors they sent such as peach.
++ Yesterday, a big box of Blueseventy swimsuits arrived at my apartment. And there are Blueseventy goggles and caps on the way as I write.
++ Keen Footwear has given pairs of shoes to many of our volunteers, and there are Keen socks for the schwag bags.
++ The New York State Bridge Authority have been incredibly generous to the swim. At the crack of dawn every morning they will be busing all of the participants from the meeting point at the finish, to the start of the event.
++ Tara Sullivan at the Bridge Authority introduced us to Scenic Hudson who are generously providing gifts to the winner of every stage.
++ We’ll also be hoping for a visit from the Riverkeeper boat and the water quality testing program folks during the swim.
++ Last but not least, the  Hudson River Maritime Museum at Kingston are allowing our boats to dock at their marina in Roundout Creek for two nights.

It’s been great to have the support of so many organizations that we really admire and value. Thank you!

Countdown to 8 Bridges

8 Bridges is just over one week away and I’m getting excited! One reason is because the Hudson has been so inviting lately; it’s hit the 70s, it’s been flat and calm, and the weather has been great. Things are falling into place with the organization — swimmers, kayakers, boaters and volunteers are all set. However, there are still some loose ends — we need a few boats/boaters for Stage 7 and to finalize some docking arrangements. I can’t wait to put the months of preparations aside and go on a very, very long and (hopefully) peaceful swim in a favorite waterway surrounded by really wonderful people. Follow the event here and on facebook and twitter.