Train for it and, then, let it go..

So, a little self-disclosure so the reader can get perspective. I am a 59 year old who is not a gifted athlete; meaning, I was never an a sprinter and really only fared reasonably well in distance pool races. My only gift is between my ears! I train really hard. My reasoning is, I don’t want to complete a marathon swim, or, worse, not complete a swim, and have the thought, ‘I wish I would have.’ That means, that, this year to date, I have swum over 500 miles. I also do weight training once a week, and, I nap as much as I can! Sometimes, I wake up thinking, ‘do I have time for a nap today?’
Ok, now for my experience with NYOW events: I swam stage one of the the 8 Bridges Swim two years ago, 2017. Prior to this, my longest OWS had been 12.5 miles. Stage one is 18.6 miles, and, as I learned, the Mighty Hudson is called that for a reason. She was frisky that day. Started off nice and glassy and then, she got an attitude! We hit a head wind and from about half-way through until the end. Instead of fighting it, I decided to pretend I was having fun rocking and rolling with it. I was once given advice from Janine Serrell and Devon Clifford: “swim happy”, and, so, I did. When I was done, 6 hours or so later, I was elated, grateful and with a deep respect for the Hudson.
A year later….I tackled 20 Bridges. God granted us a beautiful day, little wind and just enough sunshine. (Notice I always us the plural pronoun. None of theses OW Marathon races are completed alone. Our kayakers, race organizers, volunteers and NYPD are all a part of the success of the swim.) The bay was a tad salty and lots of boat traffic was around. Once up the end of the East River, she calmed down and it was like I was swimming in a pool. Just as I was getting a little bored, I turned the corner to meet George (the GW bridge). The Mighty Hudson greeted me and, said, ‘let’s play’. The wind picked up just enough to make it interesting just as I was tiring. The last four hours were more difficult. I did not have any more bridges to look for and I was getting tired. When I finished, I was done, but, so thrilled. I felt patriotic, appreciative and amazed. I met swimmers from all over the world and counted myself blessed and humbled to be among them.
This year…I decided that to ramp it up one more notch would mean swimming back to back marathons. So, I entered Stage 2 and Stage 3 of 8 Bridges. The only thing I changed in my training was to try in the peak of my training, to hit just over 40,000 yards per week. Also, since I had felt depleted last year at the end of 20 bridges, I add more nutrition to my feeds. I added Hammer gel between some of my other feeds. My other feeds were a mix that I bought from Infinit. I called them for a consult and they put together a mix of all the right stuff to get me through a marathon. Settles well in the tummy, too. So, once again, the weather gods were with us and the morning of Stage 2 was beautiful. Little to no wind the whole way. Only the last 6 miles did we experience a slight chop. I felt strong the whole way. If a negative thought enters my head, I replace it with a positive one, such as, ‘ you are lucky enough to get to do this’, or, ‘your goggles are clear and it is a beautiful day’. I also spend most of the time praying for people I know who are going through rough times…And…I do pray for myself!!
Kudos to my kayakers, Terrence O’Malley and Shawn Lauriat (he guided me last year) who guided me expertly and kicked my butt when necessary.
Getting up the next day to tackle another marathon was tough, and the weather was cooler and I was, of course, tired. But, no time for negative thoughts, jump in and let’s get this party started. I was a bit chilly, but not uncomfortably so. And, before I knew it, it was over…4 hours and 30 minutes seemed so much shorter than the 6 hours and 30 the day before.
Wrapping up, I’d say that NYOW events are a must for your bucket list. Expertly, efficiently and safely run. And, I am learning that once I put the training in, I need to let the rest go; Stay positive and grateful.