Success! 7/13/2010

Success!  7/13/2010
Europe to Africa.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Catch Up

I want to catch up my family on what's been happening in my journey to cross the Gibraltar Straits. They have been tremendously supportive and encouraging (both emotionallt and financially). I began this odyssey in January and have been on a rollercoaster ride from the start. Mentally and emotionally this marathon training thing is wicked. As is my nature, I started out over zealous and worked too hard. Not having a coach other than helpful friends and chat room aquaintances I concocted a training schedule out of thin air. It looked good on paper. Luckily one friend strongly stipulated that it was a "plan" and not a directive. That I should do my best to follow it, but to listen to my body and deviate if needed. I didn't hear that part very clearly. I got worn out and sick a few times over the months, and took time off to recover which was hard, but unavoidable. By the middle of April I was cooking with gas. I was swimming the length of Gibraltar during the week in the pool and more than that on the weekends in the Bay. I was swimming between 14 - 20 miles a week. On April 21st I took the day off of work and tested my self against rough water, cold, and time. I swam over 12 and a half miles in 55 degree water for almost four hours. The waves were big (listed at 7-9 foot swells) and the wids were strong (gusting up to 17 miles an hour) and I came through like a champion. After this swim, I felt ready to change my event to the English Channel. Just work a little harder and see where it led me. I even emailed a boat pilot with the English Channel Swimming Association to inquire about the possibility of jumping in where some one else cancelled (he didn't recommend it - but I thougt about it). This is how good I was feeling. Charged up and ready to conquer the world. So after my long swim, I kept right on swimming. I was in the pool the very next day doing my 4,ooo yards and damn proud of it. I was also reading the Odessey at the time and I think the fates decided that I needed a personal lesson in hubris. I believe that the rough nature of my long swim in the bay caused a tear in my right shoulder muscle. But in my over enthusiasum I did not heed the niggling pain and just kept swimming. I swam 23K the very next week, including one 4+ hour swim. After a few more weeks, the pain would not be ignored. I went to the doctor and the films showed him the tear. This was a real low point. Just a few short weeks ago I thought I could fly over the strait, and now I would be lucky to make it with fins (not an option - against the rules). So I got a cortisone injection (I know, bad idea) I took a week off, meaning swimming with fins and mostly kicking and riding my bike. Well it has been two weeks since the injection. I have been going to physical therapy and swimming "easy". Doing the same yardage, but with little or no intensity just ploding along. I still feel weakness in my shoulder, but not much pain. I believe that I will recover enough in the remaining four weeks to make it across Gibraltar. As long as I don't let my crazy thoughts make me swim a six hour training swim, something I had always planned on doing, I should be ok. I heard from three people who attempted the straits last weekend. One made it in 4:27, and he called it "very challenging", one made it in 5:59 and sounded like she had a blast, and the other didn't make it. She was pulled about 1.5 miles from Morocco. They all had high surf and high winds. I have always known that I would never be fast, ever, but I have also thought of myself as strong, so I could make the rougher swims. Now I just pray that my shoulder holds up for one more rough swim. The journey through this is the experience. Success or failure are both possible outcomes, and they both have value. As Roosevelt said, there is glory in being the "man in the area...who , at best, knows the triumph of high achievment...and at worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly..." The mistakes in training, the failure to listen to my body, the worry that I haven't done enough, and the insecurity of do I have it in me to tough it out. It is all a part of the experience. Marathong swimming is about heart. It is about determination, and maybe even about strength of charachter. And then it's about water, weather, wind, currents, tides, sea creatures, ships, all sorts of things can conspire to end a swim. Or maybe it's just about who is willing to suffer the longest. I don't know yet how long I can suffer for before I give in. I have never given in yet. I don't think I will this time. My biggest fear isn't sharks, or fatigue, but not judging the tides correctly and being pulled just off the finish because the tide turns and there is no way I can break throught. So I have to trust my pilots a bit and know that they want me to succeed almost as much as I do. The other thing about this crazy swim, is that no matter what happens it will be only 6 or 7 hours of my trip. That leaves 11-12 days of adventure, relaxation, swimming, hiking, exploring, and traveling to enjoy. So pray for me that the weather gods are favorable early in my window and that will leave me with a long week of unexpected adventures.
I leave for Malaga Spain on July 10th, my window of opportunity is from July 12th - 18th, and I fly home on the 19th. Think good thoughts, and safe passage.
I can't wait.

1 comment:

The Gibraltar Straits