28 June 2009
Dover Update: Weekend 8. “You’ve Got To Do Six
So, unbeknownst to be, the required 6-hour harbor swim “qualifier” must take place two weeks before your actual swim. Fortunately, i found this out the day before the two-week deadline, which meant the pressure was on this past weekend. Fortunately, I had Lianne in tow to keep me going. “You MUST do six hours today,” Michelle told me. “No problem, it’s in the bag,” I replied, “flashing a thumbs up. Truth be told, I wasn’t feeling my best but I knew - knew - it was either six hours or pack it up.
As usual, the first two hours were horrific. That’s the period where the body transitions from normal human temperature to subhuman freezing temperature and you question how on earth you can actually go on. Then, somehow,you just stop getting colder and slowly but surely get used to the frigid conditions. At the two-hour break Louise was there to ask me how I was doing. “Six hours or bust today,” I told her. “That’s the spirit,” she replied. From that point on I decided to view the last four hours as four one-hour swims with hourly feedings as the interval.
I somehow managed to convince my brain of this scheme as well, and from that point on I just had a few hour-long swims to do. The next one would put me half way, the next would be one away from the last feeding, the next would lead to the last feeding then it was just one final hour, which is TOTALLY doable after you’ve swam all that way!
A few notes on this scheme: the body does, in fact, begin to tire and without notice I was moving markedly slower than hours one through four. The water gets rougher as well, making each stroke a touch more difficult. Every now and then your mind drifts to the immensity of the task ahead and screams at you, “FOUR MORE HOURS? ARE YOU MAD?!?!” It is at these points that I incorporate my new, enhanced “overcome this horror” method: I scream out loud under water as loud as I can. It gets the adrenaline flowing, slightly warms me up and forces a refocus of my mind from the heinous activity I am undertaking to this faux notion that I only have a few one-hour swims left. Regardless, it works.
Let me tell you, when I came out after six hours I felt like I could do anything. Climb Everest? Check. Take exams? Check. World Peace? Done Deal. I was BEAMING. Sunday followed with a 4-hour swim that came to an end as a result of major hip pain (it seems to be the only physical pain I get from all of this - the sensation that my hip flexors may in fact fall off. That would NOT be good.
So here I am, a week away and it’s finally feeling real (as well as scary). I mean, it’s really really scary. Nerves. Anxiety. The works. But I’m feeling confident. Hey, if I can do six hours, what’s six more, right? Especially when I get to land in France and do a happy dance.
More soon. For now, think happy thoughts July 3rd to the 7th. I’ll do my best to post the exact date as soon as I know it!
Swim On, Party Player.