Sunday, September 30, 2012

Tale of Two Beaches

8:30 a.m. Arrive at the beach, set up a location just above high tide line. Today are the super boat races. First, however, is the Ann race. The water is calm - Barry and I swim 1.3 miles.

9:20 return to our mat for a Gu and some water. A couple is camped out next to us - Barbie and Ken - yes, for real. They are very nice. The water is now VERY choppy and wavy as a massive number of boats has lined up on the opposite side of the race "track"

10:20 I swim .6 against the current - tough but rewarding psychologically. I can do it! Barry and I walk back.

10:30 Man passing out water, with attached paper talking about the "water of Life" Jesus Christ. Wow, great, low key evangelization. Barry notices two chairs set up behind our mat, one man in one chair. We leave, but then Barry decides to go back to tell the guy that when we return we will have chairs and an umbrella. There is still TONS of open space next to us on the main set up line. Man says "ok".

11:15 We return to beach and set up umbrella and chairs.

11:18 OTHER chair man arrives and starts to scream at Barry. "You F...A....F... set up in front of us....F put it f... you have to be 60 years old, don't you know better...(Low blow...worse than the F's)" Boasting a significant beer gut, this large, tan man is massively inebriated; his friend, to whom Barry spoke, sits silently in the chair.

11:20 Barry replies using logic. Never a good move. "We've been here since 8:30 and I told your friend we would be putting up an umbrella." Barry offers to help them move their two folding chairs and small cooler to the wide open spot on the front chair line next to us. This offer is not well received.

11:21 After stating HE had been on the beach since 7:30 a.m., he threatens to kick Barry's F-in A. Barbie speaks up. "They were before we were and we got here at 9:15." He denies this possibility and states he is willing to go to jail in order to experience the gratification of hitting Barry. I am very nervous. If he attacks Barry, they will both go to jail. I do not particularly want to bail Barry out of jail. I have never bailed anyone out of jail. I don't suppose it is terribly complicated, but I do not particularly want to find out. I shake my head at Barry and urge him not to speak anymore at all. Barry trusts my instincts as I have 12 years psychiatric nursing experience. This is definitely an out-of-hospital psych type encounter. I whisper that we should simply move; this option does not appeal to Barry (man response).

11:23 I am going to skip over a lot of repetitive dialogue which mainly consisted of using the f word as an adjective, noun, verb and adverb. Man repeats urge to beat Barry up and go to jail. He then says he is calling his friends the cops who will come down and show Barry "what was F-in what."

11:27 Crazy big drunk guy calls "police". His Police cannot come for 45 minutes. Tells His Police he is being "f'd with by some guy". Gets off phone and tells us we will get ours in 45 minutes. I am not terribly worried about police. Umbrella beach law is very ambiguous.

11:30 He quietly asks his friend why friend told us we could put up the umbrella. Friend has a lame response "I didn't know it would be big (as in beach umbrella size)." He sits down and begin to make 'clever' remarks about the situation - mostly involving the f-word.

11:45 He joins friends in the water to watch the first race.

12 noon First race begins with slightly smaller speed race boats.

12:15 His Police never show.

1 p.m. Returns to shore. Chairs remain but no one sits in them.

2 p.m. Big super sleek boat race starts. We watch for 15 minutes, but our day is soured, and we pack up and go home.

3 p.m. Write blog. Barry is amused. I am...discouraged? Disturbed? Sad? Wondering if we should have moved. I am thinking about the kindness and faith of the water evangelizer contrasted with the desperate anger of chair man. Were we right or stubborn...or both? Hmmm...interesting to have two such disparate experiences within an hour - the tale of two beaches.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Life's a beach!

Over a month ago, I left off talking about the choice: group or solo training.

Today I reaped the benefits of group.

When I joined Vision Quest coaching, one of the available activities was a coached swim practice.

I had been swimming on my own, attempting to learn Total Immersion swimming from the book, Total Immersion: The Revolutionary Way To Swim Better, Faster, and Easier.

I thought I was doing...swimmingly...well.

The coach, Marcia Cleveland, was fantastic. I was quickly overwhelmed by the practice pace...

WAIT - maybe I should mention here that I had at least 7-10 years of swimming lessons as a kid. The YMCA was a reasonable investment for my limited-income family. So I do cope with water without fear.

...and Marcia carefully, week by week, corrected my stroke, starting with "you are all crunched up."

No, I was sleek as a dolphin, stretching and reaching...crunched up? Really?

Yes, really. Turns out what was in my head was not translating to the reality of my body.

So I stretched out...and she said "nope, not yet!" and stretched, and stretched...and then got to work on not crossing my arms over the center line.

REALLY - I'm shooting them straight ahead!

Ah, No.

And so on...and today, in the Clearwater gulf waters, I reaped the reward of all of Marcia's work. I swam two miles, in relative comfort, understanding my body position and working FAR less hard than I did in the past.

If you are thinking triathlon, unless you were a swim team swimmer, swimming lessons are probably an essential.

Open water swimming in water similar to your triathlon is essential as well. I say similar water because swimming in Lake James, where my brother has a cottage, is harder than the pool; and the ocean, although not choppy this morning, is harder than Lake James.

Swimming in the gulf:

1. Is noisier. It's weird, but I put my head in and there is all sorts of noise, distracting and overwhelming my technique focus.
2. Is salty (duh). BUT this is something to get used to - it burns the back of my throat and does not taste so good. My stomach is more upset after a gulf than lake swim (I can't swim without swallowing some water, can you?)
3. Is fishier. Smells fishier, feels fishier, and appears fishier (see more fish!). I touched a few - eep!

Today there were quite a few gulf swimmmers using the long "lane" formed by the protected swimming area posts. It's just over a half mile long - perfect for my Ironman training. I decided to go for it, and swam my farthest - two miles - ish (hard to tell exactly).

I felt great - sleek and fast like a dolphin - and this time, I don't think I'm too far off!

Thanks to all who have contributed to my Ironman Foundation effort for Cystic Fibrosis, in particular the Boomer Esiason Foundation. I am incredibly grateful!