Wednesday, August 17, 2016

20 Bridges Recap #1


Kat and I are on a train heading back home from NYC after a wonderful few days.  I plan to recap the swim in this post and perhaps one and maybe two more to finish up my Triple Crown posts.  Afterwards, I have plenty of updates about my Dad's progress along the Camino de Santiago (aka "The Way").  To keep these topics separated, I will post about my Dad later.  For now, sit back, relax with a beverage, snacks or whatever floats your boat.....and read.  Here goes nothing.

20 Bridges Swim

A Huge Thanks.  I want to thank everyone up front before recounting the swim.  First, the swim would not be possible without the continued, selfless help from my wife Kathy (I call her Kat but you can call her whatever you like).  She accompanied me on all three swims - including this one in NYC.  She gave me breaks in my household responsibilities, never challenged any crazy rationale for extra workouts, and cheered me on.  Not only that, she endured conditions she is not accustomed to nor comfortable in during all these swims.  She is the best; plain and simple.  Second, I want to thank the organizers of the 20 Bridges Swim (David Barra, Rondi Davies, and Alex ArĂ©valo) who accommodated me for the swim.  They made it possible after Kat allowed me to get fit enough to do it.  My friends Yuta Tsuboi and Phyllis Ho also played a key role because they encouraged me to even pursue the option.  Both of them sent me a Facebook message saying that I could break the Triple Crown record if I could get into the August 15th event.  Combined, they all made this possible.  Third, I am incredibly grateful to my crew - Fred Zamon (observer and friend from GMU Patriot Masters), Cheryl Ward (coach at GMU and friend), and Brendan Cooperkawa (aka "Coop" - one of my oldest and dearest friends from grade school and high school and also a fellow swim team member in high school who flew in from Chicago to be part of this adventure).  
From L to R:  Brendan, me, Kat, Cheryl, and Fred (photo courtesy of Fred's phone - picture taken by a kind person)
The crew - along with Kat - kept watch over me and communicated with Michael Smalley (my kayaker and an awesome teammate as well) throughout the swim.  My crew rocked!  They all braved some nasty heat and kept me positive in spite of my heat intolerance and grumpy mood that waxed and waned throughout the day.  Thanks to you all, the swim was a success.  Oh, last but hardly least, the list would not be complete without acknowledging the tremendous help provided by all the supporters out on the course and at home monitoring all the swimmers progress around the island.  You all played an important role in making the event special.  So thanks to you all, we did it!


The Night Before.  Kat and I decided to get an AirBnB up by the start of the 20 Bridges Swim.  The start of the swim actually took place on the upper East Side of Manhattan but we all convened way up on the Northwest side of Manhattan on 207th Street - right on the Hudson river.  Our AirBnB was just a few blocks away and allowed us a few extra hours of sleep or so we thought.
Kat enjoying the summer "sprinkler" near our AirBnB
I just couldn't muster any sleep that night.  Between the mental checklists and somewhat chaotic, last-second packing for the trip, my mind was too active to sleep.  How chaotic was my packing?  I assumed I had Desitin from my English Channel trip.  Did I?  Nope.  Brendan and Kat ran out and got a small tube so that gaff was fixed without too much hassle.  Forgetting that important equipment lead me to wonder what else I may have forgotten.  So, did I sleep?  Nope.  Instead, I drank water, went through my things to do and went to the bathroom - almost every 30 minutes.  Sleep would have to wait for another day.  We did get to "sleep in" until 5am.  Wow, how nice, huh? 

Early Morning - Swim Day.  After waking up, I prepared my feeds (CarboPro in 1.5 liter bottles) and sorted out my swim gear.  I was all set.  Gear check confirmed I had everything and proved that worrying about forgotten things would not make them appear nor would the worrying help.  I had everything now and I just needed to eat a bit.  The previous night, we shopped for food and I purchased some scones.  Should have purchased a few egg sandwiches but instead I opted for a stomach neutral scone (or 4 to be exact).  Additionally, we each purchased a hug cup of cold brew coffee from Starbucks to consume in the morning.  Coop carried it on the subway up to our place.  We doubted our neighborhood had a Starbucks; later, we learned how wrong we were.  Oh well.

Coop with Coffee (the night before)
Oh, that cold brew stuff rocks.  Yes, I admit it.  I like a faddish thing like cold brew coffee. 

La Marina - Before the Start.  Our instructions were clear.  The event organizers wanted us to meet at La Marina at 6:30am and then later for a mandatory 6:45am crew and swimmer orientation.  That meeting was quick, efficient, and useful.  
David Barra entertaining us all - Pre swim meeting
We all learned about the course and crew responsibilities.  My only wish is that all my meetings were as effective and efficient as the NYOW meetings.  I have a new model that all future meetings shall be judged by - and I fear none will meet that standard.  Once the details were clearly described, we all headed to our respective boats.  

My team's boat was coming from Staten Island and would meet us at the start on the East River side.  Thus, we had to climb aboard another team's boat and get ferried over to the start (and our boat).  
The "other team's boat" - aka a Rib (photo taken by Brendan)
Our boat was the Midnight Sun captained by Bobby Rojack.  Once we got dropped off on our boat, I had a few minutes to prepare for the swim.  I put on my suit, lathered on the Desitin and hopped in the water - actually, not the water but rather some float that trailed behind a Jet Ski.  It was a quick ride to the start and then the swim was on!  Here I am lathered up....
Holy crow I am fat from that angle!  Time to lose some of that weight.  Just before the start....
And then...I was whisked off to the start...
Yeah, I know girls...steady your hearts.  The walrus is on the float.

I realize this was the least exciting part of the swim but it was the part that set me up for success (or later struggles).  Wait for my next post to hear what really happened.

Oh, never got to post the update because the internet connection on Amtrak died.  I'm home the night after.  The next post should be ready by mid-day tomorrow.  Stay tuned....

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