Cheryl Iseberg and I did the Casco Bay Swim/Run in Portland, Maine last Saturday. SO FUN!!!!! Cheryl and wrote this report on the plane home passing my laptop across the aisle. My words look like This - her words look like This. It's wordy...we were amp'd up!
Patty: My personal finish line drought ended Saturday when I crossed one with buddy and race report co-author, Cheryl Iseberg at the Odyssey SwimRun Casco Bay in Portland, Maine this weekend. I agreed to do this race with Cheryl when I saw her request for a partner quite a few months ago. I’d heard about these races. You swim. You run. Over and over. You get tied up to your partner, dress funny...sounded great to me!
Cheryl: This ain’t no triathlon. Retired from Ironman means I am free to try new things but put all those endurance miles to good use. Swim/Run is a new sport in its infancy that is crazy fun to do plus new and different equipment! Who doesn’t love new gadgets? Having done 2 Swim/Runs last year Georgeta Gruescu I was anxious to sign up again this year and was looking for my next victim. Scratch that. Recruit. Scratch that. Partner. We registered as team “What time is happy hour’.
It turns out most partners train together for these things - at least a few times. Cheryl and I did one Lake Sawyer Swim/Run about a week before. With my mostly-borrowed gear (thanks Matt Morrisson!) we got our paddles, tethers, shoes, carabiners, cups, flasks, belts, etc all sorted out and met at the airport Friday morning.
Next stop? Boston via plane. Next stop find the bus going to Portland. Next stop engage Uber to hotel. Next stop ferry ride on race day to Long Island. The only thing we didn’t take to get to this race was a train...wonder if that will come in this race report later?
Race day morning greeted us with good weather and lots of other athletes ready to do this. We gather and pull on our gear and wait for the start. Think about if you had to strap on your food and water, a pull buoy, paddles, and run in your running shoes during a triathlon. Then picture running in your wetsuit while wondering where your goggles and swim cap were (they’re on your head).
OK ready set go. Now think about during that first 1.5m run to your first swim - you look at your vicitim/recruit/partner and think “dang this could be a long day”.
If the whole race felt as awful as the first run, we probably wouldn’t have the strength today to type this race report. But after we got (way too) warmed up and jumped into the water, everything felt better. There were 6 swims - all different. We used a stretchy tether attaching us at the waist. Great for me - rough for poor Cheryl who had to figure out how to keep the tether out of her way.
Wait WHAT? I have to tether to someone to swim as well? Well how the heck does that work? Trust me sometimes it doesn’t. Caribiners are sliding around and wait, what is also on this dumb caribiner? A plastic cup to drink out of at the aid stations? LIttle did we know that dragging those cups of water through almost 3 miles of swimming would impact our swim times so much…. like by hours...hah. Maybe not. I think it was the unpracticed transtions into the swims. Swim exits were much smoother. Swim entries went something like this.
Patty - “ready?”
Me - “no where are my goggles”
Patty - “ready?”\
Me - “ no where are my paddles”
Patty - “ready?”
Me - “no where are we? And where are we going?”
Eventually Cheryl would give me a ‘go’ (or was that a ‘no’ that sounded more like a ‘go’...whatever) and off we went. We swam through kelp, cold water, warmish water, and currents. The volunteer and pre-race briefing made a big deal about paying attention regarding the swim - knowing the tides & currents (huh?) and not getting swept out to the ocean and picked up by a rescue boat.. We listened, we took notes, we wrote on ourselves with sharpies…. It turns out we are good swim buddies! Unless we clotheslined a lobster buoy (ohps) or needed to get peanut butter and jelly spit off the inside of our goggles, we swam steady and straight - and we passed people!!!
When not staying out of the ripping current or plucking kelp off our heads we were running (well ok call it whatever you want). The runs varied from rock scrambles (stay low, poison ivy high), beach runs, forest trail runs, running on the road, and running on a sand bar (ok, walking). A very unique area between the last few islands had a ripping outgoing tide in only about 2 feet of water so you couldn’t swim all of it. We walked half of it until we had enough water to swim and thankfully it was not in the outgoing tide. It felt like a river current under your feet and that was no joke across that channel. We had some hard work behind us with a long 3.5 mile run that felt like 103.5. There is nothing like the sun, gear hanging off you, running in a wetsuit, and shoes full of sand to make you feel like you are out of shape, old, and, well, out of shape and old.
One more long swim in the ripping tide and a good run to close out the race. What will happen next? Will we make it across that channel and do what the volunteers said “STAY RIGHT”. Will Patty make the right decisions or lead us into the Casco Bay shipping channel?
Well...we made it without incident to the finish line and that last swim and run were really wonderful. I remember when I used to race a lot, there was this tension toward the end about wanting to get a great finish time but not wanting it to be over. I really felt that yesterday with Cheryl. At the end it was a fun downhill finish, an energetic finish line, a wonderful announcer, and sights and feelings to soak in and remember. It was about adventures and sharing the experience with a good friend.
A beer at the finish? Well sign me up! She poured most of it out...This is a great experience for two old (old as in we have known each other a long time not because we are actually old) friends, two new friends, or just two people who literally want to “hang” together via a tether for a few hours. These races are fun, challenging, and a great way to do something with someone else. They tell you that up front to look out for each other and that is what you do. We have done alot of crazy things but this takes the cake. A great weekend of adventure, endurance, swimming, running, and well cocktails cause you know what time is happy hour?
Raise the Bar
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