Thursday, September 04, 2014

Golden Gate Swim #2

There was a high marine layer, and we couldn't see the tops of the towers, which made for a great kind of mystical swim.  Wind at the bridge was 10 knots, and there was low, but steady wind throughout the bay, which is atypical for 6AM.  There were a number of repeat swimmers from last time I did this, calling this one either the redemption swim or the revenge swim.  A freighter delayed our start last time around, causing the tide to shift early in the swim, which required us to be repositioned repeatedly.  This time went better.

After riding Hyperfish out and waiting briefly for a container ship, we jumped just west of the south tower.  The chop caught me off guard, and I didn't fall into a good breathing pattern for a while.  After swimming over a large wake and a momentary break with the kayak escort to catch my breath, I experimented with breathing in different patterns for a while and finally found a pattern that worked with the chop.  By this time, I had fallen behind the group I was in (three swimmers and a kayak).  I picked up the pace quite a bit halfway through, about the time we crossed under the bridge, and I caught back up to the group and hung out at the front until we came to finish.  The chop died down and the current shifted to an ebb as we passed the north tower, and the water eventually became nearly flat as we approached the rocks that marked the stopping point.

Part of what I love about this swim is that it's hard, unpredictable, and just feels epic.  Swimming under the bridge far surpasses running across it, which I've done a couple times in the SF Marathon.  Despite the rough start, I was less only 2 mins off my expected pace (42 min/mile, I was expecting 40, not being a race), finishing in 53 mins, including the two times I stopped for a minute.  Fellow swimmer C noted that "you can't train for this," which has crossed my mind a few times as I think about ways to handle the chop better.  I think I'll just need to keep doing this swim.

I also did this about 29 hours after getting home from Siggraph, also with a 5k run pacing PL the day before. Things learned: 1) Add unilateral breathing in to training swims to make it feel more natural.  All my form training worked against me here.  2) Swimming across the Golden Gate is hard.  3)  Slow down a lot at the start until finding a rhythm in chop like this.  4) Swimming across the Golden Gate is hard.  5) The week-off-of-swimming-altogether taper worked well again; I ended up swimming faster than I thought I had, even without feeling like I was pushing the pace hard.   6) Swimming across the Golden Gate is hard.

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