Kelley and the kids had been in Myrtle Beach all week with her mom, so I took off Friday from the new job and picked them up then got on down to Charleston. We arrived as the mandatory athlete meeting was already in progress, luckily my buddy Tom already checked in for me and gotten my packet so I was ok. After that we headed over to my brother Michael's house where he had pizza waiting for us.
The race had a noon start to take the most advantage of the incoming tides. We got to enjoy a nice breakfast before heading over to the starting line. I was pretty nervous because I had no idea how the logistics were going to play out.
|Michael got to wear the bib this time!|
|We got photobombed by Tom's kayaker!|
|Still strong before we started|
|That's a bag of bottles strapped down to the front of the kayak for us|
|On the dock waiting to get in the water, that's Tom on the far left|
|Eventually got in and got to give Tom a high 5 before the start|
|The Cooper River Bridge in the background|
|You can see the start and the Cooper River Bridge. I bet some of you have run over that bridge before.|
Apparently, right after the bridge, there was a dolphin that surfaced in my path. I'm sure he saw me, but I didn't see him. Michael said that I missed him by seconds. That ended up being my only interaction with critters. I did swim over several sticks.
|Past the USS Yorktown and around the Battery|
In that picture above, you can see two (well, really 3) bridges in between those two yellow markers. Getting past that first one was a huge milestone in the race. Of course there are no mile markers, but Michael was giving me the total time when I asked so I could measure progress.
I ended up getting way off course. We were supposed to stay in the middle of the river, so I told Michael to stay in the middle of the river and let me sight off of him. Turns out I was zig zagging all over that place. Michael actually started to get heckled by the other paddlers about it! how strange is that? I was the one screwing up and not staying close to him. Then the main field left us behind and it started raining.
The top 2 bridges up there are one divided road set of bridges. It was raining hardest when we got near those, so I thought Michael would go ahead of me to stay dry under there. Turns out, they were grated bridges, like drawbridges. So not solid pavement providing any respite from the rain. And after the rain stopped, the wind really picked up. This got hard because the water got very choppy, and we were moving into the wind so it was slow going. Michael's hat even got blown off a couple of times. I just kept on swimming.
|Another view of the middle 1/3 of the course|
The bridge at the top of this photo was the finish line - or so we thought. After we went under that bridge there was a boat dock with some people on there cheering for us. I told them I thought they were the finish line and I was glad to be done. They informed me I still had one more bridge to go. Michael could see it rising up over the landscape, but I couldn't see it at all. This was very disappointing.
|What actually happens to those last 2 bridges|
|Finish line at last!|
|it's a long course, no doubt|
|All 3 kids enjoyed playing outside|
|Michael towing me back to the boat ramp|
|SO GLAD to finally be done|
After a hefty dinner, I slept like a baby and then Sunday we packed up to head back to Raleigh. if you've never been to Charleston, it is an incredibly scenic and historic city that I love visiting. We found an incredible farmers market (found is a strong word, Summer goes every week) but I got some locally harvested sea salt and a killer kombucha. It was adorable. Then we made really good time driving back to Raleigh where I could finally get my glasses on and see out of both eyes again.
Again, this was an incredible race. The safety and organization behind the event was unparalleled. The course was beautiful and the incoming tides really helped. but it was still 6 hours of solid swimming. I'm very glad I did this race, but not sure I'll ever try this one again. If you want to, come on down.