I did it! I’m jumped into the Hudson River in New York City for the first annual 1-mile New Amsterdam City Swim on Sunday, June 21 to raise $675 for ALS research at ProjectMinE. As a group, the New Amsterdam City Swimmers have raised almost $438,000 so far. Thank you again to everyone who donated! I appreciate it so much. Hopefully we’re one step closer to curing ALS!
What threatened to be a thunderstormy day, turned into a scorcher—88 degrees, sun blinking bright, and humidity around 90 percent. By the time I jumped into the Hudson, I was good and ready! The water was welcoming and downright refreshing at 68 degrees.
For all my nervousness going into the swim, I needn’t have worried.
My plan going into the swim was to stay calm, cool, collected, and knock it out at an easy pace. I set out according to plan and manged to stick with it. I kept my pace easy peasy while focusing on my breath and my pull. It paid off.
Much to my surprise, I crushed it. I finished 15 out of 146 women! What!? Throw men into the mix and I was 77th among 351 swimmers in a time of 23:32 for the 1-mile course.
Wish I could say the same of most of my running races! This just goes to show, once again, that I’m a much better swimmer than I am a runner. Which is probably why I work so hard at running!
My day started at 5 a.m., when my alarm woke me to announce at the NYRR Queens 10K in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. I was on site and at the mike at 6:30 a.m. for pre-race announcements.
The rainy, overcast morning turned into a hot, steamy day, and one that was a bit longer than usual for a 10K. The start of the race was delayed an hour due to heavy rain flooding the course.
While I made morning announcements for runners, NYRR employees were busy bailing water off the course—literally. Before it was a park, Flushing Meadows was a marsh that eventually became a landfill during the industrial era. It wasn’t until the 1930s that the site was rehabbed to host the World’s Fair and in the 1960s it became a park. But once a marsh, always a marsh. As a result, the Queens 10K course is particularly flood prone.
By 9 a.m., the rain stopped, the course was clear, and the race was finally underway. I moved to the finish to cheer runners in.
But the main subway train that ferried runners to the start suffered a shutdown and resulting chaos, so race officials kept the start open much longer than usual to allow train-riding runners a chance to race. That meant the course was open longer than usual. The final finishers came in just before 11:30 a.m., and I hung up my announcer hat for the day.
I got home around 1 p.m., 8 hours after my day began, all of it spent standing. I didn’t even get a seat on the subway ride home. I was beat. So I walked my dog, wolfed down a slice of pizza, and took a quick 40 minute snooze before heading to downtown Manhattan for the swim. At 2 p.m., my alarm was ringing again. I pulled on my swimsuit, grabbed my bag, and ran out the door.
The New Amsterdam City Swim started at Pier 45 at the Hudson River Park in the West Village of Manhattan. Check-in for the 3:45 pm start closed at 3 p.m.
I got there just in time to get my race-issued swim cap and timing chip, drink some water and eat half of a Quaker protein bar that came in my race bag.
I had a major headache, which often happens later in the day when I’ve had an early start. Food and water usually helps. A friend also had Tylenol, so I took some to help get me through. I shy away from taking pain killers when exercising, but my head was throbbing, so I went for it.
Wrestling my wetsuit onto my sweaty skin proved to be a 2-woman job. My wetsuit now has numerous finger-nail sized gashes in the neoprene from such abuse over the years. My friend and running teammate, Vera, and I readied together. She’s the one who roped me into doing the race.
By the time they called our wave, Wave 1, to the start we were baking in black neoprene and ready to jump in. Thankfully, the Tylenol, food, and water had kicked in and my headache was gone.
The start of the swim was timed with the end of high tide, so that the southbound current would be in our favor as the water flowed out to sea before low tide. The Hudson is actually a tidal estuary, where the salty ocean tides meet the river’s fresh water current in New York Bay. As such, the currents swirling around NYC change every six hours or so to the whims of the ocean tides. Amid the hustle and bustle of the city, it’s easy to forget that NYC sits like teeth in the jaws of the mighty Atlantic Ocean.
Separated into six waves, we entered a floating dock attached to the pier three at a time. Then, one swimmer at a time, we jumped off the dock, timing chips strapped to our ankles. The mouth of the Hudson River in New York Bay is brackish, and I immediately tasted the salt on my lips as I plunged into the water. But jumping in was one of the most fun parts of the day. How often do you get to jump off a barge into the Hudson River in New York City? That was a first for me! I felt like screaming, “Wheeeeee!” Read the rest of this entry →