On My Left

Saturday morning John and I did our first ever open water swim race. I will freely admit that doing a 1.2 mile swim, at a time of day I’m usually in bed, was something I was having a hard time looking forward to. But, I must say, the whole experience turned out to be much less hellacious than I feared.

The terrible-ish  parts were as I suspected. You see a person, like myself, who had followed a nice straight line on the bottom of a pool for 14 years when set loose in a lake with the sun shining in her eyes as she attempted to watch for random boats and buoys to guide her, (All of which, I might add, were not conveniently located on the bottom of the lake.) might not completely enjoy that aspect of the race. But, other than that minor annoyance, the race, as well as our two weeks of “training,” was lots of fun and reminded me just how much I love to swim.

It also reminded me how difficult it is to get any meaningful time in the water with three young kids and a husband on second shift. John and I made it into the water to train every day for the two weeks prior to the race – and did nothing else.  This week when I’m playing catch up with the household chores I guess I’ll just have to  look at my shiny third place medal to remind myself that it was worth it!

Saturday morning after it was all over John and I were rehashing the race on the drive back home and I realized something. I realized that the best part, wasn’t the race, or the training, our time away from the kids together, our cheering section or even the shiny medal. It was that our short open water racing stint literally pointed out that John’s got my left. We swam together, training and racing, John on my left. We worked well together that way. I sighted and attempted to keep us going straight. We used each other for motivation and pacing.  I never had to worry about what was happening on his side- I knew he had my left.

If that sounds insignificant to you, picture racing in semi-murky water, others swimming around you, attempting to find those rotten buoys all with limited visibility.  I can breath to both my right and my left but, lacking that good ‘ole bottom of the pool line,  if I would like to swim a straight line – I breath to my right. This means that I have no idea what’s happening off to the left.  But with John cruising next to me it was all good.

Nobody ran into me from the left, nobody attempted to draft off that side of me, nobody made a move to pass without me noticing, and I didn’t spare a seconds thought on any of it.

Not one.

I knew John was there, he had my left.

He always does.

And, I?

I had his right.

I always do.

For those of you who are Facebooking members of society pictures of the race can be found on Rock Lake Activity Center’s page.

The Final River Run?

Every year, my friend Steph and I paddle the canoe race in Pewaukee known as the River Run.

Every year my Mom and her friend Donna paddle faster than us.

Every year the big sign for the River Run goes up in Pewaukee but this year a small handwritten sign was taped on top of it: “Final River Run”

To which all of us said: “WHAT?”

When we got our preregistration letter we found out more. The Kiwanis Club organizes the race as a fundraiser for the community and they feel they are bringing in too little money to make it worth while. To which I say… well, I say a lot of things to that, but it can be summed up in one short: “Huh.”

Saturday was the morning of the final River Run,  a lovely, 40 degree, rainy, April morning. Which was ugly to wake up to but not as ugly as the sleet that fell on us as we were getting our boats ready.

We all hid in our cars with the heaters running until the last possible minute, jumped out, threw the canoes in and started racing.

Fortunately it was no longer sleeting, just raining and really, it was fine. In fact by the time we were ten minutes into the race I told Steph not to worry I was doing great. I had improved to only not being able to feel two fingers on each hand. Things improved even more when the rain stopped and we warmed up enough to throw our winter hats into the bottom of the boat.

By the end of the race I was wishing I had time to rip off my rain jacket and we had only three boats in front of us. My Mom and Donna, just barely still in sight, a man racing a solo canoe and two guys in an aluminum boat.  I said to Steph that while I had become accustomed to getting beat by my Mom I was not OK with losing a sprint to the finish to a big ole aluminum canoe.

We dug in, chased them down and passed them by. And let me just tell you, it doesn’t matter that our canoe was a much faster boat then their aluminum beast, it’s still incredibly satisfying to pass up two men in a sprint to the finish.

Unfortunately even our final sprint wasn’t enough to close the gap to Mom’s canoe and they beat us again. It did however place us decidedly faster than John and his friend Steve, which helps makes up for that getting beat by old ladies thing!

A few hours later we showed back up at the finish for the award ceremony, and missed it. Which was surprising because we were only five minutes late and the award ceremony has never started until it was at least 10 minutes behind schedule.  Soon we discovered why. The lovely, unvarnished, pine board and plexiglass plaques given as awards had run out. In past years they had always been busily hammering the plexiglass over the fill in the blank paper that makes up the award. No plaques, no hammering, and they were right on time. We picked up our pieces of paper and headed home, completely miffed that the awards we had complained about for so many years had been downgraded to a piece of paper.

Now, let me do a quick re-cap for you. The Kiwanis have declared this to be the last River Run because they don’t have enough participants bringing in enough money to make it worth while.  Meanwhile, we woke up early on an extra cold wet, sleeting day, paid our race fee, despite freezing fingers managed to paddle faster than almost everyone else and were given a piece of paper that I’m not even sure I can hang in the chicken coop for our efforts.

Huh, I think sums it up nicely.