Monday, March 16, 2015

OPEN WATER SWIM - For an old skinny runner? You gotta be kiddin'!

YES, I've done an open water swim.  Let me tell you about it:

In an attempt to increase the “WOW!” Factor of my Bucket List, I decided I needed to add a swim from Alcatraz.  So, my loyal Bucketlist Buddy, Wordz Bennett, and I set off to accomplish this latest adventure.  

Note at this point my “bucket list” included a dozen Boston Marathons, climbing Kilimanjaro, kayaking with Killer Whales, sky diving, bungee jumping, and, perhaps most dangerous, a Saturday night gig as a street musician in New Orleans’ famed French Quarter. In hindsight, that list was probably already long enough.

Especially since I am NO swimmer! I have always been able to stay afloat, but have never been able to do anything like a stroke-breathe-stroke routine. My high school era specialty was the “Liddon Lake Crawl,” where the main object was keeping your head up with an eye on the girls as you “swam” around the pool.  So, I should have known better. Probably a moment of temporary insanity…

But back to the swim.  I knew I was in trouble when the dude we hired to take us across San Francisco Bay, dropped us off at the back of the island. Certainly, Al Capone or any of the other cons on “the Rock” back in the day would have known to start from the front of the island, the part of Alcatraz much closer to the final destination, San Francisco.  Not our Captain Bligh!
Nevertheless, burdened with this extra handicap, I began my swim/ dog-paddle/ water-treading/ head bobbing water-thon across San Francisco Bay. The views were fantastic: the great city in front, he Golden Gate Bridge to my right!  However, in the moment, none of that mattered at all to me. I was far more concerned with the swells, the waves, the fear of sharks, and, most importantly, the thought of being swept out into the Pacific if I didn't make it across before the tide changed.

My swim quickly became a nightmare. I tried to concentrate on keeping my head above water and moving forward, which was only about half the time. The other half was spent floating on my back gasping massive twenty liter gulps of salty air.

The friction of my wetsuit on skin BURNED a hole in my neck, a wound which should have required surgery to pull back together, a gapping open wound only made worse by its contact with salt water.

When Jesus finally allowed me to reach the dock on the San Francisco side, my relief rivaled Jonah’s on being spit out by the great fish: I had survived! 

I pulled myself up onto the concrete, located my bag, dried my hands, got out my cell, and immediately Tweeted: "For Sale! One slightly used wet-suit, complete with goggles, footies, and bathing caps (2). Do not need anymore. Ever!

Kenneth Williams, @MarathonKoach.

To find all my longer “Tips from @MarathonKoach,” click HERE.

And if you’re interested in stories about running the world’s greatest marathon, check out! "

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