An old friend informs me (and he would know – he swam the 10K at the 2008 Olympics) that the dehydration I experienced in Miami may have been more perceived than actual. Saltwater in the mouth and throat can induce craving for fresh water even when your body is adequately hydrated. More important, he suggests, is energy. While I did stash a gel pack in my suit (and consumed it at the 5K mark), he says he’d actually take 3 or 4 during a 10K.
In any case, don’t drink the saltwater!
One important issue I didn’t mention in my race report is chafing. I didn’t mention it because, I suppose, it’s one of the few things I did right that day.
Saltwater is highly abrasive, and without preventive measures you can develop some nasty irritation – even on a short, half-hour swim. Anywhere your skin rubs together – especially in the armpit region – is vulnerable.
The solution? A liberal application, with rubber gloves, of a mixture of 50% anhydrous lanolin, 50% vaseline. Vaseline has good consistency and is easy to remove, but less staying power in a long swim. Lanolin has great staying power but a wax-like consistency, and is difficult to remove (even with soap). Combine the two and you get the best of both worlds.
Rubber gloves are essential – you don’t want to get that sh** on your goggles!
Credit for this grease recipe goes to ‘chaos’, who writes a great blog at usms.org.