Marathon Swimming Gaining Traction in Richmond, VA

jpelusojpeluso Member
edited October 2012 in Event Announcements
You may recognize some of the names in this article.
Stoked that the paper picked up on the story.

http://www2.timesdispatch.com/sports/sport/2012/oct/05/tdsport05-outdoors-marathon-swimming-gains-tractio-ar-2259221/

Comments

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    Keep up the good work, Jay! Abby was one of our earliest members.
  • smithsmith O-H-I-OMember
    I participated in this event this morning. On a deflated grading system, I give this event a 9. A proper grade would be a 9.5.

    We just drove 500+ plus miles back to our home in southwest Ohio from suburban Richmond, Virginia. Every mile of the 1,000+ round trip was worth it. The people who made this event work are some of the friendliest, classiest, and most organized I've ever come across. I'd like to give more detail, but I'm operating on about 1.5 - 2 hours sleep since yesterday and need to get to bed. I'll give a full race/event report sometime tomorrow.

    Lactate is for wimps.

  • smithsmith O-H-I-OMember
    edited October 2012
    Ok. Some quick background before giving the race/event review.

    I grew up in California, and swam competitively for about 15 years. I wasn't that great. Just a borderline National level 200 flyer. Swam briefly in college. Stopped swimming in 1985.

    In 2005, I became disabled after contracting a virus and suffering a head injury. I was out of the full-time workforce and partially homebound for 3 years. I re-entered the full-time workforce at a much reduced capacity in 2008. My doctor gave me clearance to fly on airplanes in 2010. Along with a disciplined medication and physical therapy regimen, my doctor and I came to the conclusion that swimming might help my condition, and I started swimming about 2 to 3 times per week in late 2010. In 2011, my doctor felt my symptoms were under control to the point where he gave me permission to pursue my regular career. During the summer of 2011, I joined a local masters team and participated in my first OWS event.

    Yesterday's event was my 7th OWS competition. Up to that point, I participated in events with as few as 7 competitors (in a rock quarry in Indiana), to events with hundreds of competitors, and one event with up to around 1,000 competitors (Big Shoulders).

    By far, yesterday's event was the best I've participated in.

    Peluso Open Water Swimming's "To The Bridge & Back" is a 5 mile/8 kilometer race in the James River about 10-15 miles east of Richmond, Virginia. The event also offers a 2.4k race as well. Around 85-100 people were scheduled to participate yesterday.

    Peluso Open Water Swimming personnel are extremely friendly, classy, and professional. All of the pre-race information & registration procedures were handled perfectly. The pre-race packet was e-mailed in PDF format, and is the best I've ever seen. A pre-race pool was provided, and regulated at river temperature for those who chose to warm-up. On-site wetsuit rentals were also available.

    Post-race amenities included free massages from a local health and wellness company, a huge buffet lunch and beer garden, two jacuzzis (one was set at about 70 degrees to regulate our body temperature(s) before entering the 95 degree jacuzzi), and very well run awards ceremony which featured huge goblets as award prizes.

    As for the race itself, timing chips were provided along with a live video race feed. Although I was informed that the James River can be quirky, this is the first time I've participated in a freshwater race where the water was clean and clear. To put this in perspective, my kayaker (aka wife), got mixed up in the first wave launch, and I lost her from the beginning. As a result, I followed Abby Nunn and her kayaker for the first half of the race. Luckily, all I really had to do was was watch the bubbles from Abby's six beat kick to navigate the nuances of the course of the first part of the course, with quick peaks at her kayaker. As a side note, I've never seen a 6 beat kick like that on a distance swimmer, even Jeff Kostoff. With a kick like that, Abby should apply for a patent. Amazing. (Note: I was part of Ed Spencer's distance group in the early-to-mid 1980s at Industry Hills in SoCal. All of the workout prowess/stories you've read about Jeff while he was at IHAC are true. Swimming with Jeff ---actually far,far behind him-- in that group was a unique experience). As the first half the race commenced, another kayaker was kind enough to catch us and helped me out as we closed in on the 2.4 - 2.5 mile marker

    Shortly after rounding that marker, a kayaker (not sure if it was the same one) got my attention and informed me that my wife was just ahead waiting for me with my feed bottle. I chatted with my wife for about 10 seconds, took a feed, and I instructed her to keep me on course behind Abby and her kayaker for the rest of the race. The buoys were perfectly placed for this race, but with river current, I was aware that local swimmers and kayakers would know how to navigate better than most.

    Other pluses provided in this race were paddle boarders. Indeed, I think it was around the 1 mile marker that I alerted a paddle boarder about the loss of my navigation-challenged wife, and I believe he was instrumental in getting the other kayaker to me while getting my wife back into the fray as well. All told, I'll be surprised if my wife ever bothers me again when I refuse to pull over and ask for directions on road trips. Indeed, millions of long suffering American wives put up with husbands who blindly drive off on the wrong direction on long car trips. Men seem to be genetically predisposed to this affliction, and simply refuse to listen to reason. If she ever instructs me to pull over in the future, I will give her a quick reminder about yesterday's race :) .

    I hope this race---along with the Peluso Open Water organization---continues to prosper and grow for years to come. It's the best experience I've had in this sport thus far. It will be hard to top it.

    P.S.

    The only reason I can't give this race a "10" is the finish. As with many OWS races (like Big Shoulders), swimmers exit the water and run/trot/walk to the finish. In this race, the exit is at an incline, which isn't a big problem. However, there is some thick mud in the water several feet before the swimmer is able to get on solid ground. I tripped a little, and got stuck before I got out. I wasn't looking up, but I think it might've been Jay Peluso who told me to be careful as I was exiting due to the mud. A re-engineered "in water" finish might be the way to go in the future. Other than that....this race is a perfect "10".



    Lactate is for wimps.

  • Though I don't have an eloquent recap like @smith (due mostly to the fact that I was too cold to know what was going on/where I was most of the time), I am in complete agreement with the statement that the post-race amenities were amazing!! I think I'm going to be a bit disappointed the next time I'm at a race without hot chocolate, a hot tub, AND beer waiting for me at the end :)

    Thanks a bunch, @jpeluso, for putting on such a fun race!

    Oh and my kick might have been a bit more exaggerated than usual yesterday for thermogenic purposes. But thanks!
  • nvr2latenvr2late Central VirginiaCharter Member
    I also was a swimmer in the inaugural "To the Bridge and Back" swim in Richmond Virginia on Saturday October 13th. I read with interest Smith's account of the race, as he is an out of state competitor. I grew up in Richmond but live in Lynchburg Va. now and have enjoyed participating in several clinics with Peluso Open Water in preparation for this event. It was a beautiful day for a swim and the river conditions could not have been more perfect. I agree with Smith's account of the management and success of the swim event! It was such a treat to be swimming in the James River, where I used to swim as a child. The clarity of the water was exceptional and made for an entertaining swim, just watching the scenery below. I had the priviledge of having Courtney Paulk as my paddler. She is a successful Channel Swimmer 2012 from Richmond, and I am a Channel Aspirant for 2013. I hope that this event will grow each year, and I will always be a participant or volunteer. This is a great organization of enthusiastic, knowledgeable people, dedicated to promoting and providing a venue for Open Water Swimming, in the Richmond and surrounding area, and wonderful to hear from out of state participants! Sarah Dunstan, aka nvr2late.
  • smithsmith O-H-I-OMember
    nvr2late said:

    I also was a swimmer in the inaugural "To the Bridge and Back" swim in Richmond Virginia on Saturday October 13th. I read with interest Smith's account of the race, as he is an out of state competitor. I grew up in Richmond but live in Lynchburg Va. now and have enjoyed participating in several clinics with Peluso Open Water in preparation for this event. It was a beautiful day for a swim and the river conditions could not have been more perfect. I agree with Smith's account of the management and success of the swim event! It was such a treat to be swimming in the James River, where I used to swim as a child. The clarity of the water was exceptional and made for an entertaining swim, just watching the scenery below. I had the priviledge of having Courtney Paulk as my paddler. She is a successful Channel Swimmer 2012 from Richmond, and I am a Channel Aspirant for 2013. I hope that this event will grow each year, and I will always be a participant or volunteer. This is a great organization of enthusiastic, knowledgeable people, dedicated to promoting and providing a venue for Open Water Swimming, in the Richmond and surrounding area, and wonderful to hear from out of state participants! Sarah Dunstan, aka nvr2late.

    Best of luck with the EC attempt. Keep us posted on your training progress!!

    Lactate is for wimps.

  • smithsmith O-H-I-OMember

    Though I don't have an eloquent recap like @smith (due mostly to the fact that I was too cold to know what was going on/where I was most of the time), I am in complete agreement with the statement that the post-race amenities were amazing!! I think I'm going to be a bit disappointed the next time I'm at a race without hot chocolate, a hot tub, AND beer waiting for me at the end :)

    Thanks a bunch, @jpeluso, for putting on such a fun race!

    Oh and my kick might have been a bit more exaggerated than usual yesterday for thermogenic purposes. But thanks!

    You're certainly welcome.

    Hope you're able to continue to participate in this sport despite the extreme demands of medical school.

    Lactate is for wimps.

  • Leonard_JansenLeonard_Jansen Charter Member
    Any idea of what the water temperature was?

    THX,
    LBJ

    “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.” - Oscar Wilde

  • smithsmith O-H-I-OMember
    Probably about 62 or 63. It was 76 two weeks before the event, 72 at 11 days out, and 66 at 2 days out. Sarah & Abby can give you better insight than I can, but I read that water temps are usually in the low-to-mid 70s at this time of year. I believe this was an unusual drop off. Air temps. were in the 80s a week before the event, but a cold front came in 4-5 days out.

    Lactate is for wimps.

  • The 1-mile race starting from the SAME spot less than two weeks earlier was 76, which is much more seasonable.

    I was definitely NOT expecting 62... it was a bit of a shock to the system
  • smithsmith O-H-I-OMember
    edited October 2012
    I think all but 4 or 5 swimmers in the 8K wore wetsuits. Abby was sleeveless. I did not bring a wetsuit, as I was used to swimming in 62 - 66 degree water in Ohio. However, due to the cold front, the air temperature was 37 at race time (7:30am). I'm used to swimming with air temps. in the high 50s - 60s during a different time of the day. Huge difference. My wife saw that I was freezing, and talked me into renting a wetsuit 20 minutes before the start of the race. I've never worn a wetsuit in my life, and I don't want to again. It made my stroke feel very awkward. However, it insulated me from the cold air temps. coming down on the water during the early part of the race, and that helped a ton. By the time we were out of the water a little after 9:15am, however, the air temps. were already up to around 50....a huge increase. If that race starts at 9:30am instead of 7:30....no wetsuit.

    Lactate is for wimps.

  • nvr2latenvr2late Central VirginiaCharter Member
    I have been training in open water without a wetsuit as part of my acclimation process and training for the English Channel. I had been in 64 degree water for nearly 2 hours, just 2 days before the swim. I know that seems very temperate to most of the Marathon Swimmers that may follow this thread - but I am in the first stages of acclimation - and as Smith and Abby stated - there was a 10 degree drop in water temperature in about a weeks time, and nearly 30 degree change in air temp. I opted to wear my suit as well. I had not been in 62 degree water for nearly 3 hours, and the air temp was certainly a factor in the early morning start at 7:30. I had planned to use this swim as a great way to increase my time in cooler water, and I am somewhat disappointed that I did not. Smith, I understand your feeling about wetsuits, but on that morning I was glad that I had mine! Tomorrow, it is back in my lake, come what may, and I will be there all winter, even if for just a few minutes per exposure. I read in the CSA handbook that a minute in May in the water is worth an hour in August! Smith, I found it interesting in the results for my division - in a swim of 5 miles length, and nearly 3 hours duration, less than 50 seconds separated number 2 from me, number 5!
  • smithsmith O-H-I-OMember
    edited October 2012
    Perfectly stated. Acclimation is the key, and it takes time. Mother Nature is always in charge, and gradual, incremental adjustments are necessary to avoid the shock.Thankfully, the race director had all the bases covered for people to make the necessary adjustments....even at the last second in my case. Near perfect management. Hope to be back next year. This is a great venue with a lot of great people involved.

    Sarah: I just saw those results a few minutes ago. Looks like you were in close to a dead heat. Goes in line with what my wife told me after the race. She said there were people in multiple packs spread throughout the course.

    Lactate is for wimps.

  • nvr2latenvr2late Central VirginiaCharter Member
    Smith - I don't know if you are on Facebook - but on the Peluso page there is a very nice post race article. I will share it here if you have not seen it.
  • smithsmith O-H-I-OMember
    Yes. I got on the Peluso page late Saturday night when we got home. I put a comment on the page yesterday. Saw that excellent article today. That fellow did a real nice job.

    Lactate is for wimps.

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    @smith - great report, and much respect on coming back from your health setbacks to this extent. Very inspiring!

    Well done to you and everyone else - @nvr2late and Abby. And I don't want to hear any sheepishness about the wetsuits :) 62 is damn cold if you are expecting (and have planned for) low to mid-70s.
  • smithsmith O-H-I-OMember
    Definitely. It's a big drop for anyone accustomed to 72-76...actually too much with a cold air temperature. To be sure, from what I gathered, it was probably an aberration. I've got this one marked down as my last race of the season for 2013 as long as my schedule permits it. Way too good to pass up.

    Lactate is for wimps.

  • I measured the temp at the dock prior to the race: 60-61 F.

    Sure was nice when the sun came up!
  • courtneypaulkcourtneypaulk Richmond, VirginiaMember
    I carried my thermometer with me while paddling for Sarah and the temp remained pretty steady at 62.2 for most of the swim.
  • nvr2late
    Can you post the Peluso post race article for those of us that are not on Facebook? Thanks
  • nvr2latenvr2late Central VirginiaCharter Member
    to TriBee - here it is: http://www.baconsrebellion.com/2012/10/racing-on-the-river.html -

    Did you participate in the swim?
  • Thanks!
  • BATFATBATFAT Member
    edited October 2012
    I didn't wear a wetsuit - never have. My main acclimation was the preceding Tuesday (1750 meters in 66 F water) and Thursday (3500 meters in 64 F water.) The week before the water was 70-72 F. I swim with Nvr2late, and she talked me into doing the race - (I'm a poor Massage Therapist, and it's a good chunk of change to do these events.) We aren't a subsidized profession.

    I was seriously concerned about the air temperature; not as much the water temp. I saw the race as a personal challenge, more than anything; it was a calculated risk, but nothing compared to what the Westcoasters do in the Bay. I felt like a wimp for even being concerned, thinking of the Bay swimmers and the training they do.

    While it wasn't fun swimming in the shade the first mile or so, I'd had a vision of the event, a snapshot of the 2nd leg - sunny, beautiful, serene - it was something to look forward to. The reality and the vision were identical.

    I swim a fair amount in the James near Snowden, Virginia - just downstream of Balcony Falls; while the water there is usually cleaner than any of the other places I swim, the race-day water was the clearest open water event I've ever participated in (except St. Croix) The only nuisance was the weeds that would sometimes attach themselves to my GPS. Saw a number of fish (one that looked like it would have made a fine meal!)

    Also helped having a terrific paddler; Cort was good company - a G0Dsend.

    I've been doing coldwater training for a couple of years - partly to do the Polar Bear Plunge to raise money for Special Olympics - and I had theorized that running after doing a coldwater immersion would heat the core up a lot better than being covered in blankets. Although I wasn't that cold afterwards, it did help to run around in circles - (other folks probably thought I'd lost my mind.)

    Thanks to Jay for getting me a paddler and making the event so competitor-friendly! I won't complain if it's the same temperature next year.
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