I’m alive…

Dewey Im alive...

Before and after the race

But that’s no thanks to the insane ocean swim I did as part of my sprint tri on Saturday. I have been doing triathlons for 15 years now, and let me tell you, I’ve never been scared in the water before. Saturday was a different story.

The race was held in Dewey Beach, Delaware. Each year they check which direction the current is running so that the swim can go with it. This year, the current was going one direction and the wind the other. For the first couple of waves into the water, this seemed to be working. But as the wave numbers got higher, so too did the swells. I was in wave nine and by the time I hit the water, the conditions were getting bad. I’ve never had a panic attack in the water, but I think I came very close–I just wanted to get out and be safe.

But like any hardheaded athlete, I kept going. I only saw a few of the buoys we needed to spot. I’ve never been so happy to see the final turn buoy and for that final stretch of maybe 50 yards, I felt like I was swimming, not just surviving. A half mile swim that normally might take me around 12 minutes took me 25. For the people in waves behind me, conditions only got worse. My friend Jessica, there to do her first triathlon (poor girl!) was in the final wave, and even after struggling to make headway for a half an hour, the officials finally pulled the plug and brought everyone in, canceling their chances to finish the swim.

From there it was onto the bike and more wind. On the way out we had a tail wind and I was seeing numbers in the mid- to upper 20s for most of those seven and a half miles. But I could see across the highway to the cyclists making their return at what looked like a snail’s pace, and knew what I had ahead of me. I made the turn and then forward progress seemed to stop. My computer was showing me really pathetic numbers–maybe 14 at best–all the way back in. It was again a ridiculously hard leg of this race.

Finally, finally, I could get off the bike and tackle the 3.5-mile run. We headed off into the headwind again and I’m sure it slowed progress, but I actually felt fairly decent on the run. I picked off a good share of people, made the turnaround and had tailwind again, and just enjoyed the rest of the race. In the end, all four of us who started the race finished safely and one of my friends and I both picked up second in our age groups.

I think I’m pretty much done with ocean swims after that event, at least with ones in that general area, where the swims have a reputation for being tough. I think the wise call on the race director’s part would have been to cancel the swim yesterday, but I don’t suppose anyone could have anticipated how bad the conditions would get.

In my sick, twisted way, I’m happy I got through that race and feel proud that I didn’t pack it in when that first wave of panic hit during the swim. And if nothing else, it was a fun girls’ getaway. I went home with a smile on my face, grateful that I have these opportunities. But now–bring on the run training!

Ever do a race where conditions overwhelmed you?  


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  1. That sounds tough! Great job getting through it!
    GreenGirlRunning recently posted..Track & The Foot FlickMy Profile

  2. and I stalked you on FB.
    Miz recently posted..Role model Monday: It’s how I do.My Profile

  3. Congrats on surviving!!!
    Laura recently posted..Perfect timingMy Profile

  4. Congrats on getting through that monster & the AG place!

    Do I spy a Grotto pizza?

  5. Now any other tri will feel easy! Or something.

    That’s so scary. I feel like no matter what the conditions, I’d struggle and be scared during the swim, but that just sounds awful! I’m glad you and everyone else are ok.
    Kari @ Running Ricig recently posted..extreme makeover, dining room editionMy Profile

  6. Good job in tough conditions. The worst conditions I’ve raced in would have to be the hot, humid, and windy Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon, but at least that didn’t come with a threat of death! Brave woman. Congratulations.
    Gracie (Complicated Day) recently posted..Death of the birthday dressMy Profile

  7. Yikes! That sounds crazy scary and tough. My first triathlon had crazy weather with super high crashing waves. So glad I had some of these conditions while training prior to race day. Definitely helped ease the anxiety of the situation.
    Heidi @BananaBuzzbomb recently posted..Buzz: Living Life At Buzzbomb SpeedMy Profile

  8. Oh I so would have been all done!!! Sounds like crazy conditions! Since the swim is the part that I am most afraid of…yeah these conditions would have sent me over the edge. Way to be badass and push on!!
    Fancy Nancy recently posted..Monday MotivationMy Profile

  9. Wow, that is intense! I was thinking of you this weekend, wondering how it went… I had a mini-panic in my first open water swim, I would have been a mess in that scenario. Crazy! But as you said, there’s no way to predict conditions would get so bad. Congrats on finishing!
    Laura recently posted..A therapeutic runMy Profile

  10. That’s such a tough call! I have been pondering the “when is enough enough?” question for athletes lately. There’s such a fine line between pushing it and insanity. Glad you *slowly* made it and finished though – that had to feel great.
    Sheila recently posted..The Long Run That Finally WasMy Profile

  11. Holy cow that sounded rough! Congrats for getting through that. Amazing.
    Robin recently posted..10 Personal Running QuestionsMy Profile

  12. Wow, great job getting through that. Sounds brutal. I do think you are right – there is something very satisfying about being faced wtih that level of challenge and perservering. Well done!!
    Shut Up and Run recently posted..Drunk GoatMy Profile

  13. It sounds like it was really frightening. I can’t imagine being out there under those conditions. Sounds like “Beast Mode” kicked in and you pushed through despite being unsure of the circumstances. You are incredible! Congratulations!
    LisaM@RunWiki recently posted..Race Recap- Navy Base Ventura County Wounded Warrior Half MarathonMy Profile

  14. Congrats on getting through that monster race!!! Wooo!
    Kierston recently posted..5 Tips: Easing The Pain in Fitness Competition Heels!My Profile

  15. Wow, that does sound like a tough race! Great job fighting through the swim and the headwind on the bike. It was tough for everyone, I’m sure! Congrats to all four of you finishing and to you and your friend for the hardware!!!
    Erik recently posted..Running…My Profile

  16. Holy cow…that sounds terrifying. It’s one thing to deal with tough conditions on the bike or run…but in the water would freak me out – it’s definitely my weakest of the 3…So glad that you were able to get through it in one piece!!!
    I did a race in Central Park a few years ago – the start was fine, but by mid-race we were in a pretty bad snow storm. NYRR did their best to keep conditions safe, but it was SO cold that the roads surrounding the water stations were freezing up faster than volunteers were able to put down ice. The course ended up being totally covered in a layer of ice/sleet/snow!! Definitely not my best race time =)
    Michele @ Nycrunningmama recently posted..Guilt With a Second ChildMy Profile

  17. I’m so impressed with all of you endurance athletes!
    The training requires so much dedication and consistency. I’d love to try a sprint-tri, although I really can’t swim. Guess I need to work on that!
    Tamara recently posted..Is the paleo diet right for you? My experience with going grain and dairy-freeMy Profile

  18. Yikes- that swim sounds scary. Congratulations on your age group placement, and for pushing through that swim!
    Hopefully your friend who finished this one as her first tri will stick with it!
    I was actually scared towards the end of the bike at IM Arizona in 2010. The winds picked up so much that I was almost knocked off my bike; thankfully I unclipped and put my feet down just in time.
    Abby @ Change of Pace recently posted..One more time – summer hikesMy Profile

  19. You are so badass!! Congratulations!
    Jill recently posted..August’s Top Ten…..Or ThirteenMy Profile

  20. Headwinds suck, and I’m not a fan of being in the ocean (well in really choppy water) when I can’t touch the bottom, so congrats on the finish!
    Chris @ OOMFrunning recently posted..On Your Mark, Get Set, Run: The Beginner’s Guide to RunningMy Profile

  21. Wow nice job getting through crazy conditions! And an AG to boot – WTG!!
    Michelle @ Running with Attitude recently posted..Race Week CrazinessMy Profile

  22. YOU DID IT! PROUD OF YOU! It sounds like a tough day, and you rocked it!
    Krysten Siba Bishop (@darwinianfail) recently posted..Marathon Training Thursday – Running QuestionsMy Profile

  23. Yikes! I cannot imagine what that was like! Great job for sticking with it under those crazy conditions.
    Tia @ Arkansas Runner Mom recently posted..Chilis 5K Queso- Race ReportMy Profile

  24. Well done for finishing in such tough conditions! Congrats on your AG placing! The wind is definitely my worst enemy but as I only run I cope with it. I have been scared on some mountain runs where the wind blew me off my feet.
    Johann recently posted..2012 Mont-Aux-Sources Race PhotosMy Profile

  25. Oh my gosh! Great job – all of you guys – on toughing that one out.
    Sometimes when you make yourself push through those really challenging times,
    it means more than a PR.
    Glad everyone is safe. It sound dangerous.
    Joanne recently posted..US Air Force Marathon 2012My Profile

  26. That sounds awful. So many people panic about lake swims, but I’ve always thought an ocean one would be awful in general, but that ones sounds awful. I feel really sorry for you friend who got that as her first experience. Wind during a tri is miserable….it effects you all the way through. I’ve had times where my bike is averaging like 6 mph into the wind…it’s mentally draining that’s for sure!! Way to hang in there!
    Michael recently posted..I’m on TV, Transformers & a ReunionMy Profile

  27. Wow, way to push through! If the conditions were like that for my first tri, I would have probably drowned:0 Nice work!
    hikermom recently posted..Edmonds Half Marathon Race RecapMy Profile

  28. YIKES!! Glad you toughed it out and were able to take home some hardware!! You are amazing if not slightly stubborn ;-)
    I had a tri once where the temps hit the upper 90′s at the end and I felt a little funky but I survived. Cause I’m stubborn too. heehee
    I did hit a giant cone in a bike race and almost went down. I was in a pack of about 30 racers, all men. That would have been a horrific crash. I spent the last half of the race terrified.
    Missy recently posted..It was awesome, then it wasn’tMy Profile

  29. That swim sounds brutal…and scary. Glad you made it though ok, and big congrats on the AG place! :)
    Kate recently posted..It’s a party, not a race…My Profile

  30. Way to finish strong, and congrats on the AG award. You are a fast swimmer in my book to be able to swim half a mile in 12 minutes.

    I mostly hate wind. It definitely hurt you more than it helps you. My most painful races were due to the wind. At the Oklahoma City Marathon, a wind gust literally stopped me in my tracks.
    2 Slow 4 Boston recently posted..Potato Chips: My Health FoodMy Profile

  31. Glad to hear you made it through ok! there has been a lot of bad news lately in Ohio… scary!!!! Congrats & YAY for CIM training!!
    Kristy recently posted..Weekly Log, A 5K, "Time on Feet LR" & New HeadlampMy Profile

  32. Glad to know you’re still here!

    I once did a 10k in a thunderstorm that was delayed by an hour and a half. Not quite on par, but still not exactly safe.
    Adrienne recently posted..*A Self-Talk Sampler: SwimmingMy Profile

  33. Geeze oh pete, those swim conditions sound terrifying. During the swim of the one and only tri I’ve ever done, I’m pretty sure I had a panic attack ’cause I couldn’t breathe and my heart was racing out of control. It’s a pretty scary feeling. And that wasn’t even in swell/intense conditions like yours! Well congrats on taking 2nd in your AG!
    Efo recently posted..Race Recap: 2012 Panerathon 5KMy Profile

  34. You are so awesome! Growing up on Long Island I know how scary the ocean can be and how quickly it can change. I am so impressed you finished and did so well afterwards! And yay for a great weekend! Hugs and congrats!
    Erin Henderson recently posted..Taper Take TwoMy Profile

  35. I’ve done 2 triathlons. My first involved an ocean swim. I grew up in water, but was never a “swimmer,” so I didn’t have a high comfort level in the first place. The water was very rough that day. It was really horrible. I won’t do another ocean swim either (or probably any more triathlons, but that’s a different story :-)).
    Debbie @ Live from La Quinta recently posted..Sweaty Saturday: I Lied. It’s About Cross CountryMy Profile

  36. That swim sounded scary. Glad you got through it and can now get into your marathon training full-time!
    Beth @ Miles and Trials recently posted..Buffalo Thunder Half Marathon Race RecapMy Profile

  37. Glad I live too far inland to have to deal with oceans. Lakes are hard enough, thank you. Glad you persevered and way to rock the podium. Congrats!
    Christina recently posted..Night RunMy Profile

  38. Whoa. I got the butterflies in my stomachs just reading about that water experience. Glad you stayed safe.
    Yum Yucky recently posted..New Printable: Strength Training TrackerMy Profile

  39. I did the Dewey Beach triathlon a few years back and I was thinking the exact same thng. The water was crazy and I was just glad not to give up! Congrats!! You did awesome!
    Christine recently posted..And here comes the TaperMy Profile

  40. Oh goodness – when the wind is howling, particularly in the the mornings, I am a wimp
    and pull the covers over my head and nest down in my bed. My dedication to training goes out the window. I HATE wind – running and riding. Nice job on exercising and building your determined perserverance!!!
    Steve & Kathleen recently posted..Good times in Aspen/Snowmass!My Profile

  41. oh my gosh, that swim sounds terrible and scary! So, even though I swim, I have the thing about open water swimming – hate it. When I did the NYC tri, I totally had a panic attack at the start which was no fun! And that race has probably the easiest swim portion ever – a straight shot down the Hudson River, no need to spot or turn. But congrats on finishing a tough race! Yay for run training!
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..It was a good dayMy Profile

  42. That swim sounds truly terrifying. Of course, I can barely swim so any OWS seems pretty frightening to me.
    Raquelita recently posted..Halloween Half Marathon Training Week 4My Profile

  43. Geez that sounds terrifying. Thank heavens there were no dire consequences. Sounds like a race directors nightmare. How do they score the people who couldn’t finish the swim??
    My most overwhelming conditions were at my first marathon. But I didn’t know any better so just kept going.
    Marcia recently posted..Pretty Muddy Race ReportMy Profile

  44. Congrats on your race!

    I DNF-ed once on an open ocean swim. Got caught in a rip current and even though I was a reasonably strong swimmer, I just wasn’t getting anywhere except pushed around. Never been so happy to get out of the water in my life! So I know exactly what you mean. ;-)
    Beth (i run like a girl) recently posted..Morning motivationMy Profile

  45. I don’t do tri’s,so the worst I’ve had is some scary wind and rain. Glad you were ok and congrats on the 2nd in your AG!
    MCM Mama recently posted..AMR’s 10 Running Related Personal QuestionsMy Profile

  46. Open water swims scare the pants off me anyway. I can’t even imagine an ocean swim. Way to overcome and stay strong!
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..Running with A LegendMy Profile

  47. You did an amazing job. We athletes are a tough and stubborn bunch. Normal people would have pulled the pin once they’d seen the conditions. I’m glad you’re not normal and got the satisfaction of finishing … and placing.
    Char recently posted..Weekend RoundupMy Profile

  48. Good job! I am proud of you for doing it. The only bad conditions I have had have been heat. I hate heat. Other than that, I have run in snow and rain, but never for a race, thank the lord!
    Travel Spot recently posted..Are You an Olympian?My Profile

  49. That swim sounds scary. Congrats for completing the tri in rough conditions. Definitely one to be proud of.

  50. Wow! I don’t even like to be sailing when the current and wind are on opposites. The waves can be so frightening. Glad you made it safely through.
    Elle recently posted..Terry Fox Run 2012… Done!My Profile

  51. Wow! An ocean swim for a sprint; that is hard core! Congrats for finishing in rough waters! I did have one race where the conditions did me in, but it was all my fault due to lack of training, and no wetsuit, which led to hypothermia. I never made that mistake again.
    TriGirl recently posted..Will Run for High Fives: ChelanMan Sprint Tri (the run)My Profile

  52. Oh my, that sounds horrifying! I can’t even imagine. Thank goodness you got out okay and it sounds like you still had a great race overall. Congrats on the AG placement!
    Marlene recently posted..Muskoka 70.3 Race ReportMy Profile

  53. That race sounds brutal!!!! Swimming in the ow is a huge fear of mine, huge. That is part of the reason why I have never tried a triathlon yet. I am glad that you were able to finish and that you are safe.
    Tasha @ Healthy Diva recently posted..Palm Springs in PicturesMy Profile

  54. Well that’s put me off ever doing an ocean swim! Actually, I pretty much knew even before I read your report that I don’t want to do one, as I hate salt water and am terrified of jellyfish!

    Congrats on gutting it out!
    Alison @ racingtales recently posted..ElliptiGO, Dry Needling, and the Ape IndexMy Profile

  55. Swimming in rough water is the worst, I come from a swimming background, but it offers little in regards to rough water. As much as I hate to see races altered, the race director made the right decision
    Scott recently posted..Weekly RamblingsMy Profile

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