Post-race report: 1-Mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge Challenge

*Editor’s note: This report was filed from Florida, where I’m spending a week visiting my parents. I’ll have spotty Internet access, so don’t be alarmed if my blog posts/Twitter use/communication in general are a bit sporadic.*amywater

I don’t want to brag or anything, but I sorta kicked the Chesapeake Bay’s butt yesterday.

I set out to break 30 minutes (I finished in 31 and change last year), and to place in my age group (I placed third last year) in the 1-mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge Swim Sunday. I finished in 29:54, placing second among 24-29 year olds.

More importantly, I had set out to swim harder than I did last year, when I finished smiling, happy and feeling like I had energy and muscle power to spare. This year, the guy in the medical tent asked if I was OK as I stumbled across the finish line. Mission accomplished.

The start of an open-water swim of this size will always be a bit jarring, I think. The roughly 600 swimmers competing in the 1-miler are broken into four waves, differentiated by cap color. Swimmers start in the water, and spend the first a third of a mile accidentally kicking, scratching, groping and smacking each other as they angle for position – or try to get out of the way. Last year, I accidentally grabbed someone’s butt (ha!). This year, someone accidentally kicked me directly in the right goggle (ouch!).

Then, the writhing mass of bodies thins. The cap colors start to change as you creep into the wave in front of you.

For me, the best part of the triangle-shaped swim course is after the first turn, when a glimpse of the buoy ahead is accompanied by the sight of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The sight of the bridge looming over the silver-blue glitter of the Bay is as powerful a symbol of my love for this region as the monuments, memorials and museums in Washington, and has come to represent the most comfortable and euphoric part of the swim for me.

Except this year, I made a point to not get too comfortable. I swam the crap out of it, actually grunting into the water from the exertion. I felt like the waves this year were a little bigger than the ones last year, though that could just be selective memory. At one point, I was startled to see a swimmer a few feet below me when I took a breath at the crest of a swell.

Only one swimmer passed me from the wave after mine, and I’m pretty sure he won the race in a time of 23 minutes and change. I drafted him for a good minute, effectively using up any ounce of juice my triceps had left. By the time I finally lost sight of him, the shore was in sight, and it was just a matter of hanging on for the finishing kick.

After the awards ceremony, we sat on the deck of Hemingway’s and watched the swimmers competing in the 4.4-mile swim inch across the Bay – a reminder of my goal for next year.

But that’s next year. For the moment, I was content to dig into my crab soup and chill out.


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13 responses to “Post-race report: 1-Mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge Challenge

  1. Courtney

    AWESOME. REALLY AWESOME. I’ll have sweet dreams tonight. Well done!

  2. Ron

    Congratulations on an impressive performance. Look’s like your training has paid off.

    Safe travels!

  3. Alexis

    Yeah! Congrats on the awesome finish! You are truly a badass!

  4. AWESOME JOB!!! I’m in awe 🙂 Have fun in FL with the folks…

  5. Thanks, guys! Your enthusiasm got me excited about it all over again!

  6. WAY TO GO!!! You have every right to boast about your 2nd place finish. What an awesome job! And you have killer tris to show for it.

  7. congrats! that is awesome. i wish i was a remotely-decent swimmer, such a good workout. congrats on meeting both goals and have a great week!

  8. trialsoftraining

    Congrats, again! It’s a little weird to read a “swim” recap, rather than a run, ha. Seriously though, you did awesome. Mention that 2nd place age group and PR as much as you want!! and have fun in FL 🙂

  9. congrats on kicking the Chesapeakes butt on Sunday… I think we need to swim train together… give us each some motivation 🙂

  10. Congrats on your race!! you did a great job. I’m hoping to become a better swimmer and someday do a tri.

  11. Pingback: Race review: 2-Mile Chris Greene Lake Cable Swim « Amy’s Training Blog

  12. Pingback: Back in the pool again « Amy Reinink

  13. Pingback: Motivation Monday: the hardware edition (and Clifton Caboose 5K race review) « Amy Reinink

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