{Guest Post!} Chesapeake Bay Swim = A Shot of Whiskey and 2 Pizzas

16 06 2011

Hey 321delish readers! Today we have a fun guest post for you from a fellow training buddy, Michael, who completed the 4.4 mile Chesapeake Bay Swim last weekend with a few of our other friends. They trained for this swim for about 5 months and did a stellar job! Check out Michael’s race recap!

With all the amazing pics of delicious looking food on this blog I’m not sure this post will stack up, but here goes….

Chloe and I are friends and swim training pals, and a few of us from our Saturday swim group just did the Chesapeake Bay Swim this past Sunday: a 4.4 mile race from one side of the bay to the other underneath the Bay Bridge.  Chloe and her boyfriend Chris had to suffer through a number of our long training swims on the way to this so even if she didn’t do it herself she’s definitely partly responsible for the successful result.

The Bay Swim is an amazing athletic event for a number of reasons.  It’s not easy to find swimming events that are point-to-point, meaning you start in one place and finish in another (most are circuits around buoys and you finish where you started).  It’s even harder to find one across a body of water like this one.

Swimming across something is inspiring in a way that circuit swims are not since you can so much more easily see what you’ve accomplished…you can look back at the end and see where you started.  The truly inspiring thing about this race, though is the race organizers and volunteers who make it happen.  Apparently, nobody on the team that produces the race takes a fee for it in an effort to maximize the revenue generated for the March of Dimes, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and a few other charities the race supports.  There are hundreds of support craft in the water from the Coast Guard and local Annapolis boat clubs, and even 2 helicopters.  It is reportedly one of the safest open water swims of its type in the world.

Five of us from our Saturday swim group did the race this year, me, Kendra, Stephan, Dave, and Paul.  A few of us had done it before, though this year there was the added twist that it was so hot we all decided to go without wetsuits.  Unfortunately, the race doesn’t score wetsuit and non-wetsuit swimmers separately, as many races do, so everyone competes for the same awards despite the fact that wetsuits provide a HUGE advantage, especially over a long distance like this one.  Our top finisher was Paul who came in 10th overall (with no wetsuit, a great job).  The conditions change a lot year to year, but just to give an idea of the difference a wetsuit makes, my best time previously was 1:36 with a wetsuit and I went a 1:53 this year without one.  And it was a way harder ride across.  Maybe I’m not in as good a shape as I thought….

Photo from left: Stephan, Me and Kendra

The race organizers put on a great race with one small exception.  During the pre-race talk the race director told everyone the conditions were calm with almost no current.  But…once you hit the middle of the race it turned out there was quite a strong current and it ended up catching lots of folks off guard because they weren’t looking out for it.  I actually thought at one point I might get disqualified for going out-of-bounds (you can’t stray past either of the spans of the Bay Bridge or you’re out — they don’t want to be chasing wayward athletes all over the bay).

I would encourage anyone who is a pretty strong swimmer to give this a shot if you’re interested (rather complicated sign up process with a lottery since it’s so popular; more details at bayswim.com).  My only word of caution is that it’s a rather awkward distance.  Any longer than 4.4 miles and you would absolutely HAVE to sort out some race nutrition.  Any shorter and you probably would not need to worry about it at all (like a 5k swim).  At 4.4 miles, this race encourages you to skip the aid boats since it seems like stopping will just slow you up.  But then it’s a guaranteed bonk for the last mile to mile and a half.  And bonking in a swim race is really not fun, your arms feel like lead pipes.

Fortunately, a shot of whiskey is part of the open water race tradition in my book (to kill any nasties you might have swallowed en route) and the torture of the last part of the swim is all quickly forgotten….

While we don’t have any amazing post-race meal stories to tell, Kendra and I did make up for that in quantity.  We ate two whole large pizzas from Pizzeria Paradiso for dinner.  And that was after we had some of THIS leftover raspberry-rhubarb crostatawhen we were hoovering up snacks from the fridge.


And that was on top of a rather sickening quantity of various “race” nutrition items including bars and my favorite, little chocolate donuts (seriously, they had little chocolate donuts!) And I had one of these super excellent Founder’s Porters with the pizza, highly recommended.

Thanks for letting me stop by 321delish to share my 2011 Chesapeake Bay Swim race recap with you!

Question of the Day: Do you have a post race ritual? I drink a shot after any open water swim…what do you do?