Saturday, May 31, 2008

Prepping for the Regional Xterra Championship James River Swim

Part of the fun and challenge of Xterra racing is reaching goals - finishing the race is one thing (for me!), but chasing points to nab a regional championship is yet another. Beyond the regional championship, is the national competition and the ulitmate - the world competition in Maui. The ONLY way to be eligible to compete in nats and worlds is to compete in a Regional championship within the region you live. For the mid-atlantic states which includes PA, that means heading to Richmond Virigina and enduring a river swim in the James river. River swimming is interesting, to say the least. I feel fortunate to have the Susquehanna river to practice in - IF I can get into a groove of taking the plunge in river water. So last week I took my first plunge -- here's that 1st report:
River Swim #1 - Rockville Bridge, Marysville
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Or in this case, dead fish and rocks and crayfish, oh my! I can't say its enjoyable getting in the Susquehanna river for a swim, but it was a necessary must to get the mindset ready for the James River swim portion of the Xterra Regional Championship in Richmond VA on June 15. "Rick-- there's something wiggling down there!" "Jill, you aren't supposed to be looking DOWN, you are to be looking at your hands entering the water - so stop looking down!" "Rick...I just saw a dead fish... Rick, there are some sort of barnacles sucking fast to my wetsuit!" Rick...what are those bugs.. Rick...Rick.." And there are snapping turtles, remants of the days-gone-by barge era (metal rope complete with a loop in it yet -- get caught on that baby once!), fish hooks, huge rocks cropping up out of no where, huge blood-sucking carp, tires -- you get the picture. My swim lasted a total of about 15 minutes with the girly way I was acting. THIS is the Susquehanna though -- not the James. There's actually a sandy beach at the James -- and certainly swimmable without anything on your feet. I'd never venture in the old Susque without booties on (by the way, you CAN swim nicely in kayak booties -- the booties that are just like socks). But I don't think the booties would protect me from the snapping bite of the turtle. Ouch.

River Swim # 2 - Millersburg Ferry Wall

This river swim was much, much better. Millersburg is a quaint little town where my hubby grew up. In fact, he grew up poling and canoeing on the river so no wonder he likes kayaking so much. There's a historical ferry that runs from Millersburg to Liverpool a couple times a day in the summer, and they dredge a channel for the ferry to run in. I was thinking maybe just above that channel would be a good place to practice a river swim -- its deep enough and I know there are no rocks because of the dredging for the ferry. And there's little current above the ferry wall. Should be similar to the James River swim. But I had to make Rick go with me 'cause I still get a creepy feeling about being out in the middle of the river. My mom near had a fit when I told her I'm swimming in the river -- but she was ok when I told her Rick's going along in the kayak. There's no fear in the James River at the Regionals...there's tons of other people AND kayakers everywhere. But training alone in the river? That's a different story. So we headed to the M'burg and took the plunge. I have to admit I actually enjoyed it - all 50 minutes of it. It was calm, beautiful, deep enough that I couldn't see the wiggly things on the bottom, and I kept my focus on swimming -- not where I was or why. The down side, it IS the susquehanna, and for some reason today it was murky which actually was a good thing. I really, really don't like what I see at the bottom of the river. Maui has cool things on the bottom, not the Susquehanna River! Even Jersey Joe PA enjoyed the training session.


DailySAHM said...

Swimming in the Susquehanna, oh yuckies!

SueAnne said...

Hey Girl-
You can compete in any of the regional races to qualify for Maui! Not just Richmond ;)...Richmond has the closest thing to an "off-road" swim...most obstacles on a swim in any tri!