Encinitas to La Jolla

“What do you mean it’s different water? It’s not a lake, right? It’s still salt water. You’re still in the Pacific Ocean.” Ken was coaching me through my nerves and I appreciated it.

I was scared though. The last two times i was in the channel (kayaking and observing) one was hard for me mentally, and the other I witnessed a woman not much older or different than myself swim for 18 hours and 2 minutes. That’s an enormous physical and mental feat. Am I capable of that?

Kevin and I got in the water. I lamented that we weren’t in La Jolla and that it was dark. Yes the bioluminescence was beautiful, yes the water looked silky, but it was dark and it wasn’t La Jolla.

I tried telling my self I was calm and that I could do this. It kind of worked. It at least distracted me from focusing on being scared.

The wind picked up and so did the chop. I swallowed a bit of water and threw up. I felt awful. I was nauseous, I was frustrated and crying, and I was only about 6 miles into the swim.

The rest of the swim was glacially slow. Looking at lone dolphins, a guitar fish, and wondering why Del Mar felt like such a long stretch of beach.

We finished the swim. Moonlight beach to La Jolla. It was only 14.5 miles and it took me 10 hours, although, Kevin allocated some of that time to what he dubbed “the 22 minute tantrum”. I had 8.5 hours of swim time on my last long swim and I swam 14 miles. I know currents and conditions play a role, but so did my mood.

I snorkeled the next day with my friend Sarah and that felt good. When things seem to feel ultra awful she has a kind and gentle way of putting them back into perspective. I also talked to Becky and Carol. They laughed as they told me stories about training swims they’d done that had gone awry. Michele reassured me that I was going to be fine. She told me about a time she was running a 100 mile ultra marathon event and crying she begged someone to use a phone so she could call her husband. Because of the hard training sessions, and other various factors they all achieved their goals. They’re four of the toughest women I know.

I thought the next time I’d swim with Kevin as my paddler I’d be in the channel, but i won’t. We’ll be swimming 2-3 hours on Tuesday night.

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