Fusion to 5k Part 12 (Big Shoulders 5k swim)

Race day for the Big Shoulders 5k open water swim came faster than I expected. When I first started writing this blog I never imagined that my first 5k after spine surgery would be a swim instead of a run and here I was standing on the Ohio Street beach with my family and a thousand swimmers waiting for my wave to start swimming.

During the pre-race meeting they told us if you get in trouble to put your hands in the air, and I was thinking if that happened, how the hell would I be able to do that? I was in the fifth wave, so I got a chance to see the elite swimmers start ahead of me and make it look way too easy.

 The last wave of the 5k swim. I'm the one in the red cap.

The last wave of the 5k swim. I’m the one in the red cap.

Finally it was my turn, and with a blur of arms and legs I was off and moving away from the safety of shore. After being bumped into and grabbed by other swimmers I moved out to the outside edge of the course to have some space to try and enjoy this swim. Within ten minutes of swimming, my leg with the nerve damage was numb and I tried my best to relax and not let it cramp. Focusing on my form and looking up occasionally to check out the amazing view of the Chicago sky line kept my mind off my numb foot.

I managed to complete the first lap before my right leg decided it was time to cramp and make things more challenging. Trying not to panic I choose the swim faster and get the damned thing over with option, which I don’t recommend unless you are experienced swimming through cramps. With a hundred yards to go I noticed swimmers beside me were standing up and running to the finish line, so I stood up and quickly discovered that my calf was still cramped making running impossible. It looked like swimming until I beached myself and then crawling and hopping to the finish was how it would end. I ended up finishing faster than expected and except for a sore calf didn’t feel that bad.


Finish line of the 2013 Big Shoulders 5k swim or my tryout for Baywatch?

Carol and Van after the swim

Carol and Van after the swim

Now what, Ironman? Was the first thing to cross my mind, that and hoping the lake water I accidentally ingested doesn’t make me sick. I skipped the free post race Chicago style barbecue for a bottle of coke and a nice warm shower to rinse off Lake Michigan. With a two-week break to recover from a minor surgery (that I had postponed until after my race) I had plenty of time to plan my next challenge which would definitely involve running.

To be continued……..


About runvan26

Endurance Athlete & Avid Fly Fisherman
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