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3 Mile Bridge Swim - SwimOther

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Pensacola, Florida
United States
Pensacola Race Management, LLC
80F / 27C
Total Time = 1h 58m 10s
Overall Rank = 79/118
Age Group = F30-34
Age Group Rank = 2/3
Pre-race routine:

So, does it freak anyone out to "wake up" standing next to the alarm in the middle of their bedroom with the light on? Yeah, freaks me out. It's no was 0324. That is not a time of the day I wish to see often. Hmph.

Puttered around the house trying to remember my brain and such. I was so tired my eyes hurt and I decided that if I was going to survive this I needed caffeine. So I left the house just past 0400 and stopped at the 24 hour gas station on the corner and got a coke. Mmm...caffeine.

The GPS said I was going to pull into the parking lot at 0527 which is WAY later than I wanted to be there. The race started at 0630 but after I got there I would still have to get a shuttle to the start, pick up my race packet, and do all the other pre-race stuff. So I did my best to "speed" without speeding.

The parking lot was supposed to be on the FINISH LINE side of the bridge...the end of the bridge I would hit first. I didn't realize until I hit the bridge that the GPS had me driving OVER the bridge (the THREE MILE BRIDGE) and then turning around and coming all the way back over. It must have assumed I could not make a left hand turn into the parking lot. Oh well, I'll just park at the start and shuttle to the finish later.

So I get across the bridge and see signs for the park it's supposed to start in...only, there isn't anyone in the park. Now I'm getting panicky. I decide to drive back across the bridge and go with the original plan. But as I get onto the bridge (and thus unable to turn around) I see the tents set up (not in the park I might add) for the start. Dammit.

I get back over the bridge, park, grab my stuff and run for the shuttle. The shuttle leaves a few minutes later and we go over the bridge again. There's no real line when I get there so first I pick up my packet. Then I used the porta-pottie (also no line) and got body marked. After that...I had about 30-45 minutes to kill and nothing to do but throw on a swim cap and goggles. I ran into someone I knew and chatted with her for awhile. She's pretty quick and my plan was to try to draft off of her. Then eventually I started lubing up with vaseline. With about 20' to go I ate an entire package (two servings) of shot bloks. With about 10 minutes to go I headed for the water.

They had some crappy stairs set up to go over the wall into the water. Well, wouldn't you know, I'm headed down them and I SLIP. I hit the rock at the bottom of the stairs pretty hard and my toe was killing me. After I got away from the ladder (couldn't stop...too many people behind me waiting to get in) I took a look at my toe and I had gouged a HUGE chunk out of the bottom and it was bleeding. Great. Just call me shark bait. It was hurting a lot the entire time I was treading water waiting to start. The race started very late...took quite some time to get everyone in I guess. Then I have no idea what the hold up was after that. I didn't look at my watch but we started 20-30 minutes late I think.
Event warmup:

The short swim out to the start line and a lot of treading water.
  • 1h 58m 10s
  • 5280 yards
  • 02m 14s / 100 yards

Okay, so the gun goes off, I see the girl I know head out and I try to latch onto her feet but she's just WAY too fast for me. I should have known better. She swam in college.

So I'm on my own...fine. It's easy to sight...they put out LOTS of buoys and you have a big bridge on the left. But the chop was pretty bad...mostly RIGHT into your face and pretty big chops too. A lot of the times I looked forward to site I got a mouth/face full of water. This was going to be slooooooooow.

The first big "milestone" was the "hump" in the middle of the bridge. It's one of those bridges that is really low except for one big hump in the middle for ships. That girl I knew had said that the hump was more than halfway over. After what seemed like FOREVER I got to the lead edge of it. I remember seeing a huge pack of cyclists apparently out for a Sunday ride headed up the "hill". I remember thinking that they were probably going to get across much faster than I was. :)

I only had a couple of minor panic attacks in here. I am really terrified of ocean life. I'm not sure whether it was good or bad that the water was so murky you really could not see past your hands. I kept imagining scary things were beneath me. A lot of times I closed my eyes when they were in the water because I would rather NOT see anything. It didn't help that I was bleeding from my foot and the last dredges of my period were probably working their way out too. I was convinced I was going to become shark bait.

I was happy to pass the hump after around 50 minutes and figured I could only have another 40ish left at the most. Yeah, right. Turns out they were full of crap about the location of the hump. I kept thinking I could see the last buoy. Then a few strokes later another buoy would come into sight. It was driving me nuts. 1:30 comes and goes and I still can't see the last buoy. There goes 1:45...still no last buoy. The longer I'm in the water the more panicky about ocean life I'm getting. And I just wanted to be DONE.

It turns out after you get to the end of the bridge you have to go into this small cove to the finish line. Once I turned into the cove the water was at least glassy smooth which was SO nice after constant chop. But the finish line wasn't marked. There was just a buoy and then...nothing. Luckily the swimmer in front of me (who was for some reason being escorted by like three kayaks) started headed for a specific beach. I figured if she and three kayaks all went that way it was probably right so I followed. They were right. As I went another few hundred yards I could finally see a couple of traffic cones on the shore that I think were meant to be the finish line. And...I finally got there. Yay.
What would you do differently?:

I have no idea. I think I just sucked it up today. Most swimmers think it was more than 3 miles. I google-mapped it and being CONSERVATIVE google gets it at 3.3 miles. Yup, I am convinced it's more than 3 miles.
Post race
Warm down:

I had to walk across a bunch of sand after I got out of the water. The gouge on the bottom of my foot LOVED that. I walk up to the pool and retrieve my dry clothes bag...mostly for the sandals. Then I am desperately searching for a place to wash the sand off my foot and I spy a shower thing by the the pool. Those bastards must use salt water for the shower because the stupid thing had me swearing when I tried to wash off my foot. Hurt SO bad. So instead I sat on the edge of the pool to try to rinse the cut out. That also hurt, but not as badly.

I put my pants and top on and limped around for a bit. Got some recovery snacks (mmm...Rice Krispie treats) and tried to find my the girl I knew. She must have split as soon as she got out. I was just getting ready to leave when I heard them say that they had prelim results up. So I went to take a look and I had come in second in my age group...mostly because there were only three of us! This meant I had to hang out until the awards which would not be until 11am. I trooped to the car to get better dry clothes and changed. I also found better sandals and eventually a first aid kit so I could at least put a bandaid over the flappy skin on the bottom of my foot.

A lot of sitting around later, we had bbq and awards. Oh joy.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

I am fat.

Event comments:

Okay my comments:
1. Measure the damn course.
2. Everything was started late and awards started late. I should not have to spend 10 hours to do a simple 3 mile freaking swim race!
3. Good BBQ during the awards though.
4. Come up with a better way to get swimmers into the water at the start.

They are talking about doing a 10k next year...out and back from the finish beach. That will be nice because the entry will be better...but I hope they GPS it from the beach...because I am really convinced their idea of "3 miles" is long.

I guess this swim race was really just about battling some demons for me. I have a serious fear of swimming in the ocean because of ocean life. I'm not convinced I helped myself at all, but at least I tried.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2009-03-11 12:00 AM
01:58:10 | 5280 yards | 02m 14s / 100yards
Age Group: 2/3
Overall: 79/118
Performance: Below average
Suit: Tyr Poly
Course: Start at one end of the bridge...swim to the other.
Start type: Deep Water Plus:
Water temp: 80F / 27C Current: Medium
200M Perf. Below average Remainder: Below average
Breathing: Average Drafting: Bad
Waves: Navigation: Good
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
Good race? No
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? No
Lots of volunteers? No
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 3

2009-05-18 11:28 AM

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Evergreen, Colorado
Subject: 3 Mile Bridge Swim

2009-05-18 11:41 AM
in reply to: #2158045

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Subject: RE: 3 Mile Bridge Swim
Nice job and congrats on the hardware!

Surprised to hear you had those thoughts swimming. I have similar thoughts when doing ocean swims so that is why IMAZ seems better choice than FL. Lake creature don't scare me.

How's the foot?

2009-05-18 3:42 PM
in reply to: #2158045

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The Woodlands, TX
Subject: RE: 3 Mile Bridge Swim
Great job out there! I hear you about batteling demons, I am so scared of the open water. I always think something is out to eat me. And, to swim so far is amazing, I don't know that I've ever swam that far in one shot - great job!
2009-05-18 4:05 PM
in reply to: #2158045

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Mesa, AZ
Subject: RE: 3 Mile Bridge Swim
WOW that is QUITE the swim!!! You are awesome, I would have been FREAKED out from the ocean, the bleeding...the distance.

SO IMPRESSIVE great job!!!
2009-05-18 5:56 PM
in reply to: #2158045

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Science Nerd
Redwood City, California
Subject: RE: 3 Mile Bridge Swim
Great job!  3+ mile swim is really impressive!  Congratulations on the hardware. 
2009-05-20 10:58 AM
in reply to: #2158045

Online or Offline
Subject: RE: 3 Mile Bridge Swim

Awesome race report - hilarious too!

Congrats on the hardware! After your 10k swim the other year, I'm waiting for you to do something crazy like the 8mile across Lake Champlain, or the 26 miles around New York.....


2009-05-20 3:18 PM
in reply to: #2158045

Subject: ...
This user's post has been ignored.
2009-05-20 6:18 PM
in reply to: #2158045

Fort Collins, CO
Subject: RE: 3 Mile Bridge Swim
Great race, way to stick with it despite the foot and demons.
2009-05-21 11:01 PM
in reply to: #2158045

Pensacola, Fl
Subject: RE: 3 Mile Bridge Swim
Looking forward to doing this race next year...can't wait!!!

Nice job!
2009-05-22 5:24 AM
in reply to: #2158045

Rochester Hills, Michigan
Gold member
Subject: RE: 3 Mile Bridge Swim
Serious swim there, grace.

And that's pretty ballsy swimming with blood streaming off your toe. Wow.
2009-05-22 9:20 AM
in reply to: #2158045

Shalimar, FL
Subject: RE: 3 Mile Bridge Swim

Super swim!  I'm with you on the "battling demons".  The swim during the Gulf Coast Tri freaked me out.  The open water around here isn't very friendly.

2009-05-22 9:27 AM
in reply to: #2158045

Dallas, TX
Subject: RE: 3 Mile Bridge Swim
Sounds like a fun race! Yes, ocean life can be... yuck. I like to think that ignorance is bliss.

Great job out there!
2010-05-18 7:10 AM
in reply to: #2158045

Vestavia Hills
Subject: RE: 3 Mile Bridge Swim
Yet another great race report, Jennifer.  Going to do this race this weekend and feel like I will have a similar experience ... just without the hardware!
2010-05-18 8:14 AM
in reply to: #2158045

Parker, CO
Subject: RE: 3 Mile Bridge Swim
3-mile swim...that's pretty impressive!  Nicely done and congrats on 2nd in AG!
2010-05-18 8:52 AM
in reply to: #2158045

Frisco, TX
Subject: RE: 3 Mile Bridge Swim

A three mile swim is a huge accomplishment.  Your RR is epic! Congratulations!

Edited by ashort33 2010-05-18 8:53 AM
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