This past weekend I achieved one of my goals for the season: I finished the Triple Martini Distance Swim in Avila Beach, California. The Triple Martini is a distance swim hosted by my open water swim group the Avila Dolphins. Before this attempt there had only been three members in this prestigious group. The three members, in the words of Neil, included Duke "the first to complete," Neil "the Oldest to complete," and Rob "the First Naked (non-wetsuit) to complete." However, we have now added not one, but three more great athletes to the group. Our newest members include Dave "the First to truly swim around Avila Rock and second sans wetsuit," Byron "the Surprise Entrant," and lastly myself "the Youngest and first sub 3 hour finish".
Now onto what the triple martini is! The triple martini is a three lap 6-7 mile swim in the shape of a martini glass. The first lap starts at the beach and follows the Avila Pier. Once you reach the end of the Avila Pier you make a direct left turn and head toward the Avila rock. From there you turn back and swim straight to the Cal Poly Pier and then from the Cal Poly Pier you head back toward the Avila Pier. The longest leg of the swim is the swim from Avila Rock to Cal Poly Pier. The distance between the two is about 1 mile. This part of the swim is also the least protected as it is so far out from the cove. It can also be the most lonely part as you are so far from everything. Above I have posted a satellite image of the swim. This swim was done by Dave as I am not cool enough yet to have swim GPS.
My swim started off amazing. The water temperature was about 57, but rose into the 60 degree range in parts of the swim. This was very important and crucial to me as I do not retain heat very well in the water being 5% body fat. After getting used to the water I made my normal slow and steady way to the end of the pier. Once I was at the pier my body was prepared and I was off! The first lap was great. I was warm and very comfortable. I opened up the first 2.3 miles in a fast 48 minutes. That is very good news for me as I start to focus on long course racing. That time could easily put me in the top 5 professionally in many Irorman swims. I felt easy, smooth and controlled. I thought to myself, "Wow this is going to be a piece of cake. Why was I so worried?" On the second lap I got a little cold, but still felt great. I posted another strong lap and had split 51 minutes, which was going to put me at a sub 2:30 swim. I was getting very excited. My goal was secretly to finish under 2:45 if conditions were right.
Unfortunately things started to come undone quickly. After the first leg of the third lap I felt incredibly slow swimming to Avila Rock, but Jenny had given me my split and said it was right on track with the previous lap, however I did not feel good at all. I stopped at the Avila Rock to grab some warm tea to heat up my insides and started to carry on. The final swim to the Cal Poly Pier proved to be quite arduous. I was not happy mentally and at that point my body had begun to slowly shutdown. I should have taken in some calories at the rock, or better yet before that, but had elected not to because I had been feeling so good. My legs were starting to cramp and my arms felt heavier and heavier after every constrained stroke. I knew that if I had stopped for long I would give into the inner thoughts of giving up. When I thought I was fairly close to the Cal Poly Pier I dared to lift my head and stop for a moment. I was unfortunately greeted by the sight of the wrong pier. I was only halfway across the last long leg. Jenny, Allison, and Brad were there to cheer me on, but all I could think about is why am I going to swim to the Cal Poly Pier and then back to the Avila Pier again when I could just turn into the Avila Pier and call it a day. Now that I look upon it I should have realized that I may have been going into a hypothermic state and my mind was starting to run, but at that moment in time I just decided to put my head down and continue forward to the Cal Poly Pier. I was less than a mile from finishing and I was hell bent on achieving this goal to prove to myself that I could. As I started to head towards the Cal Poly Pier I stopped a few times and felt bouts of what I thought may have been sea sickness and needed to swim backstroke. I was still on pace to break 2:45 at the Cal Poly Pier, but the next 1,200 meters proved to be very demanding both physically and mentally. I felt as if the Avila Pier was not getting any closer as Brad, Jenny, and Allison used some choice words in an attempt to motivate me. My pace became very volatile. I would experience random bursts of speed only to be greatly disappointed by the even longer bouts of slowness. My stroke became very lethargic and I was not the happiest of campers. I was so excited to reach the Avila Pier with a few minutes to spare and a chance to break the 2:45 marker. Only 400 meters left I thought, but as I began to swim into the beach I was noticing that it did not seem to get any closer. I felt as if I would not make it in. I have swum this stretch so many times and it has always gone by so fast, but today it felt endless. After 10 minutes, yes I said 10 minutes, for a 400 meter swim I had hit dry land and was greeted by a nice sandy place to sit, a beautiful smile, and a warm towel. I sat and tried to realize what I had just finished, but could not quite understand it at the time.
I sat on the beach for what I thought was a very short amount of time and waited for my fellow compatriots who had also joined in on this endeavor. It turned out that I had been sitting there for nearly 15 minutes and time had just quickly passed me by. As Dave and Byron were finishing up they were greeted by two lifeguards to check on how they were doing. I walked up shivering and the guards had not noticed that I had participated as well, but were quick to realize that I too had just completed this event. Dave's wife had brought a thermometer down to check on his core temperature, he rang in at 95.8. Not too bad, but still under the 98.6. His wife then realized that after a half hour I too had still been shaking. We decided to check my temperature only to see that after a half hour out of the water my core temperature was 92.1 and not budging up. Jenny quickly alerted the lifeguards and they quickly rushed me off to the "Fancy Shower" inside the lifeguard station. We only know of this shower from a prior instance in which Brad was hauled off to it after a hypothermic experience. We call it the fancy shower because if you have been to Avila Beach before and used the outdoor showers you know how cold they are, but this shower was so warm and I was able to bounce back to life. After my shower I was given a blanket and headed back to the celebration.
The whole group ate some delicious food and the presentation of the hats began! It was a great time and I feel so happy to be part of this prestigious group of men. The amount of effort Rob put in made everything so much easier for the swimmers. The support on the kayaks was incredible I felt so safe out there and knew that nothing would happen to me.
As I reflect back on the events that took place, I learned some very cool things. I got to see my physical limit and push through it even when my body began to quit on me. I haven't come to that threshold many times before, but it was an amazing experience to have a breakthrough and see the other side and the results that can happen. While I did not break the 2:45 marker, I was still under three hours and finish in 2:57. I had two very amazing and fast laps early, but met a quick demise on the third lap. My lap times were as follows: 48 minutes, 52 minutes, and 1 hour 17 minutes. Below I have posted some more pictures from the event including a wildlife shot that was captured. Check out the amazing rashes as well!
Thanks again for all the support: Rob for the organizing, Allison and Jenny for kayak support and motivational speeches, Duke and Brad for taking swim laps with me, Sharley for the wonderful tea, and all the words of encouragement from everyone along the way I would have not been able to do it without you all.
|Slightly hypothermic and first under 3 hours Casey|
|The first to swim around the rock 3 times and without a wetsuit Dave|
|The surprise entrant Byron!|
|Support team waiting for swimmers to begin|
|Amazing guidance by Jenny and Allison|
|Nearing the end of lap 3...|
|My Shark Patroller|
|Duke taking lap 2 with me|
|Early on the first lap heading to Avila Rock|