Two Days of Swimrun

We’re all cooped up. We’ve had races cancel. For me, having a race on the calendar is the proverbial “carrot” at the end of the stick, keeping me motivated to train and be ready. On those cold, foggy mornings, knowing that the race is out there helps get my butt up and out of bed. However, even though I haven’t stopped being active, it has allowed me to reconnect with nature, even in the absence of races.

Why a carrot-and-stick policy does not work – Murori Kiunga ...

This past weekend, we were supposed to be racing Swimrun Lake James and Swimrun Georgia. Being on the same weekend, my plans were to race them back-to-back. I was paired up with Kamal Maghri, the fast Canadian with whom I have toed the start line with as a competing team. Swimrun Georgia was to be raced with Joe Urbanowicz, another fast feller from down south (Atlanta). Alas, both races were canceled… something about a virus pandemic or something.

Therefore, my weekend did not exist of getting up super-early, racing Lake James on Saturday and then making a mad-dash, changing clothes in the car, eating copious amounts of pizza, all while driving 4.5 hours to Georgia to race the next day. Instead, I stayed close to home and did a two-day swimrun with social distancing rules in effect.

Just by chance, Jonathan Story hit me up the week prior asking about swim routes and distances. After a few short texts back and forth, we decided to meet up for at least one session together at the US National Whitewater Center to train in the Catawba River.

Jonathan went out for a solo adventure Saturday morning while I opted for one that afternoon. For the unknowing, the humor in that last sentence is that I was going in the *afternoon*. You see, in the Catawba River where we were going to train, the water current is completely controlled by the upstream dam and downstream dam of Mountain Island Lake and Lake Wylie, respectively. These dams are used to create hydroelectric power and to control the water height of the lakes. The *typical* pattern is the flow is minimal at night and morning. Sometime mid-morning, they start the flow to produce power, when everyone’s air conditioners start to kick on due to springtime temps. Again, I was going in the *afternoon* when they are typically producing power.

Much to my surprise, the water was like glass and with the flow very slow. Jonathan informed me that his morning session was to the contrary with the water flowing faster than green grass through a goose. This confirmed my previous week’s experience when I went out for an island swim, and even though I started early to beat the dams from opening, the buoys that are normally vertical looked like this:

When we joined up for an early morning swimrun on Sunday, we were again met with calm water with very little flow. It was short lived, as about halfway through our session, the current picked up as some good-ole-boy at the dam was pulling levers.

It didn’t matter, because what we experienced in those two days was still glorious. We didn’t have any game-plans in mind, no intervals to achieve, nor any workout goals. All we wanted was to reconnect with nature, have fun for a few hours, bask in the cold water, the beautiful trees, the blue herons, the beaver lodges and everything else nature had to offer. We made up our routes as we went and even ventured on some we don’t normally venture. It sure made up for not being able to race, although I still terribly missed seeing my friends I normally see at the races.

Check out the beauty of our swimrun:

So, if your local laws allow, get out there and connect with nature. If they don’t, then at least get outside. Having events cancelled can be very frustrating on top of all the other frustrations that comes as part of the predicament we’re all in. Don’t let that stop you from moving, from training, from continuing to work towards a goal. When it’s all said and done, you’ll relieve stress, stay healthy and be ready for when the events do return. So keep those events on your calendar even if they don’t happen. Then, go do your own event, even if you’re the only one toeing the line.