Dam 2 Dam - The Great Moose Migration

Chad and I at the finish of the 11-mile Dam 2 Dam swim in Idaho.
Yesterday I participated in the 11-mile Dam 2 Dam - The Great Moose Migration swim just outside of Boise. Because of the new baby, I didn't participate in some other events and this was my one big swim of the year.

Chad and his crew picked me up Thursday morning and we drove to Boise.  We made it just in time to get to the pre-race meeting at the hotel we were staying at.  Oscar "Moosie" Williamson is the race director and he did a great job explaining the course, what too look for, safety procedures, etc.  I was so tired when we got there that all I wanted to do after the meeting was go to bed.  I would have like to meet and talk to some of the other swimmers. I think Chad and I were the only not from Idaho.

Oscar "Moosie" Williamson giving the pre-swim instructions.
I slept better than I thought I would and woke up a little before 4am to start getting ready.  I had done a lot of the prep the night before, but still had to put on my suit, sunscreen, etc.  We met Chad in the hotel lobby and left for the reservoir.

When we met the other swimmers at the beach where the swim would end, it was really windy.  I thought we were going to be in for a rough day of swimming.  By the time we drove to Arrowrock Dam, where the swim started, it was much more calm.

Swimmers and paddlers getting ready to get in the water, just below Arrowrock Dam.
We finished getting ready and slid the kayaks down the steep hill to the water.  I was still putting on grease when everyone else was ready to go.  Almost as soon as I stepped into the water, they started the countdown and we were off.

The water felt great.  I don't think anyone got an official temperature, but it was probably in the high 60's.  My goal was just to finish the 11-miles so I started out at an easy pace.  After a while I found myself towards the front of the other swimmers and moved to pass a guy who was ahead of me.  As soon as he saw me, he came right up to my side to draft.  I'm not really a competitive guy and, as I mentioned, I was just in it for the experience and to finish the swim.  I really don't mind if someone drafts on me, but he was right up against me.  I could have tried to ditch him but I didn't want to waste that much energy so close to the start of the swim.  I stuck it out for a while until he dropped back and then I was pretty much on my own for the rest of the swim.

The first few miles were beautiful.  The water was calm and I was in zone.  Every once in a while I would see one of the three support boats go by, but I didn't really see any other swimmers or paddlers (other than my own).

About 3 or 4 miles into the swim it started getting really choppy.  This was the darkest point in my swim and I let thoughts of doubt get into my mind and I honestly thought about quitting.  The waves weren't really big, it just felt like I was in a washing machine and half of my strokes I grabbed air instead of water.  This was the only point in the swim where I kind of felt cold.  I told myself I would stick it out until the sun came up and see how it was going.

The chop seemed like it lasted about an hour or so.  Once it calmed back down and the sun peeked over the canyon, I started getting my confidence back.  I stopped thinking about quitting and started thinking that I was going to finish.  In my mind I planned out my feeds and about how many feeds I thought I had left.  Focusing on just making it to the next feed made a big difference in keeping my mind in the right place.

Speaking of feeds, mine consisted of almost entirely of Perpetuem that I drank every 30 minutes after the first two miles.  I added applesauce packets and Buzz bites here and there and took 800mg of Ibuprofen (more on that coming up) but that was it.

I saw one swimmer pass me.  She was wearing a wetsuit and was swimming pretty fast.  She ended up being the first solo swimmer to finish with a time of just under 5 hours!

Not long after we got through the chop, my right collar bone, that I have had trouble with, started hurting.  It wasn't bad to start.  I thought about taking Ibuprofen at the next feed, but decided to ride it out and see what happened.  It retrospect, I should have taken it when I first noticed the problem.  It got progressively worse and I took 800mg of Ibuprofen at the next feed.  It took about an hour for it to kick in, and then I was fine the rest of the way.  I also took a Buzz Bite at this feed.  This was a risk because I had never tried one before and I didn't know how I would react to it.  I was at about 6 miles at this point and wanted some extra pep, so I took it.  It took me a lot longer than I thought it would to chew it and get it down.  It tasted pretty good though and I kind of felt it "kick in" after about 30 minutes.

At this point the wind felt like it was pushing me in the right direction and I felt like I was cruising.  I saw the second set of docks and remembered from the meeting that I was getting to within about 3 miles of finishing.  This was a huge boost to my confidence, and I just kept plugging along.

After a while I looked up to see what I thought was the dam and I got really excited.  I started imagining the walking up onto the sand at the finish and how good it would feel to complete my longest ever open water swim.  As I got closer, I realized that this was not the dam, but tall cliffs.  This was kind of a mental blow.  About the same time, I started feeling pretty fatigued.  I wasn't sure what I was aiming for at this point and it took Ryan (my awesome paddler) and I a while to figure out where we were going.

Once we figured out where the beach was and I had a landmark to sight on, I just put my head down and swam.  As we got closer, I looked at my watch and saw I had about 10 minutes to make my goal time of 5:30.  I swam HARD for that whole 10 minutes.  I didn't quite make my time, but pretty close.  I finished in 5:32.  It wasn't a race, but I finished hard.  As soon as I hit the sand, I jumped up and ran across the finish line.

Finish line!

My GPS died right before the finish, but here is the course I swam.
I waited on the beach for Chad to finish. He and almost all of the other solo swimmers were about 30 minutes behind.  He finished strong.  He had been teasing me the whole trip telling me no to beat him by more than an hour. I told him he had much better endurance than me, and he was right there close behind me.  This was also Chad's longest open water swim to date.

Chad finishing his longest open water swim to date.
Event organizer Oscar "Moosie" Williamson after finishing his swim.
After watching some of the other solo swimmers finish, we went up to the pavilion for some food and drink.  I had mentioned to Oscar that Chad and I are both fans of Diet Mountain Dew.  Sure enough, there was a cooler full of ice cold DMD's.  We each grabbed one and toasted "Moosie".  It tasted so good!  I proceeded to stuff my face with anything that looked good: chips, candy, strawberry cake rolls.  Forget the healthy post race stuff, we deserved to indulge!

These tasted SO GOOD after the swim! Thanks "Moosie" for having them there for us :)
Beautiful beach near Luck Peak Dam, the finish of the 11-mile swim.

We hung around for a while longer before packing up to head home.  It was an awesome swim that I would definitely do again.

Here are some of the things I liked about it:
* Laid back atmosphere
* Beautiful reservoir with plenty of canyons, cliffs, trees, etc to see while swimming
* Awesome sandy beach for the finish
* Very cool event t-shirt
* Excellent post race food and drink :)
* I saw the safety boats regularly and felt very safe the whole way
* Event director who answered all our questions and was very organized

I would also make a few suggestions:
* I got my own time from my watch, but it would have been nice to have an official time from the event
* Some kind of award for finishing.  Swimming 11 miles is a big accomplishment!
* Now that I've done the swim, I could pick out the beach again. Having a bright colored arch on the shore would help make it more recognizable.
* An opportunity to meet the other swimmers. Some of this was my fault for being so tired when we got to the hotel that I didn't make an effort to introduce myself. At our Great Salt Lake swim we have a dinner the night before. Something like that the night before would be awesome.

I need to thank Chad and his family for letting me tag along with them.  If it weren't for them, I probably wouldn't have been able to do this swim.  Chad made everything easy by offering me a ride and finding a paddler for me.  Speaking of paddler, Ryan was awesome.  He stopped me every 30 minutes and happily gave me whatever I asked for. He even shook my bottles, loosened caps on the applesauce and unwrapped the Buzz Bites.  At each stop he asked how I was doing and he did an excellent job navigating the course and leading me to the finish.

I'd also like to thank "Moosie" for all his work in organizing this event.  He and I have been in contact several times since I first heard about his swim and he put a lot of time and effort into making it safe and fun.  I'd love for him to see continued growth and excitement around his swim.

I know there were some scheduling issues this year, but I hope more of our Utah swimmers will make the trip next year.  For me, it was definitely worth the trip.

Now to find some ice for my shoulder...

1 comment:

Robin said...

Josh, thanks for the write-up about your swim!! I hope it gets more people to do it next year. Would you mind if I make a copy of it to send to US Masters Swimming? I'd love for them to do an article for "Swimmer" magazine. Then, hopefully we'd get some national swimmers!! I swam D2D last year, but was unable to do it this year. You can contact me at robinloupiet@gmail.com
Thanks, Robin Piet