How to Tame a Shark(fest)

About a week before Sharkfest I heard enough people say it was fun that I was all excited and ready. The night before I realized I stil needed to go get new goggles and when I found myself in the store, surrounded by open goggle packages and getting increasingly upset that NONE of them were right I realized I was nervous. Sigh….. I calmed down, chose a pair, went home and proceeded to freak out because you aren’t suppsed to try something new when you have an event and what if the goggle leaked? – OH NO! So I filled the bathroom sink with water, put the goggles on and tested them – no problem It was a sign of good things to come.

I got to Aquatic Park SO early. 6 AM. The registration went from 6 to 7″30 so I had plenty of time to hang out, try to relax and take some pictures. The water was absolutely flat, the temperature was mild and the sun was peeking in and out of clouds. It was a perfect day.

A cruise ship came through and I hoped the event organizers were aware of that and that it wouldn’t leave port half way through the swim – it was big!

FeLady and company got there and got registered so all we had left to do was hang out and chat and get ready. And ready we were

An announcer explained how the event would work, how to site and what to do after so we all marched en masse, through the tourists on Fisnerman’s wharf and over to the ferry. I wish I had a shot of 800 people, most of whom were in wetsuits meandering along the waterfront.

On the short ride out there I briefly considered just staying on the boat but when the time came I stepped up to the door and when the guy yelled ‘GO!”, I went! The water was cold but I used the time honored tradition to warm things up a bit in my wetsuit (shablam! it’s like having your own mobile hot tub!) and my face got used to the cold pretty fast. The biggest shock for me was the salt water. I haven’t been in salt water for years and I forgot how… how salty it tastes. My feet and hands were cold but not unbearably so. Once my face decided that the cold and the salt were okay I was all set.

The swim was so amazing – I can’t really describe the feeling of swimming across something as big as the SF Bay. Initially there are lots of swimmers around you but before long it seems like you are out there all alone. As you get closer to the shore the swimmers coalesce again, giving you yet another sign that you won’t be swimming forever although at that point it really feels like it. I can’t even imagine swimming the 2.4 it takes to do an IM. I guess it’s all relative and if you train for it you can do it but 1.5 was plenty, thank you.

I sited off those 2 white towers toward the right in this picture. The building that looks like a boat is the museum we had to swim back to. The towers were easy to see without having to stop and tread water and worked as a target for much of the way in.

When I got closer I saw the buoy off the back of the lead boat and then finally the opening in the breakwater. The only mistake I made was allowing myself to hook to the left once I got into Aquatic Park so that I ended up coming out of the water to the left of the correct landing zone. I just ran (in a manner of speaking) over there and ran across the mats at 50:17, 15th out of 21 women in my age group. Not bad.

I was so woozy I had to be helped on to the stairs but I think most people were. You can’t be horizontal for that long and not get dizzy when you stand up.

I felt wonderful and strong and accomplished once I got my bearings. Before that I felt like a madwoman. If you watched ‘Dancing with the Star’ you’ll understand when I say I had the voice of Bruno Tonioli in my head yelling “She was like a crazy fish, flopping around the deck of a boat!” Some nice people let me hold on to them to get my wetsuit off and then I went and got a piece of banana and then raided the Lara Bars (I blame DPR for my greedy ways with them – she taught me to plunder the Lara Bars at the Bay to Breakers).

Sharkfest was a very cool event and I got some Shark-a-licious swag, too.

I’d like to thank Cheryl again for turning me on this event and for being my Sharkfest mentor and for inviting me to join her and her husband and friends for a delicious brunch after the swim. She even let me take a shower at her hotel room. I had such a great time and am still enjoying a tremendous sense of wonder and self satisfaction.

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25 Responses to How to Tame a Shark(fest)

  1. LBTEPA says:

    Well done! Sounds like such good fun!

  2. All I can say is wowwwwwwwwww

  3. Jennifer P says:

    Very cool! I would love the chance to do a swim like that. Not too many opportunities on the Canadian prairies though.

  4. commodore says:

    Okay. Sharkfest. I get it now.

  5. Larissa says:

    Awesome!!! What a fishy you are! They had a brief story about this event on GMA this morning and I thought of you.

    Way to go!

  6. Greyhound says:

    Wow is right. I can swim 4k now, but it I think it is still uber gutsy to jump off a boat with the intent of swimming across San Francisco Bay. I may never have enough chutzpah to do that.

  7. bold says:

    i’d wear that swim cap to masters with pride!

  8. stronger says:

    “the voice of Bruno Tonioli in my head yelling “She was like a crazy fish, flopping around the deck of a boat!”

    Love it!

  9. fe-lady says:

    Thanks for re-capping the weekend for me….my turn. Trying to think of something “cool” to write….well, pictures will have to do I guess!

  10. Laurie says:

    I love the t-shirt. I’m glad the event went so well for you!

  11. jeanne says:

    You need a superhero name. the amazing mom? or is that taken?

    that description sounds remarkably like jumping out of an airplane. like i would know. they would have had to pry my cold dead hands off the rails to get me off of that ferry!

    WELL DONE! you can now officially do anything you put your mind to. it is so decreed.

  12. awww, dude!

    DUDE!

    You got Lara bars too? AWESOME!

    Oh man. You’ve given me something to aspire to. It sounds so…um…like fun when you write about it. Nothing like the trip to hell image I had put together in my head.

    You have to wear that shirt until you can read through it.

    Bitchin’!

  13. ali says:

    You are awesome!

  14. JBMmommy says:

    Nice report and great job.

  15. Mal James says:

    Congrats awesome soundiing event , that makes you one cool dudette. But let me add somethiing when I used to teach Scuba Diving back in Oz , we used to tell all the students that U…. attracks sharks and makes you smell unattractive to the opposite sex , but they still used too . LOL
    Congrats
    mal

  16. Bigun says:

    great report – I got to know that aquatic center pretty good as we were staying at the Radisson just around the corner. It’s a neat swim – one day walking around there I saw a sea lion in the Aquatic Center milling around – that would have freaked me out had it nudged me on a practice swim!

    BTW – I was too cold to pee once I hit the water – I don’t know how you did it – perhaps my “shrinkage” made the valve too tight, or something like that…

  17. trimama says:

    Fantastic swim! I get the sense from reading this, that you either just jump when they say, or you stand there contemplating- curious, how many people back down?

  18. Kewl Nitrox says:

    Great post. You’re a certified shark now. 🙂

  19. Cindy J says:

    Sounds fun! Thanks for writing a great report. Not sure when (if) I’ll ever get up the nerve to jump off a boat in the middle of the Bay and do an Alcatraz swim … my hat is off to you!

  20. david says:

    That was certainly worth getting up for. Cool time. Good one.

  21. IHateToast says:

    you fared better than the woman from trinity college in jaws.

    i’m still freaked out by the salt water splash in the mouth and i’ve lived here 5 years

    CONGRATS!

  22. Rick G says:

    Thanks for the great post! I also swam in the event for the first time (without a wetsuit) I attached the link to my blog if you would like to take a look! Congrats on your finish!

    Rich

  23. Rick G says:

    Thanks for the great post! I also swam in the event for the first time (without a wetsuit) I attached the link to my blog if you would like to take a look! Congrats on your finish!

    Rich

  24. Rick G says:

    Thanks for the great post! I also swam in the event for the first time (without a wetsuit) I attached the link to my blog if you would like to take a look! Congrats on your finish!

    Rich

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