Sunday, February 23, 2014

A blow by blow account of the Rottnest Channel Solo swim!

As you will all know Jason had been training for the Rottnest Channel Solo Swim (19.7km). The race was yesterday and Jason did phenomenally! Here is how the day played out!

3:45 AM: Jason eats his Muesli and yoghurt. Ethan and I wandered around in a little bit of a daze (Ethan had been up and unsettled from 1.10am and I finally managed to get him back to sleep around 3:15am).

4:10 AM: We left our house for Subiaco (to pick Jason's support kayaker (Geoff) up). 

4:30 AM: Jason's boat support team arrived at the marina to pick up the boat and we arrived at Geoff's house. Geoff and Jason tied the kayak on the car.

4:45 AM: We arrive at Cottesloe Beach. Here's the start line... nice and calm. All the lights out at sea are all the supporters boats! 
4:50 AM: Geoff prepares the kayak, while Ethan tries out the boat for size. We think Ethan will be a paddler!
5:00 AM: we all head to racer registration - getting the obligatory photo under the start gantry.
5:05 AM: while Jason and Geoff register Ethan and I just hang out and watch the general hubbub... there is an amazing anticipation in the air. First time solo swimmers walk around with a look of fear on their faces, the repeat solo swimmers have their routine and they stick to it! Its already 27 degrees and Ethan wore his fleece for all of 3 minutes!
5:15 AM: Jason is covered in sunscreen and sudo cream in the high rub areas! Team mates wish each other luck and swimmers check their competition out!
5:30 AM: Jason does a dry land warm up - lots of arm swinging and rotations. Ethan joins in and provides a moment of light relief for the swimmer around us!

5:40 AM: the first wave (female solos and top seeded males) move into the starting pen for their 5:45 AM start.
5:45AM: the first wave is sent off by WA's premier Colin Barnett and Jason has a gel, a powerade, two nurofen, a voltaren and 200 mg of caffeine.
5:50: Jason and Geoff contemplate the day ahead. Each in his own world.
5:55: Jason finishes his metal prep on his own in the start pen. While Geoff paddles out to the meeting point. Ethan and I find a great possie on the start line for photos!
5:55:30 AM: Ethan runs away so I need to give up my position on the start line... instead this is what I see!
6:00 AM: And he's off! I have Ethan in one arm, my massive camera in the other and try to get some start photos as the waves crash around my legs! Not sure how the seeding works or if Jason has let the excitement get to him but he is out front 50 meters off the beach chasing down the first wave swimmers.
6:02 AM: I fire off a couple of sky scapes (the sky is so often totally cloudless, that we need to take every opportunity for some beautiful clouds to provide more texture and depth into photos!
6:05 AM: with two bags, Ethan in my arms and the camera I get a quick landscape.... I had no ability to frame the shot properly but with a toddler we do the best we can!
6:10 AM: Jason and Geoff have met up and they are off heading towards the island on the horizon.

6:15 AM to 8:45 AM: Ethan and I head home to eat breakfast, pack for the day, and check the mobile swim tracker 100 times. By 8:30 AM it looked like Jason was swimming MUCH faster than we had all anticipated (it was looking like a 5 hour swim time - Jason was aiming for under 6 hours). I started to panic a little that we wouldn't make it to the finish line in time to see Jason!

6:30 AM, 7:00 AM, 7:30 AM, 8:00 AM, 8:30 AM (etc, etc): Jason eats and drinks every half hour! Water and caffeinated gel one one half hour feed and plain gel with electrolyte on the alternate half hour feeds.

8:45 AM: I was starting to panic about missing Jason's finish so we headed off the Freo (not that I could have boarded an earlier ferry but I felt better about doing something and not sitting around at home.

9:15 - 9:47 AM: Ethan and I arrive at Freo and look for a park. NO PARKS AVAILABLE AT ALL.... ARGHHHHHHHHH this supporter gig is tough! I try backing out of a one way area, hit a kerb and rip the mud guard off the car (uh oh.... but we will deal with that one later). I start to get a bit worried about my parking predicament but put my Amazing Race head on and decided to call the ferry company and ask for reasonably close alternate parking options instead of driving aimlessly around and around knowing that no parks will become available. The ferry company advises me to park at the railway station. I break a couple of speeding laws (50 in a 40 zone) and finally get a park. Next challenge... the train station parking only accepts smart riders and my smart rider is sitting on the bench at home. A couple of canoodling teenagers come to my rescue and pay for a parking ticket. Finally we are parked, have a valid parking ticket courtesy of some kind teenagers and Ethan and I are running to the ferry terminal.

Meanwhile Jason is swimming and eating, swimming and eating.... ticking over the KMs and slowly but surely ramping up the pace as he literally rips up the course picking up swimmer after swimmer from the 200 starters that were in the first wave start.

9:55 AM: Ethan and I board the ferry and finally time to relax. I check the mobile swim tracker every 20 seconds or so to see that Jason has not taken his foot off the pedal at all and he is storming the race (I started predicting around 5:15 race time)! Ethan totally enjoyed his boat ride!
10:32 AM: I check the mobile tracker and see that Jason is near the end of the island, around 2 km from the finish. Not one swimmer from his starting wave near him, Jason is now pushing through to the front of  the first wave soloists that stated 15 mins beforehand. Hmmmmmm that means that Jason will be finishing closer to 5 hours than I thought. Now I really started to worry about not making the finish line in time! I start packing the pram up for a fast getaway.
10:54 AM: Our ferry docks and I need to wait for someone to help me get the pram down the very steep stairs to the lower floor and able to disembark. Meanwhile Jason has cranked up the pace and can see the finish line.

10:57 AM: Ethan's in the pram, I have my jandals on and I am running to the finish line. I must look a sight but we were not planning on missing it!

11:02 AM: we arrive at the beach edge and I try to push his pram through it... no luck. Time to dump the pram and make a run for the beach, we only had 20 m to run but Ethan being the typical toddler stopped at everything and anything..."look mama, its a shell", "mama, what is this", "mama, its the beach"..... COME ON ETHAN!  At this stage (although I have no idea) I am CERTAIN Jason is nearby.

Here is the finish line - I try to keep an eye on Ethan around the water, keep an eye on our possessions, watch out for Jason's slow swim stroke, get my camera ready and generally not go crazy in anticipation.
11:06 - 11:07 AM: I see it, I see Jason's tattoo on his arm as he finishes the last couple of hundred meters of the swim! I pick Ethan up, push my way to the front of the crowd saying "that's his Dad, let us through, his Dad is finishing". Jason does a couple of duck dives to get his legs moving and as he hits the beach Ethan and I are screaming his name - hoping he knows we are here. Jason has a quick glance towards us and sees us there as he crosses the line! HE'S DONE it!
11:07 AM: Ethan and I leave our stuff on the beach with a quick word to another supporter to ask him to keep an eye on our stuff and we make it to the finish line to see Jason! His grin says it all..... he surpassed all of his expectations and more.... I asked him later in the day about what he really wanted to get and he said 5 hours 30 - he smashed that by 23 minutes!
11:10 - 11:30 AM: We mill around at the finish line, letting Jason savour the moment, getting shocked and surprised congratulations from his team mates!

11:30 - 12:00 PM: we head off to the support boat for lunch. Its a long walk, then a dinghy ride to the Boat.

12:00 - 1:15 PM: We hang out on the boat and shoot the breeze, eat some food,  and revel in the moment.
Ethan has some down time on the boat.... I had hoped he was going to fall asleep but no luck.
Then we all have a swim and play on the kayak. Its a stunner of a day!
1:15 PM: Ethan is a little tired, we are starting to find the confinement of the boat a little difficult so we head back to shore. Ethan asks for a sleep so we lay him down in the pram and take a walk to the grocery store and bakery for something to do.

1:30 PM: Ethan struggles to fall asleep but we persist -  and finally our patience is rewarded and he is asleep. We find a shady (its 35 degrees by this stage) and slightly breezy spot to let Ethan sleep and sleep and sleep...At 2:30 Jason heads to his team presentations while Ethan and I stay under the trees. At 3:20 PM Ethan wakes, hops out of his pram and promptly tries to go back to sleep on the sand...
3:45 PM: Ethan and I head off to meet Jason for us to head to the ferry home. Check out the hundreds of boats moored in Thompson Bay!
4:05 PM and we are on the ferry ready to head home.

Fast forward to 6:00 PM and we are picking up a couple of pizzas for dinner and really looking forward to being home!

So there you have it that was how the day panned out and as you can see it was very busy but Jason surpassed all his expectations for the event!

1 comment:

Alan Yost said...

Well done - all of you. Very impressive mate!!!