22 February 2007

Midmar Mile, 2007

Well before Christmas, Colleen and I decided to swim in the Midmar Mile competition again (http://www.midmarmile.co.za/). Trouble was, both of us were so busy before and after Christmas, and neither of us seemed to be taking the training very seriously. A few weeks before the race (on 11 February), I broached the idea of skipping it this year.

“I think we should swim,” Colleen said. “First of all, you may not be around for it next year. Second, we won’t swim well, but we won’t drown.”

True enough. Colleen is always much more fit than I am, but I am a very good swimmer even when I’m not in tip-top shape. And since we knew what to expect this year (as opposed to last year, when neither of us had ever even seen the Midmar Dam), we decided to forge ahead.

We had good intentions. But it seemed that something always came up at the last minute for one or the other of us, and we were lucky to get in the pool once per week. I competed in a Midmar seeding event in early December in the Vaal River, and again in January at Victoria Lake in Germiston. (Col took me to the one at the Vaal, but could not get a babysitter for Brody, so she sat that one out. She had to miss the one in Germiston altogether.) I thought of them as good workouts, rather than as real competitions.

I did do something that was very important to my performance, though, and that was to have 3 inches cut off my hair so that my swim cap would fit better!

Colleen’s husband Ralph and his friend Chris are competing in the Cape Epic bike race in March (http://www.cape-epic.com/). They decided to come along with us to KwaZulu-Natal for the weekend. They planned to spend much of Saturday cycling, and then be our support team and Brody-sitters on Sunday during the swim race.

We decided that not all 4 adults, Brody, luggage and bikes could fit in the Mills’ car, so I also drove. Because we now had an extra car (and space), I asked my young friend, Lisa Glenn, to join us for the weekend. Lisa arrived in South Africa just a week and a half earlier. She has a Rotary International fellowship, and will be in Johannesburg for a year studying at the University of the Witwatersrand (otherwise known as Wits). Her parents live in Murfreesboro, and her father is a VP at Middle Tennessee State University, from which both my parents retired. She graduated from Birmingham Southern College last May. I met her when we were both in M’boro for Christmas, 2005. She is an exceptional young woman – bright, kind, fun -- and I’m going to enjoy having her in Jo’burg.

We stayed in the same house where we stayed last year, but Shona and Charles Mason were at their condo in Port Alfred. Johnson, the live-in gardener, let us into the house on Friday evening, and Dolly, the housekeeper, took care of us on Saturday. Ralph and Chris set out on their bikes after breakfast, and Colleen, Brody, Lisa and I spent a leisurely morning shopping at a nearby farmers’ market and then mall. We went back to the house for lunch, then Lisa and I drove down to Durban (about 20 minutes from Botha’s Hill, where the Masons live when they’re not in Jakarta) so Lisa could have a look around. We got out and walked around the old, ornate City Hall, then drove to the beach and walked out on a fishing pier to take a look at the Indian Ocean. We drove around the city a little bit more, then back to Botha’s Hill. We all had a nice dinner, and then sat through quite a spectacular thunderstorm. Some of the lightening strikes sounded frighteningly close, and we lost power in various parts of the house several times.

We had an early start the next morning because Col and I were scheduled to swim in the first event at 8.30 a.m. We were a little bit less rushed than last year, but not a whole lot.

The race was okay – neither of us drowned! But the weather was not so good. It was rainy and somewhat windy. I ended up swimming breaststroke much of the way. If I swam freestyle and turned my head to breathe, waves would break over my head and splash into my mouth, so I often didn’t get enough air while swimming freestyle. At least when swimming breaststroke, it’s a lot easier to dodge waves because you can see them coming!

Consequently, my time was slower than last year, but when the results were posted on the Web site, I discovered that my time wasn’t as bad as I’d thought. I had thought I’d swum about 10 minutes slower, but according to them, I was only 5 minutes slower. This year, Colleen finished before I did.

Category: 31-40; Finish time: 40:31; Position: 772; Category Position: 731; Gender Position: 164

Category: 41-50; Finish time: 43:03; Position: 960; Category Position: 918; Gender Position: 174.