I’m not really sure the difference between swimming 70 kilometers with multiple sclerosis vs swimming it without; either way it a really long swim. The training alone is exhausting. So much so that after writing part two of how to train for the swim I became so tired I was unable to write anymore.
I’ve done a lot of training since writing the 2 training blog entries. I swam 100 x 100 IM on 2 minutes without any 1 arm fly in February. I swam 100km in a week in Maui in March and I must have swum at least 250 x around Thetis Lake between May and July. I even managed to spend a bit of time playing in the waves of the English Channel as part of my preparation for my ultra-long swim.
All of this was going along swimmingly until August 5, less than 3 weeks before the swim, when I made a horrible rookie mistake. I was in Kauai for the Na Pali Challenge, a 60km outrigger canoe race along the Na Pali coast. My crew had been invited by a local canoe club to participate in a “cultural experience.” We were asked to help clear a mangrove the day after I arrived. Having no clue what a mangrove was or what the work entailed I happily jumped into the activity.
Clearing a mangrove involves sawing down a dense forest and then manually lifting and clearing the trees. Not the smartest activity for a group of people days away from racing a canoe for 60km. Definitely a dumb idea for someone who is 3 weeks away from a 70km swim.
As I lifted logs and dragged tree branches I could feel the strain on my shoulder. It wasn’t however my main concern. I was more preoccupied with the how the heat was impacting my MS. I made sure to hydrate and duck into the shade as often as I could.
After 2+ hours I was spent. Luckily so was everyone else. We packed it in and headed back to our condos to clean up before our afternoon paddle. There was very little sign at this point that I had significant damage to my left shoulder. It was sore and tired, but nothing out of the ordinary.
The Kaiola Canoe Club invited us into their waters at Nawiliwili Bay for an OC6 paddle. We headed out of the canoe club’s protective waters paddled at the mouth of the bay. The waves were big; larger than anything I had been in before. It was an incredible experience, but not one you would want to have last for a prolonged period of time, and it didn’t. We soon headed for the calmer waters of the Huleia Stream where we paddled for well over 90 minutes. It was there where I realized something was seriously wrong.
The next morning a woke-up with an incredible amount of pain in my left shoulder. I couldn’t lift my arm more than 20 degrees. My shoulder was done. There would be no paddling, no swimming.
In a strange twist of fate hurricane Isele was headed our way canceling the canoe race. Healing my shoulder became my priority. I did everything I could while on the little “garden-isle” but it wasn’t looking good. There was too much inflammation and too much pain. After several days I still couldn’t lift my arm. I began to prepare myself for the possibility that I would not be swimming on August 22nd & 23rd. I began to mentally divest myself.
Coming soon: 70km for MS: part 2 – mental gymnastics
Susan…having paddled at your side in Kaua’i and witnessing your pain and frustration after you realized you may have seriously injured yourself, I am filled with nothing short of awe at your mental and physical resilience.
Your determination and your faith in our own abilities (and lack of limitations) is inspiring.
I am honoured and proud to call you my friend.
Thanks Colin. It helps that I have incredibly supportive people around me who help take care of me
Thanks for sharing Susan! I do love to swim, and I do have MS…..I’ll likely be flying to western Canada (my son is at Quest University in Squamish) sometime around Christmas and the New Year…or even earlier around the weekend of Sept. 19.
I’d be interested if there are any particular events around then.
You’re very inspiring to all of us!!!
Susan Klein….in Rockville, MD
That’s fabulous Susan. Please let me know when you are in town. There may be a few swim meets that you may want to attend : )