The other week, while walking the hills of Sausalito with my Aunt and Uncle, I asked my Uncle what he would say to his twenty-five year-old self if he could go back and give himself any piece of advice. Without skipping a beat, he said:
Do it while you can.
Don’t wait for the fun stuff, he said. Don’t wait or put off anything that you “might want to do someday.” The someday is now. You’re only young once, and most opportunities are only put in front of you once. This, from a guy who ran a 100-mile race and then proposed to my Aunt. From an original Centipede in the Bay-to-Breakers challenge. From an ultra-runner before ultra-running was cool.
I’ve been taking my Uncle’s advice a lot lately – from a triathlon to a half marathon to a whole bunch of open water swimming – and I find the more I do, the more excited I get about life. I don’t have time to watch much TV. I’m pretty tired by the end of each day – but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Water (and swimming!) are near and dear to my heart. I wanted to share with you some of the images and stories from our latest adventure – a 9-mile trans-bay relay swim across the San Francisco Bay. For readers not from the Bay Area, we started at the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge, and swam across the Bay, past Alcatraz, past Treasure Island, and on over to the Emeryville Marina.
The swim across the bay: the route
We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful morning of swimming out on the Bay. The weather predicted rain, but other than a short drizzle early in the morning at 5am, the rain let up and the wind stopped for the 3.5 hours we were out in the water swimming. I drove my car down the 101 across the Golden Gate to pick up my teammates – stopping in various places in the city along the way, coalescing a group of people into one car. We were a pile of wetsuits and boots and mittens and parkas and gloves – just the normal fair for people about to jump into 60-degree ocean water.
Our team converged at the dock of Pier 39, near Fisherman’s Wharf. At 6am on a Sunday morning, the wharf is dead silent, with no tourists or people in sight. We met our boat captain at the dock, loaded up onto the boat, and took off for the Golden Gate Bridge. We left the docks at 6:50 am, and the sunrise was at 6:55am. As we turned around and readied our sleepy-eyes for the swim, we saw an unbelievable sunrise peering up at us over the Bay Bridge.
The beautiful morning sunrise over the Bay Bridge
Looking back at the San Francisco city skyline.
Beautiful open water conditions.
The swim started at 7:30am – with some minor delays from a sailboat that couldn’t catch wind, and therefore, was late to the start. There were 7 teams from around the Bay Area, with 2 individuals embarking on solo swims (for the entire 9 miles!). At the start, my mom, my brother and sister, and my aunt and uncle (up early on another walk!) were out, cheering for our team. After the horn started and we sent the first swimmer off, our team swam the relay in 20-minute segments, with a new swimmer jumping off the front end of the boat at the change, and the previous swimmer grabbing alongside the boat and getting hauled back up.
The start of the swim – taking off! I’m the tiny yellow dot on the right-hand side.
The swim took us a total of 3 hours and ten minutes. My teammates were phenomenal, wonderful people to swim with. If there’s something I love, it’s being around people who love what they are doing – and my teammates love swimming. We didn’t all know each other at the start of the race, but by the end of the 3.5 hour boat ride adventure together, we definitely shared a lot of great laughs and stories.
Nearing the end of the finish, the four of us jumped off the boat and swam into the finish line together. One trans-bay swim, completed. As a team, we raised $1200 for the BayKeeper, a local San Francisco organization that works to keep the bay clean. We also had a lot of fun :)
Almost at the finish line!
My amazing teammates – members of the San Francisco Triathlon Club
Don’t wait for tomorrow if you can do it today. Embrace every adventure. In the words of my Uncle:
Do it while you can.