I did my first relay race yesterday. The La Jolla Cove 10 Mile Relay Swim. What a trip.
You take a team of five (or one or two or ten, but we had five) and combined you swim 10 miles. It's weird having an hour and a half between heats. Gives you time to think a little.
The night before the race, I was at a party and someone asked me why I would go do that, swim two miles. The trite old answer is of course "because I can." As we talked a little, we got on to the fact that these races aren't cheap. The relay was $60 or so per person. Yes, some of it goes to charity, but my friend is also right when he says we could just get five people and go swim the ten miles for free. You don't even have to pay to park in La Jolla.
This is where I got stuck. Yes, we could do it for free. We know we aren't going to win or anything. We're not competing, if that's the way you want to look at it. We are competing, we're racing after all, but we're competing against ourselves. the fact of the matter is, once you realize that you can do something like go swim a mile in the open ocean, the thought of not doing it becomes harder to swallow. In other words, you do it because you can do it. The fact that you get to give something back with the charity aspect is just gravy, as is the competitive element. You're not out there to win, but someone is.
Someone is trying to win the race. Someone else is trying to prove that they can, in fact, swim the mile, or get past a crippling fear of kelp. Some of us are just doing it to get together, be outside and get some exercise. Spending time with people who think at least a little like we do.
Why do we do it? It's fun. Simple.
Oh, and by the way, I swam my miles in 27:26 and 28:10, respectively.