Every year in San Francisco there is a running event from downtown to Ocean Beach, called the Bay To Breakers, as races go it is known more for the crazy costumes and revelry than serious athletic endeavor, but it is one of the major events on the San Francisco calendar. I’ve never run the Bay to Breakers in the 15+ years I have lived here, but when I joined the South End Rowing Club back in 2010 I discovered their own version of the event, a swim from the Bay Bridge to Ocean Beach, and I knew I wanted to do that one day.
In the intervening years the barrier to accomplishing that goal has always been lack of confidence in my ability to handle the cold water of San Francisco Bay for the required amount of time. My longest Bay swims to date had been ~2 hours, but due to the unseasonably warm water we had in 2014 they were at around 60F or warmer. In contrast a Bay To Breakers swim was more likely to be in the mid 50’s and also closer to 3 hours.