Thursday, April 24, 2014

Delight, Disappointment and Decisions

This week of swimming was worth a double semi trailer stuffed with happy, positive superlatives. If a car was driving behind it, the driver would have to flip on the windshield wipers to clear the notes --" fantastic" "glorious" "amazing" "fanfreakingtastic" and such.

Swimmers and scooterists are incredibly kind, funny, friendly and, when needed, total badasses. I picked a couple of great hobbies or obsessions depending on who you talk to.

But, despite days of swimming in water about 60 degrees in La Jolla and 56 here in San Francisco, I wasnt able to complete my 6 hour qualifying swim. I made it just shy of 2 hours. On the bright side, thats more than double the 45 minute swims Id been doing to that point. Lynn, my kayaker, was great support.  She kept me going with her gentle cheering (in her own way) but the cold was even meaner. They say that no one ever drowned while shivering but I wasnt willing to take the chance.

I was relieved to get out of the water but in tears that I couldnt make the swim. Yup. Cried like a 3rd grader who spelled "catasrofee" at a spelling bee.

So now I have to figure some things out. I can keep training and swim in Branched Oak constantly until it gets too warm (over 60) and gain a few more pounds and try to nail the qualifying swim in a couple weeks. Or I can organize a relay in place of my solo crossing.

I'm going to keep swimming in the lake and see how my cold tolerance improves before making a final decision. I absolutely love swimming. Unfortunately I hate the cold about as much.

I'll post more details about the trip with photos when I get home. THANK YOU for the well wishes!  You have no idea how much I appreciate the WARM thoughts!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Go Jump in a Lake

Nebraska weather gave us a break this weekend and I was able to get in a few short swims at Branched Oak Lake. I scootered there after work on Friday and met Paul, who rode his new motorcycle. I didn't go far for my first dip. The cold water rattled my brain. The pinprick of 53 degree water on your face feels like what I imagine a facial tattoo session would feel like. I swam around for 20 minutes then sloshed onto shore and shivered for a good 20 minutes. I needed to get the shivers out before I could get on my scooter to ride home. I didn't anticipate the showers being locked. Doh!

Saturday was perfect for swimming - about 70 degrees and sunshine. The water felt even a little colder than it did on Friday or maybe I just conveniently blocked the chill out of my mind. Getting in is the worst. Once I got in and swam for about 5 minutes, the core started doing its lifesaving maneuver, keeping all the warmth around the heart and letting the hands and feet fend for themselves.

I wanted to try to swim the mile lap to the point and back, which I've swum dozens of times, but never in water this cold. I felt a lot more secure having Paul in the kayak. At least he could tell authorities where I went down. 

After about 10 minutes, I didn't notice the cold nearly as much, although I can't say I felt "fine." It was still freaking frigid, just not as shocking.

At the turn-around point, Paul handed me a thermos of warm peppermint tea and CarboPro. It was fantastic! It made a huge difference to get  a warm drink instead of a cold or room temp drink. I'll have to figure out how to arrange for warm feeds during my qualifying swim in San Francisco next week.

The swim back was good, but just as I was getting close to the beach, my hands and feet REALLY started freezing. My left hand became the "claw" and I was sifting water through it every stroke. Just as I made it to the beach I was joined by Alberta, a swimmer from Fremont who connect with me through DYST. I turned around to join her for a little more swimming, but was too cold at that point to swim for much longer.

It took a good 45 minutes of shivering to get over the cold. Alberta went in for another swim while I was shaking in my sweatpants and hoodie. I was amazed at how well she did considering she hasn't had any cold acclimation yet. The girl is one tough cookie.

Paul and I had our sack lunches of pbj's and kettle chips and cocoa. And then it was time to go back in again. I - did - NOT - want - to -go.

This is where it's helpful to have your spouse as your kayaker. I knew there were other things Paul would rather be doing that afternoon, so I felt obligated to make the trip worth his time. I think it's harder getting back in after a short break because your brain knows what to expect. It hasn't had the luxury of "forgetting" after a good night's sleep.

This time, I did breaststroke for a little while and dunked my head a few times before getting down to freestyle. It helped with the face and brain freeze a little bit.

The second mile went faster than the first. We forgot to bring my thermos, so I just turned around at the point and headed back. 

These were short swims but a big victory for me. I feel more confident about getting used to cold water. I just need more practice, which I'll get EVERY DAY next week. Yippy Ki Yay!!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

So Anne Cleveland was right (of course!), it didn't wipe out 14 months of training to sit out of the water for 4 days. I got over my cold and felt great when I did my Friday workout. That's very reassuring :-)

I'm just 2 weeks away from Cali Distance Week training and 6-hour qualifier. It's not really an organized clinic - but, hey, I'm a marketer, so the week must be branded! I haven't been doing as much cold water acclimation as I should. It's oh-so-easy to be "too busy" to fit in a half hour cold bath. I'm making it a written goal to get in 5 cold baths this week and next. 

Actually, I may be able to skip a couple of those baths next weekend. The weather is warming up and is supposed to hit 70 on Saturday. I'm heading to Branched Oak Lake! I'll see if I can get one of those wetsuit-wearing triathletes to join me. I doubt I'll be out there long enough to need kayak support, but I'll see if Paul would be up for that. 

Gotta go. I have weights, a cold bath and a 10K swim to get done today.