This is my next to last weekend before we head to Dover. I can't quite get my head around the fact that my channel tide is less than a month away. When I started this journey in January of 2013, it seemed so far away -- couldn't even imagine the shoreline, so to speak.
For what seems like the hundreth time, I waded into Branched Oak Lake on Saturday. It's become a good friend. I know every point and buoy around its perimeter. I see the same folks in boats, often asking how long I'm swimming today. It's my Mayberry.
I planned on 6 hours for Saturday and my friend Rodney took the first 3-hour shift. The water seemed unusually warm -- 75f according to my thermometer. But, it felt OK. Sure beats shivering after 10 minutes.
Rodney and I paddled and swam under a gorgeous summer morning sky. The water was completely flat - a very rare phenomenon. Things felt good and I was humming along at my fastest rate yet, according to my Endomondo tracker.
We wandered a little too far into the north end of the lake, but it was no big deal. Nothing to do but swim for 6 hours, so the route doesn't much matter. When we crossed the lake to get back to the beach at Area 1, I was surprised that the lake was still so smooth. We both stopped a bit to check out a helicopter that was carrying a fire bucket. Not sure why - must have been a drill.
Paul took over kayak duty at the beach while I meandered between the buoys. My shoulders, especially the left one, were beginning to bother me. And my head was completely stuffed up. There must be a lot more algae in the water. I had to blow out the snot block every once and awhile. Conveniently, there's plenty of water to wash up with.
When we got to the north side of the lake, a young guy on a paddle board came over and asked if I was training for something. I told him I was training for the English Channel and would be heading over in a couple of weeks. He said, "That's you. I heard you were training for that. That's incredible." I'm sure not doing this for any kind of fame, but it's nice to know that people care.
I had thought about putting in 7 hours, but at about 5 and a half, my left shoulder was killing me and my head was about to explode from the sinus pressure. So, we stuck to the plan and completed the 3-hour loop as intended. My tummy was feeling pretty gross, too. As we crossed the lake to get back to the beach, the water was like a washing machine from all the boat traffic. I mention these things because they were going on, but really, it's par for the course in long open water swims. Some swims are better than others. This one was one of the others and it's OK. Just keep swimming. I waded out at 6 hours, 25 minutes. Blew a gallon of lake water out of my nose then sneezed incessantly for about 10 minutes. Very weird.
I took 2 sudefed, 2 ibuprofen and a benadryl, which finally cleared out my head after about an hour and a half. Don't do this at home, kids.
I had planned to swim 3 hours at the lake again today, but it was raining and the forecast predicted storms. So, I texted Michaella to see if she'd be available for coffee chat instead of kayaking, which she was. I picked up a coffee for me and some kind of fru fru iced toddy thing with 8 ingredients for her and enjoyed sitting in her beautiful screened in porch, catching up on each other's lives. I will always be grateful that we became friends at Madonna and have stayed friends since she left to become the marketing maven for the Lincoln Children's Museum. Everything is better when shared with good friends.
Oh, and after the chat, I sat in an ice bath for a half hour and swam at the Y for 3 hours and 10,000 yards. After the first few hundred yards to work out the kinks, it felt pretty good. I forgot to bring any Gatorade or carbo drink - doh! But, that's probably good for training. I have plenty of padding to keep me going. Afterwards, I rewarded myself with a delicious bowl of pho. Mmmmmmmmm.