Wow I need to get going...WEEK 18? I spent Saturday in Tahoe swimming 250 yards in 39 degree water. Kinda crazy, kinda fun, but maybe not enough fun to do it again. The entry into the water is over slippery rocks which is tough, and once you commit and put your head in, the cold sucks all of the air out of your lungs and the cold water compresses them so that, in your panic, you can't seem to take a breath. As my friend Bryce says, "I have to keep reminding myself to breath out because the cold makes you keep sucking in air when there is no room left". The way out was miserable; I tried backstroke, breaststroke and stopping, but could not get a breath. My goggles fogged up and I found myself swimming into one of the support boats. Once I stopped to avoid it I realized that I was quite far off course. I'm sure they were worried that I was hypothermic and delusional, but I was just slow witted from the cold. I found the buoy, and made it around. The swim back was not bad at all. It was almost, almost a normal swim. I found my rhythm and my stroke and even could breath every once in a while. But by then my hands and feet were on fire. Then it's back over the slippery, sharp rocks again with your frozen feet not responding, it was a show of 'grace and beauty' and bright red bodies flopping out of the water to the cheers of an unbelieving crowd. All in all a ridiculous experience. About 50 men and women went into the water, but only about 25 made the distance. For me, I know it was the coldest that I have ever been, because it was the first time that I my teeth chattered and that I shivered. It is a weird event because the swimmers are the entertainment for the bar crowd. It is "Winter Fest" and the Polar Bear Swim at Garwoods is one of the events around the lake. The best part of the weekend was that we were a group of South End friends celebrating our crazy love of cold water swimming.
I would like to get back on track, this sidestep in my trajectory didn't seem worth the missed training in the Bay. I want to do some long swims, NOW. I know I will. I have a "plan" and it is moving steadily forward, but I am frustrated. Time seems to move both too slowly and too fast. And I am still coughing enough to make people uncomfortable around me and to interrupt my sleep every night. That is getting old. I know that I will be less cranky once I start sleeping through the night again.
I joined a gym last week which is a good thing. I am planning on going there twice a week to work on strength training and maybe one "spin class" if I can make the schedule work. I am surprised that I don't feel very fit even though I swim six days a week. I used to run as well, and that somehow made me feel a bit more in shape and stronger. But the running is off for a while so I need to use the bike and the weights. I know that I can do the Gibraltar swim, but I seem to want something more out of all of this training than just that. I am feeling a little lost at the moment, a bit off kilter and rudderless, but these feeling usually pass. And I haven't swum in the Bay for over three weekends (and the two weeks in between) so I know that I will be rejuvenated and recommitted once I get back to the Bay.
I hope to be in a better mood the next time I sit down to say hi.