I was too tired Sunday morning, from the previous 3 days, to get up and do a long run, but I was planning on swimming. Don and I talked about going to Lake Michigan, but after seeing the water temps (60 to low 60s) I said, no thanks. I didn't want to drive out there again just to swim. Neither of us had time to sit around on the beach, so it didn't make any sense to go and then find the water too cold to stay in for a decent swim.
Instead, we went to the IM group's favorite swimming hole, a township lake. Last year, one of our group, managed to sweet talk the township supervisor and got passes for up to 10 people to get in free all season. This year, must be a tight budget because no one was getting in for free. So it cost $3 per person. Without having a pool for a backup, the $3 was going to have to be paid.
We were the first to arrive, and while it was already after 2 pm, it was still a little cool. We got in to swim, with Don pointing waaaaay across the lake to a rock that we would swim to. Yeah, I could barely see the rock, but I figured I would follow him. Right off, the goggles leaked. This has been an ongoing problem, and switching to a different pair hasn't helped. I definitely am going to have to invest yet more money in new goggles again this year--the 5th pair--which I barely get any use out of before I have been having issues. So I needed to stop a few times to adjust, and in the meantime he gets away from me. I am okay on the swim, very comfortable, and even can manage with impaired vision. It does take a couple of seasons to not only get comfortable in the water--and that's with repetitive practice or races--but also get good at navigation, a fairly important issue in open water swimming. You would be dismayed at how many strokes it takes to correct a mistake! Anyway, I couldn't see much, but I could see the rock waaay across the lake, so I just headed for that. Don was probably 100 yards away from me, doing his own version of taking the shortcut maybe, but definitely not close to me. I figure I definitely took the long way around, since it seemed like it took forever to get to that rock. I still had several strokes to go to reach Don once he got to the rock. Time on the watch: 17:36. I figured that was good for probably a half mile, maybe less considering I did go off course some and my swimming isn't all that fast this year. Before we head back to shore, I ask how far across and Don says 3/4 a mile round trip. I hope not based on my time, because I am hoping I am not that slow this year.
It was really nice swimming over to the rock, nice to be finally getting in open water when not in a race (note: none before the two races two weeks ago). I really love open water swimming. Once you are comfortable, I am guessing you will too. There is just this freedom I can't explain, gliding along, with only the silence of the water around you. It was nice to stretch out, get a good stroke in, see how my arms really felt, whether I was tired, whether I was getting tired.
Coming back? Not so much fun. The sun was in my eyes, I was trying to follow Don, and the goggles still leaked, making me come up to sight way too often, swimming up along his feet, but not being able to draft, which broke up the swim, and made me feel choppy. Again, it seemed forever before reaching shore. Still, my arms were not tired, I was not tired, and I felt good. Time on watch: 16:xx. So I actually came back faster. Which really made me believe it was under a half mile then.
Then we could see a bunch of the other Iron athletes lounging on the beach, getting ready for their swim. I was thinking I was done; Don had said he didn't want to stay too long. Yet now he said he was going to do another loop. I tried to get out of it, complaining about the leaking goggles (which by the time I reached the first halfway point, they hurt the bridge of my nose so much from pushing them into my face to stop the leaks that my nose ached when I was done), but Deb came up with an extra pair. Okay then. Might as well get used to this all at once. And off we went.
I had no doubts in my mind that even with this group I would not be last, but I was surprised at the improvement of one of the swimmers, whom I could beat all last year on any distance. This year? Right up with the other Iron Athletes. So it took her about 5 years to really improve on her swim. And she has done 2 IMs. See, there's hope for anyone!
Once again, I had leaky goggle issues. I am starting to wonder if one side of my head has shrunken or something! No matter what I've done, I get leaking every time I turn my head to breathe. Since I only breathe on one side, it is always the left eye, the one I don't want to lose my contact out of.
On the way back from the second loop, two other swimmers joined us, for a total now of 7. Times $3 each, that's $21 right there for just getting wet!
So I got in a total of an hour+ of open water swimming, even picking up the pace on the last half of the second loop and feeling like I could hold that for a while. Had I actually been able to see the whole time, my navigation would have been better. I felt like I added a lot of unnecessary strokes getting across the lake. My right shoulder was starting to ache by the end, so it was good to stop when I did.
I would really like to get a few more of those swims in while the pool is down, and Cindy offfered to go out to Lake Michigan if I wanted to go. I don't feel the necessity to go all the way to Benton Harbor, but the Big Lake is always fun and presents a different challenge. Not as hard as ocean swimming, but you can get some rollers, its just about as cold, but not salty, so no buoyancy like in the ocean. But no salt crust after either!
So I'm feeling good about the swim.