Monday, June 15, 2009

An interesting day today.  I have done one open water "swim" this season -- in "quotes" because it was more like a little paddle 'round more than a swim.  Tom had watched me from the shore, which seemed a little silly when I found there was quite a lot of area where the water was only a few feet deep.  This finding has allowed me to quite confidently head out for solo open water swimming, stay-close-to-the-shore style.  Today was my first time!

Being the gadget freak that I am, I was completely intrigued with the idea of swimming with Gary the Garmin the moment I read this.  I followed the instructions pretty faithfully, though I substituted ALOKSAC for the ziploc, as suggested by Tom.  It worked great.

Before any of that could happen, though, I had to learn a few lessons.

1. PRIOR to the first solo swim, it is probably a great idea to practice zipping the wetsuit up -- somewhere other than in public.  It is *not* an easy task.  I think it took me no less than 10 minutes to zip that thing up, hopping and bending and contorting all over the picnic table.  I'm sure it was quite entertaining -- I laughed most of the way through it (not for the last time).  Finally, after a calculated series of shoulder-shrugs, spinal wiggles and strategic breath-holding, I got it closed, then learned another essential thing about swimming in the cold lake:

2.  Do it sloooowly.  I found that by spending 5 minutes just hanging around in the water, occasionally dipping my face in the water, and just floating now and then, getting my ears wet and such, went a long way towards eliminating the physical panic that has accompanied the few open swims I have done.  

After all of this, plus the additional comedy of trying to figure the right placement of Gary on my head (which I did drop in the water once (though in its protective bag) while trying to figure out just which button I had pressed in error)  I did get to some swimming.  Yeah, it's way different than in the pool.  At the end, Gary said I swam .77 miles, which seems a little much . . . I think I spent a considerable amount of that distance walking around, or just swimming easily.  Nonetheless, it was a successful first solo swim.  Here's my Ascent track from the Garmin:

You can see right in the middle of the track where I had to cross a little spit of beach; my swim on the right side of the track was probably my favorite part.  Not part of Donner Lake proper, it's a reasonably long channel of water that is like a river, but without any real discernible current, that eventually leads to a damn and then into a typical stream.  I really enjoyed swimming here 'cause it felt like I was swimming through some kind of jungle (albeit one lined with pine trees).  At first, I totally freaked myself out, because the water was a little murky and quite a few feet deeper than where I had been swimming, and despite my relatively cool head I was busy imagining all kinds of things ready to attack me -- snakes, sharks, giant squid and the like.  I was giggling like crazy, so much so that I had to stop and tread water on numerous occasions, just so I could laugh nervously.  Anyone passing by on the nearby walking trail must have thought I was nuts.  As I continued down the channel, I mellowed out a bit and began to enjoy the water plants and little fishes that were visible on the bottom.  At one point, one of these water plants was long enough to brush my chest and face, leading to a full underwater scream and considerably more nervous laughter.  

The whole swim was hugely enjoyable, and I look forward to getting out there some more, and exploring that channel even further.

The start point for this swim is about 3/4 a mile from where I parked, so I loaded up a daypack with the necessary items for the swim, ran to the start point, swam, ran back to the car and dropped off what I didn't need, then continued on for another 3 miles or so.  I did another 4 hill repeats on a steeper hill (one that I will have to conquer during the DLT).  Well, the first half of the hill, anyways.  I think I might spend another run or two working on that first half, and then try to repeat the whole hill.  

All in all, a good day of preparation.  I have a date on Wednesday with J to do most if not all of the bike portion of the DLT.  This includes that dreaded 3 mile/1200' climb.  I wonder if the riding I have done since the last time will result in any noticeable gain?

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