Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Fortitude Test #3

It has to be done. I have to become one with the cold water. I mean seriously...what kind of nemisis is that? Cold water...sheesh! So lame.

More importantly, I have to get it squared away before Ironman CdA because guess what folks...that water is CO-OLD! Last year's water temps? Somewhere between 55-58 degrees. No, that is not a typo. HOLY CRAP! BRRRRRRR!!!!

So, first of all, I invested in a full-sleeve wetsuit. Hell, if they had a full body one that was legal, I'd take it. But I have to tell you, the difference of just having your arms covered is phenomenal!! Light years in difference I feel. Could be just cognitive dissonance -- but I don't care -- as long as it works!

Up until today, for this training season, I've been in Barton Springs twice in my new wetsuit and it wasn't too terrible. But now that BS is closed for 3 weeks for cleaning, we had to take our open water swimming party elsewhere.

Off to the Quarry Lake at Pure Austin we go...ugh. You know it is bad when you check in at the front and the guys said to us "You're swimming in the quarry today?" in incredulous disbelief. Dude, I'm thinking the same thing. What the hell are we doing?

But our intrepid posse of Ironmen and IronmenWannabes -- Alison, Shawnda, Vegas, Alisa, Tom, Jerry and I -- made our way down to the lake.

Save the ducks...there was no one in the water. OF COURSE NOT! IT IS TOO FREAKIN' COLD!!!

We get onto the dock and suit up. And my internal conversation begins:

D: What are we doing here? Is this REALLY necessary?
IMWBD: Yes, it is necessary. Get the damn wetsuit on already.
D: ok, ok

The rest of the group does the polar bear thing and just leap of the dock into the water. Of course the come up sputtering, gasping for air as the cold water sends their airways into complete shock. I'm standing on the dock...just watching...and conversing...

D: You see that? Ridiculous...I'm not going in..
IMWBD: Yes, you know the drill...let's move it.
D: But...
D: Shit.

I sit on the edge of the dock and dangle my bare feet in the water. YIKES...that IS cold! Ugh. I swish them around back and forth, just getting a feel for the temps. Meanwhile Alison and Tom take off with a couple strokes.. I yell after them..."WAIT..don't go yet!" They paddle and stop and swear at how freakin' cold the water is. F-bombs are flying all over the place from everyone (except for Jerry of course).

IMWBD: Phase II -- get some water on your face, girl.
D: ok, ok

I lean over and scoop up some water and splash it over my face. Brrr...that will wake you up for sure. I do this a couple more times so my hands and face get used to the temps.

IMWBD: Phase III -- down the suit sister.
D: ugh.

I cup some water in my hands and let it fall down the back of my neck. I can feel it sliding underneath my wetsuit...chilling my spine as it trickles down. A couple more times of this and I'm ready for the next step.

IMWBD: Get in.
D: June is really far we have to do this now?
IMWBD: Get in.
D: Seriously?
IMWBD: Seriously.
D: ok. crap. shit. F*CK!

I ease off into the dock and slip in the water without letting my head go under. Instantly the water seeps in through the zipper and the edges of the suit...not alot...but enough to feel the coldness. But guess what...not so shocking...hmmm...ok...good.

IMWBD: Final step. Face in the water.
D: Ugh.

Just then, Tom comes paddling back over. He has this look on his face like he doesn't want to do this either. We debate getting out..but as we see everybody else starting to swim off (note: some swimming head out of the water style still!!)...we decide to be lemmings and go with the flow.


So I start breaststroking forward...but not putting my face in.

IMWBD: Um...this isn't quite the swimming we are supposed to be doing.
D: I know! I just need another minute
IMWBD: STFU and put your damn face in the water.

So, I take another breaststroke and put just my chin in the water as I move forward. Out and grab a breath. Next stroke, I put my face in so that the water line is just under my nose. Out and grab a breath.

IMWBD: dunk under. I won't be that badl
D: yes, it will.
IMWBD: LOOK! Everyone else is swimming and they are not dying...just do it.
D: ok, OK!

Another breaststroke, face all the way in the water this time. Out and grab a breath.

D: Hey! I did it!
IMWBD: Nice. Now quit being a dork and swim.

Touch, pull, roll....Touch, pull, roll...breathe...Touch, pull, roll.....touch, pull, roll...breathe. And I'm swimming! YAY!

I look up and the rest of the group has already rounded the first for Shawnda, who needed some additional encouragement to put her face in the water and swim. I yell over, "One stroke at a time....just one stroke at a time!"

My hands and feet are pretty numb in the water, but I try to focus on other things.
1. Catch up to the group
2. Watch out for snakes
3. Don't forget to roll
4. I wish I knew how to kick when I swim, then maybe my feet would have some blood flow and get warmer
5. EEEEEK! What was that? A snake???? Oh, just a duck. phew.
6. Damn..someone remind me to take my rings off...this cold water is shrinking my fingers and they are sliding all over the place...I do NOT want to lose these in here...
7. I wish I knew how to draft when swimming..that seems like a good skill to have for this sport...

By turn 3, I had made up ground on most the folks (except for speedy Tom of course) and actually felt like an athlete again.

When I got back to the dock, I stopped for a second and looked longingly at the dock.
D: Well, I accomplished my main goal for today.
IMWBD: And that was...
D: To get in this damn water and swim
IMBWD: But your workout is supposed to be...
D: shush

And then Tom chimes in, "Don't even think about it...just keep going." Damn it. Alright. Lap 2, here we go. Tom took off and I figured I'd just use him to sight since I certainly wasn't keeping up with him. But I would look up to sight and would have to scan right and left of the line we were *supposed* to be on to find him....the boy was zig zagging all over...dang it. That plan is out. So I picked a point on the shore and just swam for it.

Lap 2. Check. At this point, Alison is out on the doc getting ready for yoga. Tom debates back and forth about going the next lap. He decides he really wants to do the yoga class and we did actually swim in the frigid water so that was a good workout, right? Right! I agree.

Just then Vegas pulls up and says "Aren't you guys doing a third lap?" I hem and haw.."well, we" Vegas responds, "The workout says 3 laps, right?" Jerry throws his hat in, "I'm in for 3." Well, dammit. Of course I'll go around again.

"Damn you, Vegas. DAMN YOU!" And with that I set off for the 3rd lap.

Afterwards I felt pretty damn good. It was some serious cold water and I got in and I swam. And I swam the whole workout. I may just be able to do this Ironman thing afterall!

Of course, now the real question that I know how cold it is...will I be able to convince myself to get in again and experience the appendage numbing greatness???? Stay tuned.....


holly said...

Good Job!!!

I hate cold water, too. Absolutely hate it. I don't even like Deep Eddy in the summer.

Good job doing that you hate. Sometimes it's hard to push our limits, but always feel so good after we do.

Priscilla said...

Did you really say SNAKE? As in the long, slimy, scaly things that BITE???

Christina Barkley said...

Just stumbled across your blog online (via other tri-folks' blogs) and so glad I did today!
I also do triathlons n' such - in & around the Austin area & I have seen your face out there. Most recently, it was on the podium next to my friend, Laura McGarraugh (at Jack's Generic, I believe).
Anyway - this entry is awesome!
It seriously had me ROFL!
I can empathize about the cold water, too. I haven't gotten in yet this season, but started last year in March in Lake Travis (yes, in a full-length suit) & it just about killed me every time!
Will be getting in shortly, though, as I'm doing the 1/2 Iron in Galveston.
Ultimately, doing IMFlorida in Nov of '09, too - so I really can identify with your "fortitude tests"!
Thanks for sharing & keep on writing! I'll be back to read more!