The alarm went off.
I looked outside, it was pouring rain.
Crap. This has been a wet spring/early summer.
Not that I am complaining – there are places in the US right now that are in obnoxious heat and fires and wind and tornadoes and other crazy things.
But still, this is my situation. I need to either ride for 2 hours in the rain dodging log trucks who can hardly see me OR I can drive to the lake and do an early morning swim.
I looked at my bike. At my wetsuit.
My give a shit for either sport at this point in the day was pretty much nil.
I ate some almond butter while I delayed a decision. At this point it is almost 5 and I need to shit or get off the pot with this workout.
Swim I decide.
I get into my truck and make the drive up the Pleasant Pond Road, slowing to let a moose cross my path on the way up. Laughing at his gangly gait, I continued up the hill to the parking area.
The rain had receded to a dull mist. Pleasant Pond was completely still and silent. Glassy and flat, with white wisps of fog rising from its surface, it almost looked inviting.
Except it is a spring-fed pond and rarely warms up beyond 65 degrees. That part didn’t sound so inviting.
After pulling on my wetsuit, I reluctantly got into the water. Feeling the cold slowly seep into the suit, I shivered a little…and the sky opened up.
Buckets of rain fell.
There I am, at 5 in the morning, standing there up to my waist in the notoriously frigid Pleasant Pond in a screaming downpour.
No wonder people think I am crazy.
I stroked my way along my personally mapped course. It was a weird contradiction – the cheery emerald-green water twinkling below me, the sky sobbing above me.
At the turn around, it was still pouring. I looked around and came face to face with a loon.
Well not quite face to face, but anyway, we were looking at each other, and we were pretty close. I could see his reddish eye and his sharp wet black beak and the black and white checkered looking ring around his (or her) neck.
“Hey buddy” I said.
He (or she) sat there for a moment looking at me before diving under water, disappearing for what seemed an eternity before popping up somewhere out in the middle of the lake and making its distinct, lonely call. I heard a second call somewhere in the distance, presumably it was the loon’s partner.
I swam slowly back to the dock, not thinking about anything in particular.
It struck me then, that I was so thankful for Ironman, because without it I would not have even considered swimming at 5am in cold crystal clear water on a horribly rainy day, I would not have had the chance to swim in the company of loons.
I would have probably set limits on myself, instead of pushed them.
I walked out of the water, feeling pretty good about the day ahead.