I woke up at 4:30am and met my buddy Beth for a 25 mile ride. This is the same 25 miler I usually do, with about 6 miles of good climbing (2 of which is 9% grade, at least that is what the sign says).
This woman is an animal, we were back in an hour and a half, and she has a hybrid bike, no clips (just pedals and sneakers), no aerobar, and one hell of a motor. She caught me on the climb and left me in the dust. I had her on the flats and the downhills. I want to get her on a road bike so she can blow my doors off on the flats and I have someone to chase.
Then, ofcourse, work. But I had a great lunch break.
Beth had the day off and she offered to kayak so I could swim a longish swim at my local pool (Wyman Lake). I planned on swimming after work but this was something that just seemed to work out so I went with it.
I am figuring the only way I am going to be able to work on swim speed is to do fartlek work in the lake. There is no way I am driving 75 minutes to be immersed in chlorine staring at the mind-numbing line when I could drive 3 minutes and be swimming in fresh clean water looking into the darkness with loons watching over me.
Anyway, we got there and the wind was blowing something fierce. It was cool because really, it was gusting, so it would be calm, and then this big burst of wind would come and there would be whitecaps. Beth asked, “Is this a good idea?”
I ofcourse, thought it was a brilliant idea.
I also noticed that the water looked a bit higher than normal. Wyman Lake is really the Kennebec River, and where I swim there is always a light current, except when they release water from the dam upstream, and then there is…a little more current. How is that for an exact science? I just usually know when I have to swim at a bit of an angle to get across.
I donned my wetsuit and Beth got into her kayak. I pointed to the triangle course I had planned out for myself (that would be planned out in my little head, I didn’t take the time to measure it or anything drastic like that).
I jumped in, took a few strokes, and the wind started gusting. Beth couldn’t even get to me. The wind was blowing downstream, and I was swimming across the lake, so bi-lateral breathing wasn’t really working. Plus the current was pushing me downstream, so I had to swim at an angle.
You probably are guessing that I said the heck with the fartlek. Just swim.
When the gusts would settle, Beth would catch up to me and I could swim pretty comfortably. This was repeated across the lake.
See, this is when I realize there is probably really something wrong with me. Because I was having fun battling the waves, adjusting to what was happening as I was being thrown around. I must have been dropped on my head a few times as a kid or something, because when the elements get hard, I like to dig in.
Arriving at the other side of the lake, feeling like a champ, I pointed north and told Beth I wanted to swim to the point.
“OK. You know that is upstream, directly into the wind, right?”
Yeah, I did. But really, it wasn’t terrible current. And it was gusting, not blowing constantly, so the whitecaps were only out there sometimes. I told her it was good practice in case there is wind on race day. She shrugged and agreed.
This is where I need to point out something. You know you have a good friend when she is willing to get up at 4:30 am to ride 25 miles with you ON HER DAY OFF (she is not training for any race in particular) AND THEN later on the same DAY OFF paddle upstream into the wind as a safety boat on a ridiculously windy day.
I am apparently not so great a friend. I fought my way to the point, and that is when we both realized Beth didn’t have a life jacket. Oops. That would be my bad, I told her I had everything she needed. I did, the life jacket is here at my house. We actually have a plethora of them being raft guides and all.
This is totally where these stories that you read about come from. “Two women found dead in Wyman Lake. One, a licensed whitewater guide, appeared to be attempting to swim across the lake in a windstorm, the other, apparently there for safety, did not have a life jacket.”
I mentioned this to Beth, we both laughed, and she promised not to tip over. She never breaks her promises so I felt pretty good about this. Plus, we both had to get back to the truck somehow.
I was a hero on the way back to the boat launch. I had the wind pushing me, the current pushing me, I wasn’t fighting nearly as much, and I just flew. I felt I my catch was much improved on the way back, but it could have been the fact I had a
little lot of help. It was pretty cool and a good ego boost.
Total swim (I measured it later): .9 miles in 43 minutes (consider the current and wind help at the end). Not bad for the battling I did, I am OK with it and have a benchmark to work to improve upon now. I even had time for a snack and a shower before I had to work again.