Wednesday September 29th
Air Temperature 64
Water Temperature 62-63 F
Location: Green River Reservior, VT
Overcast skies with breaks in the clouds to let the sun make a brief apperarance and trees sporting stunning red leaves were our backdrop today, “do you think this is peak folliage?” I ask Cara on the way to the reservior, it is beautiful out today, a strong breeze is blowing and it is warmer than in recent days, 70 degrees when we left Stowe, true to form it drops 6 degrees by the time we get to the boat launch, it is always 6-7 degrees colder at the reservoir, I have come to expect it. We load the kayak up with paddle, life jacket, rescue tube, thermos of tea and my feed bottle, a light load today as we are planning only a 1.5 hour swim.
Time to drop in the trusty turtle thermometer to get a temperature check, “oh wise one tell me if I will have popsicle toes today” I think to myself as I drop the little guy in for his swim, 60 seconds later he is ready to spill the beans, I pick him up and study the readings, 63 degrees shoreline, the temperature drops as I get into the middle of the lake I am expecting to swim in 61-63 degrees today.
Cara surveys the conditions, “calm in the inlet, midlake we will have rougher water”, wise Cara she calls it that is how our swim plays out.
Cara paddles out and waits patiently for me to put in my earplus, swim cap on and goggles, then I inch slowly into the water, ” think warm blanket, think warm blanket” I repeat to myself in my head, I take the plunge and once again my skin is pounded by the cold, it is like I am being thumped by a thousand fists all over my body…” warm blanket, warm blanket, I am wrapped in a warm blanket” I command my brain to listen, a few hundred meters of fast strokes and I settle down. Today like the 10km race on Sunday I instantly fall into my forever stroke, my “performance zone”, I feel good, even comfortable, my only issue is water swishing around in my goggles( right eye only) and some weird cramp feeling in my right heel, it is the 3rd time I have felt the heel cramp swimming and it is weird, like a stabbing pain in my heel that renders my right leg unwilling to kick.
The good news is my core is warm and my stroke feels strong and relaxed, time to address my issues, I make a mental decision to ignore the foot cramp and the goggles, besides I can’t stop for another 25 minutes or so so may as well get over it now. I focus on how good my arms feel and notice how my back is not cold, done….I forget about my issues, they are out of sight out of mind.
Cara asked if I would like to swim to Picnic Island today, we have been avoiding it for the last few weeks as it is a little over a 3 mile round trip and a long trip back to the boat launch if I have the need to stop swimming for any reason. I jump at the chance ” yes I love picnic island” and I do it is my favourite swim in the reservior, I know every tree line on the way down and back, I know where it gets shallow and deep, where the water chops up and where the cold water springs make the water temperature drop, I know it like the back of my hand and I am beside myself with excitement to take one last trip to picnic island this year and check out the fall colors while I go.
The first 30 minutes is fast, we are nearly to the Island in just 30 minutes, it usually takes me 40 minutes, an increase in my swim speed often happens to me after racing and today is no exception. I practice gulping my feed, the reservior drinks more than I do and I am off again, around the island, we are on the return leg of the picnic island loop and swimming into the wind, this makes the water choppy and erratic, every stroke I am pulling hard, I am curious to know where I am, I lift my head higher than usual to breath to get a look at the tree line, darn too far out to see, I try again to get my bearings and resign to the fact that I am not going to leaf peep today, sigh.
We stop for feed # 2, one hour, ” we are going around bluberry Island” Cara announces, I feed and I resume swimming, ” sneaky little toad adding in extra distance” I think to myself, I wasn’t planning on that, well played Cara” I think to myself as I continue to swim while working on changing the messages I had been sending to my brain about being on the way back to the boat launch, new message brain,” it is not time to go in we have another island to go around, round that and then it is time to cruise in”, I am feeling relaxed, knowing I have swum faster than in past swims and feeling good in the water, I can feel my feet, hands and have not had to drink hot tea at my feeds today.
I get impatient ” Where is that second island?” I take a peak, we round the island, it is shallow, I take it wider than usual to avoid scrapping the bottom, in my mind we have made it and I cruise and do not paying attention to Cara, I drift left, she tries to get my attention but I continue to drfit left, she slaps her paddle, it gets my attention immedialtely and I get back on task, my stroke count lowers and I decide to once more look up a few times to see where I am, Cara is not pleased with me and gives me a build speed sign to get back me back on task, it works and I pick up the stroke count the remainder of the way to the shore.
It was a good swim, I worked harder than I had before while swimming the pinic Island loop, our home stretch pace from Blueberry Island to the boat launch was slower but it was good, thanks to Cara’s attentativeness that I was able to refocus and pick up the pace to swim into the shore.
Todays swim 1 Hour 26 minutes 61-63 degrees = best effort in cold water to date….Good stuff.
Lessons learned today:
I need a new hand signal for when my stroke gets slow and I begin to drift, when I see it I will know my support team are telling me to….. ” tidy up mate, tidy up”
To follow is a tip from many who have made the English Channel crossing:
Don’t look back at Dover ( England)….or it will never disappear, don’t look forwards to France….it will never appear ……Gulp, no more peaking.
|Cara at the boat launch|