Thursday, 12 June 2008


Just as I was about to leave work to head to the lake it started hailing. Alrighty then. I kept saying to myself it would be sunny at the lake by the time I got there. Mother Nature backed me up tonight and made this so.

Arbour Lake has been open to all triathletes this week in preparation for the triathlon there this weekend. As it's normally a private lake, I decided to take advantage of this situation and go for a swim in preparation for the race next week. I've only had one open water swim so far, but it was a short one. My thoughts were to a) practice my swim race plan and b) get used to the cold water.

I received a notification about IMCDA this morning and it noted that the water is colder this year so wetsuits are mandatory (I'd wear mine anyways even if it wasn't...gotta love that extra buoyancy!) and neoprene booties would be allowed. Just how cold is Lake Coeur d'Alene right now?!

I wiggled, thrusted and squirmed into my wetsuit. I remembered to put a bit of body glide on the back of my neck to prevent a 'wetsuit bite'. I was thinking there was somewhere else I usually apply it, but couldn't remember. I donned two silicone swim caps to help with the cold. I forgot my booties at home, ah well. A friend had recommended I wear a long sleeve tech shirt underneath - I wasn't sure if this would help once I was wet, but tried it anyways.

Once I was all squished into my suit and ready to go I walked to the beach. I stood on the beach looking out at the water. I took a deep breathe. I thought to myself 'You are a triathlete at the World Championships. You are going to run into the water, do a couple of dolphin dives and giver.' I took two deep breathes. Okay then. Ready? Set. Go!

I was still standing on the beach. Now I was laughing all by my lonesome. Ok. You can do this. No doing a slow wussy walk into the water. Just go for it! Run right in there and take it like the five-foot-two-of-fury-ninja-princess-mighty-triathlete you are. Ready? 1 - 2 - 3 GO!

I started running into the water. Flicking my feet out to the side like I'm supposed to. flick. Flick. Flick. As soon as it got deep enough I plunged into a dolphin dive. The cold water enveloped me like an icy blanket. AIYEEEEEEEEE!!! HOLY MOTHER OF ALL THINGS FRIGID!!! I now scooped a bunch of this icy coldness into the neck of my wetsuit. I had to. It's the only way I can get my wetsuit not to stick to me like a sausage wrapper. Slowly I walked out of the water so the water could flush through my suit. C-c-c-c-c-old.

Ok. Here we go again. 1 - 2 - 3 GO! This time there was no hesitation. I ran back into the water, did a couple of dolphin dives and attempted to swim to the rope that sections off the little swim area. I was gasping for air. Okay, just do breast stroke till you get to the rope. Gasp. Gasp. Gasp.

The sign by the lake said the water temperature was 12 C. I'd like to call bullshite on that. Where exactly was the measurement taken? In the shallow part of the friggin kiddie area?! Seriously.

I met up with a couple of triathletes that had just finished a lap. I took a moment to chit chat with them as I got used to the cold. One was doing Chinook next weekend, the other was doing the swim portion of the Olympic at Arbour this weekend. I didn't talk long, I wanted to get going.

I flipped on to my belly and started swimming. Instantly, I had a slurpy headache from the cold on my face. I'm not sure I can fully describe how cold the water was on my exposed parts. Here may be a way to experience it though. Go climb a mountain above the snow line. Find a snowbank. Then stick your face in it. Every once in a while turn your head side to side to get some air. For good measure, put your hands and feet in there as well. Now keep them there for 20 minutes. Yup, that oughtta replicate what I was feeling!

I hugged the perimeter for the lake. If you do this and swim around it's approximately 800 m. I practiced my sighting. Every six strokes I would take a peak as to wear I was. This year I was NOT going to swim into a parked paddle boat! I must admit, I did get somewhat close to a couple of docks. Good thing I was sighting as often as I was!

I got into a groove and by the time I was around the first corner my face, hands and feet weren't feeling too bad. Likely because I had no feeling in them... I was happy that my double silicone cap system was keeping my head warm. Nice. I'll use that in IMCDA rather than trying to hunt down a neoprene cap - apparantly all the stores here are sold out.

I got one lap done and saw some of IronGreg's crew. I got out and chatted for a bit and answered the question on everyones mind - Is it cold?! I didn't bother sugar coating it. - I gave them the snowbank analogy. Everyone was looking really excited about swimming after that! Heh heh.

I ran back in to the water. It was much easier this time as I was somewhat used to the water. I think the gang thought I was nuts. A fairly accurate conclusion I would say.

Once again I hugged the perimeter of the lake. As I got around the first corner I was charged by a school of fish. At first I wasn't sure what was going on, but for once I didn't jump out of the water, become Jesus and start walking on the water. I stopped swimming, kept my face in the water and looked around. It was really cool. There were so many fish! For some reason they weren't bothered by little ol' me splashing around. I think they were stayin the more shallow water as it was warmer. Smart fishies!

As I swam I had to ask myself, 'Where did this triathlete girl come from??' My running in races this year has been great. My riding endurance and strength has gone up - as evident from my epic Penticton weekend. As for my swim, well lets just say tonight's swim was an eye opener. Last year just making it around the lake once was a bit of a chore, much less three times. I was never really comfortable in my wetsuit. Little floaty things and the fish in the lake would make me jump. The weedy areas scared me. Okay, they still do! I know there is a lake monster lurking deep in the depths of those damn weeds! I could never get into a rhthym and my breathing was always laboured.

Now though, I felt comfortable right away. Even with the mind numbing temperature of the water. My breathing was great from the start, my stroke was strong and consistent. I wasn't praying for the swim to end. I wasn't bored. I felt long and strong! I got through the second lap with barely an issue.

I say barely an issue because I was starting to feel some cramping happening in my calves. The cold water was getting to my muscles a bit. I decided I wanted to go for a third lap though. I wanted to make sure the first two laps of feeling good weren't a fluke. Apparantly they weren't. The only issue I had were my calves. Around the third bend my left calve cramped. Badly. I looked up to see where a dock was as I thought I might have to get out, it had tightened up that much. Stopping must have helped though because the cramp let go.

I swam a bit more, then cramped in the right calve. Again I looked for an escape, again it let go. This happened the entire swim back. I was glad it happened because it just might happen at IMCDA if the water is that cold. I needed to know that I could swim through it. In fact, it helped me pick my pace up a bit. I figured I had to get back quickly as I wasn't sure when the time would come that it would cramp and stay that way!

I got out of the water with a big smile on my face. Well, semi-smile. I couldn't actually form a normal smile as my face was frozen. As were my hands and feet. I couldn't move my fingers to the point that when I was swimming the water was flowing between my fingers and I couldn't squeeze them together so I could get a good pull!

Ah well, nothing that several cups of green tea and sushi won't help! A wee reward for my cold water swim!

Oh, and I remembered where else one should apply body their arm pits! Yeowza! Not a good place to chafe... This is likely karmic payback for my teasing someone this week about some chafing he'd received from his wetsuit! Whoops!

Peace out my friends!


  1. Such an improvement over last year! My inner shark knows of the monster in the weeds, but says for me not to worry about him. I don't think I should be on Midnapore being any warmer next week.

  2. Great post and congratz on a terrific swim!

    I am going to borrow your idea of double swim caps this weekend when I hit the lake

  3. Good job Susi, water temp ranged 10-11(in cda) today so in a week and a bit it should be above yesterday's balmy 12 degrees. :D

  4. Brrrrrr-- You are a tough ninja-princess for sure!! Way to go on your swimming improvements!

    I am so proud of you for swimming 3 laps!!!!!

    :) :) :)