Tuesday, October 21, 2008


As a rule of thumb, I generally try not to moan in public showers. In fact, I try to never make inappropriate noises while using facilities at the gym. You never know who's listening or what they may think if they happen to overhear something suspicions.

But after yesterday's swim I couldn't help myself.

The water was so warm, and I was more than cold. And I know what cold is like: remember folks, I'm from Minnesota. And although I've lived in North Carolina and Florida for the better part of five years, I know what Northern Cold is. It's been seared into my memory: frozen nostrils after inhaling sub zero air, and cheeks burning from a wicked North wind.

I won't go any further. Ahem. You know of what I speak...

And after slugging (yes, slugging!) my way through an hour long swim in water that was almost 70 degrees, the hot shower was the first feel-good moment for me in a little over 60 minutes.

Earlier when I arrived on the pool deck, the lifeguard warned me that the water was cold. "We've only had one swimmer all day actually get in the water. One other guy showed up, dipped his toe in and promptly left. It was too cold for him."

Then the seventeen-year-old smirked and looked at me.

I looked back, trying to think of something clever to say. Perhaps I was more focused on the cool water, but the thought alluded me completely.

"Well, I'll do just about anything to swim outside. I hate indoor pools - so if the water is a tad cold, well, at least I'll get a chance to work on my tan..." I realized I was blabbing, doing anything I could to reassure myself that I was here for the right reason.

The outdoor pool.

I quickly picked up my kick board, stacked up my gear at the end of my lane, grabbed my workout, and peered into the cool waters (as though just by looking at the pool, my gaze would warm it up).

I figured the best approach would be simply to jump. Do not place a toe in the water, do not ease in, do not splash yourself, do not pass GO!, do not collect $200, go directly to jail.

Oops. Wrong game.

"I think you should just jump!" said the guard, ever so helpfully.

Yes thanks, I didn't realize that Sonnie.

"Yeah, that's what I was thinking... just jump and swim."

"It'll be freezing at first! But after 10 or 15 minutes, you'll warm up!" he supplied helpfully.

Thanks buddy. Not helping...

I just looked at him. Not sure if he got the message, as my "glare" isn't all that mean. Plus, inwardly I was a bit nervous about the chill of the water. Cold water I can handle. I'm fine with it on my person, in my hair... but something about cold water getting in my ears while swimming. THAT is not fun.

Gingerly, I placed my silicone cap over my head and adjusted my tinted goggles. I was very thorough in making sure everything was on properly. Next: the pace clock. It had to be positioned just so. And finally I rearranged the swim toys at the end of my lane - who wants a messy lane? Kick board with workout, swim finz aligned perfectly, pull buoy on the other side, and water bottle last but not least to compliment the bunch.

Neat and orderly. Nice.

Was it time to hop in yet?

I pondered what else I could do before taking the inevitable leap. Should I stretch? I've never stretched before, but now seems as good a time as ever.

So I did some lame arm circles - forward and backwards - hugged myself a few times, and did a weird looking torso twist. I could feel the guard smirking at my back. Yeah, sure - go laugh it up. Just wipe that smirk off your face when I get a cramp 20 yards into my first lap and you have to jump in and rescue me. Ha! That would wipe the smirk off your face...

I readjusted my goggles a second and then a third time... and realizing that I was out of things to do, looked at the water. I swear it was taunting me, knowing that it was the only outdoor pool left open, unheated and cold as a witches fill-in-the-blank.

Toes over the edge, I pulled at my suit, took a deep breath, and jumped in without further thought.

A zillion icy pins pricked my body and I hit the pool bottom and pushed off towards the surface. "Just keep swimming! Just keep swimming! Swimming, swimming, swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim, swim." Dori from "Finding Nemo" resonated through my brain as I came upon the wall for my first 25 yards.

Success! No calf cramp, so I wouldn't need to be rescued by some little twerp who thought I was crazy. Nice.

My warm-up wasn't really much of a warm up, as I was swimming at top speed in order to create as much body heat as possible. Suddenly swimming with a wetsuit didn't seem all that preposterous. After all, 69 degrees WAS wetsuit legal. Humph.

An hour later, my nose was colder, and I realized that I had spent very little time on the wall waiting for the next set. It may have been the first time I've ever cut my rest interval time short, but I can't be sure. The worst part was putting my face back in the water after doing a long kick set. My cheeks had just about regained feeling, and then submerging my head into the pool once again brought another painful flurry of stinging sensations.

But I did it. Workout complete, I made my way out of the water, collected my gear in record time, and started walking back towards the locker room. Another guard tried to joke with me about how he would sit in the steam room as long as he could tolerate and then jump in the cold pool....

Dude, thanks for the story - but shivering on the deck with the wind blowing and air temp hovering at 70, I'm really not all that interested. No offense.

I didn't tell him such, but I think the chattering of my teeth was enough to distract him from telling his tale.

Besides, if he really wants an invigorating feeling, he should sit in a 170 degree sauna and then roll in the snow in Northern Minnesota when the temps are well below zero. Don't tell me about a steam room and cold pool. Not the same, my friend.

After breaking free and returning my kick board to the gear closet, I skipped to the locker room, a crazed look in my eyes, and headed immediately to the shower. It was the best feeling I've had in a while. Absolutely delicious, if a shower could be so.

And luckily for me, I've got another swim tomorrow. So I will HTFU, hop into the cold pool, and swim outside because I LOVE swimming outside. I'm still trying to decide about the wetsuit, though. I may just bring it along, just in case the water is below 68. We'll see, though.

But I know one thing, the hot shower will feel great afterwards. Funny noises and all. So if you see a girl swimming up at Whiting Field NAS, full body wetsuit and gear stacked neatly at the end of her lane, do NOT get in her way as she runs from the deck to the showers. She may not be accountable for her actions. And you may find yourself in the cold water, sans wetsuit.


Mira Lelovic said...

You're tough! I refuse to go near the pool at 5am until they cover it with the "bubble". Just think how much benefit that colder water was. Made you swim faster and reduced possible inflammation in your muscles at the same time!

Anonymous said...

BRING the wetsuit - sometimes our pool gets like that (I love it!) but 70F is a bit well, nipply. So, put on the wetsuit and swim happy. :) Way to stay tough! hee hee...people probably think you are nuts, but not me! Jen H.

GoBigGreen said...

I love how you are reminiscing about the GOOD OLD COLD days up here:)
And glad you werent posting about riding in the cold temps of, ahem,50 degrees. I would have had to send you some chemical heat warmers for your toes and hands, huh?

Ryan said...

I want to show up this morning and do a giant cannonball right in front of you because I am so JEALOUS that you get SOCAL!!!

Oh, my sweet home sweet home. I miss thee.....Santa Ana winds, fires, traffic, and all.

Oh dear sweet Mexican food......I yearn for thee.

I am so stoked for you "brah"

but, I was secretly hoping to have a running buddy in NC.

Congrats to you and badass Nate. How many people get to commute with missiles?

AddictedToEndorphins said...

Wow, you're one tough cookie!:) I thought the water at my school's pool was cold and it was like...79.

Bruce said...

Keep at the swimming outdoors while you can. In Southern Taiwan, it is still warm to swim outside but it will get cooler. However, the enforced discipline will be good, too. I am glad you and Nathaniel get to move to sunny California and to a place full of fitness freaks. Hope the move isn't too stressful. Our's was and I don't want to go through all that again for a long time.

Trigirlpink said...

That is very exciting you are going to CA. One warm state to another. Not Bad there sista!

ojs said...

Nice job on overcoming the COLD pool. Also, good luck on the move to San Diego.