Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cold Water

We've got our first triathlon of the season - King Pine - coming up on Sunday, and we're gettin' jittery about the water temperatures. It was a cold winter and, although we've had some nice days so far this spring, it hasn't been exactly hot. The last few days has been heavily overcast, chilly for May, and rainy across all of NH, with a forecast for more of the same through the remainder of the week. The Concord Monitor recently had a piece on canoeing Purity Lake, which is more or less the body of water we will be swimming in for the King Pine. The article mentioned stubborn patches of ice. Ice!

Not long afterwards, I did get word from the race director that the lake is, in fact, ice-free. Which only means it is some unknown number of degrees above freezing. Larger bodies of water to the southwest (Winnipesaukee and Newfound Lakes) are registering in the low 50s Fahrenheit. That's do-able with a wetsuit, but makes for a very chilly 10-15 minutes. The first year we did King Pine the water was somewhere around 60 F, and it definitely caused Hilary some trouble. She's a much stronger and more experienced swimmer and triathlete now, but even so... although we both put ourselves through all this training and all, we're not actually masochists.

We're hoping somehow, somewhere, to get in some open water swimming between now and Sunday. Even just a quick splash and a hundred yards would be enough to remind the body after being out of the water for the last eight months. We've done plenty of pool time in the off-season, but it is a very different experience being out in the open water. Stay tuned!

UPDATE 2011-05-19: Yesterday I did dash out from work a touch early and headed off to Clough State Park, which happens to be the venue for a triathlon I did last September. On a warm day people come down to the beach and swim. But in 50-degree weather with light rain in May, with ~50-degree water, it was completely deserted. There was no one else there; no cars parked up on the road. On with the wetsuit, on with the goggles, wade out to my waist and... my feet start aching with the cold. Normally I'd just dunk myself an get it over with, but somehow it seemed better today to draw it out. After about 5 minutes I was up to my chin, quivering at the continual stream of cold water entering my wetsuit from the zipper up my spine. I struck out for about 50 yards paralleling the shore. The cold on my face was unpleasant. It became hard to work my hands. Everything inside the wetsuit felt fine, but the exposed bits weren't loving it. Water in my ear gave me a low-grade ice cream headache. After another 75 yards I got used to it, and ended up doing another 100-200 yards before calling it quits. It should be alright on Sunday, but I'm glad that I took this chance to try it out and wrap my head around it. Transitioning onto the bike with more-or-less numb feet should be a whole lot of fun.

But, on the plus side, it looks like we might actually see the sun that day.

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