Frustrated by my decision to drop out of Stage 4 of the 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim, today HAD to be a swim day. And an outdoor one.
We decided to head North because if it was cold in the Hudson, surely it would be warmer across the border in Vermont at the gorgeous Harriman Reservoir.
Okay, I kid. We knew it would be chilly. And it was more than that.
After testing the water temperature, which checked in at a brisk, for me, 65 at the shore, and possibly colder out from there, I opted for a wetsuit. (Please note that the above hands belong to my husband and I do not, in fact, have man hands!)
Truly, this was a first for me. Opting to do an open water swim, that wasn’t part of a triathlon, in a wetsuit.
And come on! What woman doesn’t want to look like this?
Two caps, one set of goggles, and the wetsuit I bought when competing in Switzerland several years ago.
Mentally, I had to get over the hump of feeling lame for wearing it. Instead, I tried to remember that this was about having a good swim, and that to do so successfully, I needed to stay warm, something my body isn’t great at doing on its own. (Even now, several hours later, I fight the idea that I didn’t really do the swim today.)
When I hit the water, I realized that it was the right decision.
The air temperature was 59 degrees. Yikes!
It was brisk at best, and we had the entire reservoir to ourselves. Not a boat to be seen.
With water this cold, it was important to do some warm feedings, and Miso soup hit the spot.
Thankfully, my adored support crew kept me on track, checked my stroke rate to make sure I wasn’t falling off too much, and monitored me for any signs of the cold getting to be too much.
And at some points it felt like it might be. At a certain point, the wind came up, and the feet and hands felt stiff and almost unusable. After the turnaround, an hour and half out, I was fighting the wind and John was cold enough that he had to put on his jacket. (When he mentioned that his legs were chilly and he was eager for his pants, you can imagine how little sympathy he got from me.)
My lovely kayaker/husband/sherpa/timekeeper sacrificed his Nike Run info, making it look like he is the SLOWEST runner in the world, to use the GPS to track our time and distance. Amazingly, we stayed pretty much on track for the entire swim.
Approximately 6.1 miles, and the longest I have ever spent in water that cold. My rate per mile was a bit slow for my taste, and slower than I usually am, but both John and I wonder if that might be attributed to the temperature and the wind.
Bottom line? Do I feel a little wimpy? Well, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t.
At the same time, I had a gorgeous swim yesterday, in a beautiful place, with someone I adore. Not a bad way to spend a day. And what is this swimming thing all about anyway? Making yourself miserable so you can prove how tough you are? Or doing something you love, in a place you want to be.
For me, as I get older, it’s more and more about the later.
And Hudson River? One of these days, this girl is coming for you!