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Yes, I’m alive

I am still here, dear reader(s). Fell out of love with swimming for a bit, then got Omicron over Christmas (totally worth it), and just getting back to it and getting to the point again where it is habit vs. debating with myself at 0530 in the morning, “Do I really need to get up in 25 minutes to go swim?” The answer now: Yes.

Look at that beautiful pool I swim in now. Ain’t it purty?

All Moved In

We recently moved to northern Virginia. I miss some parts of the Boston area. But with the recent issues up there, especially with respect to the recent legislation against open water swimming in Massachusetts-owned bodies of water, I’m glad to be down here. This is home.

Been swimming with WaveOne since getting here. I’ve also swum once with Alexandria Masters. Was going to swim a second time with ALEX, but the pool where they swim is closed until 11 September. Unfortunately, I didn’t know the pool was closed. Waste of a drive.

For these WaveOne swims (pics above), I’ve been using the RunKeeper app. For this, I have to start the tracking, then place it in my swim buoy, then close the buoy and blow it up, then jump in, strap on, and go swim. Point is, take 5-10 min off those times above. Because when I finish swimming, I also sometimes hang out in the water, maybe I’m peeing, maybe not, but again, point is, those aren’t my real times for those distances.

I’ve got Swim the Suck in October. Hopefully I will have swum enough in prep for it. Only time will tell!

Pleasure Bay, slightly colder

Swam again today. Killed me. I think what I’ve realized is that my arms are always so tired because I’ve been working on push-ups. The program I’m doing has me completing over 100 push-ups every other day. My arms are dead. I’m having trouble lifting my arms this evening.

When I say “colder” what I really mean is, just a couple degrees lower than two days ago. It was 68-69F. Ever so slightly cooler than Monday. Today started overcast.

But it sure did end nicely. So pretty!



Upped the swimming

Lately I’ve upped my swimming, 4x a week. I changed my weight-lifting down to twice a week back in January (or so). So on Wednesdays I lift. M, T, Th, F I swim. Sometimes one of those days goes in the trash because I have something up early at work. So four weeks ago I decided after my second day of lifting (Sat or Sun, depending), I’d jump in the pool and swim.

I learned a long time ago that I cannot lift on a day that I swim. Lift first then swim? Ok. Swim first then lift? No. Arms are dead. Thus all I do on Wednesdays is lift.

When I first jumped in the pool after a lifting session, my first thought within the first 2 laps was “Holy crap, my arms are dead/heavy.” 1000 yards was all I could do.

You see, my lifting are heavy, full body lifts. Every single time I do squats and overhead press (strict military press). Once a week the third lift is deadlift. The other session I do a bunch of upper body stuff (lat pulldown, bradford press, weighted walk). Weekend lifting day is my deadlift day, so swim is after heavy squats, overhead press and deadlift.

After three weeks of only doing 1000 yards I thought, Screw it, I’m gonna do a mile. So today I did 1800 yards after lifting. Took me forever; 34 minutes. And arms were dead. But I did it.

Then I thought back to my Manhattan attempt. JLB had told me (on the MSF forums) after that if a swimmer wants to make it through the East River before the current change, they should practice swimming for two hours at a constant pace, then sprint for an hour. Perhaps lifting first is a way to simulate the first two hours, getting my body tired, then forcing myself to do a mile. At least, that’s the philosophy I’m sticking to.

So, that’s how my last month has gone. I know I haven’t written for a while, so dear reader(s), I’m sorry I left you breathlessly waiting for me to reappear. But I’m back!

And yes, my Y is still open. God forbid it closes, because the ocean is still too cold for me!

Issyk Kul popular these days

In the last few months I’ve fielded calls and emails from three incredible swimmers asking me questions about swimming my most favorite lake in the world. I’m talking about lake Issyk Kul in Kyrgyzstan, of course!

That image above is the lake. The lake is at just below one mile elevation. Oh, and the lake is the second largest alpine like in the world behind lake Titicaca. That lake is over 100 miles in length!

Only a few people have swum across the lake. Yours truly was #2, and #1 on the route I chose.

My crossing, 2016

The first guy who swam across was Akhmed Anarbaev. He swam across the eastern side.

Ахмед Анарбаев

Mr. Anarbaev and three other former Soviet swimmers swam a relay across the width in the early ’90s.

In the 3 years since my swim, the locals have held an annual swim competition covering my route. Most of the swimmers have not followed marathon swimming rules (wetsuits, touching the kayak), so they’re not listed in the Issyk Kul crossing list. In fact, I think we’re still at 5 or 6 swimmers only, 2 of them female, who have crossed it by the rules. The fastest time is still held by Sarah D’Antoni with a time of 4:43.01.

But look at this wonderful lake! There’s so many possible routes there. And since only one person has swum the eastern route, that’s ripe for new swimmers. The width has never been done solo. At 30-something miles, it’s not impossible. Especially in this day and age when we have the likes of Sarah Thomas in the world.

The three swimmers I’ve been talking to are uber-experienced and capable of almost anything. Hopefully, we’ll be hearing from little ol’ Kyrgyzstan sometime soon!

Vampire Swim 2019

Yet again, I did the vampire swim here in Boston.

Yes, same bat as last year.

And some of the same swimmers this year as last year.

My head is way too big for that leather aviators cap.

Last year the water was 51F and the sky was overcast. I did 5-6 strokes then stood up and got out, afraid I would die. This year, though, I intended on swimming for real. I’d spent the summer getting acclimated, preparing for this particular swim.

This year back in May I went to Winthrop. I was so proud of myself, swimming for 34 minutes in 50-51F. I figured I could handle the same for this Vampire Swim, despite not being in the (cold) water for the last three weeks.

Today, the water when I first went in to test it was 60F. That was not right. Felt way colder. After we got pictures and took our costumes off, we entered the water and started the slow (some of us) walk into the water. The pool thermometer settled on 56F where it stayed throughout my 30-odd minutes out there.

Didn’t mean I jumped right in. First had to get past the cockles. That was tough. Next big leap for me is always the hands/arms. I walked around for quite a while. Five? Ten minutes? I don’t know. I turned the Garmin on the minute I got in the water.

I got my hands in, up to the chest. Next step is the face. I had on two caps. Polly asked if I had ear plugs in. The ears do get very cold, and maybe it’s the ears that hurt in the cold water, and that’s why I hate putting my face in. The headaches. The pain. But I do it anyway. Heads up breast first, then dunk the head in a bit. Four strokes freestyle then breast again. Six strokes. Eight. Sooner or later I got to 20, then 50. Then normal. I swam around, having fun and enjoying the water in Pleasure Bay.

I forgot to turn it off when I exited the water. But I swam till the kilometer alarm went off. I at least wanted that much. And it was enough. So cold!

So pretty!

Shortest swim in the world

Today tried to do a swim at Breakheart Reservation here in Boston. Walked the mile or so from parking to the stupid lake. Got there, donned my safety buoy and all that crap in full view of the lifeguards. Wife hung out till I was in the water, then she was off on a long hike. As soon as I got to the roped off area and lifted the rope to go under it, immersed up past the cockles, the damn lifeguard blew his whistle. “No swimming outside the swim area!” he screeched. WTF? You watched me put all my crap on. Did you think I was gonna do laps in this tiny, 50′ by 10′ area? So, in the end, did a whopping 36 feet today. Dammit.

The lifeguard manager came by to talk to me. He was very nice. I mentioned to him that triathlon clubs practice here, so why can’t I swim. He gave me the party line. Luckily, he was very clear that he and his lifeguards have no control over anyone who shows up before or after his lifeguards show up for work.

“What time do your guys start work?”

“9:45 or so, sir.”

“Thank you.”

So apparently I have to show up at Breakheart early in the morning or after 5:45pm, when the lifeguards end their day.

The lake is beautiful. I really wish I had tried to enter the water outside of the lifeguard’s view. There was a place to the left of the picture above which was out of view of the Nazi; I should have entered there. Oh well. I learned my lesson.

Friday Night Swim

Met up with Jane at Revere Beach.

Jane gifted me a Tower 26 cap. If you don’t already know, Tower 26 is a coached workout by open water great Gerry Rodrigues out in California. He’s got a podcast I used to listen to a few years ago that is great. I’ll have to redownload the podcast and start listening again. Thanks for the swim cap, Jane!

Water was great, warm at the shoreline and colder by the time we got out deeper, 60F. Normally when I swim alone, I stop a lot, look at the birds, the weather, the waves. But when swimming with a friend, it’s all business.

Straight out and back, 1.77 miles. Felt good. So much seaweed at the end, it covered my buoy and legs. The shower may never be the same.

Rhode Island Open Water

Was in Rhode Island (and Providence Plantations) today so stopped by McCorrie Point for some open water swimming.

Thanks to the FB Group Sachuest Ocean Swimmers, I met with Dan, who mapped out the area for me. (Thanks Dan!)

Water was rough, which made this fun. Lots of arm work. Water was a delightful 61F. Did two laps out there, then had to head back to Boston.

Again, spent a lot of time floating around looking at the sights. I just love swimming in OW. So pleasant. Only one boat moored out there, and with the waves, hard to spot the mooring buoys. No matter. It’s not about the speed right now. I can work on speed in the pool. Right now OW is about salt, cold and time.

A Great Three Days of Swimming

In the past week I’ve managed 8.2 miles of swimming. More importantly, five hours 40 minutes of swimming, almost all of it in cold water (4:20).

Today was Revere Beach, 54-57F, much better than Winthrop yesterday. The water was rough, so a lot of fun. At one point I came upon a threesome of shearwaters. They were floating around out there looking content. I swam wide around them so as to not disturb their peace. I really need to find myself a waterproof camera.

Isn’t it beautiful?! Tons of people, and only a couple kids in the water. No other crazies out there. Except yours truly. Who is somewhere in the below picture.

So all in all a great weekend. Tomorrow is lifting, then back in the pool on Wednesday. Or, maybe open water?