It’s comic, really. Whitney’s swimming ahead of me, just by a bit. We’re both strong swimmers, and ever since we did Danskin in 2005 together, I’ve gotten into the habit of following her, just by a bit. At Danskin, the open water swim was nothing like what I’d thought. It was a mass of confusion with swimmers lunging into the water on all sides of me, but as the crowds evened out, Whitney and I were still pacing pretty much the same. I used the small Nike swosh on the back of her swim top to keep myself oriented because, although I’m a good swimmer, I don’t swim very straight. I weave, and at times I even bob.
And that brings me back to this comedy I’m telling. Whitney and I decided to do what we’re calling “Mini Triathlons Minus the Bike.” So, I guess technically it’s not a triathlon, but let’s not get too carried away with details. Our first Mini Tri occurred at the Quarry Lake on Saturday, June 18. We decided to run first because we are making things up as we go, and we thought it would be nice to cool off in the lake after the run. As I have neglected running since completing the Danskin in 2005, I decided to start a Couch to 5K program that Whitney recommended. Day 1 of that program would start with this Mini Tri. The run is no big deal (unless you count the strange mother-daughter pair who passed me along the way, arguing about whether the daughter should run and whether the daughter should be a triathlete). But, all in all Whitney breezed through a quick 3K run while I heaved and panted through Workout 1 of Couch to 5K.
Back to the comedy. I promise there’s funny stuff coming your way. Whitney and I splash into the lake after running in the 98% humidity, and it’s amazing. The cool of the water surrounds me, and I feel my sweat fade away. I really want to grab a pool noodle and just float away for about an hour. However, even though we do make the rules, I’m not sure we could call that segment 2 of the Mini Tri. We decide after a few minutes of basking in the cool of the lake that we’ll do the half mile loop around the lake. Like I said, this is our Mini Tri, and we’re making the rules as we go. About halfway to the first marker, we decide we’ll time ourselves. I can’t see in the water, but Whitney’s got these cool prescription goggles, so as I adjust controls on the watch, she’s carefully making sure we’re on the right screen. “Does it say ‘HOLD TO RESET’?” I ask her. And, remember, we’re in a lake, so we’re treading water about halfway to a buoy. My arm dips into the water every third tread, and I push at the buttons while Whitney reports what’s on the screen. Finally, we get the stopwatch ticking, and we continue and take a quick breather at the buoy.
Between that buoy and the next, the water gets as Whitney says “choppy.” I signed up to swim a Mini Tri in a quarry lake–not the Pacific, but every time I turn to the right to breathe, I inhale through my mouth copius amounts of sumptious lake water. It’s disgusting. We stop to tread water a little and I realize the choppy water is coming from the wind, and with each pound of the water my head bobs and my face takes a little dive into the lovely lake water. A couple swimmers glide past us while we’re treading. Whitney’s watching me, and I mention that I have a chicken head. In tune to the water, I’m still bobbing. Whitney’s laughter turns to a wheeze, and I’m not sure if we can continue. But, we do, fully hydrating ourselves with lake water. No chance of dehydration here, folks!
Past the halfway point, I get disoriented and look up. I should have stayed right with the back of Whitney’s swimsuit in my sights as I know it’s necessary for my own survival, but I let myself just go with the flow. Unfortunately, my flow is never a straight path, and I’ve veered off track a good bit, heading perpedicularly to where we were going. Trying to catch up, I swim with fury and remember that if I swim too hard, I’ll tire my muscles. Then, I worry about cramps, which makes me worry about what’s at the bottom of the lake. I grew up swimming in a pretty nasty river, so I’m not sure why I’m suddenly creeped out by what might be in the lake. So, I swim a little harder to catch back up to Whitney and then I get back into stride with her in time to get a lash of sediment-carrying water in the face. I start spitting the grit out of my mouth and worry that Whitney will think I’m yelling for help. I probably should be.
When we finish, we head to the showers, clean up, and three hours after we arrived, get ready to leave the area. I hand Whitney an apple. I had brought a couple as a little post-tri snack. She looks at me like I’ve lost my mind, and I have a little–all that water whipping my head around took its toll–and she says, “I think I’ll have that later.” Oh, yes, we should eat a full lunch now, shouldn’t we?
All this to say that Whitney is a runner, and I thought I was a swimmer. And, you should get over to A Runner’s Dozen and read about the 12 races Whitney’s doing this year. She’s a champion. And I wouldn’t want to bob in a lake without her.