29 January 2007


I just spoke with Michelle Brickell (the wife and business partner of my pilot, Reg Brickell) and the dates for my window are July 5 - 12, 2007! Now it is time to start looking for tickets to London.

25 January 2007

Dark and Early

Thank you to Nigel and Ralph for letting me join them for their 5:15 a.m. bay swim this morning. My alarm went off at 4:15 and it was easier to get up than yesterday. Maybe going to bed at 7:45 p.m. helped. Yesterday I asked Nigel yesterday if they wear glowsticks at that hour and he said no, but that they would today for me. With goggles on and the fog and water that is as dark as the sky it is comforting to be able to see the people I am swimming by the little glowsticks tucked under their goggle straps.

24 January 2007

Channel Fatigue

Today when my alarm went off at 4:35 I peeled myself relunctantly from bed. My eyes stung from fatigue and my shoulders and back were still sore from my two workouts the day before. I stumbled into the kitchen to turn on the coffee maker and immediately couldn't wait until I was back home that night. I swam slow in workout but tried to keep my stroke together. Cory and Bob told me that neither of them could make it our usual Thursday bay swim the next morning. That meant I may have to swim alone, in the dark, in 48 degree water. And the forecast called for a chance of rain. Nigel said he was jumping at 5:15. OK, so I wouldn't have to swim alone, but I would have to swim at 5:15, in the dark and the cold in 48 degree water. At least I would have time to take a long sauna before going to work.

At school, my colleagues told me I looked tired and cold. I don't talk about my swimming too much at work. It isn't something that everyone understands and I don't think I should complain when it is something that I am doing by choice. My students asked me if my eyes were red from the chlorine. I told them it was from just too much swimming in general. My swimmers asked why I wasn't coaching this year. I reminded them about my "big swim" this summer.

The cold grips you and sends painful, piercing, icy jolts to your nerves. Channel Fatigue wears on you, day after day. It is a dull pain that creeps up on you like a wave of lethargy. The next 6 weeks are going to be a grind. It is still cold, icy cold and it is so dark it feels like night when I jump in the water. The days will start getting longer, the bay will start getting warmer. Of course, it is all relative.

I am home after two workouts and a full day at work. The water in the bay felt better this evening that it did yesterday morning. Who knows how it'll be tomorrow at 5:15 a.m. I am finally warm and dry. It is almost 7:00. I think I'll get in bed.

Thank you to my friend Melissa for letting me sleep for an hour at her house after school because I didn't have time to go home before my next swim.

19 January 2007

It's official...46.6 F!

Still well below 50. It has been 46.6 for the past few days. It is the kind of cold that makes my muscles involuntarily twitch. It feels like little electrical shocks racing through my triceps. Wednesday I got to swim in the light with Alice, but Thursday morning it was back to the dark. I don't really mind the dark so much, it is really nothing next to the grip of the cold.

The photo is of Bob swimming along side the Balclutha - the largest boat in the cove. That was a few weeks ago when we thought 51 was cold.

16 January 2007

46 on my watch!

I scraped ice off my windshield at about 5:25 a.m. and jumped into the bay with Cory and Bob at 6 a.m. Something about it wasn't as bad as last Thursday but the temperature reading on my watch said 46 degrees. I think it may have been 47 but combined with the air temp it read as 46. I stood around on the dock for a minute (not any longer) looking for Cory's husband Jim. I hobbled past the sunrisers as they prepared their boats for a gas house cove swim. I felt like I was running with broken legs into the showers. All I could think was that I was going to be warm for the rest of the day. As I showered, Tawny entertained me with her stories of becoming hypothermic last week and watching the moon bounce around the sky. I don't plan on swimming for longer than about 25 minutes until the temperature creeps back up to above 50. I can't believe that will actually feel warm.

13 January 2007

Try This Tri

Pool workout - 1.5 hours
Bay swim (water temp: 47-48 degrees) - 18 minutes
Lunch with two of my favorite people and training partners - Alice and Amber

Even with the water still a chilly 48 degrees, the sun warmed our backs as we swam and it didn't feel nearly as shockingly cold as Thursday.

(photo of the three of us in much colder and crazier times last March after the Gar Woods Polar Bear Swim in 36 degree water)

11 January 2007

There is cold, and then there is C O L D

As Bob and I walked on to the beach this morning at 6 a.m. I told him my new mantra: "standing on the beach in France, standing on the beach in France, standing on the beach in France". We stepped into the water and I let out a holler. I could feel the drop in temperature like icicles penetrating every pore in my body. My head was well insulated with 2 silicon caps, a thermal cap and ear plugs, but my body felt an icy sort of pain as I entered the water. Our course was short - to Eppleton Hall (a boat), to Oprah (a buoy), to the flag and back. Yep, this was COLD water. I took my first few strokes with my head out of the water to decrease the initial shock. The swim was only going to be about 20 minutes, but with every stroke I could feel the water stinging my arm as I placed my hand in the water to start the next stroke cycle. My teeth started to ache. Bob and I stayed close together, if not for warmth, then just for the company and comfort of knowing someone is going through the misery with you. Feeling the cold attack my body I let all other fears go. Swimming in the dark? who cares! Being bumped by a sea lion? Just give me some of your heat!

I didn't really feel the worst of it until I got out of the water. I walked Bob up to the Dolphin Club and ran back down the stairs, checked the temperature (a brisk 48 degrees) and ran across the beach to South End. Usually when I am leaving the beach and other swimmers are just getting ready to get in, I tell them how great it feels and how getting in is the only hard part. This time I was shouting as I ran into the locker room. "That water is so cold, it is freezing, you have fun!" I taunted. As I ran into the club my feet became numb in parts and I felt like I had little cushions padding the bottom of my feet, because I couldn't actually feel them. I continued to warn the swimmers in the locker room about their impending swim. I turned on the shower and walked into the sauna to try and get some feeling back in my feet. Oh, so this is how Lynne Cox got nerve damage in her feet. I went back to the shower out of fear of warming up too quickly. I couldn't stay in the sauna long enough because I had to go to school, so I had to continue the warming process with what I call "car sauna". I had left my down jacket in the sauna before I got in so that I could put it on all nice and toasty when I was ready to leave. When I got to school I turned up the heat in my classroom and kept my down jacket on through 2nd period.

Amber and I are getting in the bay on Saturday after a swim in the pool. The forecast calls for possible snow at sea level. Snow on the beach in San Francisco. I'll bring my camera for that one.

"Standing on the beach in France, standing on the beach in France, standing on the beach in France."

06 January 2007

NYD Half-a-Traz

Nearly 100 swimmers and half that many pilots from SERC and DC jumped from the boat about 1200 yards outside of Aquatic Park at 8:30 on January 1st, 2007. The heavy fog made it impossible to swim from Alcatraz, as neither the swimmers nor the pilots could even see San Francisco. The water temperature hovered around 50 degrees and I finished the swim in 20 minutes. I wasn't dissapointed that the swim was so short because I was very nervous about jumping from a boat and having no visual clues to help me know which direction to go in. Thank you to Gary Emich (SERC swim commisioner working one day over his tenure) and all of the pilots who helped us get to shore safely.

No resolutions for 2007, just one thing to get done: SWIM TO FRANCE! Let the countdown (and the long training) begin...