As the 2010 open-water season draws to a close, my thoughts occasionally drift to the future - the blank slate that is 2011. And as I contemplate new goals and challenges, a recurring theme has been… cold water tolerance.
Aside from occasional childhood forays into the ocean off Santa Barbara - where it never rises much beyond the mid-60’s (F) - my cold water experience is pretty limited. Of my races this summer, the coldest was the 6K in Colorado, and that was only 67. When I moved to Chicago at the end of June, the lake was already in the mid-60’s.
So, when a cold front blew in late last week and dropped the lake down to the high-50’s, I figured it was time to take a page from adventure beard.
Into the lake I went early Sunday morning - certainly kicking, not quite screaming - with a hardy group of infrared thermometer took a reading of 58F, which was confirmed by two others. My only (ever so slight) concession to the cold: a neoprene cap.
I had no particular plan this morning. But as soon as the initial head rush passed, I actually felt OK - so off to the pier I went. 1 mile and a little under 25 minutes later, I returned to the Point and climbed up the ladder. Somewhat miraculously, I was fine - no shivering, and I could even feel my fingers.
I came back the next morning and did it again. The lake was marginally warmer - about 59F - but unlike the previous morning there was wind and chop. I was still fine when I finished my 1-mile round trip, if somewhat more drained from the chop. I briefly considered a second go-round, but hey - it’s Labor Day.
A small step, but a confidence booster nonetheless.