Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Evanston, Indigenous day, October 10

My visit to Evanston last Wednesday made us want to do at least one more swim this season. I suggested Sunday but Jody had other plans for the whole day. But she pointed out that she had Monday off and suggested that. Sunday turned out not to be quite as nice as expected but Monday looked to be wavier but with southeast winds the water temperature would not go down much. The advantage was the air temp would be slightly warmer.

So we delayed our start to let the sun warm the air a bit and arrived at the beach around 9:30. From the beach conditions looked very much like last Wednesday, about 2 foot waves by our beach but larger waves south of the south wall breaking over the wall. Jody's college friend Laurie came along dressed to swim. But Laurie is a flat water swimmer and decided not to swim so she guarded our stuff on the beach. With air temperature about 57 the water felt cold but not dangerously, so Jody and I decided to give it a try. It wasn't that bad, the waves were fairly well formed and not choppy so swimming was not hard. After about 200 yards I could get a temperature reading, 60.8 which was plenty warm, especially with a strong sun. We continued out to what we consider the half way mark and decided not to make Laurie have to wait too long and also to limit our swim since the combined air/water temp was 117.8, sort of the hypothermia warning temperature of 120. But swimming was good, even against the wind so we did go all the way back to the south wall to check for rip currents. There weren't any on that side of the wall so we swam in, we were in the water about 30 minutes.

Fortunately the bathrooms were open, so quickly changed out of our wet swimming gear, no wetsuits of course, and into dry clothes. One thing we have learned in the last year is that the biggest hypothermia danger is that after getting out of cold water and ceasing hard exercise the body can lose 5 degrees quickly. To further our warming we headed to Starbucks for hot coffee and warm chocolate croissant at a sunny outdoor table. If this is it, a great way to end the season.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

PostScript: 2016 season, October 5.

Jody emailed me with Lake conditions for today, she thought it might be swimmable. But she wasn't able to go, so I took my dog to the beach anyway, unfortunately he doesn't swim. It probably was swimmable, there was a strong south wind but the water was 61.6 and at the beach the waves, 1-2 feet, did not seem so fierce. However, on the south side of the wall conditions were quite rough with waves more in the 3-4 foot range banging into the wall. A half way swim would not be out of the question, although the swim back would be tough.

The beach was mostly deserted, no other dogs, birds or geese so my non-swimming dog was bored. So we took a walk along Sheridan Rd to the next park. He thought this was much more fun. I put my dog, he's relatively small, on a flat rock by the Lake so he could see the waves breaking below him and he liked that. The Lake seemed rougher from this vantage point.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Evanston, September 24

Jody and I wanted to swim Evanston at least once more this summer but today was not the best time. First we had to help out with the Park Ridge Charity classic 5K run which kept us busy until almost 9. But while there we decided it was now or maybe never for our swim. We finally got to the beach around 10:15. But the temperature had gone down and it was a cloudy but dry 65. The SE wind did make the water a bit warmer but with the cool air it felt very a very chilly 65 also. And top of this were 3 foot wind blown waves. But we were there to swim so we took off up the lake. The reason I really like swimming with Jody is that when I paused, less than happy with goggle problems, Jody looked at me with a big smile and said "isn't this fun!".

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Big Shoulders Redux, September 17

We, Jody, Joe, Kevin and I wanted to swim Evanston but Jody noticed that the reported water temperature recorded at the Wilmette buoy was dropping quickly overnight. This temp is not very accurate but it doesn't usually drop like this. So off we went to trusty Ohio St beach were the conditions were virtually identical to last week's race. The water was a slightly cooler 70. There were several places where the water was glass smooth, unlike last week's low chop, but this could be from the the fact that hardly anyone was swimming.

However when we went we around the curve we could already feel it getting colder. I measured 68. So it would not be surprising if it was much Cole in Evanston. We later found that as close as the Chicago crib it was 57 just a little later in the morning.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Big Shoulders September 10

The forecast was for possible thunderstorms followed by a small craft warning. But none of that happened. Conditions were excellent, a little chop but otherwise flat, 72.4 degree water with air temperature about the same and cloudy but dry. I have slowed down, especially without my magic pants, so I only attempted the 2.5K. But Jody, Joe and son Kevin all had good 5K swims. I must admit it was nice being done to welcome them all across the finish line.

Joe, Jody and me at Big Shoulders 2016.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Fun in the rain at Ohio St, August 27

Ohio Street has become the safe but boring place to swim. The breakwater generally mollifies large waves and temperature changes. The wall with its many ladders gives exit options. The large number of people in the area means that help is available in an emergency. But then swimming down to the 1/2 mile buoy and back is somewhat like swimming in a pool, something I need to do but is sort of routine.

After some dithering based on the weather and tomorrow's triathlon Jody and I decide to swim Ohio rain or no rain and waves or no waves. Indications are that the northern beaches are cold and will be wavy. The forecast of 1-3 foot waves held true for Ohio street, 1 foot near the beach, 3 feet by the curve. But they are nice swells which are pleasant to swim in. The rain is steady but moderate with occasional cloud bursts, fortunately no thunder. And the water is a pleasant 67. When we get to the beach at 6:30AM it is still very dark, the traffic signals at Chicago Ave stand out as a beacon. But, surprisingly, even with dark goggles the water is clear enough that the bottom is visible. Most notable is that all the people are gone, we only see two other swimmers in the water, both strong swimmers but without wetsuits, or even caps. All the triathletes must be resting up for tomorrow or are afraid that their wetsuits will get wet in the rain. There are still many runners on the path, but we figure that we have the better deal, it feels nice and dry in the lake and hardly notice the rain at all.

The most interesting part of the swim was from the rusty poles to the curve. There was clearly a current along with the heavier waves which were somewhat disorganized between the buoy and the curve. Coming back against the current was the day's challenge, like climbing a 500 ft ladder. Pausing to rest was not an option as one would be pushed back by the current. But Jody loved it, explaining that it was a "good" tired feeling unlike a "tired" tired feeling after a hard workout. After Chicago Ave the current seemed to be going the other direction so it was an easy swim in.

Although superficially it looked like the Big Shoulders 2010 race, today was much warmer and more fun. Jody and I were glad we came.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Ohio Street, August 20

Before we headed to the Lake we (Joe, Jody, me and Kevin who we were to meet at the Lake) knew there were a number of things going against us: the wind, the waves, a serious threat of rain and perhaps thunder, the Air Show and next week's triathlon. But the waves looked to be worse tomorrow and Joe couldn't come. Joe and Jody, in particular, are constrained by work so weekdays are not good Lake days for them but both want more Lake time before Big Shoulders so we were committed to try.

The Air Show was not a problem at our hour (6:30AM), especially given the weather forecast, people do not arrive that early. But the triathletes and Big Shoulders swimmers made an earlier than normal appearance. The main downside was congestion and collisions in the water aggravated by waves making it difficult to see other swimmers. There was an upside, a bank of porta potties by the locker area. Other than the vision problem the wind from the south and waves from the north did not pose much of a problem swimming north. But the return swim was much harder. Jody and I were happy to swim to the 1/2 mile buoy and back but Joe and Kevin wanted to go to the 2nd tower on Oak St beach. According to Joe's watch it took him 27 minutes up but 49 minutes back.

As for the rain, there was a large rain system heading towards us all night and originally expected to hit Chicago at 6AM. But fortunately it got stalled, but not dissipated, and we only got wet from the rain going back to our car from Starbucks after getting our post swim coffee.

All things considered today worked out much better than feared. For the record the water temperature was a consistent 72.4 degrees.