Hypothermia! This past week we had the annual inversion. Over the course of 5 days with a steady strong west wind the Chicago area water temperatures plunged from 73 to 50 degrees. On Friday temperatures moderated slightly, but apparently less at the northern beaches. We were warned that the race might be shortened or cancelled. I had signed up for, and trained for, the 2.4K. When I got to the beach the first thing I did was wade knee deep with my temperature watch on my ankle. I got a reading of 58.6. I decided that this was not sufficient for a 2.4K, but OK for 1.2. As it turned out the race organizers ruled that the only options would be 1 or 2 laps of the tiny course, .6 or 1.2K wet suits required. I chose the 1.2 but regular readers know what I think about wetsuits. I did have my heavier thermal cap and I have been wearing a black triathlon top, mostly for sun protection. I figured this would be sufficient along with my regular swim shorts. None of the officials looked at me closely enough to bump me from the race.
Once I got away from shore it became clear that the shoreline was significantly warmer than further out. In fact it seems that the average temperature of the course was about 56. My head and torso were warm enough but at first my arms and legs were cold. By the end of the first lap they had warmed sufficiently for me to swim the second lap. When I crossed the finish line I felt good enough to bypass the warming station. Perhaps my big mistake was to hang around the finish talking to people and posing for pictures rather than quickly changing to dry clothes. After I had changed, about 15 minutes after leaving the water, I began to shake. My friends were worried and got the paramedics. Maybe because they were kind of bored or perhaps because they didn't want me to drive, they walked me to their ambulance, put a hot pad on the back of my neck, wrapped me in blankets and turned on the heat in the ambulance. After about 20 minutes I had stopped shaking and they let me go. My friends got me some pizza and after another half hour I was normal enough to drive home. With the sun beating on my car by the time I got home I was hot.
I do want to comment on the race in general. The water temp was a dangerous situation and I have no complaints about how today's race was handled. However I am annoyed with earlier changes. If I had known some of the details in advance I probably would not have entered. First the course was to be a rectangle 1.2 miles in perimeter. Instead, and this was before the temperature plunge, the race had been changed to this dinky triangle .6 mi. in perimeter. The 2.4K was to be 4 laps, too much like a pool for me. The other change was to withdraw the race from USMS. The idea was to attract kids but there were none there that I saw.
PostScript: I later talked to Joe, he and Kevin went to Ohio St, on my recommendation, this same morning. It was supposedly warmer there but both Joe and Kevin told me that they have never been so cold. Kevin said he shook for over an hour.