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.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Ohio Street, August 13

Joe's son wanted to swim at Ohio Street because it is a little more convenient for him. Since Evanston seemed like it might be windy and wavy Jody and I agreed. The morning was a bit foggy at upper levels, tall loop buildings were visible only half way up. But down by the Lake it was fine, the water was almost glass smooth and, inside the breakwater, was a cozy 75. When we got to the curve it still looked very smooth so Joe and Kevin opted to go straight rather than follow the curve. But now there was a thermocline only a few inches below the surface with much cooler water. We swam about another quarter mile and then came back. By now the area was very crowded with swimmers, runners and bikers, a big change from Evanston where seeing a dozen people was a lot.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Evanston, August 11

Yesterday was so good Jody and I returned with a goal of a two wall swim. At first conditions seemed similar to yesterday, a little cloudier, even smoother and a bit warmer, 76. But we did notice thermoclines with cooler water about 3 feet below the surface. The swim up to the second wall was uneventful but pleasant. But by then the south wind had strengthened bringing ripples and a northbound current. So the swim back was harder. So rather than enjoying the swim we felt a sense of accomplishment, which was even better leading to an after swim visit to Starbucks rather than Dunking Donuts.