Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ohio Street, September 18

A lucky Lake day. I got vibes this week from Jody suggesting that in spite of her difficult time at Big Shoulders she was not ready to give up the Lake for a hot indoor pool. So I promised to keep an eye out for a good weekend day to go to the Lake. I was thinking Sunday, but yesterday it looked like today, Saturday, would be better if the storms held off. So I conditionally suggested a swim today to the group but promising nothing in terms of warm water or conditions. I got no response and wasn't so eager that I would go myself. But not getting a no from Jody seemed unusual so I kept an eye on the street in front of my house to see if she showed up anyway. Sure enough she did. So I threw on a suit and grabbed my warm cap, goggles and a towel and we were on our way.

The Lake was perfectly flat, air cool with some blue sky visible between clouds. Only one wetsuit swimmer in the water. As we got in it felt cold, colder than last week, but not 50's cold. So we pushed on and figured we could at least make a half mile. When we got to Chicago Ave we stopped and I looked at my thermometer watch and it was 65. We were actually feeling good so we swam the whole mile to the end and back. By the time it was done we felt great. The water that felt cold to our hands getting in now felt fine. By then there were many people in the water, in fact there was one poor older guy swimming in boxing trunks with no cap that Jody and I both literally bumped into during our swim. We decided to rate today as "awesome" and were annoyed that we almost missed the swim.

Two and a half hours after we left the Lake there was a large thunder storm. So we hit it just right.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Big Shoulders, Ohio Street, September 11

My forecasts for Big Shoulders this year were 68 degrees and mostly flat conditions. Boy was I wrong. Instead of getting warmer with the east wind it somehow got colder. When the announcer gave the Chicago Park District temperature reading of 63 before the race I didn't find it creditable, so I waded in and measured the water myself. 63, I guess I better keep my day job and not go into weather forecasting. As expected it was rainy, not so much as we had feared with light drizzle to light rain throughout the morning. Fortunately no threat of thunder. But there was major wind and both waves, up to 2ft, and chop over the course. It was the hardest big shoulders swim ever and my time was about 12 minutes over the usual. Ken and Erin, Sue and Jody all were also disappointed. Stuart completed the 2.5K but with the large crowd I did not see him at the race.

No one liked my suggestion of a Lake swim tomorrow!

There is a page at Southern Lake Michigan Lake Temperatures issued by the Chicago office of the National Weather Service. This page usually gives an reading "Chicago Shore" which is an accurate approximation of what to expect at Ohio St. at 9AM.   But today they said 67 while my watch at 9AM, during my swim, said 63.8. Perhaps, being Saturday they just slept in and gave my prediction instead of a real measurement!

Postscript: There is a good writeup on Big Shoulders at the blog I can't resist posting this picture of the race from that site:

The caption is "Choppy, windy, rainy and cold...whats not to like?". I also can't resist a brag, your blogger came in first in his age group for the 5K, no wetsuit.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Ohio Street, September 9

Lake conditions have not been favorable for last minute practices for the upcoming Big Shoulders swim and outdoor pools have all closed for the season. I was even forced to swim in an indoor pool this week, something I should not have to do between June and September. Ken is now working downtown and even has a view of the Ohio St swim area from his building. So we agreed to meet after he got off of work at 2 this afternoon to go for a last practice swim. I parked at the free lot by the bike path at Irving Park and rode down on my bike. The northeast wind was much worse on the Lake than predicted, I practically did not need to pedal. The waves on the north were breaking over the groins just north of the North Ave. beach while the water on the south side of the groins was calm. The sky was overcast with air about 67 degrees. The more protected Ohio St area was just huge chop, a giant washing machine. Swimming from the Ohio St. beach northward was very difficult and slow going, we decided to stop at the poles which are about 100 meters or so north of Chicago Ave. The trip back was fast. By the time we finished I was finally beginning to feel warm in the water. The trip back north on my bike was like riding uphill, it took twice as long to return as coming.

The good news is that the well mixed water was a uniform 65.4 degrees. Several other swimmers, there were only a hardy few at that time of the afternoon, who swim daily reported the water much warmer today than it was yesterday. The posted temperature had been 64 as opposed to 66 today so we wonder what it must have actually been yesterday. With more east winds the next few days perhaps we can expect even warmer water this weekend?

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Ohio St, September 5

The biggest surprise was when we, Jody, Erin, Sue and I, got to Ohio St at 7:00 AM this morning there was no one there. Yes, the triathlon was over but Big Shoulders is next week. So I was the first one in the water. As predicted the water near shore was 64. It felt a lot warmer than the 58 in Evanston yesterday. Otherwise there was a gentle 1 foot swell but little chop, in places the water was like glass. Completely clear sky with a nice warm sun. A couple of degrees warmer water and it would be perfect. Moreover being alone gave us the illusion that the whole city belonged to us. I did think to wear my thermal cap today so I was reasonably comfortable in the water but I sort of lost feeling in my chest and given the way the sun hit the water on our return trip it seemed that I was swimming 1 foot over the water surface. Sue and Erin planned to do a long swim today, but decided after our standard mile to the outer red buoy and back that they were cold enough. The cold did not hit me until we were out of the water, then, even with a heavy hooded sweatshirt I shivered.

Back at the car, which was right at the Ohio St pedestrian underpass, Jody had an encounter with a cop on a Segway over her inadvertent lack of a current sticker and the cop suggested we get out of town quickly before some less nice cop gave her a ticket. I had been the recipient of such a ticket a few years back so I suggested we listen to him. So she sat in the car with motor running outside Starbucks while I got coffee and we took off. A few minutes in her warm car with a cup of hot coffee and I was fine again.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Evanston, September 4

Today brought clear skies but high winds and low temperatures. Since this had been forecast we did not swim today but I stopped by the Evanston beach at about 9:30 AM just to check out conditions. The air was 57 with 2ft waves breaking on the beach even though the wind was coming from the west. Usually west winds leave the near shore water calm. There were swells farther out, but I did not swim out to measure them. The bad news is that the water is now 58. So much for our warm water! The official morning measurement from Chicago was that the water was 64 both by shore and the crib, so Ohio street is probably still swimmable. We will try to find out tomorrow.