Saturday, September 15, 2012

Evanston, September 15

It looked like at least one more good Lake day so we arrived at the beach before the sun was up. The weather was completely clear, but cold, air about 52. We were in the water by the time the sun actually became visible above the horizon and seeing this from the water is awesome. In addition there were hundreds of geese in the water who flew in front of the sun, there was a guy on the beach with a camera who must have gotten some great shots, and who, the geese, few over us so closely that we could feel the breeze from their wings. There were about one foot swells which produced some small breaking waves near the beach. Further investigation found a sandbar about 25 yards off shore that was only 6 inches under the water level. Otherwise there were just swells and light chop. The water temperature varied from 68 to 67 in some cooler pockets, but not bad for this part of the season. The warm water compensated for the cold air so it was more than a good swim: an awesome swim.

Upon nearing the beach we noticed a lot of activity which on further investigation was a gaggle of wetsuit swimmers and a couple of kayaks. It turns out they were attempting a 10K, the full length of the Evanston lakeshore and back. We didn't find out exactly who they were but noticed a few Big Shoulders caps, apparently people who didn't get enough workout last weekend.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Big Shoulders, Sept 8

As predicted Big Shoulders at Ohio Street was wavy. But it was not as bad as last Saturday. Early predictions of rain were wrong and we had a cloudless sky with about 75 degree water and air in the upper 60's, I didn't get an accurate reading to the tenth of a degree on this swim. The wind was from the NNW, that is coming from shore so the waves were not so high but surprisingly for this mostly enclosed area the were more swells than chop.

The biggest effect of the waves was to block visibility of the buoys and other nearby swimmers making navigation and strategy more difficult. I had feared that the second leg swimming into the wind would be hard, but it wasn't so bad except at the buoy at the end. Both laps I tried aiming upwind of the buoy so the wind would take me around it but failed and had to go backwards to get to the buoy. As I swam the chop picked up and it was worse the second time I was more intent on racing rather than swimming so I did not pay much attention. My splits were about the same both laps.

The biggest problem were the 2.5K swimmers on the first lap. I got bumped numerous times, got punched in the goggles and kicked in the mouth. Going around the buoys was especially bad. But in the middle of the second lap what I could see of the Lake was filled with swimmers and it was a beautiful site.

Overall the swim was more fun than work with great vistas of the Chicago lakeshore. I intend to be back again next year.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Evanston, September 3

The prediction of no wind, fog and 1 foot waves hit only 1 out of 3, no wind. Fortunately there was no fog, instead we had bright sun and good visibility. But the waves were the 2 to 4 foot category, more 2 and just the occasional set of 4 footers. Without the wind these were just the remnants of Hurricane Isaac, but there was some chop on the swells. Still, swimming was easy enough so we did a wall to wall. We had planned to do more but the waves were too inviting for body surfing so Jody and I did that instead. The water was a bit chillier, around 71 but with 75 degree air it was comfortable enough.

We had hoped to do more but we did have over 3 miles in this long weekend and some valuable practice in waves. The early predictions for next Saturday's Big Shoulders are not promising so that wave work may come in handy.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Ohio Street September 2

Rain and thunder predicted, the Sharks canceled their Promontory Point swim for today and I decided to bag it also. But we miscommunicated and at 5:45 there was Jody waiting in front of my house. No rain in sight. So I threw on my suit and off we went back to Ohio Street and I'm glad we did. Conditions were much better than yesterday, and between the beach and Chicago Ave there was only heavy chop, but it was easy to swim in it. Further on we hit waves but the only problem was visibility, Jody is faster than me and when she got a bit ahead I could not see her at all. But we had agreed to check in with each other at Chicago Ave both ways and at the far turnaround; when I got to these spots she was right where she was supposed to be. A much faster swim than yesterday and we hurried home for family obligations. The water was slightly cooler, 73, but the air was a bit warmer and not quite so windy. The latter is probably what made the difference.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Ohio Street, September 1

No Lake last week, I was in Louisville at the Ironman, just watching. I didn't wish I could do the swim, 84 degree water and the first half mile in a somewhat unpleasant channel. They did do an interesting start, time trial style. A long line of people going in the water 3 or 4 at a time. This resulted in a long line of swimmers in the water rather than the bunching up usually seen in open water.

Today we encountered the remnants of hurricane Isaac. No rain to speak of but lots of wind. This called for Ohio Street but even there it was tough. It was washing machine style chop with 2 to 3 foot waves mixed in. Air and water about 74 degrees. Jody and I did make it down to the buoy marking the end of the official swim area and back. We were glad we didn't have to do the full 3 miles, but on the whole conditions were better than the 2010 Big Shoulders race.