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.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Evanston August 10

No wind! We were going to swim yesterday but it looked like it would be wavy and today was predicted to be better, so Jody agreed on a postponement on the condition we would swim today regardless of conditions. But yesterday afternoon the near shore forecast was changed to include north and northeast winds peaking at midnight but lasting through the day. So it looked like maybe I made a bad deal. But the winds didn't happen and the water was smooth and warm, 75.4, with sunny sky and almost perfect. The only complaint I had was a slight smell. But the Rio Olympics are on reminding I once tried swimming at Copacobana beach and the Olympic open water swimmers would think our smell was nothing.

Friday, August 05, 2016

Evanston, August 5

The Lake is always surprising us, not at all like yesterday. The air was cool and cloudy courtesy of a nighttime storm that didn't quite materialize. There were signs of light rain around us but nothing on us except for a couple of minutes of light drizzle at the end of our swim. But paradoxically the humidity was low and we had little trouble with goggle fogging. There was a slight north breeze with a few isolated gusts. The water was 72 and waveless but a steady ripple. It made lakelike gurgling sounds as it hit our bodies. There was a notable current north to south making the swim out extra long. We could almost float back, so that is sort of was we did. We had a pleasant trip back watching the birds as if we were in a small boat. So it ended up being a very relaxing and renewing swim and both felt good the rest of the day.

Here is today's picture.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Evanston, August 4

This was what the Lake is supposed to be like at this time of year, 74, slight smooth swells, bright sun. The water was a little cloudy and the air was humid so it was hard to keep goggles from fogging. Otherwise perfect. I finally could leave my thermal cap and shirt in the car. But it is hard to motivate one to swim fast under these conditions. So Jody and I swam long rather than fast. We did our usual wall to wall and then another half mile after that.