Triathlete’s Ruin – The Freezing

The chilling conclusion of the Triathlete’s Ruin Trilogy.

After our ride, Trimom and I drove over to my Uncle Jim and Aunt Patty’s lake house. Several of my family members have houses on or around Elkhart Lake, and Patty and Jim’s place is always the place people gather for summer holidays. They had already said it was fine to go swimming off their pier, and already warned us the lake was pretty cold. Additionally, a colleague who lives near the lake had taken the temperature and reported it was 62 degrees, but that was at the surface. So I was prepared for the worst.

We got down to the pier and Trimom began to put on her wetsuit for the first time. If you ever have tried to put on a wetsuit, especially a triathlon-specific wetsuit, you know it’s like trying to stuff a watermelon into a balloon. At first, I just watched, and tried not to giggle openly. Then, as her frustration grew, I stepped over to help. I’m pulling and pinching and yanking, and she keeps saying things like “Ow” or “that’s my skin you’re grabbing” or “I’ll never get this thing on on race day.”

Finally, she got her suit on, and we were ready to go. I did not have my wetsuit (it has since arrived), but we did have neoprene water shoes, which I had insisted Trimom buy. Last year, I cut my toe open on a zebra mussel during my training swim, and I wasn’t going to repeat that mistake.

I jumped in the knee-deep water off the end of the pier, and extended my hand to Trimom to help her in. “I’m pretty good here,” she said, so I did what I had to do; I grabbed her around the waist and plopped her in the water next to me. We started walking out towards deeper water, avoiding weeds and picking our way over rocks.

We finally got to chest-deep water, and took the plunge. The water was very cold, to be sure, but it wasn’t unbearable on most of my body. The worst part was my hands. Pulling my hands through the water as I swam a dozen strokes froze my fingers right to the bone. With no fat or muscle to insulate them, my poor paws went all numb and tingly. I just hope the air temperature is warm on race day, or it will be a white-knuckle bike ride.

After a minute or two of splashing around, we headed back in. Patty and Jim let us dry off and change clothes in their spare bedroom, and we headed home after a late lunch at the Elkhart Lake Subway.

I was glad I got in the lake and felt the water temperature and reminded myself of what it’s like to swim in a lake versus a pool. I was glad I rode the course, so there won’t be any surprises.

I’m ready. I’m so ready. In fact, I just want Saturday to come so badly, this week has dragged on like the week before Christmas did when I was a kid.

Tomorrow is packet pick-up. I’ll let y’all know how I’m feeling after I get my race number.




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