Tag Archives: chicago

Sardines on Toast

Chicago’s annual Big Shoulders 5 and 2.5km swims were held last Saturday. Every year I promise myself two things for the next year:

1. never to swim it again because, well, why would I pay to swim in Lake Michigan; and
2. if I break promise 1, only enter the 2.5k, which would give me time to smugly watch other people finishing after myself (hopefully).

Both promises broken, I headed to the starting line at an obscene hour on race morning. The weather had been a bit dodgy leading up to the race, and the organisers had warned of potentially rough conditions. The water turned out to be not too bad, though, and I was pleasantly surprised. Actually, not pleasantly surprised because I like it rough! There was a smallish swell that was nice and regular and some surface chop, but nothing too slappy or random. The water was very murky, which I like, because because the only sandy bottom I want to see when swimming does not belong to the lake.

As usual, I ended up placing in the bottom half of my age group. I took a huge kick to the left boob when the guy in front of me decided to suddenly change to breaststroke going around the 2nd turn buoy. For identification purposes, I noted he had on a full wetsuit and (non adventure style) beard. Couldn’t find him on the beach afterwards though. My right shoulder hurt like a b%^& the whole time, but I swam in lovely straight lines, mostly in the right direction.

The best thing about the swim, though, was my sardine suit. Here ’tis:

sardine swimsuit

Here’s a sardine:

sardine

Here’s me and some other swimmers being lapped by the elite wave:

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It looks like some of us got stuck in their teeth.

Here’s a recipe for sardines on toast, which I may or may not try:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/altons-sherried-sardine-toast/video/index.html

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

Weary and condemned by the years, I decided to celebrate Anzac Day 2012 by launching my open water season at Promontory Point.

Aside from my other two dips in the lake this year, this one was my first. It was a fairly grey, drizzly day, but the water looked relatively calm when I arrived at the Point around lunch time on Wednesday.

promontory point

I could see that fellow Point Swimmers, Andre and Greg were already at the second buoy when I arrived and made it my goal to be in the water before they got out.

I really can’t resist throwing in the thermometer before I get in and was glad to see the mercury getting pretty close to the 50 degree mark! Now THAT’S a rush! After 5 minutes or so of whooping and giggling I attempted to actually swim a little. my goggles fogged up completely every time I cleared them, so I ended up doing alternating breast and backstroke back and forth and around the first buoy.

Here’s a diagram of my route that I prepared using a satellite image of The Point and my primitive version of Photoshop (a printer, sharpie and camera-phone). I was in for 20 minutes and I think it took an hour to warm up afterwards. It didn’t help that I dropped my pants in a puddle of water while dressing. Thank goodness for heated car seats!

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It felt good to be out of the pool.

A Clayton’s Season

2011 was a strange open water season for me.

I knocked back a chance at doing the Memphremagog and the Ederle swims, pinning all my hopes on Catalina. Catalina didn’t work out this time, and as a result I’ve been moping and thinking 2011 was a complete failure.

Not so!!!!

After much delving I’ve been able to dig up some wonderful memories of my 2011 aquatic season including an unconventional marathon swim or two. My memories are a little fuzzy, 2011 already being about seven times the length of a conventional year (2011, the Dog Year?), but here goes.

After floating around in the 50-odd degree lake for most of June, I headed east to Maine to celebrate the nuptuals of KGirl and swim the 2.4 mile Nubble Light Challenge. The Nubble swim was first done in 2010 and was apparently very cold indeed. I was quite nervous going into the swim but on the day the water was 65 and smooth. It was wonderful! I loved swimming around the headland between the mainland and the lighthouse I’d only ever seen before as a non-swimmer tourist. I think I ate 7 lobster rolls on the weekend I was there and had a really fabulous weekend. Can’t wait to go back!

Here’s a photo of the Nubble course:

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and a picture of the lighthouse:

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The remainder of July and August were uneventful. Lake Michigan was very very warm in 2011 and I spent those months at Promontory Point in high 70′s water. Very strange for the lake. I even developed a rash…..

On 1st September I swam what was to be my first and only “marathon” swim of 2011 (and calling it that is really pushing the definition).

I drove to Promontory Point at the devil squealing hours of the morning and swam a mile in the dark. A mile at Promontory is one loop to the pier and back to the ladders. I was the joined by the usual 6am Point swimmers group and we did another mile. The sun was now up and I did a few more mile loops, feeding at the ladder and lurking around the 2nd buoy to see if I could find the watch I’d dropped down there two weeks prior. I got out a few times at the ladder to take some photos and play a few moves at Words with Friends, just to keep from getting too bored

The water was pretty calm until about mile 9-10, when it developed the disorganized, washing machine type chop that we’re pretty used to at the Point. I felt pretty good until mile 12. I was joined by Vivebene, thank goodness, because mile 12 felt rotten. Miles 13 and 14 felt great though. I called it quits after 14 loops because I was kind of bored and needed to go to the toilet. So that was it, I guess. THe water was 78 degrees when I began in the dark and possibly a little warmer when I finished.

Here’s the Point, as it usually looks:

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A week later I did a 15k yard workout in the pool and felt surprisingly good.

Two weeks later I returned to the Point. Back pain defeated me that day and I drove back to the ‘burbs after 8 miles. I took some Advil and finished another 8 miles in the pool for a total of 16 miles. At least the lake was 65 degrees that day so, aside from back pain, I was able to enjoy the water!

Three days later I swam Big Shoulders and didn’t come in as slowly as expected. It was probably one of my most enjoyable Big Shoulders, as the water was 65 and quite smooth. I’ve finally identified the building to sight off on the second leg of the triangle. Better late than never.

Here’s a photo me with some of the 6am Promontory Point swimmers who left our little south-side sanctuary to swim in the race:

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Late July/early August saw an unexpected trip home for a family funeral :(

While I was there I did some swimming at the Entrance Baths, a 50m sea water pool cut out of the rock platform at the end of The Entrance Beach (just north of Sydney). I was also able to swim off the beach at Toowoon Bay, where my nephews and niece do nippers. Such a beautiful place, it was more like snorkeling than swimming! I lurked around the area where the blue grouper supposedly frequented, but didn’t see him. The people at the surf club might have been pulling my leg about that one! The surf lifesavers in this photo were practicing rescues with their zodiacs the day I swam.

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Although I didn’t have time to swim, I was able to go for a quick visit to my place of origin, Freshwater Beach. This is where I was hatched and where I’d like to be flung after I die. I suppose I should be cremated first.

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My last swimming experience before leaving Oz was a paddle at the famous Bondi Beach and then 1000m at Bondi Icebergs club. I paid $6 to swim in the 59 degree water (watched by a row of crabs on the pool deck) and then had a sauna. The weather couldn’t have been better. There was practically no surf and I could see someone swimming across and back between the headlands just inside where I assume the nets were. I wasn’t brave enough for that :)

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Aside from the Catalina crewing adventure and attempted swim, that’s it for 2011!

2011: the season you have when you’re not having a season. Bring on 2012, please!

Promontory Point

This morning I drove my eldest daughter to school, checked my grades for my College of Du Page paralegal course, made pikelets for brekkie for number 2, checked grades again, vacuumed the house, played with our new cats, checked grades, fed cats, fed dog, walked dog, then drove to Chicago, to Promontory Point, to swim.

The weather forecast was pessimistic, but I wasn’t. It was warm and hazy when I arrived at the Point.

Aside from the New Year’s Dip, I’ve only swum in the lake once this year. EVMO and I swam last Friday at the Point and the water was 49-50. A trifle cold.

Not so today. I measured 56 by the rocks at the ladder!

promontory point

Wonderful!

I got in, gradually. About 100yds from shore the water suddenly became quite cold. A shock, but swimming back into 56 degree water after being in colder water felt like a dip n the hottub.

I swam for 30 minutes, about a mile for me, and felt like I was in Heaven.

I had to be getting home, so got out after only half an hour, to the applause of a man who was eating his lunch and watching me the whole time.

He said “you should do races”,

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I love Promontory Point

Scrambled Eggs

This morning I decided to join the guys from Openwaterchicago.com at North Avenue beach for a dip in the lake.

This is the sight that greeted me!

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The bright orange thing is the ladder we normally use to climb up out of the lake :)

There were 4 of us there, including one real, honest to goodness Channel swimmer whose name I can’t remember. The Channel swimmer, claiming to be hung-over, took a flying leap into the lake and started swimming. Shamefaced, the remaining 3 of us jumped in.

The water was quite nice, really. About 60 degrees, which was quite a bit warmer than the air temperature.

Not all the waves were this big:

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I bobbed around and swam a little bit. The exit worried me, but turned out to be pretty easy. Just ride a little wave in, grab the ladder and cling!!!!

Here’s some video of the others having fun after I’d made my escape.

All in all, a fun morning.

The Eggplant that Ate Chicago

With less than 4 weeks until the big swim, I’m running out of time to re-acclimatise myself to the cold.

Sick of sitting in a cold bath with only my hives for company, I ventured into Ohio St Beach, Chicago, for a quick immersion in Lake Michigan. My friend Liz went with me, though she vowed she wasn’t coming in to rescue me should the need arise. Hmmmm. I was also accompanied by my good friend Stanley, and Pepe, my newly acquired Epipen (in case of apopleptic shock).

What a beautiful day! Sunny, outside air temperature in the high 60′s and smooth, blue waters.

Water temperature supposedly in the high 40′s
http://www.coastwatch.msu.edu/michigan/m54.html

My thermometer read 51-52, and I’m going with that!

I set a modest goal of 20 minutes, as I wanted the day to be a success. Longer swims can come later.

25 minutes later I emerged feeling great! Shivery of course, but not too bad 
I was red all over, like a sunburn, but not a hive in sight 

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Lunch in the sun at Bubba Gump’s defrosted me and we headed home.

Determined to insulate myself as much as possible, I stopped by the Haagen Daaz store on the way to the carpark.

Me: “I’ll have the dulce Sunday please”

Haagen Daaz girl: “ok”

Me: “how much will that be?”

HD Girl: “that’ll be $8.50″

Me: “$8.50?”

HD Girl: “$8.50.”

Me: “$8.50?”

HD Girl: “$8.50.”

Me: (discreetly looking for a price list) “$8.50?”

Thinking I’d heard wrong (people talk funny in Chicago) I handed her a $20. $11.50 came back to me accompanied by a delicious treat.  oh well!

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