Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dress rehearsal

Tuesday: Swim 600(?) yards

Today's objective was to get into some open water to try out everything I would be wearing for the swim leg: bike shorts and a sports bra under a wetsuit, a neoprene cap sandwiched between two regular swim caps, goggles, neoprene booties (maybe), and ear plugs. Oh, and to try myself out in open water, too, because I'm really not a big fan. For safety, support, and sheer entertainment value, I also brought along my 13-year-old in our old rubber raft.

It was a long comedy of errors getting the raft inflated, and we soon remembered we had lost one of the oars a long time ago. Undaunted, we headed across town to the tiny, disgusting, ditch-fed pond called Lake Elmo, which is pretty much the only choice for "open water" swimming around here. Takeaway lesson: It will be nice to be in a clear, creek-fed lake where I'm not horrified at the thought of swallowing the water.

It's a royal pain to get into my two-piece wetsuit. My hands got tired trying to grab hunks of neoprene on the legs and pull them upward. Then they got tired again trying to unroll the top piece and pull it downward. Then I gave up and made my son help me. Takeaway lesson: Somehow I'm going to have to make sure my husband is available for this job before the race, or I'm going to exhaust myself before I even get started.

The water felt a bit cold (not 55 degrees cold or anything), and I eased in slowly. All the wetsuit-covered parts of me were fine, of course, and my feet would have been fine without booties, but it was alarming to have to put my face in. Takeaway lesson: To avoid that breathlessness, I'm going to need to at least splash my face before I take the plunge.

We discovered right away that one oar was not going to be sufficient to control the raft. The slight breeze blew my kid 25 yards away before I knew what was happening. So I towed him out to deeper water, let him drift while I swam with the wind, and then towed him back against the wind to where we started. Takeaway lesson: Nothing ever goes as planned.

The next adventure was getting the wetsuit off, which I also needed help with. I nearly suffocated all the same. Takeaway lesson: Take wetsuit top off first, then swim cap, to avoid massive hair pulling. (Also, hooray for wetsuit strippers!)

My son gets credit for the overall takeaway lesson from the day: "It looks like you're going to be OK on the swim. Well, the water will be colder, and there will be a lot more people, and a lot more pressure. But at least you won't be towing a boat."


  1. I'm getting so excited for you!!

  2. Right on, Dex! Very exciting! Go Julie, go!

  3. This was a funny expedition, sounds delightful! You will definitely be fine on the swim, but I agree, if you can get in the water and dunk your face to acclimate, it makes the first part much better...

  4. You know those ditches are fed by the river, and being a person who did swallow a lot of that water as a youth, it really isn't that bad.

    Glad you did the test run to find out these important lessons.

    I love Dex's sense of humor!