Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Carnivore’s Guide to Cardiology: Up the Lake Swimming Journal

I got back into swimming the first summer Up the Lake after the stent (2010).  The lake is about a ninth of a mile wide, so after several weekends of getting my wind back, I tried to do five times a day (making it a little over a mile).  Usually I did it in sets of two laps or on a good day three.  There were a couple of times where I made six trips. On those days I earned a bonus cookie or brownie or something in addition to my weekly desert.  I probably could have done more, but just going up on weekends: Fridays we get there, Saturday night is church, and Sunday we leave.  Therefore, besides not swimming during the week, there was a time crunch. (Plus I like to actually spend some time playing with my daughter in the water.)  What follows is the end of summer weekend day by day record of how this innocent exercise blossomed into a full blown obsession.

August 20-22

Friday: Early enough lake arrival to make five trips (two doubles and a single) to get back in the groove.

Saturday:  Building up to a mile straight through successful.  After the first two laps I felt really good and kept going.  I managed to do five, and my knee was starting to act up, but I remembered that we had a bunch of candy from the outlets and I already had dessert this week, making me set out again to do the sixth one in a row.  Because of my knee, I didn’t really kick on the trip putting more strain on my already tired arms.  Usually when I swim, I keep some kind of inspirational workout soundtrack music in my head to pace (Conan, Rocky, Superfriends, etc). On that final time back, with my legs dragging behind me, there was no music, only the John Pinnete line repeated in my head over and over as my worn out arms pulled me through the water.

“Raviolis and a nap! Raviolis and a nap!”

Then after lunch, I did three more laps in a row so I could say I did two miles. 

Sunday: Luckily it rained, letting me rest my arms and only do some treadmill after we got home.

August 26-29

Thursday:  Rhinebeck Fair trip. No swimming but a great deal of walking (while smelling farm animals...and carnies).

Friday:  Repeat of the past week’s six lap / three lap split to make the two miles.  My daughter keeps telling me to do ten laps as I try to explain why nine is the even number this time.

Saturday:  All nine laps in a row.  Freakishly cold water numbs any pain pretty quickly.  Guy across the lake moves his floating dock that I touch when I go across at lap eight leading me to believe I’ve swam into the Twilight Zone.

Sunday:  My wife plays with our daughter in the water while I try to repeat the nine lap swim. At around seven she informs me she is freezing to death so I hurry up on the last two, and feel very good.  After nine I tell my little girl, “I can come in now, but if I do one more, I can have real ice cream today, so we can stop at Friendly’s on the way home.”  I do the tenth lap while she cheers, “Go Daddy Go!” the whole time.  Afterwards, the two of us swim out to see my Aunt rafting in the middle of the lake. She manages to swim the whole way back without a noodle, chanting the last several yards “Friendly’s and a nap!” The best Hot Fudge Sundae ever was a welcome reward.

September 3-6: Labor Day Weekend

Friday: We got Up the Lake in the afternoon, immediately changed to run down to the lake and I started swimming.  Into my second lap I heard a great deal of yelling, and when I turned around found out it was pouring. Unfortunately they also heard thunder (hence the yelling) forcing me to stop.  About a hundred of us crowded into mom’s car, which she brought down to fill gallons, but by the time we got to the cabin the rain stopped.  Apparently it wasn’t the edges of Hurricane Earl after all, but God peeing on me.  I didn’t go back as my entire family (Sister, wife, mother, daughter, down to my two year old niece) yelled at me when I expressed my intent to go continue the swim with no one at the lake as the sun set, to the point of threatening to tie me down.  The extent of my addiction manifested in me being all hyper and bouncing off the walls the rest of the night.

Saturday:  Nine laps in a row.  The other side of the addiction shows when I am depressed that I didn’t improve.

Sunday: Nine laps in a row again.  After reading a while I felt like I had another mile in me. (I should have brought a more interesting book.)  My knee and arms proved my feeling wrong when after two laps they loudly proclaimed, “You’re done.”

Monday: Much rain and sadness as the official summer ends.

September 10-12 Bonus Lake Weekend

Friday: After a full day of work and my daughter’s dance class, we didn’t get Up the Lake until late.  I planned one of my semi regular late night wandering walks as my exercise that day. However, I got some surprise exercise trying to have a small glass of wine after my daughter went to bed.  The cork in the bottle tore and eventually got stuck, leading several of us to spend a great deal of time stabbing a large knife into the bottle (and nearly each other) in attempts to free it.  Eventually I managed to shove the cork in, but by that point had reached such a head of steam that the force blew about a third of the bottle all over me and the rest of the kitchen.  Needless to say my small glass and long walk changed into a very large glass, and no walk, as I fell asleep in front of the fire after reading only an issue and a half of 1960’s Sgt. Rock comics.

Saturday:  A beautiful day and very cold water, which actually helps increase the length of the swim as it ices my knee and arms as I go.  On one of the first few laps I put my foot down into a large hole in the sand, where it went right down to mud.  I was surprised and floundered a bit, but recovered with no problem and continued on swimming.  Unfortunately, near the other side of the lake on lap eight, the part of my foot that hit the mud started to itch.  Really itch. INSANELY REALLY ITCH. That kind of itch that you can’t ignore or even focus on anything else; leading me to totally lose the rhythm of my stroke as I simultaneously tried to swim and scratch while screaming incoherently (both at the magnitude of the itch, and the frustration that with only one lap to reach the two mile mark, I wasn’t tired in the least).  After telling the people in boats that they didn’t need to come rescue me (Apologies to my uncle and cousin for scaring the hell out of them), I shot into shore at full speed and immediately started violently rubbing my foot on any rough rock or tree I could find. 

Everyone on the beach immediately gave me lectures about pushing myself too hard, and I had to explain through the haze that I wasn’t cramped or tired, just violently itchy.  The cream in the first aid kit did nothing, and my wife wonderfully volunteered to run up to the cabin and get me a Benadryl.  I sat (unsuccessfully) trying to drive the feeling out of my foot, and not able to really focus on anything else.  When she came back, I took the pill and impatiently waited for the itch to abate. It finally did, so I played with my daughter for a while, and when I had determined that I didn’t feel drowsy or groggy continued swimming (under protest by my wife and others.) 

I swam another five and half laps for a total of three miles.  My accomplishment was somewhat dulled by yet another round of lectures, until I told my daughter who promptly started a “woo-hoo” dance and bragged to her friends about me. (Proving again why people have kids.)  I rewarded myself with a couple bonus cookies and milk at my last night reading by the fire, before taking (another nap and) a short walk; where I was not recognized by people I’ve known my whole life (as I was Up the Lake in long pants, a jacket and a hat instead of shorts and a t-shirt…stupid blood thinners.)

Sunday: Packing and closing, and trying to figure out how to clean ashes off my new hat.  Sad the summer ended, happy I proved I could swim to the Three Mile Stand (if it was underwater…and I had a place to stop and scratch).  The swimming addiction ends this year, and I can go back to regular exercise.  However, my wife is talking about joining the Y, which opens well before work and has a giant pool… After a life of lake swimming, my big problem with pools is:

A) I know no efficient way of turning around

B) I can’t swim in a straight line; a windy day’ll put me half a football field off center line, but even calm days I’m swimming serpentine. In pools I ricochet off the lanes like a pinball.

So this should be interesting.

October 3

My daughter’s Birthday Pool Party at the Y.  Tried lane swimming, lasted ten minutes. This might be equivalent to one time across the lake and back, not sure, lost count of both strokes and laps because I was dizzy from turning around. Hit my hand on the far wall once and my elbows on the lane ropes twice each.  Looks like I’m sticking to dry exercise in winter.


Summer 2011:  Two mile swims routine. First time pulling three miles in a row.

Summer 2012:  Managed several four mile swims.

Summer 2013:  Five Mile Swim!  23 Times across and back!

Up the Lake Index


Bruce Fieggen said...

Did you ever figure out what made your foot itch?

Jeff McGinley said...

That's the million dollar question. Since the Benadryl helped all I can guess is it was a weird reaction to one or more of the plants that make up the mud beneath the sand.

Dina Roberts said...

I'm not sure I'd ever expect a work out diary to be interesting.

But I was very wrong.

It was quite interesting and entertaining.

Jeff McGinley said...

Thanx much Dina! Up the Lake was always the best source of stories. (And the fact that I wrote this as intentionally gag filled, and then formatted it as a diary may have helped too!)