Open Water Swimming, Take Two

I hesitate to post this photo because you can only see two of the buoys.  The one where you start, and then the next closest one.  The other two are much farther away.  They look really, really small when you first get in.  Read: I want you to be impressed, and I don’t think picture will have this effect.

All the way around all four is one mile.  I have swam a mile or more before, but it looks different to see all those laps laid end to end like this.

My second attempt at open water swimming was much more successful than the first.  I was a little nervous to go by myself since my normal training buddy couldn’t come with me. 

We’ve been swimming at Bowles Reservoir with Mile High Multipsport.  It’s $11.54 for a one day pass or $9 per session if you buy a five or ten card punch pass.  I got a one day pass the first time and then bought the five punch card.

My first swim was all about getting acclimated.  Where do we park?  Check in?  Can I put my wetsuit on on the grass or am I supposed to put it on in the locker room?  Is it cold?  It’s cold.  Only 55 degrees!

I felt like a big lame-o since I sort of flailed around the buoys, doing very little actual swimming.  I can swim for ages in the pool, and I wasn’t freaked out by fish or lake monsters.  Why was my heart beating so hard and why was it so hard to breathe?

Doing some googling, I learned that it’s a physiological response, your lungs constrict in cold water. And that made me feel much better about feeling like I couldn’t catch my breath.

Yesterday’s swim, I felt a lot better.  I knew where to park!  I knew it was fine to put my wetsuit on in the grass.  And the water was a bit warmer. Still cold, but not quite as shocking.

I still had a harder time catching my breath than normal.  I did a few “bobs” (ducking under water and then jumping up as high as I could) to warm up.  I switched off between breast stroke, side stroke, and front crawl.  Front crawl is, of course, the fastest, but my lungs were still protesting a bit.  I tried to use mostly my arms and take it easy on the kick.  That worked pretty well.  I was able to go around the three rightmost buoys in less than 25 minutes as opposed to more than 45 last week.  I think that was about 750 meters.  I was feeling so good, I struck out to do another lap, but halfway to the first bouy I was like, “Okay, Mel.  That’ll do.”  I think I went about a half mile total in less than 30 minutes.

Next time I think I would like to do one lap around three bouys, stop for a rest, and then do it again.  Or perhaps even go around all four for one mile.  Honestly, it pains me to pay $9 for a 30 minute workout (plus more than an hour round trip to get there) and I’d like to get more workout bang for my buck!

Something happened here

We found this mess in the alley on the way home, and Harper was like, “What the hell happened here?’

A diaper, toilet paper, some kind of small net, some tiny long johns, and an empty bottle of juice (just outside the photo).  Something happened there, but I’m not sure what.

And someone just knocked on our door and asked for $8 for her electric bill.  Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one trying to gentrify this neighborhood.

Monday, Monday

I have spent almost all of my Mondays for the past eight months volunteering with an organization that helps kids go to and pay for college.  And I love it!  The girl I mentor is crazy awesome and smart and she painted me this sweet picture at the end of the year.

But it’s summer!  She’s off to an amazing summer program at Syracuse and I have my Monday nights back until we reconvene in October.

Tonight my options are:

1.    Mad Mondays!  A Monday night happy hour I always miss due to my volunteer commitment

2.    A community meeting at the library about future library funding.  I have all kinds of opinions about this and have been excited to go, but there will be more in the coming weeks.

3.      The gym!  My next triathlon is in *gulp* twenty days.  And I just don’t feel as prepared to kick ass as I would like to.  I have only run five times this month, and running is where I wanted to improve the most.

Edited to add: I brought all my gym stuff to work but I forgot my shoes!  I went home, ran in our neighborhood, and then went to happy hour.  I really wanted to go to the library meeting, but this way I got to do two out of three.

Weekend Update

I work hard, dangit, and the past few weeks have been hectic.  I’m not one to count down to Friday (I try to enjoy all my days!) but I do like the free time.  I don’t like to overschedule Saturday and Sunday.  This weekend was pretty much perfect.

Friday night – blew off the gym and a “Bike Prom” downtown.  Stayed home and did this instead:

That finale was pretty dumb.  But while I post pretty banal content on the internet, I’ll save you my thoughts on the plot of Gossip Girl.

Saturday morning – fought off a champagne headache and swam 38 slow laps at the rec center.  Went for a 24 mile bike ride on the Platte trail.  It was so windy on the way back that we passed a number of cyclists who had given up on staying upright and had gotten off to walk.  Saw a turtle and a turkey!  Attempted to refuel with vegan pancakes. 

They didn’t all look this bad, but they did all taste kind of like school cafeteria fishsticks.

Saturday night we went to the symphony.  I thought I had finally found an occasion to wear this ridiculous yellow ruffly dress I bought from Nordstrom like a year ago.  Too dressy for work, not quite dressy enough for a real dress up event. 

I texted this photo to a friend we were meeting there and she approved, but I ended up going with a slightly safer fuschia dress.  I like bright colors.  They make me feel safer on my bike.

Sunday morning – I swam in a frigging lake!  I know that this is something people do all the time and I am not a special snowflake.  But it was my first open water swim.  (Not counting, like, the fact that I grew up in San Diego and “swam” in the ocean.  Because that swimming was mostly jumping around and shrieking.)  This felt like a big deal.

I stole this photo off of the website of the company that hosts the swims on the weekends.  But this is pretty much what it looked like.  The water was cold, worse than I feared, only 55°.  My body warmed up in my wetsuit, but was really hard to make myself put my face in the water.  We swam around the three buoys, a half mile, but s-l-o-w-l-y.  We struck out, then I wanted to go back to where I could touch for a minute, then I sort of side stroked, breast stroked and dog paddled to the first buoy.  The cold was making it hard for me to catch my breath.

I did a bit of front crawl between the first and second buoy by sort of bribing myself.  Like, do 15 strokes and then you can stop and catch your breath again.  By the time I passed the second buoy, I was warmed up and able to swim about half of the last leg sort of properly.

It was annoying to feel like, after spending hours in the pool, taking weeks of lessons in the fall, working on my form, I was flailing around, dog paddling at some points.  The cold, the open water, the slimy mud, the wetsuit, it was just all really different.  At least it was pretty outside.  And I will do better next week.  We start where we start and we work our way up.

Reward for being brave?

Terrible photo, amazing, delicious brunch.  I’ve been complaining about the lack of vegan restaurant options in Denver, but almost everything on the menu at Sputnik is (or can be) vegan.  And not, like, you have to ask a million questions and specify no cheese and please don’t cook my veggies in butter.  You just order the arepas and say you’d like them vegan, please. 

Sunday afternoon involved a nap and a trip to the dog park.  I’m now trying to get motivated to make my lunch for tomorrow but putting it off by writing a long recap of my weekend to post on the internet, in hopes that you will find it interesting. 🙂

Iron Lady

After narrowly missing hitting my goal to do an Iron Month (the distance of an Iron Man in one month) in April, I was pretty determined to hit it in May.  I’ve been trying to do this since October!  But between getting sick, getting busy, and being a little lazy sometimes, I always fall short in one of the three sports.

But!  May is looking promising.  The progress so far:


Goal: 2.4 miles
Actual: 3.8 miles!

I have made a ton of swimming progress.  I’ve only swam five times this month, but I can now swim up to a mile (if I have time), whereas earlier in the spring I was only going 500-800 meters in a workout.


Goal: 112 miles
Actual: 95 miles

I decided not to ride to work a few days over the past few weeks when it was raining, but a long 23 mile ride today got me caught up.  As long as I ride my bike to work all next week (which I almost always do unless it’s raining) I will be all set!


Goal: 26.2 miles
Actual: 21 miles

Ten days left in the month to run five miles.  I can do it! 

I had to come in to the office today.  I almost just ran here since it’s only about 1.5 miles one way and it’s a fun jog with the dog.  But my belly was feeling a bit off so I drove, not realizing it was a game day and parking downtown would be mega expensive. (The $5 lots go up to like $20 on game days.)

I remembered a coworker saying it was okay to park in the spots behind our building on Saturdays, that they didn’t tow those days.

Yeah, so that was wrong.  They definitely do tow, and my poor Goldie Honda was impounded.  About the same time I realized I had just reached “that time of the month” and it started raining, meaning my walk home will be a soggy one.  (I can’t take the bus since I have my dog with me.)  One of those days.

But! Bright side.  It’s annoying to pay $300, but at least I have it.  I’m happy that this doesn’t mean I can’t buy food or pay my mortgage.  This is annoying but not a crisis.

Plus! Since I’m not driving home, I will definitely be enjoying a beer from the kitchen before I leave.