Monday, May 30, 2011

The Helix

This is a graph of the lake temperature at Couer d' Alene. Looks like in the last month the trend has been moving in the right direction, which is good, because I did the Celsius Fahrenheit conversion on those numbers and all I have to say is that if Ironman was on April 30 I probably would have bailed. Shoot, even now apparently the lake is only ~51 degrees. I swam in 53 degree water once and swore I would never do that again. I'm going to just hope that the squiggly blue line on that graph keeps going in the same direction at generally the same slope over the next 4 weeks.

Our water temps here range from cold (75) in the winter to warm (80) in the summer. Based on this information, I bet you can guess how often I swim in a wetsuit! Ha!

I'd heard that CdA was a cold swim so thought that maybe I should get a long sleeve wetsuit. Somehow I have managed to race triathlons for 16 years without having one (I have always preferred the sleeveless ones). Sometimes I've been cold (53 was really freakin' cold with that sleeveless wetsuit) but I've always opted for that vs the constricting feeling of material on my shoulders when I swim. I did try a friend's long sleeve wetsuit once about 10 years ago... swam in it for about 5 minutes before I was like, nope, not using this on race day. So I don't know what came over me a couple months ago but I jumped at the chance to buy a Blue Seventy Helix when Jessi posted on FB that she was selling her brand new one for a decent price... I'd heard the Helix was good for swimmers because if the flexibility in the shoulders or whatever... Anyway, it arrived in the mail several months ago and I put it in my closet without even trying it on. Until today.

Nalani and I went ocean swimming in Waikiki today... You can only imagine how ridiculous we felt, standing on the beach and putting these long sleeve wetsuits on when both the air and the water measured at about 80 degrees. Yikes. We did stand in the shade as we struggled to get them on, as if that was going to make it better. Mine fit, pretty much. My shoulders are way a bit bigger than what the manufacturer probably envisioned when they created this size, but with some persistent yanking and squirming Nalani eventually got mine zipped up for me. Phew.

We swam for about 4 minutes before we both stopped and started griping about the wetsuits. It was just so odd to feel so constricted and my shoulders were aching already. Oh boy. I was in trouble. Nalani was like, "No wonder triathletes hate swimming. These wetsuits make swimming horribly uncomfortable!" NO kidding. We kept swimming and ~5 minutes later we got completely pummeled by a rogue wave... tumbling in white water... Nalani lost her goggles and my cap was just about completely right off... Yikes again! Then like some sort of miracle I spotted Nalani's goggles right in front of me and managed to grab them. Phew. So we soldiered on through some pretty choppy conditions and I thought about how glad I was that I did so much pulling with paddles this year, because in choppy conditions with a wetsuit, I was just letting my legs drag and gathering all my swim power right up front. No need to kick at all.

Eventually I started to get used to the feeling of the wetsuit and my shoulders warmed up and got loose and by the end of the hour I'd say that other than feeling like I was burning up from the inside out, I was fine. The Helix is a good wetsuit and while I'll stand by my assertion that non-wetsuit swims are better than wetsuit swims, I'll say that if I have to wear a wetsuit, the Helix is a good choice. Maybe I'll like it better when wearing it doesn't make me feel like I'm on fire? Still though, if by some miracle the water in CdA hits 70 degrees on June 26, that would be good by me.

7 comments:

Mary IronMatron said...

I grew up ocean swimming on the coast of Maine. I still swim there. CDA is 50 billion times colder swimming than that. Bring that Helix! You might even want to consider a hoodie. It's f-ing cold!

Iron Krista, "The Dog Mom" said...

70degs. You ARE funny. My bet is it's going to repeat my 08 experience. The water was 53-55 Mon-Fri ,but by race day it somehow jumped up to 58-60 and was totally doable! I wore a skull cap and booties tho. I will NEVER wear booties again.

Kathy said...

Had a long sleeve but got a sleeveless last season and liked it sooo much better. Of course, I didn't have any 50 degree swims last season, but I did have one in the low 60s.

X-Country2 said...

That makes me shiver just thinking about it. That's why people never leave Hawaii.

Ange said...

I am the same way with wetsuits. I hate them. I was sure I wouldn't need one when I started racing Triathlons. We had a super warm summer last year here in Maine and one of my races didn't allow wetsuits because the water was too warm. What a Treat to swim with free shoulders!!! Can't wait to 'watch' you at IM CdA!!

Regina said...

You will be so happy you have it in that cold water, shoulder fatigue be damned. Even me, a not so hot swimmer, doesnt mind the shoulder thing too much. You, being a strong swimmer, it probably won't be a big deal.

Mark said...

I think it would be cool if there was an app that you could drag the squiggly blue line and therefor raising the water temperature. I will start development tomorrow.