Saturday, April 28, 2007

Harder than it looks

I went to False Outer Point beach yesterday to look for a good swimming spot. I told myself I was just going to "recon" the area, but I did have a backpack with the pink wetsuit, my neoprene socks and gloves, and, just for good measure, a nylon balaclava that probably wouldn't do a thing to keep my head warm, but seemed worth a try. Air temperature was 40 degrees with light drizzle. I baby-stepped over slime-coated boulders, across a swath of crackling clam shells and past salmon fishermen hunched in a rain-drenched row.

I found a large rock outcropping to hide behind. Seabirds swirled around in a diverse congregation I never saw during the winter - two large herons, ducks, seagulls, ravens and one bald eagle in the midst. Even though I dressed for winter, I was already starting to shiver just standing there, and decided it was going to have to be now or never. But before I pulled the wetsuit out, I walked to the edge of the shore, lined in jagged, barnacle-covered rocks, and dipped my hands in the water. Even on that small surface of skin, the cold hit with sharp intensity. I lingered near the water as the chill trickled into my nervous system. How in the world was I willfully going to put my whole body in there? I looked over at the fishermen, a ways down the shore but sure to regard me as a nuisance. Across the channel were several drift boats that would probably feel obliged to "rescue" me. It was good to have people around but there were too many this time. It was a protected spot ... scenic ... a good place to swim ... another day.

Today, I have to work a longer shift so I am going to the little pool and hope to put in 100 laps ... no time to procrastinate near the ocean today, although I'd like to try again on Monday or Tuesday. All I am doing for the rest of the week is swimming and upper-body weight lifting. I am avoiding any impact workouts on my legs because I am headed to Utah for a week of backpacking and hiking, and I want to be as "healthy" as possible. As much as I hate to admit it, my legs do seem to feel stronger the longer I stay off of them. Next Saturday, one week from today, Geoff is doing a White Rim ride with our good friend Bryan and one to possibly several other talented endurance cyclists. I would do anything to be able to ride this trail. Utah in May, the rolling redrock in the company of old friends and new faces - I mean it. I would do anything. I'd give up all hope of 24 Hours of Kincaid, or the Fireweed road ride, or maybe even my UltraSport dreams. I want to live here, now. Unfortunately, where I am now would make this ride impossible, no matter how much I wanted it. Even if I was willing to accept the unknown consequences of what the future might hold were I to attempt it, there's no way I could even physically do it. As silly as this is going to sound, that reality just hit me the other day, and I've been feeling depressed. Even the hiking and backpacking is going to be a struggle. Part of me doesn't even want to make this trip to Utah because when I began to plan it three months ago, it was supposed to be a laid-back, chill trip - not a struggle. That's probably the hardest thing about injury, and the reason why I've spent two months ranting nonstop about it on my blog - and then turning around and doing the very things that will only prolong the pain. I want to live here, now. And I can't.


  1. I think swimming in the ocean in 40 degree weather constitutes living here, now. Good luck and stay optimistic.

  2. A nylon balaclava will not keep your head warm! Get a neoprene hood, it will be much, much warmer and worth every dollar spent.


  3. You live in a beautiful part of the world Jill! I spent last summer in Alaska and loved every minute of it (even if it was slightly damp). From Homer, Kodiak, and down the South East to Ketchican. I wrote a little story about it too
    Wish I had met you when I was docked in Auke Bay :)

  4. Sea kayaking dude! I have some photos of a NOLS Sea Kayak trip from a few years back at

    Maybe that will provide some inspiration. It's a very cool sport and you are in the best place in the world for it.

  5. A thought from the country's opposite corner...

    In Florida, we often think any water below about 75 degrees is too cold for swimming. Even if you didn't go in, your contemplation of taking to the water at 40 degrees gives me perspective. Thanks for the inspiration.


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