“I can’t just walk away. I’ve got to test the waters.”
My new years resolution for 2010 was to not doing anything stupid for a long, long time.
Yesterday I sent out a dozen texts to my triathlete friends around Richmond. “Hey man if you’re home for break, want to go swimming at Huguenot at 2:45?”
Three people were dumb enough to respond yes. At 1pm, one of them bails.
And at 2:45 another bails.
But my friend and teammate Alex Burton who I have been training with and racing against since I started doing triathlons shows up at Huguenot at 2:45.
We talked for a while, catching up on what’s happened since the summer. He’s at VMI and his college experience is drastically different from mine.
I donned my wetsuit and discovered that Alex was lacking this essential for open water swimming in November.
I took one step into the water and felt the stabbing cold of my heat being stripped away.
Alex steps in and immediately jumps back out and says “Thats not even cold! Thats just plain painful!”
I am laughing uncontrollably at the absurdity of what we are doing but not once considering how dangerous it could potentially be.
Alex steps back in and asks me why I didn’t want to just go running or biking. I told him I needed to swim so why not do it in the river?
My logic was completely idiotic.
We finally build up enough courage to dive in and swim. With only a jammer and a swim cap for warmth Alex jumps in and holds his head above water, swimming like a toddler.
“AHHHHHH!!! It hurts so freaking bad!!!!” I scream. “My head! It feels like I’ve got brain freeze but can’t stop eating ice cream!”
We treaded water a mere twenty meters off shore for a few minutes until Alex says, “We’ve got to at least swim across.”
I could not just turn down that offer as badly as my feet and hands and head hurt. So I dipped my head back in and began swimming. As we swam I felt the stabbing pain in my face and forehead numbing and I felt my body temperature dropping. Mind you I have a wetsuit on and Alex is completely exposed. We reach the other side of the river and my face feels like its swollen.
Alex mumbles to me through his frozen chattering lips, “In 45 degree water it takes fifteen minutes for a person to get hypothermia and die.” He had been reading books for Navy seal training.
“Ummmm…,” I responded.
“What? Wait,” he says in shock. “How long has it been?”
We quickly walked upstream and our conversation became less and less intelligent, and our words more mumbled from our frozen lips. We swam back across as fast as we could and crossed the river faster than I ever have.
We step out of the water and the first words to come out of Alex’s mouth are, “That was stupid. I mean, that wasn’t even fun.” His body was flaming red. When I stripped my wetsuit off my skin looked burned and stung to the touch. We struggled to put sentences together with our swollen and frozen faces and every task seemed monumental because of our frozen brains and fingers.
We dried ourselves off, jumped into my car and blasted the heat.
I don’t know what it is that attracts me so much to stupid stuff like that. It scares me to imagine some of the situations I have been in. Forty-nine degree water will suck the heat out any exposed skin and in water, if you’re not thinking clearly, you’re body could end up on the bottom of the river, cold and dead.