Laurie needed some extra encouragement and so I basically told her just to get her rear end down to the lake.
The "tough love" was offered in jest and she took it that way. Laurie and I have been friends for a year now having met as both were introduced to the sport of triathlon. We both wanted to get in the open water but Laurie was balking at the potential for choppy water since it was a windy day.
"Come to the pier and look then make your decision," I said.
I arrived before she did and immediately parked my car and went to peer into the water. Oh, the lake was bumpy but there really weren't any waves and the chop was minimal. It looked like a pretty decent day to get in about 45 minutes worth of open water practice.
Then I saw the dead fish by the ladder.
Not surprising since we had thunderstorms the other day. The lake probably turned over and the debris of the storm was washing away.
They will float to the end, I thought, and stay along the break wall. If we swim toward the middle, we'll be just fine.
The count of dead fish floating by had reached five.
Then I looked out at the water.
More dead fish, floating in the middle.
My count was up to nine and I stopped.
I have swum in water with dead fish before but this was a bit too much.
Laurie pulled up.
"I'm so sorry but I don't think I'm getting in," I told Laurie, feeling a bit guilty that I had teased her about the choppy water and I, in turn, was balking at the dead fish.
"You know, that's OK," she said. "It doesn't matter to me. Let's go to the pool."
And so we went to one of the pools we both belong to -- and that's where the fun started.
Driving over to the pool I realized that I was in triathlon mode, not gym mode. This means my bathing suit was underneath old and ill-fitting clothing (because your clothes will likely get dirty when changing out of the wetsuit at an open water swim). I only had my wet suit bag with me, not a gym bag. Luckily I had a towel, my goggles and my swim cap. Which really was all I needed to swim. But I had nothing to change into afterward and no lock to secure my belongings in the locker room.
No, instead, I would walk into the building, do directly to the pool, take off my shorts and t-shirt and dive into the water.
This, I thought, felt like a skid row type of swim.
Because not only was I not exactly in proper gym form, but the pool we were swimming in? Well, it was one of the skanky pools -- old with some tiles that will probably never be clean and water that is kept way too warm.
In fact, Laurie and I joked that this particular pool swim was a step up from the lake only in the fact that there were no dead fish in the water.
Heck, I still had my Road ID on my ankle. So did Laurie. This cracked us up.
Not prepared for a pool swim meant I also did have my beloved fins to help me swim faster and glide smoother.
But I didn't think too much about it. Laurie and I were laughing too much at ourselves, at how ridiculous we looked "changing" on the pool deck and deciding to keep wearing our Road IDs.
In the water, I felt good. I felt calm. I felt, well, hot. The water was terribly warm, which sounds nice at first but once you start moving gets a bit uncomfortable. I pushed a few laps then would ease up. My goal was to swim for 45 minutes and I swam for 43:30 with one 20 second break to adjust my goggles.
And I did it without my pool safety net (my fins) and without any judgement.
Laurie and I continued to laugh afterward as we walked to our cars. Core workout? Sometimes laughter isn't just the best medicine, it's the best exercise.
Any disappointment of not swimming in open water quickly disappeared for us as we made fun of ourselves and the situation.
And the more I made the situation into something ridiculous, like completely mocking myself for having to throw on my shorts and tee-shirt over my wet swimsuit to walk out of the gym, the more relaxed I became about swimming in general. It led to a good swim, a hard workout, and something good in the memory bank.