Sunday, February 5

California Natives

Tyler and I meet 8AM at the Dolphin Club on the northern end of Fisherman's Wharf and below Ghirardelli Chocolates (last time I was in this spot was 1994 when I ran 59:59 for a 10-mile road race knowing full well at the time it was my shot to break an hour. Another story).

Our aim : to swim, well, in the Bay which is 53 F (13.5 C). I've never been in temps like this - coldest perhaps around 60 in the Pacific in a 3/2 density wet suit.  There are a bunch of swimmers, kooks and enthusiasts huddled in the clubhouse drinking coffee and encouraging each other forward or telling stories of when it was really cold. Tyler, Matt and I tip-toe to the small beach in our swim suits and insulating caps then, without preamble, race into the Bay.

It is f***ing freezing and the shock is agonising. The first 15 minutes I am concerned I will hyper-ventilate or worse. Tyler provides encouragement and security though I am not sure he would be so useful if I seize up and go down.

Then, blissfully, the exertion heats the body, the blood rushes inward to protect some organs and my limbs go comfortably numb. We laugh and chat and float in the sunshine, looking across the water at Alcatraz before returning to shore.

The rest of the day I have a distinct buzz. I can see how it is addictive and could be life changing if done regularly.