A New Year Swim -- 01/01/03

We had a pleasant New Year's celebration last night -- as noted yesterday, we had invited Nancy's mother and one of Nancy's sisters and her husband and teenage daughters to join Nancy and Sean and me for dinner. And, as usual, I was rushing to get everything ready -- lassagna (three pans: one with spinach, one with sausage, and one with both spinach and sausage -- plus a nice big salad and hot garlic bread and brouchetta. We had chips and veggies and dips and crackers and cheese and shrimp before dinner... and Nancy had done some baking: oatmeal raisin bars and some kind of chocolate fudge things.

After dinner Sean went off to a friend's house while the rest of us watched Spiderman and Ice Age (well, the girls had already seen Spiderman so they went up to Sean's room to use his computer to chat online with friends, leaving that movie to just us grown-ups). We paused for a champagne toast at midnight (switching to the traditional view of Times Square crowds). That left just the final fifteen minutes or so of the movie and our guests were on their way home by 12:30. Nancy was asleep before one.

I had been reading a newspaper article on New Year's Day swims at various places in Rhode Island. The article mentioned that the one at Narragansett Town Beach would be preceeded by a 5k race. Although I had decided that I would forego a New Year's Day run because of my problems with plantar fascitis pain in my left heel, I was tempted by the chance to celebrate by running in an actual race, especially one that was partly on a beach, but I could find no information on it. My brother-in-law told me to give him a call if I could find out more about it, perhaps we could run it together. I checked this morning's paper -- nothing about it -- nothing on-line either -- and thought that I might take a ride over there to find out about it. But then I lay down for just a few minutes... and the next thing I knew almost an hour had passed.
I drove over to Narragansett and hiked down the beach to where I could see activity and found that there was, indeed, going to be a 5k race -- and it was going to start in fifteen minutes. I was tempted to signup and run it even though I was not dressed for running (wearing jeans) but did not want to be limping with heel pain for the next three days... so I passed on the race... but signed up for the noontime plunge.... Dashed home to change and came back with Nancy (who brought the digital camera and took the pictures you see on the left). By the time we got back to the beach there were hundreds of people there -- mostly spectators, but there were at least a hundred people who splashed into the water at noon -- old and young, male and female, groups of friends, entire families (including kids).

As noon approached the crowd of spectators stepped aside, leaving an open pathway to the ocean. The swimmers were gathered, watching a count-down timer -- 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 -- shouting and cheering -- a mad dash across the sand -- into the water -- painfully cold feet, splashing through the shallow water, running and splashing -- low tide, it's a long way to deeper water -- calf deep, splashing, knee deep -- eventually I got far enough out that I could do a shallow dive into an incoming wave. The cold was not that bad -- uh, let me rephrase that a bit -- the cold was not as bad as I had feared it would be. It was a mild day for January 1st... the air temperature was around 45 degrees and the water temperature was around 40 degrees (for metric readers, that's about 7 degrees for the air and 4 degrees for the water)... I wore sneakers because I did not want to worry about stepping on rocks or broken clam shells (and I was not wearing my glasses because I didn't want to lose them when I dove into the waves) and it seemed to me that the worst part was how cold my feet were, but after a couple of minutes they seemed to get a bit numb. The first picture was taken before the swim. The second picture was taken after I had been in the water for a few minutes, then returned to land and jogged up to the fence where I had hung my clothes so I could put my glasses on and try to find Nancy in the crowd. As you can see, almost everyone has left the water.

I did this mostly on impulse, but it was fun and I think I might do it again next year.

There had been some light rain most of the morning. It had stopped around noon, but has since returned. I'd been hoping to go for a bike ride but, although I might have just had a January 1st swim, I don't really feel like riding my bike in the rain. So, I guess after I post this entry, I'll head down to the basement and lift weights for a little while.

Here's a picture of those Christmas mice I'd mentioned a few entries back... the idea came from a show on HGTV... bodies are maraschino cherries (with stems) dipped in chocolate, Hersey's Kiss for the head, almond slivers for ears, miniature M&Ms for eyes (I think HGTV had used dots of frosting for the eyes).

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