I’m Swimming Across Lake Michigan

Well, not literally, but also not figuratively or metaphorically since I will actually be swimming. Maybe cumulatively is a better term. I should explain first about Lake Michigan for non-Midwestern United Staters.

Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes.

What makes them so great? Well, they contain 21% of the world’s fresh water, duh! You can swim, surf, boat, fish, and not worry about jellyfish or shark attacks.

Except land sharks. They’re all over. Big nuisance.

I have personally enjoyed 4 of the 5 Great Lakes, so here’s my Great Lakes Ranking with reasons.

  • #5 Lake Erie – Too close to Cleveland and it has snakes in it.
  • #4 Lake Ontario – Too close to New York.
  • #3 Lake Superior – Gorgeous but very chilly.
  • #2 Lake Huron – Gorgeous and slightly less chilly than Lake Superior.
  • #1 Lake Michigan – The only Great Lake that the US doesn’t have to share with Canada. Also, some gorgeous beaches, especially on the Michigan side. And the way that Lake Michigan is situated north-south makes for great sunrises seen from the western shore and great sunsets seen from the eastern shore. It’s also the warmest Great Lake, especially around Chicago.

And so, I have decided to swim across Lake Michigan this summer. Here’s how I’m going to do it.

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Weighting Out Winter

The last time I updated you on my efforts to reach my weight loss goal of 20 pounds (for those of you still living in medieval times, that comes out to 1.43 stones), I had fallen short in September. I was stuck at 17 pounds at the end of September after really working out hard that month. With cooler weather coming, I faced the prospect of no more swimming workouts in the convenience of our backyard pool. I am simply not up for a nice winter swim as some are.

Canadians, eh? And I cannot handle this exercise below freezing …

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My Winter Weather Weight War

One week ago, I was on the brink of having lost 19 pounds toward my goal of 20. And then, the weather turned ugly along with my disposition. Unseasonably cooler temperatures moved in along with rain every single day of the week. Literally overnight, I gained 2 pounds. My body reacts to the cold by packing on winter weight, possibly so I can live off my blubber in case I am ever lost in the Arctic or Chicago in January. I’m not sure which is colder. I fought back by getting depressed and eating everything in sight. Turns out, that didn’t help. I gained another pound.

I could no longer get in a daily swim since the pool was overflowing with cold water. I could no longer get in a daily bike ride due to all the rain. I changed my tack and established an indoor routine of daily walking on the treadmill, elliptical work, and some interval training including crunches (not Nestle’s, although that would be my preference), push-ups, and light weight work.

Success! I’ve banished 1 of the 3 pounds I added. I was even able to get back in the pool yesterday as warmer temps have returned for a few days. We’ll see how sunny and warm these next couple days get as we are now experiencing a smoky haze from the west coast of the USA that is burning out of control. I always thought California would fall into the Pacific due to an earthquake. I never expected it would burn into oblivion.

The bottom line for me is that we are halfway through the month, and I still have 3 pounds to lose to reach 20. I am not confident, but I will try like hell to get there by the end of September. I know October will bring colder weather and that means a fatter, but not jollier, Jim.

The Big Chill

I was happy to return home last night after a quick business trip involving driving 600+ miles and staying overnight in a place where someone hung themselves. More on that tomorrow. I was eager to jump into our little pool and cool off a bit. The spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak. Instead, I jumped onto our couch for some TV watching.

But this morning, oh, that was going to be a different story. I was up early and ready to swim. I love those cool late summer mornings when steam rises from warmer lakes, ponds, and pools.

pool steam

The air was a crisp 62F (16.7C) this morning, so I found it odd that I didn’t see that steam rising from our little pool. I wasn’t sure why … until I got in.

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My Pool, Me, & OCD

I am of the belief that we all have some mental illness of some sort. Think about it. What mental illness affects you? Depression? Mood swings? An unhealthy obsession with the lady next door that looks like a young Audrey Hepburn?

For me, it’s OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I’ve never blogged about it. I am only starting to discuss it with family and friends, because it turns out they find it charming, quirky, and fascinating. Okay, so they also find it somewhat disturbing. But I can live with that as long as it makes me appear more interesting. Hmm, I may need to add narcissism to my list.

My OCD really came into focus when I messed up my pool liner order, and had to reduce my pool from 16 feet across to 15.

Pool 15 foot

I guess the picture doesn’t really help you understand my OCD. I’ll try to explain.

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Ranking the Friendliness of My Fellow Exercisers

Ever since I hung up my running shoes earlier this year and settled on walking and biking (once I fixed my bike) as my exercises for the future, I have noticed my fellow exercisers more. I no longer have to try and avoid people as I run so they don’t see my jiggling fat. I walk. I wave. I engage them in conversation … well, some of them. Here’s how I rank them from unfriendly to the friendliest.

#10 – Serious Cyclists

They are the absolute worst, wearing their fancy cycling clothes and teardrop-shaped aerodynamic bike helmets. There’s me with my teardrop-shaped body trying to give them a wave or nod, but they are always too busy going 100 miles per hour to acknowledge me back. Oh, was that a tree branch I accidentally left on the path?

Bike Flip

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Hard Water

I retired our pool liner last year. It had gotten brittle over several seasons of use (I can relate) and had started springing leaks (I can also relate) that I was patching. I figured there would be no problem purchasing a replacement liner for a 4 year old pool. Boy, was I wrong (I relate too often).

Apparently, my old pool liner was a death trap because of only 1 filter intake line. That design was deemed unsafe for some reason, discontinued, and replaced with a dual filter intake line. So, I couldn’t get the replacement liner I needed. The simple solution seemed to be to just buy a complete new pool. Nope, that was also not an option.

Due to the COVID-19 coronavirus, pools are in short supply. And when I found one like my old $350 pool, they were priced over $1000. A discount grocery store near us advertised a reasonably-priced pool, and people were lined-up at 6AM waiting for the store to open at 9AM to get a pool. Back to the replacement liner option for me.

By studying replacement part lists for the various styles of pools from the manufacturer, I decided that by enlarging holes using the precision of a brain surgeon (I cannot relate) and slapping a patch on another hole, I could make a current model pool liner fit the hardware from our old pool and make the filter system a death trap again. Except … pool liners are in short supply. I calculated that by adding cable ties and duct tape, I may be able to make a random liner from another model of pool fit the hardware from our old pool. That was a sketchy plan at best, especially when I accidentally ordered a 15 foot liner rather than the 16 footer that I needed.

I could sense something was wrong as I was assembling the pool. It didn’t seem quite right (I can relate). I got to almost the end, there were leftover parts, and the pool hardware wouldn’t fit. I cut down and drilled one of the metal parts, and voilà …

Pool 15 foot

Not only do I have a 15 foot pool, but it seems sturdier than the original 16 footer. As a bonus, I did not have to use duct tape and now have a couple spare metal parts.

It looked great. I was ready to enjoy it and get some exercise. Only 352 laps to a mile! But then, the weather got chilly. Oh, and I got cancer. I’ll explain … about the cancer part. You should be able to figure out the chilly weather part yourself.

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