I’ve been busy recently supporting local Democrat candidates by hitting the campaign trail while also working at my business and writing this biting humor blog.
Editor’s Note: This idiot once heard someone say that his blog bites, so that’s where he got the idea that this blog contains “biting humor.”
As the elected Democratic Precinct Committee Person for the area, my job is to deliver candidate literature, signs, and general encouragement to vote. That’s all well and good, and I am happy to do so. However, I was less than thrilled to be called this name as I arrived at a house …
For you unsophisticated readers, I believe that title translates to “Hello France, I have finished my Channel swim,” but I could be mistaken and it may mean “Hello France, I have a badger in my pants.” I’m hoping for the former as I have figuratively arrived in France after my swim across the English Channel this summer. The French were quite excited for my arrival earlier this week.
You can see my route from the beach at Dover in England to just southwest of Calais per this map.
I’m getting close to finishing my swim across the English Channel this summer. More importantly, I’m confused as to how I should refer to the swim. It’s not a literal swim across the Channel, but it’s also not figurative. I am literally swimming 21 miles, just not actually in the Channel. Maybe a combination of literal & figurative? Liturative? Figeral? Regardless, you get the idea. I’m swimming a lot this summer. But maybe not enough. I’m still 5 miles away from France’s shores, and summer is quickly slipping away.
I am close enough to almost smell the French fries fying, see the French rolls rolling, and hear the French champagne corks popping. Just a couple weeks ago, I almost threw in the towel, although not lituratively or figerally. My pool succumbed to mustard algae again and turned this lovely color.
If I flounder now, it’s on France’s shoulders to come rescue me. Who knows what my French rescuers may throw to me as floatation devices in case I am in distress? Maybe empty champagne bottles and merveilleux fromage français (or wonderful French cheese for our English-speaking readers). The French have so much cheese that they use for so many things that I just assume that they also use it for water rescues. But will it float? Fortunately, we have an expert on the buoyancy of cheese (good name for an album) standing by who can answer that question.
Well, that’s not far enough. At this rate, I will be at just under 17 miles out by the end of August. I will be too far from Dover for the British to mount an ocean rescue, and the French simply won’t care.
The reality is that crappy weather got me off to a late start swimming this summer, and I strained a knee ligament during my first open water swim which has slowed me a bit. Oh, and I also injured my butt when I had the “brilliant” idea to try jumping part of the way across the Channel.
I’ve been trying to split my swims between pools and open water. At this point, I have 5 miles of pool swims in with 3.4 miles in open water. Getting in the open water swims has not been as easy as I expected.
I had hopes of cycling through fields of Purple Coneflowers and Black-Eyed Susans to get to a secluded, illegal swimming hole, which is typically the best kind. Well, the flowers didn’t disappoint.
If you recall, I got a totally free Apple Watch that I must wear in exchange for a company using the data from the watch to study my brain. Yep, you read that correctly – my brain. I absolutely got the better end of that deal.
It’s worked out okay so far. I had no idea how many people wear Apple Watches until I started wearing one and noticing others wearing the same. I feel like I’m sort of in a club now, like a biker gang. You know how bikers signal each other when they pass?
Well. I’ve started signaling to other Apple Watch wearers. I think this signal is subtle, but effective. Take a look.
I kicked off my summer swimming season when I was on my recent trip with my daughter. I swam indoors over 3 mornings and totaled 1 mile. It felt good getting back in the pool, but I yearned for open water swimming. Today was the day. The only thing keeping me from a 7:30AM swim in a deep water quarry with 66 degree F/19 degree C water when the air temp was 62F/17C was common sense. Well, that has never been much of a deterrent to me in life. I would definitely literally be in over my head today in the water.
I was also figuratively in over my head today. I pulled in as another swimmer was having his wife (assuming they were married because who else would be crazy enough to be out there with him?) help him prepare for his swim with wetsuit, goggles, swim cap, emergency inflatable, amphetamines, swim diaper, etc. He and many others present were serious swimmers training for triathlons. Don’t believe me? Take a look at his car.
I’m very late reporting on my weight loss trials and travails for September. I shouldn’t be late with these weight loss posts as they are my most popular posts on this blog. I think it’s because despite differences in politics, religion, etc., we all share the same struggle with weight control, except for those naturally skinny people with self control who never have to exercise. Oh, I hate them so much. Anyway, here we go, better late than never.
When I last posted about weight, I was 3 lbs below my goal weight at the end of August. Success, right? Well, not exactly. September turned cool, my swimming stopped, and my body started to get ready for a winter hibernation by eating everything in sight. I immediately re-reached my goal weight from the opposite direction and shot up above it by several pounds. That’s just how my body works. It doesn’t matter that my steps were strong again in September.
Geez, wouldn’t you think I would make a little extra effort to average 10K steps? Anyway, my body’s metabolism just slows down in cooler weather, maybe to get ready for my winter hibernation? I would be willing to give hibernation a try as I like long naps. Fortunately, the weather warmed again and some of the weight came off. Right at the end of September, my weight had come down to below my goal weight again, but seemed to be heading up. I waited to see what would happen. Well, here’s what happened.
How many pounds of weight lost is too many? For me, I’m not sure that number exists. If you recall from my post about July weight loss, I had made my original weight loss goal. It took me over a year to lose 20 pounds. I still felt puffy, so I figured I would continue on. But continue what? I’m not on a diet. I just eat right. I had even cut back a bit on exercise from last year, although I still posted a respectable average daily step/bike crank total in August.
After swimming 9 miles in July, I scaled back to 7 miles in August. So how did I lose 3 more pounds in August? I don’t have COVID or any other deadly disease. I’m starting to think it may have to do with one of the two mystery supplements I started taking at the beginning of June. They weren’t a mystery to me, but I have been teasing them a bit in this blog. Well, it’s time for their big reveal.
Anyway, I have been blogging a lot about water since I have been swimming across Lake Michigan this summer in my backyard pool. After swimming more miles than expected in July, it became mathematically apparent that I would likely make my mileage goal by the end of summer. I started to think about finishing with a flourish or grand gesture, and I had one in mind.
I was aware of this event as I had considered competing in it in my younger days.
I certainly couldn’t finish the 5K (3.1 miles) unless I was being towed by a boat. But I had done a mile open water swim in July, so I am pretty sure I can slog slowly through the 2.5K (1.55 miles) course. Oh, you’re asking why it is called the Big Shoulders swim?
Editor’s Note: Nobody asked.
Well, Chicago was called the City of Big Shoulders by poet Carl Sandburg. Of course, he also called Chicago the Hog Butcher for the World. I think the swimming race organizers chose the better name.
July was a real up & down month weightwise for me. Up is not the direction I want to go, but 2 personal trips, 1 business trip, and a family birthday party throw my eating and exercise plans off a bit. I was up a couple pounds, down a couple, up, down, up, down, etc. But the final result for July was down 3 lbs, and I made my goal weight set at the beginning of the COVID lockdown.
It wasn’t because of my steps. They were down, under 10,000 per day, but purposely so.
Out of sheer boredom, I have been trying to schedule some open water swimming. But Saturday, my attempt to actually swim across the actual Lake Michigan was actually rebuffed as Lake Michigan was actually closed! Actually! I took our youngest daughter to stay with our oldest daughter on Saturday for a sister-bonding sleepover, and we stopped at beautiful Montrose Beach in Chicago on the way for a quick swim.
Montrose is a beautiful urban beach, complete with sand dunes. But on Saturday, it was closed because of a brisk wind from the northeast creating some dangerous riptides. I still wanted to give it a try. Where were the “my body, my choice” anti-vaxxers when I needed them to back me up?
Anyway, we walked and relaxed a bit on the beach instead of swimming. I had already gotten some laps in my pool, and after a half mile on Sunday (that’s 175 laps!), I find myself here in Lake Michigan.
As I teased in my last post, I was tempted after my swim last Saturday. Being America’s Friend, I was speaking to a total stranger despite the stranger wearing very tight shorts and sporting a somewhat satanic beard.
I was also wearing very tight swim shorts, and they were quite wet. We were both standing just outside the women’s locker room. And then the stranger tempted me to do something I haven’t done in years. He slipped me his card with his contact info. If I gave in to the temptation, I would meet the stranger again on the 1st of August for a dalliance into what I can only describe for me as … forbidden fruit.
The stranger had tempted me with this irresistible offer.
At my age, with a pandemic still raging all around, when there is something I want to do, I know I best do it quickly or maybe never have the chance. I mentioned in a recent post that I want to take my swim across Lake Michigan out of pools and into open water. I wasted no time and did just that this past Saturday.
I found a great lake to do an open water swim, but not a Great Lake. It wasn’t a good weekend to head to Lake Michigan (one of the 5 Great Lakes) to swim, because we are fostering 2 puppies. Who wants to see puppy pictures and video? Well, maybe if you’re nice and like this post, or better still, beg me, I’ll post some puppy stuff. Anyway, I found a great lake just about 40 minutes up the river from us that was hosting a morning open water swim in beautiful, crystal clear waters. Take a look …
Take a look at your calendar, and you’ll see that summer is half over. Unless you live in Canada. Summer’s already over up there. I wonder if it’s already over in Chicago. We’ve had some cool, rainy weather recently, which makes my pool quite chilly and my motivation low to swim in a frigid pool. Today is just such a day. My toes are turning blue at the thought of a pool swim today. Regardless, here we are, halfway through calendric summer, and I’m halfway across Lake Michigan at just over 11 miles into the swim.
I can’t get too bored and stop swimming. I’m figuratively in the middle of the lake. If I stop, I’ll figuratively drown! So, on I swim. But I have to spice things up. I think I need to take this swimapalooza on the road. Sure, I swam in hotel pools the past two weekends in Nebraska and Minnesota. Pardon me while I yawn. I yearn for open water. I feel the need to get some mileage in Lake Michigan itself. I will let you know if I muster the motivation to head to the greatest of the Great Lakes and actually swim in it.
If you have to deal with cool, rainy weather, what better way is there than to curl up with a good book? If you don’t have one, I suggest you settle for my well-reviewed, crappy book.
As we traveled last weekend, I made sure I got my laps in at the hotel pool, because as readers know, I am swimming across Lake Michigan. One added benefit is that I made a new friend at the pool. I do consider myself America’s friend and sweetheart. He was an older gentlemen, and we were alone in the pool area, ostensibly to swim laps. But he confronted me with, “Can I ask about your weight?” Uh-oh. I looked for the closest exit in case his next question was an invitation to join him in the hot tub. But it wasn’t. He just had a question about my weight. Then my mind flashed to this tweet I had seen and wondered if his question might go this way.
But our conversation didn’t go that route. I told him that he could ask away, and he asked me this legitimate question.
I’m on schedule considering I missed a couple days at the beginning of June as I tried every gasket and washer in my cache of plumbing supplies to eventually successfully stop a leak in one of the pool connections. 22 miles is still possible if I average a quarter mile each day for July and August.
I know what you’re asking. Am I scared being in the middle of Lake Michigan? Sure, I’m terrified, but that’s normal for me every day after I wake up. And if you look at the map, you can see there’s land close by as I’m near that big peninsula jutting into the lake. That peninsula has a piece of Jim Flanigan history linked to it which I will explain.
Although I was on a short business trip this week, I continued my swim across Lake Michigan by using the hotel pools, despite their confusing rules. For example, there was disinfectant spray all over the place in the workout areas. I get it. I support it. Until everyone gets vaccinated (get vaccinated!), we need to continue to take precautions. But what was I going to do with this spray in the pool area?
There really wasn’t anything for me to wipe down by the pool, but after some thought, I knew just what to do. I dumped the bottle into the pool. It seemed like the only logical thing to do.
The second pool had me confused as soon as I walked in and went to take a towel.
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.
#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.
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 …