Terrible things took place on February 25, 2012. My life will now be divided into two sections: before 10,000 daggers stabbed every part of my body at once, and after. While my BD (Before Dagger) memories will be featured in technicolor, the AD (After Dagger) memories from my life will forever be in black and white when I reminisce. And not the classy-film kind of black and white. The depressing-film kind of black and white.

My Ironman training buddy Dan and I headed to Hell south this weekend to bike part of the Ironman course and swim in the lake. It is no exaggeration that I envisioned this weekend to look like the latter half of an anti-depressant or Viagra commercial, with the peaceful smiling, graceful bike riding, and slow motion nostalgic splashing in the water. Reality: It ended up looking more like the latter half of Titanic. But without the romantic self-sacrifices. Or the nudity. And ironically, because of my swimming experience I will probably now need anti-depressants for the rest of my life. And maybe Viagra.

We wandered over to Mr. Icy Lake on Saturday, went through the 10 minute process to put Larry and Seymour on (our wetsuits), and practically skipped to the end of dock, undeterred by the sign we saw on the way warning us that the water temperature that day was 45 degrees. Sometimes you just have to experience data before it means anything. This was one of those times. 45 degrees in February meant to me something very different than what I experienced in that water. That's because when the air temperature in Salt Lake City in February is 45 degrees, we all pull out our flip-flops and go to parks to write poetry and play on our slip-n-slides. My body is perfectly fine when consumed by 45 degree air, I thought, so why not water? Wrong. Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong. I was once told by an un-credible superstitious (redundant?) person that the devil controls the waters. I now know this to be true.

We optimistically chose a distant island to swim to, enthusiastically high-fived, and then submerged. Our lake submerging techniques differed dramatically, neither really more gracious or less embarrassing than the other. I chose the "lowering" technique, which was a long, gradual, torturous process. The moment my feet went under, I started to doubt the existence of a higher being. With my new-found atheism, I had no one to pray to, so I turned to outward acts of desperation. And that's when the screaming began. Oh the screaming. Property values within a ten mile radius dropped 30% and global warming advanced 30 years just because of my screaming. Eventually I let go of the dock and started floating away, believing I would never be happy again.

Not wanting to experience the gradual torture he just witnessed, Dan then just jumped in. He immediately shot out of the water and into the air, like a trained Dolphin at Sea World. But less naturally. And the look on his face resembled every artistic rendering I've ever seen of the Loch Ness Monster. On a bad day.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must say that somewhere during this, there may have been some crying. Things were said. Feelings were hurt. Dreams were shattered.

Somehow still thinking that swimming was a possibility, we then chose a new target, which was about 2% of the original distance goal, and started violently flopping in the water in that direction. Literally 15 seconds later, and about half-way to that target, the major hyperventilation began. At this point witnesses to the scene say they heard me yell "retreat!" or "turn around!" And thus was the tragic end of our first ever open water swim.

Most of the town folk who saw it all happen still won't talk about it.

To save face, when asked about why we only "swam" less than 20 feet, I plan to heroically refer to a made-up shark-sighting. I will even badly photoshop some pictures to prove it.

The biking was less tragic. But still I discovered three things I need to accomplish before May 5th:

1. Stop screaming and tightly gripping the brake every time I go down hill.
2. Stop imagining how much easier it would be if I just had a motor on my bike. It aint gonna happen.
3. Leave my bike to someone in my will in case I die during the swim portion and never get to use it.

On our drive back to the big city, we each took turns talking one another off the ledge, trying desperately to convince one another that all of the hot tubs in St. George are currently being hooked up with tubes to feed into the lake for the next two months. Either that or the world will end before May 5th so we'll have a good excuse for not completing the thing. I hope the latter is true. There are several parts of my future I would like to get out of if possible. But I'd settle for the hot tub plan.

~It Just Gets Stranger

Putting on Larry and Seymour 

Me, Larry, Dan, and Seymour walking to the dock

Off in the distance is the island we thought we would swim to. Notice the iceberg and the shark that got in our way. Also, it's very creepy that the Queen of Colors showed up in the picture. Neither of us remembers seeing her there . . .

Dan barely escaped in time. It is such a good thing we got out when we did.