I admit that I’m not as intrepid as I’d like to be. But a whole lot of friends put out some money, so I pledged to put as much of my body as possible into the Potomac River Saturday morning at 10:30 am.
The cause for the leap is to raise money for a sound organization working on climate change and the environment specifically here in my watershed – CCAN, Chesapeake Climate Action Network.
The forecast for that hour was 23 deg., 23 mph wind and snow showers, and those numbers represented a warm-up from the night before. Yikes. How do you train for that? I had been outside in Washington, DC’s subfreezing weather as much as possible, verified the fiber content of my long underwear for after emerging, and come up with a mantra/chant that essentially expresses my happiness about being a mammal at this time. I had decided to call the Channel 7 weather department to verify precisely what the water temperature would be (seeing the water fowl walking across the river’s surface should have been a clue, had I wanted to accept it) and Doug Hill himself, local on-air celebrity, called me back. He said he also had made a “polar bear plunge” a few years ago, at Sandy Point, and it was the worst experience of his life. But said I would be fine! He said, “Your systems will shut down enough to direct all the blood to your heart, lungs and brain!”
Despite those best wishes, I had a moment of doubt. There’s a little rush of panic you feel just at that start of a marathon, contemplating whether you have the stamina for the what will be the next 4+ hours, and you do; this would be only a 15-minute thing, but possibly more physically taxing. And with all these people are watching; I had to go in.
So we – William volunteered too – waded in to the gap of open water created by men in wetsuits just an hour earlier, and splashed around a bit, up to the neck in my case, all the way in for William. We didn’t stay long, and the only short-term damage was some frozen toes from the total time waiting for and then taking the dip, wearing Tevas, which I had thought would be the ideal dive-and-dash footwear, so don’t ever do that.
A hot shower, some food, a nap, and we feel restored. CCAN is a thousand dollars richer — thank you generous friends and supporters — and I have bolstered my intrepid credentials a little.