Good times – really bad summer weather in Switzerland brought me “back home” to Islamorada. Enjoy some sun and outside swimming that’s exactly what I needed to start my winter season. Another good reason for me to come back of course is that I still need to catch the Green flash.
Green flashes are “rare” optical phenomena that occur shortly after sunset or before sunrise, when a green spot is visible for a short period of time above the sun, or a green ray shoots up from the sunset point. It is usually observed from a low altitude where there is an unobstructed view of the horizon, such as on the ocean (so Islamorada in the Florida Keys should be a perfect place to catch it). Its explanation lies in refraction of light in the atmosphere and is enhanced by atmospheric inversions. Whilst we would expect to see a blue light, the blue is dispersed (this is why the sky is blue) and only the green light remains visible. With slight magnification, a green rim on the top limb of the solar disk can be seen on most clear-day sunsets. However, the flash or ray effects require a stronger layering of the atmosphere and a mirage which serves to magnify the green for a fraction of a second to a couple of seconds. And I was told that it is a good thing to see the green flash. Can’t say if it’s true or not, but I really would love to see a Green flash once.
But, honestly, the Green flash is only a nice pretext. The real and most important reason is that training down in the Keys with The Race Club makes me just feel happy and a bit better and closer to perfection than back home in Switzerland. A perfect pool, super coaches and with Emilio and Jon two training partners help a lot to make the swimming life a bit easier and more interesting. As usual, days were long and mostly packed with hard work. Some extra effort was performed as, instead of the car, I rode the bike to the pool twice a day. The only thing that stopped our work was the lightning meter which gave us almost too much time out of the pool. As much as these breaks are welcome to the High School Squad, an extra core session or running was up for us guys. Often we needed some extra sugar after the workout out to get our bodies back to life. Our sugar station is placed in the Garden Café of the Rain Barrel Artist Village, just around the corner of the pool. The smoothies over there are our absolutely favorites and probably world famous as a lot of things down in the Florida Keys.
As every swimmer knows, there’s something “magical” about breaking the minute for the first time for 100 yards or 100 meters – whatever is your stroke. While breaking the minute is a great personal milestone, it doesn’t really register on the international Richter scale anymore. Nope, the ol’ one-minute barrier ain’t what it used to be.
As we reach this personal milestone already some years ago, you may not be surprised that we try to break other barriers here in Islamorada. That’s what Jon was trying to do on a Thursday morning. His personal barrier this morning was to break the 18 seconds on a 50 yard freestyle with fins. May sound easy, but just have a go and build your own opinion about that barrier. With already some speed sets done this morning, he stepped on the block and put it all in 2 laps for a 17.8 – probably not a momentous achievement but pay back for the hard work of the last weeks and for sure a personal milestone! Congratulations Jon!!
Ernesto – the cyclonic storm hanging over the south coast of Cuba was causing little worry in the Florida Keys, although it was expected to make landfall here eventually. Ernesto had been downgraded to a tropical storm. Nevertheless, the Florida Keys began preparing over the weekend. Tourist and recreational vehicles were ordered to evacuate at Sunday, and schools were closed at the beginning of the week as residents boarded up homes and shops, filled vehicles and gas jugs for generators and cleared shelves of water and other essentials at local grocery stores. So some visitors had to cut their vacations short Sunday, but no one heard complaining about the inconvenience with one exception. The Race Club camper who landed on Sunday in Miami and wasn’t allowed to come down to Islamorada and finally had to fly all the way back to New York without even touching the water. Somehow Ernesto lost some punch in the high Cuban mountains and we ended up with heavy rain and every one in a while some stronger winds. Most people here in the Florida Keys looked even a bit disappointed after the “storm”. This time I really have to say that what I learned last year is the one and only truth:
“Surviving hurricanes is easy – it’s the south Florida’s news coverage that kills us! “
Of course we didn’t evacuate and were trying to keep the workouts going as long as possible. We spent a lot of our time in Froggys doing some extra weights and core, stretching, cardio on the bikes or whatever came to our mind. And then we spent the storm night in The Race Club house watching movies and Jon enjoyed Bebe’s world famous Sushi.
News from Islamorada
To finish this diary entry, I’ll catch you up with some local news from the Florida Keys.
Mike Forster, the owner of our favorite breakfast place here in Islamorada, has been negotiating a lease for “Big Betsy”, the giant lobster anchored in the Plantation Key’s Treasure Village shopping mall (closed late June this year and, by the way, had been a really bad breakfast place). He wants to place the giant crustacean on the site of Papa Joe’s Marina, where he plans to open an expanded café in December. Foster:
“I wanted to keep it in the area and I think it would look nice at Papa Joe’s. Business-wise it would be unbelievable. I was going to get a new billboard for the new building. But if I have the lobster I won’t have to get the billboard. It’s a great draw.”
Referring that “Big Betsy” once identified by Eastman Kodak as the second most photographed landmark in the Keys.
Swim long and prosper!
This is a piece I wrote for the Race Club where you’ll find the original diary post “Still Trying to Catch the Green Flash” as well as many others.