Friday, March 8, 2013

I am an Aquatard

I was going to take a complete rest day today, but after spending the entire night on my ass on the couch and eating 500 calories worth of no-bake cookies, I decided I should probably workout.

I have been interested in swimming for a while now, but never quite had the courage or motivation to do it until now, since I'm unable to run.  I spent some time investigating the local options, and decided on the CCRB (Central Campus Recreation Building) for today.  I don't have a membership, but I was able to purchase a day pass for $10.  (I guess I should go back this evening after I wake up, to get my money's worth!).  I would have preferred the NCRB (North Campus), but it's closed since it's UM's spring break right now.

I tried on the two one piece swimsuits I have a few days ago.  They were both pretty awful.  I'm pretty sure people will look at you funny if you show up to lap swim in a tankini with a skirt bottom though.  Seriously, these athletic type suits are hideous.  It's like they cut the back specifically to accentuate any back fat you have.  And the hip cut in the front?? Ridiculous.  I wanted to tug down the thigh/hip hem in the front, but when I did that it made the back fat worse, so I just let it go where it wanted.  Which was mostly up my butt, apparently.  Whatever.  The butt was too baggy and the torso of the suit was too short or something.  I dunno.  Like I said, I have two, and they both fit basically the same, so I'm sure it's just me.  I ended up going with the black one since I figured it would be more forgiving when wet, in terms of showing lumps and bumps and nipples and whatnot.  HAHA.  If I remember correctly, I got this suit for free in like 2005 when I accompanied my friend on a 20 mile run (on my bike) as she participated in some kind of distance runner recovery experiment in Cleveland.  I fell off my bike that day and ended up with this:

But the research coordinator gave us free swimsuits, so it was worth it, clearly.   (And clearly relevant to this conversation, wow).  I think this is the one I have, or at least it's very similar to it.  If I stick with this swimming thing, I'm definitely buying a new one.  Maybe this (Aquatard!!  Can I add a skirt for EVEN MORE thigh coverage?!?), or at least this (similar to mine, but doesn't have such a huge back cut out, or such high leg cuts).  Or maybe I can swim in an opaque version of a full body condom.  That would probably be best.  I hope there is a model with individual leg holes.

I ended up going to Wal-Mart at 3am, largely to look for a swim cap, goggles, shower shoes, and possibly a suit and a nose-clip, but I also did some grocery and odds & ends shopping too.  They didn't have any of the swim supplies I needed, except for the shoes.  I got some cheap black slide style sandal things.  (Kinda like this, but not adjustable and half the price).

After I got home and unpacked the groceries, I had to sneak quietly into the bedroom with a penlight to get the hideous black swimsuit out of my dresser without waking Jeff.  Jeff: was I successful?

I spent the next 45 minutes wriggling into the stupid thing.  (Slight exaggeration).

I wasn't too worried about the lack of supplies, because according to their website I could buy stuff there, and even borrow an Aqua Jogger!  Sweet!  I got to the door at 5:54am, but they didn't open til 6, so I stood outside, underdressed (not in a swimsuit, but not as much as I should have had on for standing outside! I had put on a light technical sweatshirt and track pants.) and freezing until they opened the doors.  I paid my $10 (ouch), and made my way to the pool equipment desk where I dropped another $10 on a swim cap and goggles.  The guy had no idea what an AquaJogger was, so that was a no-go.

I didn't know whether to wear my contacts or go blind.  I was pretty sure glasses were a bad idea.  I ended up opting for blind.

And then I was ready.  I guess.
Trying to look legit.  

I decided I better pee before I went to the pool, so that took another 45 minutes of wriggling out of and back into that damn suit.  I suddenly understand why mothers put their young daughters in bikinis.  My suit was dry and it was a bitch.  Can you imagine trying to unpeel a wet one-piece off of a 4 year old having a bathroom emergency?  No thank you.  Guys, you don't know how lucky you are.  

As I made my way to the pool, there were signs everywhere saying "SHOWER BEFORE YOU GET IN THE POOL".  So I did that.  With my suit on.  I'm pretty sure that's what they meant.  I for damn sure wasn't taking it off again.  

Finally I made it to the water.  SO MUCH PREPARATION for this moment.  LOL!  There were 6 lanes: slow, slow/medium, medium, medium/fast, fast, and sprint.  I wanted slow, I was pretty sure.  But there was one lady in slow, two in slow/medium, and one in either medium/fast or fast.  I read online that you should make sure the lane occupants know before you jump in and start sharing a lane, so I stood by the slow lane awkwardly waiting for the lady to make it back to my end so I could give her an FYI.  But, being that this was the slow lane, it was taking her a really long time, and I felt like an a retard (an AQUATARD, tee-hee), and the lifeguard was looking at me, so I just went for medium, since it was the slowest lane that was empty.  I'm pretty sure the two ladies in slow/medium had come in together, I think they were waiting outside with me.  Otherwise they wouldn't have probably been sharing a lane either.  

And with that, I was off.  My parents taught me to swim, though I did take formal swimming lessons ONE summer, as a tween probably, but it was after all my swimming habits were pretty well ingrained.  My default swim is to basically freestyle, but I keep my head above the water.  

Basically like that, except I'm pretty sure I rotate my head and body further to the side with each stroke. I always feel like such a n00b when I swim like that, because everybody else has there faces down in the water.  After a lap or two, I decided to try it.  I did it for a while, but it was really difficult, and I felt like I was drowning.  I don't like having to hold my breath; at least not while I'm trying to get a workout.  If I wanted to swim super slow I guess it would be okay, but as soon as my heart rate gets up I want to breathe more frequently than face-in swimming allows.  I'm pretty sure the lifeguard was staring at me.  She was probably like, okay, this one is the one with the highest probability of drowning today.  Better keep an eye on her.  

Thanks to my lack of contacts or glasses, I couldn't really see the clock that well, but I was getting pretty tired after just 15 minutes or so.  (I had planned on swimming an hour!) I decided to mix it up a bit and do some aqua-jogging.  When I first started, I think the lifeguard might have thought I actually needed rescuing for a second.  Haha.   I had done some aqua jogging research in advance, and had come across this video:

Since I didn't have an Aqua Jogger, I had to do it without, like the second demo in the video.  Which is probably better, because he looks way less aquatarded than the first guy.  It kind of looks like a joke, but holy crap is it hard.  It totally got my heart pumping right away.  I was concerned about the knee flexion motion hurting, but it didn't, so I went with it.  

My new "routine" was to swim from the shallower end to the deeper end, then stationary aqua jog there for 30 seconds, then swim back to the beginning.  It was nice to break it up with something different.  By this time I'm still only about 30 minutes in, and now I'm pretty sure my feet are going to separate from my legs from all the kicking.  My ankles felt like Jell-O.  But I didn't want to look like a pansy, so I kept on going.  Eventually I realized I could move forward (slowly) while aquajogging, so I extended my aquajog to 60 seconds, which was basically half the length of the pool.  So swim a length, aqua jog a half-length, swim a half-length, repeat.  When it got to 45 or 50 minutes or so and I realized I was actually going to make an hour, I made it even harder, and basically swam as fast as I could for one length, aquajogged hard for 1/2 length, and then easy swam/recovered for the half length back to the start, then repeated that.  It ended up being a pretty legit workout.  

When my hour ticked by, it came time to get out of the pool.  I was terrified that I was going to fail at getting out.  My upper body strength isn't what it used to be anyway, and add that to the fact that I had been swimming for an hour, and I was pretty sure I wasn't going to be able to lift myself out.  How embarrassing would that be??

I was picturing something like that.  As if there was any doubt already at this point about my level of aqauatardedness.  (You should watch that video if you didn''s hilarious.)

Anyway, I couldn't just stand in the pool all day, so I went to the edge, gave it my best kick-jump and pushed as hard as I could with my wet-noodle arms....
....I was scared for a minute when my momentum slowed to a near stop and my arms weren't yet straight but then I gave it my all on that last bit and managed to get them locked straight on the first attempt.  Thank god.  Up and out.  

And then I suddenly had to pee SO FREAKING BAD.  Out of nowhere.  Turns out swimming is a lot like running after all.  I hurried through the hall and shower room into a bathroom stall and realized I had a serious problem.  That effing suit.  Now soaking wet and stuck to me like glue.  I thought about it for a split second and decided there was no way I'd make it through the time it would take to get it off.  I didn't even attempt it.  Not even one shoulder.  I just sat down on the toilet and peed right through the damn thing.  No joke.  I guess it was better that than peeing on the floor while trying to peel it off in time.  And I was done swimming and on my way to the shower anyway.  I think I made the right call.  

All in all, I actually really liked swimming.  In theory anyway.  I was horribly self-conscious and embarrassed most of the time.  Everybody else there looked pretty pro.  There were no old people floating along, @reidphotography!!  There was a guy with like a 12 pack in a speedo that showed up halfway through, and the girl in the fast lane was flying up and down with every stroke known to man.  One thing I am VERY thankful for, is that I wasn't the only one not doing the flip turn thing.  I would have tried (how hard could it be??) but I felt like I was already being too much of a poser by being there at all.  So I embraced my inner aquatard and just grabbed the side, turned around (upright) and headed back the other way.  At least one or two of the three ladies in the two slower lanes were doing that too.  Thank you for that, ladies.  

But, as far as the actual activity, I liked it a lot.  I especially liked that the water really helps with heat dissipation and sweat management.  And that it's pretty independent, and basically thoughtless.  Like you can get in a zone and just go, just like running.  Spinning is good, but after a few classes every instructor starts to get on my nerves.  It's just me and the water with swimming.  Just like running.  Minus the water.  Plus pavement.  Or at least, it would be just me and the water, if there weren't other people in the pool, and a lifeguard.  Is it feasible to put a lap pool in my basement??  Or an endless pool?  I'll look into it.  ;)

Actually, I think I'll just take swimming lessons.  If I felt like I belonged there and knew what I was doing, it would be awesome.   It would also be great to not suck in water or feel like I'm drowning anytime I try to put my face in.  Anybody have any swimming instruction or coaching recommendations in Ann Arbor? 
I came home and decided to have some hot cocoa and ice my knee while I started typing up this blog.   Multitasking fail.  
Like my marshmallows?  In case it isn't obvious, that sweatshirt is still ON ME at the time this photo was taken.  At least I didn't get burned.  

This is a sticky, marshmallowy arm, with dog hair stuck to it.  *awesome*
So that's it.  That was more than enough excitement for one day.  Time for bed.


  1. You so silly with all your adventures and misadventures!

  2. Ty, that's awesome. I want to swim, too, and will be pretty much exactly like what you describe. I even bought the fancy swim trunks (not the Speedos, the long ones) and goggles and stuff. But have yet to actually get near a pool. I'm working my way up. I'm hoping that once I have enough money invested in equipment, I'll guilt myself into trying it. Also, I'm working up to embracing my inner (and, frankly, outer) aquatard. I though I might start with lessons, though, if I ever have time.

    On the goggles front, I got a pair of these with the associated left and right lenses for what is (very) approximately my prescription. They are a lot less expensive than I expected, and work pretty well when I swim with Julia. You should look at them.

    You're right about the swim suits, though - guys have it way easier. And we get to learn what it's like to have a muffintop. :)

    Your posts are always a highlight of my RSS feeds.



  4. Hey girl! I have one VERY important tip for you, but I am not sure it is blog worthy. Would you be able to shoot me an email or follow me on twitter so I can direct message you?

    I've read your blog for about a year now and I love seeing what you are up to! However, sad that you are injured. But I love the pool and just want to help!

    1. I am SUCH a genius. @sneakyjean

      Those would be helpful :)


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