Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Iron Swim!

I'm back from vacation and caught up on all the important things (laundry, cleaning, email, reading blogs), so now I guess it's time to get caught up on the writing!  Before I get into that though, I have to tell you about my big accomplishment last night....my Iron Swim!

I had hoped to try to do this on the cruise, but it turns out they didn't have a lap pool.  The pools they had were more leisure pools...there was no room to swim laps, unless you wanted to turn around every three strokes.  The lack of a lap pool and the fact that the internet was ridiculously expensive ($0.75 per minute, unless you bought a package, which wasn't that much cheaper anyway) were my only real beefs with the cruise.

So yesterday evening I went to the gym with the big plan of swimming 2.4 miles continuously (that's how long the swim portion of an IronMan race is.)  Within 15 minutes of starting, I realized I had a made an error in setting up my watch, and had set the pool length to 25 meters instead of 25 yards!  Oh no!  So each length it was counting as 27 yards instead of 25, so my distance data was all wrong.  I almost threw in the towel with plans to come back another day when I would have good data, but ultimately decided that was silly.  I started at about 5pm, and there is a mandatory 10 minute pool closure at 7pm for lifeguard breaks, so I decided I would just swim until then and hope that I had made the distance by then (2 hrs).  I knew I'd be able to figure out the distance when I was done, because the watch was still counting pool lengths accurately.

The first 30 minutes went by really slowly and I just kept thinking about how much further I had to go.
The next hour was really good.  I got into a nice zone and just swum along, listening to my music.  The last 30 minutes I spent mostly watching the clock and wishing I had good distance data so that speeding up to get the distance done would actually be a benefit and get me out of the pool earlier.  Also I kind of wished I wouldn't have pre-alerted my blog readers that I was going to attempt this feat, so there would be no repercussions for stopping.  One in particular had called my bluff so stopping REALLY wasn't an option.  I really didn't feel too tired though, except my left thumb kind of hurt for some reason, and a little pinch in my lower back on the left when breathed to the left.  At about 160 lengths in I started doing some mental math trying to figure out how far I'd gone, to try to figure out if I could stop.  At that point I did notice my form was suffering a bit too.  I'm really lucky that I did make the distance, because in my head I had based my calculations off off 2 mi being 3250 yards, but it turns out it's actually 3520!  Whoops.  Good thing I swam a little extra "buffer" in my 2.4 mile calculation.  I ended up stopping when my watch said 171 lengths.  On reviewing the data, it was actually only 170 lengths (sometimes the watch misses a turn or counts a turn that wasn't one, which is obvious because the length times are way off from my usual).  Anyway 170 lengths x 25 yards per length = 4250 yards which is 2.415 miles!  Success!  It took me 1:53:58 of actual swimming time.  The total elapsed time from the time I hopped in the pool was 1:58:26, which included two quick trips to the bathroom and one stop to adjust my goggles because they had started to hurt.  It also included the time it took me to walk to the locker room after I was done, because I didn't reset the watch til I got there.
Here is some of the data from my Garmin.  Keep in mind that my pace was actually a little slower than shown on the top graph, because it thought I was traveling 27 yards each length, when I was actually only going 25.  My overall *actual* average pace (using the correct distance) was 2:42 per 100 yds.  Complete data available here.  (Remember that the paces and distances are wrong, only lengths and strokes are accurate).  
Clearly, I'm really liking swimming, in general.  I can't believe how much less stressful it is on your body, compared to running.  I feel fine today, except a teensy bit of shoulder soreness.  Next time I'll have to try to pick up the pace a little.  I was going pretty leisurely, and barely kicking at all.  Kicking is exhausting, and doesn't do much for my pace, so I basically only did a little tiny kick just for show.  I used to find that my legs sunk too much if I didn't keep up a solid kick, but later I discovered if I let my lower back arch a tiny bit, my legs would stay up and I really don't have to kick hardly at all.  Who needs a pull buoy when you have a flexible back??  :)

At one point during my swim there was a lady sharing my lane who looked to be about 70 years old, but I swear she had the body of a 23 year old.  Not me at 23 either, but a hot 23 year old.  She was doing sprints or intervals or something and FLYING up and down the pool.  I was majorly impressed.  When she was done swimming she did tricep dips lifting herself up out of the water at the end of the lane.  She's my new hero.

Now the only wrench in my hypothetical Iron Man plans is that the swim isn't in a pool.  (That and the cajillion mile bike ride and full marathon....and the fact that you have to do them one after the other.....details....).  Open water swimming is so much harder, in my opinion.  I find myself panicking frequently, and way more out of breath due to the panic.  I guess I'll just have to do more of it to get more comfortable.  I did practice sighting on my swim yesterday, every now and then, to break up the monotony.  I'm getting much better at it!

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