All in a winter’s swim

Lap pool5:00 am: Wake up. Check the pool website.  Yes! The pool is open for morning swim. 

5:05 am: Tip toe downstairs in the dark. Praise the joy of a remote car starter. Oh, right…the car is covered in half a foot of new snow. First workout: shovel to and remove snow from car.

5:25 am: Car is clean enough.  I can see out the windows and won’t be “that SUV” that dumps snow on all the cars behind me. (not sure of the risk this early, but I feel like a good citizen)

5:45 am: Arrive at pool. Run out of car. A fellow swimmer has slipped and fallen in the snow. It is one of the pool’s “most experienced” swimmers.  She has someone helping her up, but I stay with them to make sure she’s ok.  She’s not hurt badly.  She shares that the most damage was to her pride. The first inspiring moment of the day: Here she is at the pool in the dark before 6 am.  There’s over half a foot of new snow on the ground.  There are only 4 other cars in the lot. She has dusted herself off and is heading in to do the swim she came to do. She just turned 87 and she is so AWESOME! (I make a mental note to be this awesome when I’m 87)

5:55 am: Enter the water. Wow! It’s so warm, almost hot. It’s like bath water, very relaxing, but I note that it feels problematic for the time I was hoping to get for my “cruise-finder” this morning.

6:05 am: Notice that my fellow non-flip-turn swimmer, Jeff, is becoming a flip-turner. I watch him somersault in the deep end several times.  I then witness him complete 2 very smooth turns in the deep end. I applaud. The second inspiring moment of the day: I am so impressed by his tenacity and by how well he’s executing the turns. If Jeff can be brave enough to try, maybe I will. He is so AWESOME! (I make another mental note to be this awesome soon)

6:15 am: 1000 yard warm-up complete. Dave’s ready with the stopwatch and the lap numbers at the far end of the pool. I go. The first 100 felt smooth, I felt good, but warm. The second 100 felt okay.  The third, I just felt sluggish and anything but smooth or coordinated. I start repeating in my head, “I’m a strong swimmer, I’ve got this, I’m a strong swimmer.” Things came back together. I felt more coordinated to the finish, but didn’t get much speed from my BTTW finish. I didn’t hold back. I was exhausted. Not as fast as I want to be, but spent.

6:25 am:  My 500 time was 8:40. 5 seconds slower than my time from 5 weeks ago. I feel very disappointed. My 100 split times told the same story as my feelings.  (1=1:34, 2=1:42, 3=1:55, 4=1:44, 5=1:45)I was hoping for a little progress. A sign that the hard work was paying off. Today, the sign isn’t going to come from my time.

6:30 am: I start my 400 yard cool down of choice. I know I need to shake it off. I know that I am getting stronger and feeling stronger. My disappointment feels like slime, like defeat. I focus on how the water feels moving over my skin and I keep moving.  I’m calming my thoughts. Like with all disappointing results, I shift into analytic mode. +5 seconds. It’s only 1 second per 100.  It’s not awful.  What did I really hope for? I didn’t know. I hadn’t been clear. I just knew I wanted “better.” Crap.

7:00 am: Drive home. I’m now in determined mode.  I want to ask my coach for specific interval drills to remedy this.  My speed/endurance needs practice.  I’m back into intent. This result isn’t a setback; it’s feedback.  What I do with it is my choice.  And I choose to harness it as motivation to get faster.  The third inspiring moment of the morning: This was becoming one of my fastest recoveries to date. I drive home, still thinking and analyzing. Still doubting my abilities and frustrated. But I also know that it’s in me to get faster. It occurs to me that this is actually the exact motivation that I need for my swimming. This is so awesome!

Now am: Sit down and look at split times. Finally, in hindsight I can figure out that a second faster per 100 would have felt like good progress to me. And this means I went out faster than I could maintain. With less disappointment, I can see that 4 of 5 100s were better than this target. I can also see a whole lot of progress since last spring. (I make a third mental note: remember that I do better when I know my goal, clearly. )
Here it is plainly: I will swim 1:43 per 100, for 500 yards. (I’m still working on when)

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Jeff says:

    I’m glad you realized that your times were pretty good and that pacing might have helped with consistency. I’m sure you’ll be hitting those 1:43s in no time.

    Also, the pool was wicked warm. Even if you had paced better, that heat takes time out of you. Imagine trying to throw down your best running times in a 5K when it’s 90 degrees outside. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

    1. Alex says:

      Thank you, Jeff the Awesome. You’re right, of course. Shaking it off.

    1. Alex says:

      Thanks, Coach!

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