A Saturday Swim-Run Brick.
This Saturday, BB and I got up early and went out to a YMCA camp about 25 miles from ECC so that I could do an open water swim practice. They set up buoys for a 500 yard loop in a lake, and for $30, I was free to swim as far as I wanted. So I pulled on my cap and my goggles and got in the water.
I was immediately disoriented. I’ve swum in lakes before, but only while playing, never for a workout, never with a plan. Usually I was just in cut-off shorts jumping off of a raft or a cliff over and over again. This was quite different. The first issue was that even though I was wearing goggles, I couldn’t actually see anything. Even when the water was only 5 feet deep, I couldn’t see the bottom. Then I found myself sprinting, swimming too fast and feeling winded.
I don’t like feeling winded while swimming. Easy, controlled breathing is crucial. If my breathing gets labored, I lose the confidence that I can stop, tread water, and cough if accidentally inhale some water. I don’t want to be trying to do that while out of breath. But I also found it very difficult to control my pace. I kept accelerating even when I consciously tried to slow down.
When I got out to the second buoy, I turned around to swim back for my 500 yards. When I got back, I was confused. It was too easy. I turned around and swam out for another out and back. Two circuits, and I felt like I’d only been in the water for 10 minutes. Something was wrong. I went out a third time and suddenly realized: there were three buoys, not two.
It was a triangle. I’d been doing about 150 yard out-and-backs. Not 500 yard loops. Suddenly it made more sense. I made the turn, and then did two loops of the longer triangular circuit. So in total, I did about 1300 yards: two 150 yard laps, and two 500 yard loops. Total time, about 39 minutes.
Then I got out of the water and BB and I put on our shoes and did a trail run in the woods. We ran at random, and got lost a couple times, and started to worry that we were on a largely-abandoned 800 acre wooded camp with no map, no phones, and no idea how to get home. Finally, our turnaround started to make sense, and we made it back to camp dirty and scratched after a 5.6 mile run.
This felt really good. I felt like it was a strong swim, and a good run. It was warm and humid again, but I didn’t wilt in the heat like I had the weekend before. I took a 200 calorie peanut butter and date bar between the swim and the run, and I think that sounds like a good plan for race day too. Things are slotting into place.
I vacillate on how hard this is going to be. Sometimes I worry that it’s going to be nearly impossible. Then some days I think I’ve got it in the bag. I’m sure it’s somewhere in between. And conditions will matter. But I think I’m on a good path forward to be able to finish. And that’s the whole goal. Finish, put a medal on the wall, and start marathon training.