Saturday, June 17, 2006

Miracle Mile

With Veeg throwing down the gauntlet (or at least volunteering to face the same challenges), I have registered for the Olympic distance triathlon in Oshkosh, Wisconsin on August 13th. It promises to be quite the adventure, as the longest open water swim I have completed is 220 yards. Of course, prior to that, the longest open water swim I had completed was pretty well non-existent.

Today's training plans called for a 5:30 a.m. wakeup for a 6 a.m. swim at the YMCA. Baby Pol adjusted that a bit by waking up at 4:30 a.m. She wasn't hungry, she wasn't otherwise freaked out. She seems to have been bored. So we played. A bit before six, I handed her off to Mrs. Pol (along with a bottle) and headed out for a planned 1000 yard endurance swim.

The thinking goes something like this. To date, my longest training session was 1600 yards. My longest endurance swim was 500 yards. The upcoming triathlon is 1320 yards. "Danger Will Robinson! Does not compute!" is basically the way my brain handles those numbers. So, I figured completing a 1000 yards endurance swim would be a great confidence booster.

Miracle of miracles, I found an empty pool when I arrived. It was me, the lifeguard (who we always hope stays bored), and 40 lengths of the pool. So, I got at it. The first several hundred yards were nothing special. Sort of like a normal day at the pool, minus the rest intervals. When I saw I was on my "sixth" lap (I lap out at 100 yard intervals) I knew I was in uncharted territory. Every stroke pushed me further into the "never swam this far" category. Oddly, I felt fine, and even found myself going several lengths before having to go to sweet spot to catch up on breathing (I still stink at that part).

Finally, I completed another 100 yards and realized that was the 9th set. After the next 100 yards, the 1000 would be complete. And I still felt alright. That's when I started thinking... (something I should do with caution).

I felt fine. Why not go for the full 3/4 mile that would be required of me in the triathlon. That's only another 14 "laps." So, after completing the 1000 yards, I kept going. And going. And no, there wasn't a pink bunny pulling me along.

Soon, I was approaching the 54 laps required to complete 3/4 of a mile. I could tell that I was starting to use muscles in a way they hadn't been previously used. My shoulder was starting to ache, and my lap times were starting to slow down a bit. That was mostly because I was having to rest in sweet spot a bit more. Well before completing that 54th length, I knew I wasn't stopping. A mile was only 18 more lengths, and after getting that far, it seemed pointless to stop.

So, I kept going. Somewhere between 54 and 72 laps, my brain started to catch up with me. It sort of wondered what I was doing. I told it to mind its own business and do something useful. LIke think on a way to improve the stroke, stroke, breath issue.

The last 1/4 mile was, obviously, somewhat more challenging than the first three quarters. My shoulders were getting tired, and my oxygen deficit was becoming more noticeable. Still, I was able to maintain a reasonable (in Iron Pol terms) pace, never going over 2m 45s for a given 100 yards.

At some point, the senior water aerobics class showed up, and another swimmer was in a lane next to me for a few laps. Other than that, I had the pool to myself, and the lifeguard remained bored. The first mile long swim has been completed. I survived with no serious damage, and managed a 20 mile bike ride right after the swim.

My body did, however, make sure I didn't get any wise ideas about going beyond a mile. When I started the 73rd length, thinking I'd do 100 yards over the mile, my foot cramped up so badly I decided to take the hint. I turned back and got out of the pool. And for the first time in a long time, I was pretty well drained. It felt good that it took 72 lengths to wipe me out, instead of two.


nancytoby said...

Hooray! Well done!!!! It took me a long time to realize that you can crank up swim distances much faster than you ever could running distances, once you get the basic stroke down.

Yay!! Let's hear it for dogged determination!!

Veeg said...

Rock on with your Iron Pol self! That is awesome. :)

Stephen D. Zepeda said...

it takes half of one to wipe me out! :)

Deb said...

That's awesome!!! Happy Father's Day!