Sunday, March 25, 2007

Here fishy, fishy, fishy...

When I first hopped into the pool at the Y, it was with great apprehension.

Great.

I remember the cold mornings of my childhood when my sister and I would be hauled down to Rosslyn Swim Club for swim practice and it's not a good memory. The air was always foggy coming off the small local pool and each kid was sleepy eyed and dragging. But for most of my peers, all they needed was the first dunk into the ice cold waters to come alive and turn into fishys. Back and forth, back and forth -- no need to count, it was just a constant refrain of flip turns and whistle blows.

I would steal glances at the older swimmers -- the girls sleek and muscular and completely at ease with their movements. The boys were strong and commanding, and buckled impressively like Olympians when diving in for the umteenth 400 for the day.

And as accomplished as I was as a ballerina and no matter how confident I moved with my tomboy approach, the pool always brought me to my gawky, fumbling and gasping knees.

I simply wasn't a good swimmer.

I tried and tried and tried, but swim practices turned into summer morning activities to be dreaded. If it weren't for the swim meets -- that were full of laughing and card playing and cheering -- I surely would have begun an all out complaint assault to my patient parents about going.

So, with that as a background, my first attempt at swimming at the Y last year was an anxious moment. But, that's the kicker of triathlon -- you must be able to swim. At least a little. So I would manage 20 minutes at a time, and usually 500 yard total per session, even at the end of my season.

I just never really worked on my swimming. I did the ladders and example workouts like I would read about in the magazines and I would follow some form of progression, but I really didn't work on my swimming. I just swam. And that was cool -- it got me safely through my sprint and oly distances last year without incident and I'm pleased for that. Because if anything would scare me away from the sport it would be the swim.

And I remember even more clearly the sickening pit in my stomach as I stood -- penned -- at my first triathlon waiting for our wave to be called. I looked like I was going to puke. I very well could have. I nearly panicked when I couldn't find Mighty M in the crowd. It was very, very nerve wracking for me. Kinda like morning swim practices.

Fast forward to yesterday. There was nothing spectacular on the schedule, just a long swim that is part of my plan for the week. But in a way it felt like a milestone. I felt so strong swimming the laps. I felt so confident in the way I was rolling my position and my catch and hand positions were so consistent. And I maintained really consistent pacing throughout the session.

Oh, and it was 2350 meters.

Two months ago I couldn't have swum that distance without some serious effort and likely some underwater cursing. And a month ago I could only swim a portion of it at a considerably slower pace. But as I push a tad bit further each time I go out for a swim or a run or a bike, I'm finding these small increments sneak up on me and surprise me occasionally with a milestone.

Last year's typical session was a loosey goosey 500 meters. This year's typical session (or at least so far) is well over 2000 meters in structured sets.

Last month's average 100 meters took me 2 minutes and 23 seconds. This month, I'm easily swimming the same in 2 minutes and 6 seconds.

Next month my sets will bump up by over 1000 meters again and I can only imagine the impact of that regular and steady increase.

Each time I get on the bike or in the pool or slip my Asics on, I'm going out for a reason. It's part of a larger picture of my training and I'm now really starting to realize the benefits to it.

Getting a regular training plan and really learning about each type of session and why you're asked to include it is an absolute must. Sticking to it pays huge dividends in the process. If I'm realizing these gains already, I can only imagine what is in store for me when I take my bike off the indoor trainer and hit some of my Lancaster county rides, or start to increase my mileage and add speed work into my run.

Sometimes, it takes us a long time to move beyond certain unpleasantness of childhood. Yesterday, I swam right past one, at a 2:06 clip. Right now, it's time for a run...

11 comments:

Jason said...

Sounds very familiar to my start in triathlon. Keep up the good great work.

LBTEPA said...

You know what? You're really brave! Isn't it satisfying when you notice that all your work is actually doing something?
:)

swimbikerungolf said...

You are making great progress. You are finding out the same things I did when training for IM-WI last year. The drive to reach a goal will both allow you and force you to constantly achieve new pr's and distances in each discipline, things that, without that goal, you would otherwise not achieve. When I registered for IM-WI, I did not know how to swim and the first 3 months of training were so frustrating and difficult that I would have given up if not committed to IM.

Spokane Al said...

Wow, what a moving post on your progression through this great sport. One step at a time and before we know it - we truly are triathletes! It is a great feeling.

Bolder said...

way to swim on past!

ironjenny said...

awesome! you and TriJack are kicking some major butt in the swim...

Steve S. said...

SWEET!! Congrats on the swim and the lack of underwater cursing!

TriJack said...

progress gives confidence which leads inevitably to further progress... awesome swims!

jbmmommy said...

It must be so encouraging to see those improvements you've made. That's awesome. When I eventually train for my next tri, I think I'll go for a more well laid out training plan. Of course I'm only planning an Oly, but that will have to do for me for a while.

TriShannon said...

Great job getting over what has been ingrained as unpleasant for many, many years.

Anonymous said...

Scott Tuckloft would be very proud ;-)
~Lil' Sis