Training has started!

Training has started off going very well in the first couple of weeks and I’m already at a point in my life that I didn’t even know that I could be at just a matter of months ago.

For starters, there’s the San Mateo Masters. I had a disappointing workout on Saturday, which was because I hadn’t swam long course (50 meters length) in a couple of weeks and the pool was very crowded. I felt slower than usual plus this one woman who swims with fins the entire workout (ask us to do drills or kicks? She just swims it with her @#&@)*$ fins!) bitched me out for not getting out of her way. Okay, if you’re going to wear fins the entire workout, move into a faster lane. If you’re not going to actually do the workout, get out of the Masters lanes! One woman in my lane later said to not worry about this woman, which I wasn’t going to anyway. I just wasn’t feeling it though so got out after 75 minutes. In the locker room I ended up talking to this one woman who is part of Masters and she invited me to breakfast with them afterwards. I finally got to get to know some of the guys that I swim with in the morning and some others that I’d never met before (they swim the Masters sessions later in the day on weekdays). Mostly we just talk about swimming and it seems a lot of us have the same issues that we’re all working on and most importantly, the right attitude (focus on technique, forget about speed and no, we don’t think anyone slower than us is lame). Turns out that no one likes the woman who bitched me out that morning. It was very cool to hang out with these guys after practice and out of the water. The one who invited me is an architecture student, which of course I told her that I used to work for Gensler (one of the largest architecture firms) which seems to always get an architecture student’s attention. Biggest surprise was finding out that one of my lanemates is 6’9″!!! He never knew how to swim until 2 years ago when SMM’s head coach taught him. I joked that that’s why he’s so fast since he only needs about 4 strokes to get to the other end of the pool. We actually have about the same stroke count, which yeah, his should be a little more than half of mine. Found out too that some of them that I hadn’t met usually avoid the morning workouts because Cindy, the assistant coach who usually does the morning sessions, has very demanding workouts (usually around 4000 yards for 60 minutes, which I don’t think anyone finishes and they’re definitely ambitious workout goals).

I didn’t actually have breakfast with the Masters since I was having lunch shortly after with my friend Romy. Romy is an orthopedic physical therapist that I met through my cousin Kathy (a pediatric physical therapist) and also a small scale open water swimmer (1 – 3 miles). Kathy knew that Romy and I were both into swimming so she introduced us at her baby shower. I’m trying to get Romy to do the Myrtle Huddleton swim, which she’s interested in doing as part of a relay. I think she passed on the information to her Masters group also. Somehow we spent half the time talking about swimming. She gave me some samples of some energy goo and a sport drink that she likes. One of these days I guess we should actually swim together. She got me thinking too about doing some shoulder exercises to help prevent myself from getting injured as I train.

A huge storm rolled in on Saturday night, which was still going on Sunday morning. I thought about not going to Masters, but remembered that I actually had the option to go or not go so I went. The parking lot was *empty* which should have been a clue that I was crazy. I found Cindy and she said that yes, we were still having practice but don’t bring anything out to the pool with me as it’d just get blown away. There was one other swimmer in the pool (also a Masters member, but I don’t know her). When I came out of the locker room, Cindy came up to me and said that practice was canceled, they’re closing the pool, and go put my clothes back on. The wind had picked up so much that you couldn’t see the bottom of the pool and the waves were hitting the digital clock that’s a good 10 feet away from the pool edge. So I headed back home and into dry clothes. I like Masters on Sunday since it’s long course and only a small group of people show up so I may have only a couple of other people in my lane.

Monday I had one of the most awesome workouts in a long time! Mondays are long distance practices, but short course (25 yards length). Since I’m now in the second-to-slowest lane, I lead that one since I’m the fastest of the group, but would be the slowest in the next lane up. One girl, Claire, can keep up with me (except with kicks..I didn’t know anyone was slower than me), but she’s really working it to do so. Wanting to get my yardage up and maintain my long distance endurance, I stay past 7 AM (when the first Masters practice ends and the second one begins) if no one jumps into my lane. This morning I finished every last yardage in Cindy’s workout (4300 yards) plus my own 300 yard warm-up before practice started. It was awesome! Here’s what I swam on Monday:

Interval Description Subtotal (yds) Total (yds)
300 warm-up 300 300
1 x 200 drill/swim (by 25s) 200 500
2 x 100 kick 200 700
1 x 500 swim 500 1200
2 x 250 swim 500 1700
5 x 50 kick 250 1950
1 x 500 swim 500 2450
5 x 100 swim 500 2950
2 x 100 kick 200 3150
1 x 500 swim 500 3650
2 x 250 swim 500 4150
5 x 50 kick 250 4400
1 x 200 cool down 200 4600

It took me about two hours to do this and my arms were sore by the end of it, but it was great! I really could have done more though as even though my arms were sore and my pace had slowed down (~2:10 / 100 yards), I wasn’t out of breath or feeling like I couldn’t swim another stroke. Maybe I am made for these endurance swims after all…

Monday got even better though as I talked to my personal coach and mentor, Jamie. Talking to the guy makes me want to jump in the water immediately and start swimming my little heart out. He’s so inspiring and I’m always in a good mood when getting off the phone with him! He came up with a preliminary workout schedule for me which needs some tweaking. He gave me a list of things that I need to get (heart rate monitor, energy drink stuff, etc.) and lots of advice and to see where I am right now. The energy drink stuff, as much as I really don’t like artificial drinks, is going to be really important so I’m going to have to suck it up on that one. My brain has been wonkier than usual after some of these workouts and with my medical record, I know that means that I’m depleted of some electrolytes (but thankfully not light-headed because my red blood cell count dropped below a certain threshold which I also know exactly what that feels like). He also wants me to call him any day that I have a bad workout, which I hope that isn’t going to happen too often. Jamie also invited me out to his 12-hour overnight swims with Paul Lundgren as they do their training as there will be several next year. I’m trusting by then that I’ll have the confidence that I won’t feel like a total fool next to them in the pool.

Today I had the morning off since Masters practice on Tuesdays (and Fridays) is stroke/IM practice. Have I said how much I suck at breakstroke and butterfly? My breastroke looks like an injured frog and I look like I’m drowning during butterfly. I don’t need to know either of those strokes either. Instead I was actually inside the gym on a stationery bike as my legs wondered WTF was I making them do. I swear I sweated and felt more pain in my legs during those 20 and 45 minute cycling sessions than I do in 2.5 hours in the pool.

An interesting observation I’ve made lately is how my night time alcohol intake affects my morning performance. I don’t get drunk, but it seems that I can’t drink any alcohol after a certain hour as I’ll feel pretty weak the next morning. I’ve never noticed that before when I’d just go to the gym. It’s not something I notice while on a staionery bike, but definitely when I’m swimming. Since Jamie has given me 2 days off a week, this works out though quite well and just makes it interesting on scheduling my social life. I guess I am in training. šŸ™‚

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