Today I did the second most painful swim of the year and also set a new distance record. It was definitely a learning experience to say the least and I’m proud of what I accomplished.
Saturdays are my least favorite day to swim at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center. Why? Because all the real lanes in the “Competition Pool” are taken up by Masters and swim teams until 11 AM and the “Recreation Pool” has aqua aerobics and swim lessons up the wahzoo all day long (not to mention “family swim”). However I was determined to get in at planned 15 kiloyards in or die trying.
I slept in today and woke up at 5:35 AM (without my alarm which wasn’t even set). I quickly got ready, had breakfast, and made my way to the pool with 3 L of electrolyte-laced water and some energy bars. I had some extra energy bars and .5 L of electorlyte-laced water along with more sunblock for later. One of the “gutter lanes” at the longcourse pool was still open so I snagged that and figured this was a sign to go for the 15 KM that I’d been wanting to do for awhile. The longest swim I had done has been 10.1 KM so jumping up to 15 KM seemed a bit insane but since when have I ever been known to be sane?
I wanted to do this all freestyle (crawl) also as all my long distance swims have been strictly freestyle. I was going to do an inverted pyramid starting at 1400 meters and working my way down to 800 meters, take a break to re-sunblock, and then go from 800 meters back up to 1400 meters which would give me a total of 15.4 KM. Sweet! I started on my merry way despite missing the first two stopping points for my intervals so my first interval was actually 1700 meters and the second one was 1300 meters (technically off since I was trying to re-align myself with the original stopping points).
I got up to 7.7 KM and everything was good. I got out of the pool to go re-sunblock in the locker room. I felt a little “off” yet still determined that I could do this. I figured the “off” feeling was new since I don’t usually get out of the water when swimming and hadn’t felt dehydrated while in the water. I got back in and started after the 10 minute mark of when I had gotten out figuring that’s enough time to let the sunblock get absorbed.
At the 9.4 KM break I was starting to feel rather tired which was unusual. I’d been swimming 7 KM daily with one difference that I’d never known was that important: I’d been swimming mostly backstroke lately with freestyle drills inbetween and aside from the first interval of a workout, I hadn’t been swimming any real long freestyle sets. When I had swam my 10 KM before, I had been swimming only freestyle all the days leading up to it.
I barely made it to the 10.4 KM mark wondering if I should abort my workout then. I seriously considered it and the dream of being able to say that I swam a 15 KM today vanished. I had a thought of seeing if I could maybe do some backstroke to stay in the water. I decided to try getting myself to the next mark at 11.5 KM via backstroke and it worked! I noticed too that my backstroke times were normal so there was hope that I may be able to accomplish my 15 KM goal. I was taking it one interval at a time.
I got to the 12.7 KM mark and was excited since the next mark was at 14 KM and would be the last one before crossing the 15 KM line. I was getting more and more tired and during this interval I noticed that despite eating and maintaining my hydration (which I’d drank 3 L by this point), I was feeling a headache while swimming. I knew that this was bad and had to make the hard choice of ending the swim at the 14 KM mark and not even try to do the last interval. I knew that if I had pushed it that I’d have been spent for the rest of the day and not a happy camper. It was going to take some resources to get myself back to normal as it was. Having remembered what I went through in January, I knew that I did NOT want to go through that experience again.
I got done with the 14 KM having done the last 4.6 KM backstroke. I had two artificial increments on my Garmin 910 XT due to when my left wrist hit the lane line twice so owed myself another 100 meters to truly make it a 14 KM swim. I tried to do it freestyle and was really struggling to swim even 100 meters with that stroke. I saw afterwards that it took me almost FOUR MINUTES to swim that 100 meters. That’s a good 90 seconds longer than it should have taken me. Holy smokes.
As usual too, I was focusing on the distance and not on the time. If I hadn’t looked at it afterwards, I’d have had no idea that I was swimming for almost 7 whole hours today. My average time of 2:45 / 100 meters is a lot slower than I usually swim also, even my 10.1 KM swim had an average of 2:27 / 100 meters. I should go back to swimming more freestyle in my sets.
While I’m disappointed that I didn’t get to swim a 15 KM today, I am proud of myself for accomplishing a 14 KM swim AND being smart enough to make a safety call to pull myself out of the water before I hurt myself badly. I’ll need to work up to a 15 KM so I’ll be able to do it comfortably and confidently which I know I can do.