500 Miles! =)

On Tuesday I accomplished my goal of swimming 500 miles this year. Wow. I didn’t join US Masters Swimming’s “Go The Distance” challenge until mid-September and discovered that I was at 250 miles. I told my friend Lynn that it was a bummer that I’d come close but would have to get the free swimsuit for reaching the 500 mile milestone next year. She encouraged me to go for the suit THIS year. I thought she was crazy. If I’ve learned anything about Lynn though, it’s that she is your biggest cheerleader whether you like it or not. 250 miles in 3.5 months? Seriously? I was afraid of telling anyone my goal when I decided to go for it. Okay, I’ve done some crazy things in the past and we don’t have time to go into that right now.

I started doing the math though and figured out that it would be doable although a bit ambitious. I still wasn’t sure for the first few weeks if I was going to be able to pull it off and didn’t want to even put it into my FLOG’s goal in case I ditched it. One day I put it in though and thought that there was no turning back now. I had 6.1 KM swims planned during the week and longer swims of 8 KM – 12.5 KM planned for the weekends. At that rate, I was going to reach 500 miles just after Thanksgiving weekend. Since my life never goes according to plan, several swims were missed or cut short for various reasons. When it looked like I wasn’t going to make it to my goal, I upped my daily standard distance to be 7 KM to help make up for the time along with some back-to-back longer swims on the weekends. I re-did my schedule to finish on 10 December which I also missed. Third attempt was to finish by 17 December and that one I managed to make!

My left shoulder had started hurting again which I was getting worried that I had actually damaged it. I was up in SF last weekend though and swam with my Masters team on Saturday. It was my first time working out with Coach Tom and he knew I needed him to look at my stroke as something was going on. I’ve gotten off balance on my left side to the point where my left arm is crossing the midline. We had changed my breathing pattern in July although I never worked with him in the pool after that. I knew my stroke didn’t feel as smooth as before and always thought it was my right side that was causing it. For whatever reason, my recovery has slowed down too while stroking on that side. He said that’s why my shoulder is hurting and my times have slowed down. I worked on correcting it and very grateful that I got some time with him to work on it.

Another highlight from that practice was my teammate / friend Jeff stopped by to say “hi” to me. He swims in the “lightning fast” lane whereas I’m way on the other side of the pool in the “are you sure you’re swimming and not napping there?” lane. Teammates and friends are more than welcome to interrupt my workouts to say “hi”! Otherwise…the pool better be on fire.

Seriously, I belong to a really awesome Masters team with the most awesome coach ever! I’ll shut up about that now.

Yesterday I only did a 6.1 KM swim which was my favorite descending pyramid workout. It seemed to fly by though and I knew that just after the 5.2 KM point was when I was going to hit 500 miles total. I wish I could say that something poetic was playing when that point happened and in reality it was “Julie June” by A Silent Film. Definitely not as cool as “Come Alive” by the Foo Fighters when I hit 10 KM for the first time ever during a swim. “Cool Scene” by the Dandy Warhols is what was playing when I finished my workout. Does that count? Working more on my left arm position, my shoulder felt great during the swim! Thanks Tom! πŸ™‚

I’m incredibly proud of accomplishing my goal! It was something that I really wasn’t sure if I’d be able to pull off and with a few low points that happened, I’m still amazed that I pulled myself through to be able to finish it. At any point of time I really could have just given up during those lows instead of getting myself to keep going. I had a great support team though, especially my friends Carol Schumacher Hayden and Janet Manning. During any of my lows, I may have given up if they didn’t keep encouraging me along. Sometimes it feels weird to think that I swam 500 miles this year. I definitely couldn’t have done it alone though and my support team was really there with me every stroke of the way.

I’m taking the next week or so off from swimming to spend some quality time in the gym working on my core and hip muscles. I’m looking forward to getting back in the water already. πŸ™‚ I hope that I don’t look even fatter in my swimsuit when I put it back on again or lose the tan that I spent the last 17 months working on at o’dark thirty. πŸ˜‰

Next year I’m going to try for 1000 miles. That’s less crazy actually since I’m making that goal *before* the start of 2014, not 3/4ths of the way through the year. This should be hopefully easy with swimming 6.1 KM 4 times a week and a longer swim on the weekends as I train for various endurance races (10 KM ocean swim, 10 KM lake swim, Donner Lake crossing, Slam the Dam, etc.). The other two days (Wednesdays, Saturdays) will be dedicated to cross-training to work on my core muscles, especially my left hip muscles. My left hip muscles are still really weak almost 2 years after that surgery. That should help with my balance on that side while swimming. I’ll be back with my team at the end of January for another practice and more feedback from Tom. Hoping to have my balance issue taken care of and we can move onto something else. πŸ™‚

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