Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Postal Swim

Spoiler alert: if you are signed up for Billy-Bigge Yyards Postal Swim and don't want to know my results until they are posted, then stop reading now. I did my swim last night. Good. Tough. Good and tough.

For the uninitiated, a postal swim is a friendly competition where you swim on your own and then mail in your results (in this case email). The host (or hostess of the event) then posts the results so, I suppose, you can compare yourself to all the other swimmers you have been reading about for months. In my case that would be some pretty serious Brits whom I have never met in the flesh, but I enjoy reading their blogs and Facebook posts. I have learned that our foreign friends are extremely dedicated to their aquatic proclivities. Some of them swim outdoors (in England!) year round, some blast up and down the pool like Olympians, and some swim rivers and lakes just for the fun of it paying little attention to distance and times, ranking a swim rather by its enjoyment. I find them all interesting and motivating for my own efforts in the water.

The rules of this particular postal swim (yes it is spelled correctly above) are to swim one hour for distance anytime between March 21 and April 10 and send in the results. I did mine last night at the DSU pool during Masters practice. I hope my coach doesn't get offended at me as I have done my own thing several times lately. Anyway, I thought one hour hard would be a really good workout and I'm convinced it was. I found it pretty difficult to swim a full hour straight while really pushing the pace. I can swim many hours nonstop at a leisurely effort, but to push hard is another story. I was tired when I finished my hour, and I felt the effort in my arms and pectoral muscles even when I arose this morning.

When I got to the DSU pool about 6:00 o'clock, I found Felix Shipp sitting deckside waiting for a lane. Lately we have been showing up with all the swim teams absent. One of them came back last night, and I was reminded that one of the disadvantages of long course is there are a whole bunch fewer lanes. We chatted a bit and then lane four opened up so we got in. While doing my 1,000 meter warm up, I noticed a couple of things that fired me up for my swim. One, the pace clocks- one on each end of the pool- were synchronized. The second thing I noticed was that as I neared my tenth lap, the pace clocks were getting very close to flipping over back to zero. The clocks are digital, but they zero out at one hour and start over. Cha-ching!

I stopped after my warm up and had two and a half minutes to rest. I called Cagri over and told him I was doing a one hour postal swim and was going at zero. He asked, "What is a postal swim?" and I thought, You know what one is because you told us about one a few years back.

At 0.00 on the deck clock, I punched my Garmin and pushed off the wall. I went as hard as I dared and did the first hundred in about 1:40, a pretty good pace for me. I didn't think I could hold that, but I was not afraid to try. Starting at zero made it easy for me to track my progress and my Garmin was set for the big screen to record distance. After a few laps, I was able to determine that I was doing most of them in 1:45. Occasionally, I would find myself flipping when the masters were leaving the wall. Ricky Smith was in lane three, and I am just a little bit faster than him, so I raced him down the pool several times when they were doing 50s. When that happened, I came in around 1:40. When I didn't have Ricky pushing me, it was 1:45 or even as slow as 1:50. A few times they were leaving when I was approaching the wall so they had a head start on me. I really did those laps at a high level as I usually managed to catch and pass them after they went from 50s to 100s.

To make a short story long, I did 3,404 meters in my one hour, and when I finished I knew I had done something. I drank some water and rested a couple of minutes before swimming a very slow 200. Then I did 3 X 100 with small paddles @ 2:00. I stopped at three because I was having trouble making the interval.

Yeah, I was that wasted.

I put on my medium paddles and did 2 X 50 @ 1:00. I couldn't handle that either, so I put on my large paddles and swam a steady but slow 400 and then called it a night. In all, I did 5,400 meters, not big numbers with a seventeen mile swim coming up, but a good workout nonetheless.

From now on, though, I have to chase the big numbers. Raw endurance it what I need for my Chicot Challenge. Although it is cold right now, the ten day forecast for our area looks good, looks normal. I can handle normal. Normal will give me a chance to do plenty of swimming. Last year I suffered a lot on my Challenge. I trained all I could, but the weather was so crazy that I was hampered from the really long swims I needed. Just the other day, I was looking back at last year's training diary. Over and over I read that I went to Twin Rivers to lift weights during the month of April because it was cold and raining. I remember one of those days talking to Tom Flanagan, a super nice man and very bright fellow. I was complaining to him about my training frustrations at the time. He told me then that all I could do was all I could do. True enough and it did help me feel better at the time. But when the Challenge was on, Robin Bond hadn't gotten the memo that all I could do was all I could do. She would not let me quit. I thank her for that now. I hope I don't need her determination this year. In fact, I hope when seventeen miles are done that I ask them if they are willing to go a little farther. That can only happen if I pay the price now.