Sunday, June 30, 2013

20G at the pool

I heard it was a beautiful day today. It could have been raining flaming crickets and I wouldn't have noticed. From 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. I was staring at a black line at the bottom of the YMCA pool. Which is why long distance swimming is so hard for people to understand. Hell, it's hard for me to understand, too. There's not the dramatic hill climbing of cycle races or running into the pink-orange rising sun of a road race. It's just stroke after stroke in the water. If you're swimming outside in a lake, there's the clouds and changing landscape, which is why I enjoy it so much more, but then there's also boats and tree branches and creepy invisible things that give you an itchy rash for a week afterward.

But even though there's not much exciting to describe about a 6 and a half hour, 20,000 yard swim, I was so satisfied to have done it. I was a little worried my shoulders would crap out on me. It's been 6 weeks since the Pensacola swim and resulting shoulder impingement. That first week afterward I did NOTHING. I could hardly get my right arm lifted up high enough to brush my teeth or comb my hair. The first week of physical therapy was just non-weight bearing shoulder exercises. The third week, I got back in the pool, but didn't do much yardage. And now here I am putting in a full day of swimming. PT rocks.

The Red River swim is in two weeks, so I get to start TAPER. Tapering is a lot like Christmas. There's incredible anticipation, joyful short yardage workouts, but then it's over before you know it. And then... we'll drive 8 some hours to Grand Forks, North Dakota, where I'll swim in a muddy river with other nutjobs for 12 or so hours. 

But not tonight. Tonight I get to have my last beer before the race and get to bed at a decent hour.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Dodging boats

Well, if nothing else, this should increase your appreciation for professionally produced videos. Cuz this ain't one of those. This would have made a much better podcast, so just close your eyes and listen. Well, even then, only someone dented enough to enjoy long open water swimming would find this interesting. Nah, not even them. Carry on.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Back in the Big Wide Open

On Saturday, my friend Matt support kayaked for my first swim of the year at Branched Oak, the largest lake near Lincoln. The forecast called for a 50/50 chance of rain and we got lucky. 

I told Matt I'd like to swim about 2 hours or so. Turns out, he kind of thought I was navigating and I kind of thought he was navigating, so the "or so" racked up another hour.

The weather whipped up some impressive waves at about mile 2 to 3. It reminded me of the washing machine waves off of Manhattan Beach at the ocean swim clinic. I think it was harder for Matt than it was for me.

I was surprised my shoulders held up as well as they did for nearly 3 hours and 5.25 miles of swimming. I felt tired and my arms and back were a little sore, but not in pain.

We celebrated with lunch at the marina. Matt's wife Cynthia joined us and Paul had been waiting for over an hour. He jogged while I swam, putting in about 8 and a half miles. We are such jocks ;-)

One of the nice features of Branched Oak is the hot showers. For a dollar in quarters, you get your own shower room and enough hot water to get shampooed and whatnot. It felt great to get cleaned up.

On Saturday evening, I was delighted to get a call from my friend Sarah Dunstan, who is scheduled to swim the English Channel the first week of August and inspired my leap from dreaming about that goal to actively pursuing it. Sarah also has had shoulder troubles lately and wanted some info about what I've been doing to get mine back into working order. She's doing everything right - same PT exercises, backing off on long yardage and taking it easy. I think she'll do just fine. I told her no matter what happens, she's going to have a fantastic experience in Dover, meeting other swimmer friends and taking part in history. Nothing can take that away from her. And, I told her I could totally visualize her on the beach in France. Maybe that's a little weird, but I believe it. 

Today, I jog walked a little more than 3 miles while Paul did about 5. It was surprisingly humid and we were both drenched. Then I tackled the laundry room - digging through bins of shoes, caps, dog leashes, jackets and cloth grocery bags and sorting stuff into keep, donate and pitch piles. It's been a long time since I've seen the laundry room floor. It looks so much bigger now.

After that, I went to Master's swim team practice where Coach Gary prepared a whoop-ass sprint workout. Really? On Father's Day? I think my spleen or kidney is probably still drifting around near the deep end. It was brutal.

And then, I came home and made a fantastic Daddy's Day feast for Paul. Audrey came home and presented him with pork rinds and Milk Duds. Good stuff.

I only have 4 weeks left until the 26.7 mile Red River marathon swim. I wish I had more time, but I'll do the best with what I  have. Lots of yards to squeeze in. I hope I can find some more friends to kayak for me the next few Saturdays.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Things to do while waiting for a shoulder injury to recover

Get your toes done with your daughter.

Go to high school graduation parties.

Eat slow smoked pulled pork.

Go to PT sessions.

Go biking on country roads.

Listen, and dance, to live music.

Host a scooter rally.

Get into shenanigans with good friends.

Eat spicy New Orleans kettle chips and drink beer.

I did get back in the pool starting the second week, but took it easy and didn't use pull paddles. I'm now starting the fourth week since the Pensacola race and it's time to get back into the daily swim. It's been fun living like a real person, but I have to return to the water if I'm going to have any chance of completing the Red River and other marathon swimming goals. The big goal. That cold English Channel goal.

I'll trade my evening walks for early morning swims, restock the beer fridge with Diet Coke and Gatorade, skip the kettle chips and grab the kale. And I'm excited about that!

It's good to have new beginnings. C'mon little swimmy shoulders. We got this.