Monday, September 30, 2013

Post Poseidon

The Poseidon Triventure was an excellent reminder of the difference between planning an event and actually doing it. 

Doing it is much, much harder.

The morning of the swim was a chilly 45 degrees, but the water was, thankfully, much warmer, probably about 70 to 72. This temperature difference created a beautiful mist over the water. There was no wind and the lake was so flat, you could see little bubbles popping on the surface. 

I swam on my own for an hour and then Paul joined me with the kayak and we headed out into the lake. I tried warm Perpetuem and was disgusted by it. This is a bummer because I need those calories and Perpetuem is perfectly balanced for endurance events. Maybe if it's just sort of cool that would be better. Fortunately, I had also made a bottle of cold Perpetuem, so I had something to drink.

We were making a loop around the lake and, of course, had a headwind on the way back. It's just as big of an obstacle in swimming as it is in cycling - the waves pick up and it just seems to make the water harder to get through. I was also getting cold. 

We made it back to the beach at exactly 10K. I was shivering so hard, it was difficult to get my cycling gloves on. But the skies were clear and it didn't take long to warm up as I pedaled up hill and out of the park. 

The next 5 plus hours were consumed by pedaling and panting. I stopped about an hour in and discovered a blessed tube of sunscreen in my bike bag. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and I could feel my skin wrinkling under the baking sun. 

I stopped in Ceresco for one of those cold Starbucks drinks. It was the best f**king thing I'd ever tasted. So, so good. I had a fiver for the coffee drink, water and a cereal bar, which was 18 cents short. Fortunately, the cashier let me off so I didn't have to go begging in the parking lot.

More cycling. Covering 62.5 miles takes a long time. Again, I had to push into a headwind on the way back to the lake. But whatever. The wind is going to blow no matter which way you go. Fortunately, most of the county was at the Nebraska football game, so I didn't have a lot of traffic to deal with.

I finally - FINALLY - got back to my car at the lake after 5 hours and 15 minutes of cycling (which includes about 30 minutes of various rest breaks along the way). I peeled off my shoes and socks and got into new shoes and socks and attempted to run.

That didn't work. At all.

My quads instantly cramped up and I had to stop and stretch them out. Every time I increased my speed beyond a stroll, my quads kicked my ass. So, I just walked. I didn't care if it was going to take me 3 hours, I was going to finish this motherlovin event.

Endurance events are interesting in that your body will do so much more than you think possible. After walking a couple of miles, my legs settled down and I was able to jog a little. "Jog" may be a bit of an exaggeration, but it was a fast shuffle. 

The football game ended and Paul scootered out to see me finish. I had a mile to go when he arrived. It was a glorious, fantastic, triumphant mile. I knew I was going to finish. It took me all freaking day and I was as slow as a 3-legged goat, but I was going to make it. In fact, I jogged further than I needed to: 6.5 miles. 

I was really, really happy to take those last steps to reach the car. And I was so glad Paul was there to share in the accomplishment.

I felt good - fine really, except for a very sore butt from cycling and crampy legs from shuffling. It felt so wonderful to get all that salty sweat and grime washed off in the showers. Whoever thought to put locked showers at Branched Oak was a genius and a saint.

Paul and I celebrated my WINNING the inaugural Poseidon Triventure with dinner at Red Robin. I wore my finishers t-shirt :-)

The event was just what I needed - a long day of continuous movement. I needed to know I could do that. Now, I just need to do that while swimming the whole time. In cold water. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Every day

Sometimes, it's not so easy to jump in the pool or the lake and plow through the water. It should be -- I have an epic goal on the horizon that will only be achieved by consistently swimming toward it, every day, or close to it. The whole reason I'm doing this is to challenge myself and celebrate the blessing of good health that allows me to do it. Every day, I see patients in rehab, struggling with intense focus to move a finger or take a single step. They push their limits, too, every day.

So why is it, when I look out on a slightly rough lake on a given Sunday, say last Sunday, I decide to bail on the workout? There was no one around, which was my excuse, but I could have easily swum close to the beach for a couple of hours safely enough. I just didn't. 

It's times like these where I wish I wasn't the only goldfish in the bowl. I'm connected to dozens of other marathon swimmers through facebook and the marathon swimmers forum, but not here, on the beach at Branched Oak Lake, telling me to quit being a pansy and let's go swim. 

I especially want some company when the water temps start dropping. I don't think I ever would have stayed in the cold ocean at Manhattan Beach last spring if it weren't for the pod of other swimmers. Somehow, knowing there's another person who's also plowing headfirst into the freezing seafoam, makes it a lot more tolerable.

So, I'll see who I can con into doing this with me. Granted, it's a tough sell. "Hey, wanna go swimming in 60 degree lake water? It'll be fun!" But, really - it IS fun when you are in it together. And hot coffee never tasted so good afterwards.

Meanwhile, I've opted to go for a jog-walk this morning instead of the usual swim practice, so I'd better get going. I don't necessarily need to swim the entire way to my channel swimming goal, but I need to keep moving forward one way or another. I love this quote from fellow Channel 2014 classmate Bethany Bosch:

"All great accomplishments are the compilation of small, consistent, great choices. The choice is there, whether or not you make it is what determines where your journey will end."

Monday, September 9, 2013

Guess what?! More swimming!

There's not much exciting news to post from the past couple of weeks. I swam at Branched Oak Lake last weekend and again this weekend. In between, I did some workouts with my Y Masters group and, well, that's about it. I need to get in some strength training and a little jogging wouldn't kill me. 

The marathon swimming community has exploded with controversy over Diana Nyad's epic swim from Cuba to Florida. Seriously, I think a few people have busted a jugular over it. I'm just not that bothered by whether or not she followed "the rules" -- whatever those might be for this kind of pioneering swim. I agree that she should be completely forthcoming about all that happened on the swim. But really - the 64-year old woman swam a long damn distance. I don't care if she had vodka tonics for feeds and took a few smoke breaks. She got in the water in Cuba and swam to Key West. Kudos to you, Diana.

Inspired by her crazy ass swim, I decided to put together a swimmer-lovin triathlon I've been thinking about for awhile. It's not a real event - no sanctioning, registration or support of any kind. It's just a training day turned into an event with a little help from Photoshop. I drove the cycling route after my swim on Sunday, and even got tired on the drive. It's going to be epic. And painful.

Meanwhile, I had a lovely lake swim on Sunday with Paul in the kayak. I L.O.V.E. kayak support! It is like the difference between shuffling around a little jail cell and flying in a jet over a little country. This is what my swim looked like - only for 4 hours and 50 minutes more.

My left shoulder is a little tweaky today (not twerky) and I iced it down for a bit. I have practice in the morning so I'd better call it a blog. I'm getting ready for a Lake McConaughy swim next month. And psyching myself up for cold water. YEEEEEESH.