The alternate title to this post is “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger”…
The swim was the most difficult part of my two races in 2012. My first race (the Marshman Triathlon) was derailed with a tough swim experience. While overall it was a positive first race, it could have been so much better, and it was my fault as I did not stick with my race plan and I lost my head. In October, my swim at the Cape Henlopen Triathlon was a cold-water, against-the-current ocean swim, and it wasn’t easy. So with those two rough swim experiences in my rear-view, I realized quickly that I need to meet these limitations head-on this off-season in order to survive Olympic and Half-Iron distances.
My kids got involved with our local winter swim team, so while they swam most Tuesday and Thursday nights, I often joined them in the pool in an extra lane reserved for members and parents. I quickly built more endurance and worked on drills and refinements on my own, but I realized that in order to go to the next level I needed a push. That’s where my triathlon team came into play.
I found this local group of triathlon competitors just doing an easy Google search last summer. It’s free to join, and my participation helps earn points in races managed and sanctioned by Piranha Sports. We’re lead by a multisport coach and the group is affiliated with a local health club with an extremely competitive swim program, so pool access and coaching resources are readily available. I met several of the team members last summer when I joined in for a Wednesday night swim at Lums Pond State Park, and this summer we will be having those open water swim sessions every Wednesday night.
I exchanged messages with Coach Glenn this week, and he suggested that based on my level, I’m probably ready for organized Saturday morning practices at the club. It’s free, and the health club donates the pool for that 90 minute session as a sponsorship to the club. Glenn couldn’t make it on Saturday, but he briefed his assistant coach to be on the lookout for a “clueless noob” 🙂
Practice started at 7am, and we set off. I jumped into the slowest lane, but it actually became apparent that I I was a little faster than the others, so I moved up to a faster lane. After a 300 yd warmup, we went into 75 yard on 1:30 (aerobic/race/sprint), and I found that 12 of these back to back was very challenging. We went into some longer intervals after that (200, 300, 400) trying to push the back half of each set. Coach Kathy mentioned to me that I was too fast in my arms and I never really rooted my “catch” before my pull. After about an hour of beating, we did some drills with a kickboard and fins, and it was at this point that my calves severely cramped up. I experienced this at the tail end of a great swim session on my own, and I think it has to do with under-hydrating (I actually brought hydration but lft it in my car!). I missed out on about 100 yards of kicking drills as I walked some laps around the pool, but all in all the workout was about 3,000 yards (although I failed to start my Garmin during a couple of intervals).
The people were incredibly nice, and I got some great compliments on my form and technique from the other swimmers. Kathy said she would continue to watch me next time I came back, but to concentrate on my recovery and catch..
I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon, and my calves still ache a bit from the cramping yesterday – so this turned into a day off. I really feel excited and I can’t wait to get back into the water. All in all, I found that I was pretty prepared for my first group swim practice, and if I can continue to swim and push at that level I should be in better shape for 2013’s races.