Saturday, July 31, 2010

25 miles in 1 month

I have a new challenge ahead of me. A challenge full of swimming trunks, weaves, headbands, hair elastics and tampon applicators. Let me explain...

I felt especially elated after my 6th Appleman Triathlon on Sunday, July 18th. I am finally at a place where in order to improve my future times, I have to do more than just try to be in better shape than the year before. I have to actually swim, bike, and run a lot, and after having slower times in the swim and the bike, I decided that perhaps it was about time that I train in these fields for once. Hopping on crappy bike a week before the event was no longer going to work for me.

For a while, I even separated myself from swimmers and cyclists in the past, saying to myself, "swimmers and cyclists are the people I pass on the run," but after this event, I knew I had to finally integrate myself with them and perhaps even become a swimmer and cyclist, myself.

Looking at my splits (17 min, 45 min, 26 min), I was exploring ways to shave off some time: 4 minutes on the swim, 5 minutes on the run, but it became apparent that I could shave the most time, up to 15 minutes, on the bike leg. My biggest problem in cycling was that I really don't know how to ride a bike, efficiently. I was shopping for some top-notch tri bikes, and asked a stupid question. The answer would shape the way I ride in the future...fine, so I didn't know that switching to a smaller back gear makes your pedaling more efficient. I get it now. In the past, I just powered through every hill and set the gears easier if I was about to lose momentum and fall over. Not anymore.

I quickly realized that buying a decent tri bike is a huge investment, so I decided to put that off until the spring when I'm confident in my savings plan to squander it. But just as I began to give up and wallow in my Kardashian gossip, another opportunity to improve my triathlon time had surfaced.

In one of my aimless strolls to explore my neighborhood, I discovered the Hamilton Fish pool. I had passed there before. It was the weekend and kids were overflowing from the gates and screaming and hitting each other with towels. Not the ideal serene environment to go swimming in. But on this journey early in the morning, before work, I saw adults taking turns, swimming laps, and encouraging each other. I later found out that joining this pool is FREE. So I joined.

I started swimming whenever I could, either in the "early bird" or "night owl" shift. Both shifts had something that no other pool I've swum in had: evidence of the reckless kid shift in the middle of the day. I thought swimming endless laps would be boring, but as I approached remnants of wild youth, I couldn't help but wonder how these things ended up at the bottom of the pool. Did no one notice that there is an impressionable young man who seemed to misplace his swimming trunks? Who seriously let that girl go swimming with giant hoop earrings? Are the lifeguards honestly not concerned about what the dark spot in the water is? It's a weave of hair.

I wasn't disgusted--more intrigued by the several oversights that made this experience happen. And the number of swimmers with expensive goggles who swam over the questionable treasures.

I stayed because everyone is really friendly and joked about the hairball in the water.

"I saw you swim, you did well today. Working on your stroke?"

"Yes, thanks," I lied. I swam slowly, because I was feeling lazy.

"How many lengths today?"

I wasn't counting so I was flustered by this. I soon realized that I wasn't being probed. Just outside of the entry gates was a sign that recorded total laps of every attending swimmer. And if you swim 25 miles by the end of the summer, you get recognized by the Hamilton Fish pool and a T-shirt stating your accomplishment.

The swimmers were encouraging each other, because they were all working toward one common goal, 25 miles by the end of the summer.

I wanted in, but it's the end of July so I needed to do 25 miles in August alone. Taking my vacation into consideration, that's two miles a day. I've found my next challenge. So starting Monday, I will be swimming 64 laps a day, 5 days a week. I just hope that the interesting finds at the bottom of the pool don't make me lose count of my laps.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010