Now that masters is over and the lake is too cold and I’m still…still…STILL training for Ironman it’s back to the pool to swim. Alone.
There is nothing worse than swimming alone. Maybe finding yourself in a desert with no water hundreds of miles away from civilization. Maybe that gets close. But then you see 80 minutes of swimming on your schedule and realizing you will swim it alone – it’s like you are just sitting in a pile of sand. Waiting to die.
I’m being dramatic. But give me a break. It’s almost November. Masters season is about to begin again – and I am not yet done. I want to be done. I don’t want to see the black line. Or my goggles. Forget the pull buoy the paddles and the swim cap. The only water I want is in a tall glass. Not in a pool.
So I’ve been actively seeking out swim friends. Enter Anwar and Jackie of swim team. They are training for Ironman Florida. I heard they were swimming at a local college so I invited myself to join them. They graciously agreed. And then Anwar sent me the workout electronically.
I almost graciously excused myself.
You see, the workout contained 6000 yards. Anwar informed me that they had been doing 7000 yards. Twice a week. But this week they scaled back. Tapering. It’s not the distance that honestly scared me. It was the detail. Now, I’m coached by Jen Harrison so I have seen my fair share of f-ugly swim workouts. But this one took the cake. Can you say 3500 yard mainset?
You can but after about 3500 yards it might not make sense to you anymore. Nor would you be able to remember your name. Your address. Or the purpose of the two giant noodles hanging at the side of your body.
I sent the workout to Jen asking for permission to swim. I could hear her HA!-ing from 45 miles away. Go for it were her words or something like that. Hang on for dear life. Don’t pee in the pool. Don’t poop yourself. And last…..what interval will you be going on?
The interval of: survive.
Each of us took our own lane. Anwar apparently took the fast lane. Not even through the 500 yard warm up, he already had me lapped. The mainset starts with a straight 1650. I quickly realize that Anwar is lapping me every 300 yards. Every 6 laps this man gets a free one. How is that fair? After a few more hundred yards it becomes a game – can I hold this pace? I didn’t even have to look at the clock. I almost didn’t have to count. Every time Anwar passes me I have gone 6 laps. Like clockwork.
The mainset descended and descended until my arms squeaked and I stopped at the wall and moaned. I can’t remember the last time I moaned in the pool. I’ve done a lot of hard swimming this year. And I think once you have done 400 IM or 200 fly you lose the need (or the right) to moan any more. But this one – it got me. I went home with a headache and red eyes.
The next day I had another swim. I didn’t dare go it alone. I almost didn’t dare try the swim at all. So I sent out a cry for help on Facebook begging someone, anyone to share my lane. Got a lot of nice responses…from out of state.
Then someone local responded to my call: Amanda.
We decide to meet at the pool at 7:30 pm. I arrive a little early to get some hot tub time. Every good swim workout starts in the hot tub. Don’t argue me on that. You won’t win.
But then I open up my gym bag to realize I have made a critical error.
I left my swimsuit at home.
This is perhaps the worst thing other than realizing you walked on to the pool deck not wearing one at all (hasn’t happened yet – but I’m convinced one day it will). I said something to myself out loud and lucky me that there was a woman standing right next to me who heard. A very tall, naked German woman who was now standing so close that her giant boobs were right in my face.
MY EYES! I wanted to shut myself into a locker, pop out moments later and shout HELP!
I know this sounds like some sort of foreign porn fantasy come true – you forget your swimsuit and there appears a tall naked woman with large breasts and a foreign accent – but no. I will just say…no. I’m a little leary of people that walk around lockerrooms naked. More leary if they happen to get within 6 inches of my face. Downright scared if they speak with a thick German accent.
There are other things you can do tonight like walk on the treadmill or…
Ok, stop right there. Please don’t talk to me about other things I can do tonight until you put clothes on. And secondly Frau Boobs-A-Lot in case you haven’t noticed I am wearing pink pajama pants with mushrooms all over them that have little smiley faces on the caps, no underwear and very nonsupportive nonathletic shoes. I am not doing anything in public right now - especially not on a treadmill. I came here to swim.
She talked to me some more about pajamas, going home to bed (not joking…it was beyond freaky worse than Jackie’s story of being alone in the C.O.D. locker room at 9:30 pm when an older women said “feel my hair”), then she left me on the bench wondering what to do. It was 7:30 pm. I had no swimsuit, no wallet, no cell phone and I’m meeting someone here for a swim. If I was Jen Harrison I would just go out to my car and pick from the 100 swimsuits I have clipped together in the backseat. But alas I am not Jen but like her I will also not skip this swim. I waited all this time, drove here, I will swim. There is a way.
I try to be all MacGuyver about it and look around. First I stalk the other women in the locker room. When that starts to creep even myself out, I take a look in the pool. Maybe Amanda is already in there and I can ask to borrow a suit? No. I walk back past the steam room and see someone’s swimsuit hanging off the door. Now there are scary things (locker rooms), scarier things (naked women walking around the locker room) and then there is the steam room. But I didn’t have the last laugh. Actually it was the woman I almost walked into walking by the steam room who said “what is someone naked in there?” I wanted to tell her to not even bother checking because either way I was about to borrow that hideous brown floral swimsuit for 3200 yards.
I realized that being known as the swimsuit thief was probably not a good thing at the gym I’ve belonged to for 8 years. They even have my name on a giant banner as one of the charter members. Could you imagine being blacklisted as creepy lockerroom stalker/swimsuit thief? As another option I quickly considered wrapping myself in those bags that you put your wet swimsuit into. Then I realized the bags were clear.
So I took the only alternative I knew: I called Chris. Of course Chris pulled out the 1 million things I have never done for him, dangled them over my head and then finally said “I have your swimsuit right here” before agreeing to bring it to the gym.
Finally my suit arrives by way of loving husband that I will never overlook again. As he drove away I waved my swimsuit in the night air and shouted:
I LOVE TO SWIM!
I find Amanda in the pool warming up. But what about hot tub warm up time? Amanda tells me she just got back from the Bonaire 10K swim. You read that right – 10K swim in the Caribbean. You swim 6.2 miles. In open water. I have heard of doing crazy things (polar bear swims, climbing Mount Everest, ironman) but swimming 6.2 miles is just plain nuts. Ironically she says that she heard I swam with Anwar and the last time she saw him he was swimming something awful like 7500 yards.
Pssst…the 10K swim is OVER 10,000 YARDS!
Tonight’s swim was written by Jen. At first glance it seemed kind of long and I was kind of tired so I took it upon myself to do a little editing. Trim the fluff if you will. So I crossed off anything that contained the words IM, kick, pull, descend, hard, on the 1:25 or with a band.
That pretty much knocked off everything but the warm up – 400 yards.
After that warm up we were feeling pretty good in the water so we gave the mainset a whirl. What do you know – another 1500 straight swim. I would say I can’t wait but I could seeing that I just did that the night before. Surprisingly the time passed quick and then it was on to the next mainset. Which at this point seemed really small (800) but was on an interval. Amanda contemplated the interval. She explained how she always feels faster in this pool but is slower. I agreed! The other pool seems slower but yields faster times. Then Amanda offers the only logical explanation:
This pool is downhill
She was so right. That might also explain why we only made half the intervals. Damn uphill pool.
After 3200 yards we were done. My arms hurt. My side hurts. I hurt. I am training for Ironman and finally I have found the hurt. But it’s not over yet. I still have my long ride this week. And another swim. I asked Amanda if she wanted to swim again on Friday. She agreed.
Just in case I’m packing my extra suit. And I’m fully expecting to swim something stupid like 10,000 yards with a 6000 yard mainset on the 1:25 interval all uphill. Naked.