Last night, I planned to get my butt over to the gym to do a swim. But as I sat on my couch reading Ghost Trails by Jill Homer (blogger at http://arcticglass.blogspot.com/), I didn't want to go out in the cold. Just reading Jill's description of surviving the sub-zero temperatures while biking the Iditarod trail made me get up and search for a second blanket to wrap myself in. When she stepped in an icy river and accidentally got water in her boot, I felt that I just couldn't get my own feet warm enough. Would I get frostbite in my own living room? Of course not. But Jill is a wonderfully descriptive writer. I feel like I'm experiencing the ups and downs of her snow biking adventure right along with her. If you have never read Jill's blog, go check it out. She also takes amazing photographs.
Anyway...I eventually decided that my sympathetic coldness would go away if I got off the couch and moved, so I eventually did get myself out the door and in the gym.
On my way past the front desk, I asked what the length of the pool was. The girls working there didn't know off the top of their heads, so I figured I'd just count laps and let them fill me in on my way out. This was the first time I've ever swam with a goal in mind, and I wanted to be able to quantify my accomplishment.
My plan was to swim 15 minutes without stopping. I swam whatever stroke I felt like I could do for that pool length each time I turned around, and I made it successfully through the 15 minutes. The gym was only open for another half hour after that, so I decided to just do a few more laps and then get showered instead of drying off and hitting a treadmill or something.
First of all, I want to say that swim caps are the greatest swimming invention since goggles. Oh my gosh, did wearing a cap make all the difference in the world for me! It eliminated a lot of my water anxiety by keeping my hair from flicking into my mouth when I turned my head for air. Awesome!
Secondly, I'm really surprised at myself - in a good way. On my way out past the front desk, I learned that the pool length is 25 yards, and therefore a lap is 50 yards. I did 13 laps in the first 15 minutes, which comes out to 650 yards. The Ann Arbor Tri requires a half mile swim, which is 880 yards. So I did more than two thirds of the race distance in 15 minutes. Cool! After the 15 minutes, I did 7 more laps for a total of 20, which comes out to 1000 yards - more than the race distance.
I know swimming in a cold lake, before sunrise, with hundreds of other people kicking and splashing around me, where stopping to stand up and rest is not an option will be harder than doing laps alone in a heated pool. But I had no idea that finishing the swim portion of this race would be so within reach for me. I still want to get stronger at my freestyle stroke and be able to do it longer. But right now I'm pretty proud of myself. My weakest sport in the tri isn't as weak as I thought.
I just wish the race wasn't 5 months away, so I could go get it over with now!