May 21, 2008

Living up to the Name

Yesterday, I came to the conclusion that my major problem in the water is breathing. I was convinced my inability to breathe comfortably was holding me back. But then I got in the pool today and had another, far more realistic realization - I Am Lazy. We all know this, otherwise I wouldn't be blogging as The Lazy Marathoner. It's ok to be lazy, I actually embrace it. It provides me with some balance in my life, otherwise I'd likely be one of those neurotic people that never miss a training day and weigh their food. Being lazy allows me to reach my goals, such as running marathons or learning to swim, while still having a life and having fun. I'm blaming laziness for my difficulty swimming because I realized I shut down the second the swimming becomes physically challenging. As soon as my heart rate rises, I either feel the need to stop or quickly switch to the back stroke to rest. What I don't understand is how I'm able to push through the same sort of sensation while running for 4+ hours or biking for 8+ hours. It has to be the water and how different, and in many ways, how unnatural it feels.

My day at the pool was certainly a brief one. My friend Louise couldn't make it and I really didn't feel like going either. I decided to go a little later and just do some drills rather than try to swim actual laps. I spent about 1.5 hours online last night watching swim videos and when I got to the pool today, I had about 20 minutes to practice. I did a few laps of different kicking drills, some breathing drills and the fingertip drag, a drill designed to perfect your arm positioning. In between, I swam a few laps. Most were still labored, but at the very end, I had a few that felt pretty good so it was encouraging. Tomorrow I intend to spend an hour at the pool doing a combination of drills and laps with a focus on not stopping. I am going to try to push myself past my comfort zone rather than stop and rest.

When I told people I signed up for the NYC Triathlon, most were fairly encouraging, telling me I could do it tomorrow and that I shouldn't be so concerned. However, my friend Joe had a very different, very honest reaction. He was surprised about my lack of swimming experience and he reminded me just how hard swimming is. He said it isn't like running, where you can stop and take a break, that I would be in the open water and would need to keep moving for the duration of the mile. Joe, you were absolutely right. Swimming is extremely difficult and unlike running or biking, you cannot fake your way through a race just by being marginally good at it. I have a feeling that my primary training focus over the next eight weeks will be on swimming. For me, it's the key to being able to finish this race.

After a nice, long lunch with a friend and a fairly low key day, I put my bike on the trainer for an hour-long ride to round out today's training. I would have preferred to go for a real ride, but my afternoon plans interfered so this was the best alternative. For those who don't know, a trainer is a nifty piece of equipment that allows you to turn your outdoor bike into a stationary bike for indoor training. It's great for bad weather, early mornings and times when biking outside just isn't practical. You also get a different type of workout on it since you have to pedal constantly. When you bike outside, you inevitably get to coast a little here and there. The upside is that you can catch up on your DVR recordings while getting in a good workout. The downside is that it's incredibly boring. I biked for one hour, about the maximum I can stand to be on the trainer. The distance is never near what I could do in the same time outside, so I ended up clearing just over 10 miles. Nevertheless, it was good to add this to what was otherwise a slow day.

Tomorrow night is the second training run with the JackRabbit group. We're doing a 3.5 mile "Indian Run," which I believe is where you run in a single file line with your group and take turns having the last person in line sprint to the front. I think it will be raining, but you have to train in the rain in order to be prepared for anything on race day. As with most things in life, you can only control so much and the rest is pure luck.

Sport - Swimming Drills
Distance - N/A
Time - 20:00

Sport - Biking (on trainer)
Distance - 10 miles
Time - 1:00:00

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