July 9, 2008

Unbelievable. I Can Actually Swim.

I finally got around to working with a swim coach tonight. I kept second guessing it. Was it too close to the race to do any good? Would he tell me to do the opposite of what I'm already comfortable doing? Would he be horrified by my mediocrity? But I decided I needed someone to watch me swim and tell me if I'm at least on the right track. After all, I don't want to perpetuate bad habits I may have picked up along the way.

Warning: Anyone not interested in reading a lot of swimming jabber, please skip to the next paragraph. Oh wait, the next paragraph is also about swimming...

My swimming has been largely self-taught. I took two basic lessons with a very basic instructor and then hit the pool 3-5 days a week for the past 8 weeks. I've watched DVDs, countless videos on YouTube and exchanged hundreds of emails with my virtual swim coach to get where I am today. So I was a little nervous about what this coach would have to say. He had me get in and swim 200 yards so he could evaluate my stroke. I swear this was the longest 200 yards I have ever swam. My first few hundred yards are always a bit rough even when no one is watching, but this made me self-conscious and when I lifted my head to breathe, I could see he was taking notes. I was dying to know what he was writing. All this mind wandering made the 200 yards a little tiring and I was winded for the first time in a long time. But when I stopped, I got feedback I thought I would never hear - I had very little to work on.

My body and head position are just right and I have a good kick. My stroke is pretty good and will get me through the triathlon and basic swimming, but to improve and get faster, I have a few minor things to work on. So we spent the hour working on breath timing and learning to breathe on my right since I only breathe on the left. This will allow me to give my right shoulder a break every few laps and will eventually be really helpful for open water swimming and racing. I left feeling incredibly proud and my confidence was boosted. When I took on this challenge two months ago, it was hard to imagine myself actually becoming a swimmer. As of tonight, I finally feel like I have.

This wasn't my first trip to the pool today. I went this morning to get in a workout since coaching sessions involve a lot of talking and stopping. I took it easy because of my shoulder, warming up with 200 yards and then doing two sets of 500 yards with 150 yards of kicking and warm-up mixed in. It was a good swim and I'm feeling more and more comfortable every day.

Immediately after the swim, I headed out for a run. It was another scorcher today and I'm hoping with each training session in the heat that I'll get a little more acclimated. I ran hard and tried to push an 8-minute mile the entire way. I had stretches below 8 and about a mile with a strong headwind that pushed me closer to 9 at times, but my average came out to 7:53, the fastest 4-miler I've ever done. I feel like a completely different runner this year. It's as though something finally clicked or I'm finally trying harder and it has really paid off. I didn't have any issues other than the heat.

This week will likely be my heaviest training week before scaling back a bit for the NYC tri. I'm not able to do a full taper since I have the NYC Half Marathon the following week, but I'll decrease the intensity a little and get more rest so I have energy for the tri, but don't lose momentum for the half. Now I just need to find my next tri, maybe one in August and one in September. Any suggestions? I'm willing to travel!

Distance - 1350 yards
Time - 35:00

Distance - 4 miles
Time - 31:32

Swimming (coaching session)
Distance - N/A
Time - 1:00:00


  1. Excellent for self taught swimming. I am getting back into more structured swim training next week after being on my own and haphazard for a while, and this post is inspiring.

  2. Sounds like you're headed in the right direction.

    As for some late summer tri's - come on over to the Jersey Side. Out in Hunterdon County - there's JerseyMan (Half Iron & Sprint); Skylands (sprint) and Buckman (sprint).



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