Sunday, December 06, 2015

"First Swim Back" Kicks Off Deliberations

The "first swim back" is bloggable.  Eventually after a few swims, all of the lengths merge into one endless churn of white and blue tiles sliding by the face.  Of accidental punches and kicks, breathed-in water and drenching recovery showers.

I have swum twice now this winter although yesterday's swim marks a change - a move into Triathlon training again, the "start of the season".  There will be another... and another...

I didn't feel like doing anything.  I put laundry on, read a book, got my stuff together then decided to sit with the laundry as my washing machine's bearings are failing and I don't want it to burn the house down so I washed two of my bikes and waited.

Finally, at swim time, I didn't even feel like the walk over to the pool in the howling gales that have whipped the UK so I jumped in the car and drove there.  5 minutes, not 30 minutes later, I was signing in and attempting to get a 20p change out of a fiver from a surly desk clerk who made me wait for a cash-buyer so she could "get into the till".  It would've been faster to walk back to the car and a supply of 3 x 20ps.  Oh well, you have to forget something at your first trip back.

I sat for a long time on the side of the pool, faffing with my hat and my bipper (which I reduced to beep at 50 strokes per minute), still not interested in getting into the cold water.  Relieved that when I finally did, it was only my shoulders that felt the cold. The pool was generally OK but they were trying to cool it down and at the end of every lap, a stream of chilled water washed over my hands at the turn-around.  A little disconcerting and made it difficult to rest at the end of laps, in the stream of icy fluid.  Quite authentic open water training though.

I churned out 6 laps (around 200m) to warm up then adjusted my bipper back up to 54 spm.  Another 6 laps.

The 30seconds rest at the end of every 6 laps was welcome and gradually crept up to 1 minute in the end.  I have lost all of my swimming endurance.  I promised myself I'd only do 30 laps today and set about working out what that is in real money now that I am swimming in a 33m long pool instead of a 25m long pool.  About 40 lengths.  That will do.  I normally "come back" to 45 lengths and didn't want to push myself too hard.  This is, after all, about getting a good, easy base.

I put the bipper up to 56spm and quickly got out of breath trying to stick to it.  Finally, I had found my starting number.  No need to up the speed just yet.  I settled on 55 spm for the next lap which felt slow at the beginning but I had to work at in the middle and at the end of the 6 laps, I just forgot about it... I need to work on that.

It was getting near the end of my session already - in fact I had only one set of 6 laps to go.  I felt like doing more when I set off.  The 55spm bipper was just right.  Perhaps I could do 10 more!? After 5 though, I could feel it and glided down to the bottom of the pool.  Went to stop my watch and realised I had hit the magic 30 laps and some (32 in the end).

Slow beginnings.  I made myself get out.

Walking down the steps to the showers, I had a bit of a wobble.  What is this sensation?  Oh yes, fatigue!  I grabbed my stuff and put the shower on full blast.  I stood for a good while, just letting the water wash over my hair and face and the heat soak into my skin and muscles.  It took me while to get a wash.

In the changing rooms I had a chat with a lady who made me think of Fly Lillypad.  She was busy with her teenage daughter and father and stressed and trying to stay healthy and, most of all was very sweary.  She made me laugh and I wished her well for her journey down to Coventry to visit her dad and hoped I would see her again.

I walked up to the car, flushed with happiness.  I roared around town for a while, doing some shopping for the weekend and changing a pin number on a new card.  Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find an HSBC cash machine that isnt' behind closed doors with parking in Sheffield?

Back at home I excitedly downloaded my new swim onto my computer and set about searching for Triathlons for this year.  All of the ones I am interested in seem to have clustered in an ungainly way around the same days of the year.  I wondered about trying to qualify again for some championship races.  Interestingly, one of the qualifying races this year is on the same day as this years championships leaving the other two as the ones that all the fast people will do.  As I don't want to travel down to the South, that leaves me with Tri Liverpool.  Bizarely, my best run this year after a hard and windy bike course.  I enjoyed Tri Liverpool but mostly because of staying with Glyn in NlW, a house he no longer has.

I needed more.

I had a look at Ironman races and I had a look at Challenge Galway which was tempting but then I looked at the "city centre run route" and could think of nothing worse.  I had an internal debate with myself about whether I really do want to go long again.  Then I remembered the loss of focus to my training last year.  Sure, the lure of doing well was there, the "never say no" approach worked but did I swim enough? No.  Did I bike enough - Not really.  My running got better - that was it.

Do I like training long? Yes, actually I do.  A long run should only take 4 hours at the most.  OK.  The bike training takes up a bit more time.  I settled on a choice of two races.  I didn't have the guts to click the enter button.  I settled for a period of sustained planning and taking a little time to decide if I want to commit to this again.

Last year was fun but boy! Did I miss long training? (yes).

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