Coming Along Swimmingly

Hey friends! Sorry for being AWOL. You know how it is…and if you’ve read the previous blogs. You know I’ve got a lot on my plate.

Today marks the start of week 6 of my triathlon training with Tri It For Life. I’ve been doing great with the biking and running. Despite only having 7 gears on my hybrid bike, as opposed to the 21 gears on a road bike, I’ve been able to ride with the faster group on bike rides. Can I keep up with them stride for stride? No. LOL! That’s always going to be true when it comes to road bike vs. hybrid. Everything is harder for me, especially the hills. But I do what I can.

Now I see why they tried to talk me into a road bike…and now I want one. LOL! I looked at a sweet blue and white one at Trek, but that thing was $1,200! Layaway or no Layaway, HH would lose his mind if I came home with a road bike. I might get one in 2013, though.

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Isn’t it pretty? LOL! (photo courtesy of Trek Bikes dot com)

As far as the running, it’s hard to squash that former competitive athlete that lives inside of me. She wants to come out and blaze, but my body is not equipped. At this point, I get 2 days of running in. On Tuesdays, we go to the greenway and go out 20 minutes and come back 20 minutes. For me, that works out to about 3.2 miles. On Saturdays, we complete our bricks, which focus on moving from a bike ride into a run immediately after. During both of these runs I am doing 2/1 intervals, so I am going to do 2/1 intervals for the race. My poor knee really can’t handle much else right now.

Last but not least, there’s my former nemesis: swimming. I say former because I feel like I have a much better handle on the situation than I did 8 weeks ago. Most of that reassurance came today, thanks to four great mentors.

On my way to the pool, I felt super nervous. It’s week 6 – I still can’t do the 1-2-3 breathe drills, haven’t mastered alternate breathing…feeling like time was running out. It was like a feeling of nervousness mixed with dread.

Every week when we get to the pool, we have a workout card at the side of the pool which lists what we should do for each week. There is a separate workout for beginners, intermediate, and advanced swimmers.

I finished my 100 yards with the kick board and then one of the mentors jumped in with me (I cannot remember her name or the life of me, lol). She asked me if I could tread water, and I told her I could not. So that was the first thing we worked on. I think I have a reasonable hold on that. She wanted to move me into the 1-2-3 breathe exercises, but I told her I was not really comfortable with that. At that point, she asked our lead mentor, Heidi, what we should do next.

Let me back up and explain about our drills and training. Every week we’re working on everything: kicking with the board, catch up drills, 1-2-3 breathe, elementary back stroke. And swimming on your side. It’s a lot! I would say that I felt like a jack of all trades, and a master of none, but I wasn’t even a jack. LOL! The only thing I could do with relative ease is swim on my back in an elementary T-stroke.

Back to today – so Heidi asks me if I can swim on my back, and I tell her yes. She asks me to demonstrate, so I go about 10 yards and come back. Then she told me what I needed to hear. Listen, it’s week 6. If you want to still focus on learning freestyle you can. Or would you rather work on one stroke and focus on your endurance?

Endurance, please! So she told me to work on trying to swim all 10 lengths (short course) on my back without stopping. That’s the race distance. We broke off from the beginners group and went to another lane where we could be by ourselves.

The first thing I learned was how to push off from the wall under water. It saves you so many swim strokes. If you can get 5 yards from the wall each time you push off, you save yourself 50 yards of swimming. Winning! I still have practice to do with my pushing off, but I was able to push off, float to the top, then flip to my back and do 5 laps in a row without stopping. That’s half my race distance. That’s the first time I’ve done that distance without stopping! And my mentor in the water swam beside me the whole way. I also learned where to look on the ceiling so that I’ll know when I’m close to the wall. Now I just have to learn to use the power of my arms to pull me through, so I won’t have to kick as much.

At the end of out two hour session, they taught us how to change lanes. In the race, the pool will be sectioned off into 10 lanes on each side, with a platform in the middle. The lanes will be set up short course – they will go across the pool 25 yards, instead of the Olympic length of 50 meters down the pool. Basically, you’re swimming east-west across the pool, instead of north-south like the Olympic swimmers.

We will swim 25 yards in one lane, and then we have to switch lanes. We’ll go east to west for one lap, then west to east for the 2nd lap, etc. The same push off I had learned earlier in the day, I had to learn to do under the rope and into the next lane. I didn’t do too bad. My problem is breathing out of my nose under water. I’m not very good at it. But hey – I have 6 more weeks to practice, right?

After our session was over, myself and another athlete stayed and talked with two other mentors, Erica and Lori. They are both excellent swimmers. Erica is an instructor and she gives lessons. I think I will sign up with her when this is over. I want to learn freestyle, but not when I’m under a time crunch. They both gave us some excellent pointers. I may even be able to move from an elementary T-stroke to a regular backstroke.

One thing about my backstroke is that the water tends to come over my forehead and into my face a lot. Sometimes it gets into my nose, but I’ve learned not to panic and to just float where I am and cough it out. Erica told me I’ve got my head too far back and I’m probably bringing my hands out of the water when I backstroke. I’m going to focus on those things at tomorrow’s session. I just feel so much better now that I have a PLAN! I will focus on pushing off from the wall, keeping my head at a neutral level, keeping my arms in the water, and working on getting to 10 laps without stopping.

I got this! 🙂

The countdown to race day (September 23rd) is looking a little less bleak.

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6 thoughts on “Coming Along Swimmingly

  1. I like the idea of a tri group to help you train. This sounds like a great experience and the perfect way to prepare for a triathlon. I can’t wait to hear about your experience during the event.

    • I love the group! Having the scheduled practices keeps me accountable. We’re not required to attend all of their practices, but I go because it keeps me accountable and I like the ladies I’ve met so far, both mentors and athletes.

      I’m looking forward to blogging about the race once I complete it! 🙂

  2. I’m sure I’ve said this time and again (or at least thought it and meant to say it), but I’ll say it again – I admire your perseverance! You make me want to train for something…anything!

    I grew up swimming and know most of the strokes, but for me to actually do it now would take some serious mountain moving! You’re doing great and I love reading about the progress!

    • Thanks! I do better when I have an end goal in mind. With no race to train for, I’m apt to skip workouts.

      A lot of the ladies who could already swim said the Tri training helped them improve their skills or learn proper techniques. I definitely want to get some formal freestyle lessons in.

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