Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Laura: meet the pool. Pool: meet Laura.

I have made friends with the pool. In fact, I think I like swimming.

In the last few days I've gotten in two swims, and both were great.  Here's a recap, and a revelation the link between swimming and meditation.

Thursday (first swim in a looooooong time): I surprised myself by covering 1k in 24:14 with an easy to moderate level of exertion.  Pace ranged from was 2:20 - 2:30 per 100m.  Not having spent a lot of time in the pool, I really didn't know what my pace would be like.  I was shooting for something around 3 minutes per 100m to make the 70 minute cutoff time for the swim in half-iron races.  When I swim laps, I don't do wall flips -- I've always figured it's best to simulate open-water swimming as much as possible.  However, feeling good about my swim, I practiced some wall flips.

Sunday (second swim): Mike and I took MJ out in the stroller for a run. Mike ran 6, and I ran 10 miles. Later, we went for a swim.  We both swam 1.2k (.75 miles), me with a total time of 28:58. Average pace was 2:20 - 2:25 per 100m -- slightly faster than my Thursday swim.  Practiced some more wall flips afterward, and creeped on some guy by spying on him underwater when he did his flips.

During my Thursday swim I got a bit bored, so I later researched what people think about when they swim.  I came across a really great website, Swim Well and Live Well, that links the act of swimming to meditation.  This website was exactly what I needed as it gave me the idea of coming up with a mantra to keep my brain occupied and help me really get into a good swimming groove.  I came up with a couple of four-word mantras to repeat with each swim cycle (I breathe every fourth stroke, so each stroke equates to one word).  I tried this on my Sunday swim, and the effect was phenomenal.  I got into a meditative zone that made the laps fly by and that made me aware of each stroke I took.  One of my variations is "power, strength, smooth, breath", and the other is "power, reach, core, breath".  I'm so excited about the peace that I found through this practice that I can't wait for my next swim!

Given the positive experiences of these two swims, I feel a lot more confident about the swim leg of Miami 70.3, and, for that matter, triathlon in general.  The swim has always been my mental hurdle in really latching on to the sport.  I tanked the swim in the Olympic tri (my only tri so far) that I did in 2007.  I did not practice.  At all.  Not a single lap.  I figured, "what's a few hundred meters in a lake?"  Ha.  Ruined the rest of the race, and kept me away from triathlon for a while.  I finished, but it wasn't pretty.

Assuming that, as I gradually increase distance and endurance, that I will be able to maintain a similar pace, I should be able to finish the swim leg of a half-iron race in about 50 minutes, well within the cutoff time.  With my current capabilities in mind, my new goal is not to finish within the cutoff time, but to maintain an average pace of 2:15 per 100m, resulting in a 43:28 swim time.  This seems like a conservative, realistic goal.

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