Tag Archives: Pool

Swimming Lesson 3

Today the Nuun Swim Team, as we I fondly call ourselves us, bailed. Early work duties, a race next weekend, and other miscellaneous excuses prevented everyone from attending, except for me and our fearless leader. And she is truly fearless if she is willing to take me on, trust.

Though I missed my teammates it was nice to have the lane to myself and to really get more swimming as opposed to some of the waiting that can happen when you’re sharing a lane with others who are trying just as hard as you to learn the drills. My normal pool has been getting more and more crowded in the morning with the onset of triathlon season I’d guess, and though I usually dodge the circle swim bullet it was nice to have a wide open lane to myself in a pool with bright lights and high ceilings.

We did more rotation and reach/glide drills (versus how I usually swim which is muscling through it) and though I felt some minor progress on Friday I really felt a leap today. Like, a L – E – A – P. The drills that I’ve been struggling with and sinking on came fairly naturally after a brief warm-up, and I was able to really focus on form and consciously make changes and uphold them.

It’s as though everything I’ve been thinking about swimming is completely backwards, and it’s taken a lot of fighting with myself and the water to reverse that. Rather than pull I should reach! Rather than speed up my cadence should be slower! And don’t get me wrong – it isn’t actually reversed yet. But I feel like I’m at a point where I can at least get myself back to here when I go (which is sure to happen) astray. Next time I’m in the pool having the worst swim ever I’ll be able to stop, realize that I’m doing something wrong, figure out which drills to do to center myself, and continue on without hating things too much.

I really want to like swimming more, and I’m getting there. Good thing, because there’s still not too much running happening on this foot which is a combination of nerve-wracking, disappointing, and depressing with Boise looming.


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Swimming Lesson 1

During our first swimming lesson this week we focused on the basics. Yes, we. We = my colleagues that I peer pressured into taking lessons with me, lessons being coached by another colleague of ours.  Coach is a ridiculously good swimmer and we’re lucky that she’s willing to wake up at the butt-crack to teach us how to not drown during the swim portion of a triathlon in exchange for coffee. Yay for work fitness fun!

So the basics this week were:

Head – The back of your neck should never have any wrinkles when you swim. When this is the case it feels like you are trying to awkwardly dive to the bottom of the pool with every stroke.

Hands – Should always be at minimum shoulder width apart. This ones doesn’t actually feel so ridiculous to me, but crying girl from 24 hour fitness better watch out once I put this one into action!

Hips – These are no longer a swiveling point on the body. The shoulders/torso/hips are one single plain and must move in unison.

We did some drills that made me feel silly like swimming with no arms (torpedo style) and swiveling the body by contracting the abs, and another one where you swim the whole length of the pool with one arm out ahead and to breathe must roll – in one plane – all the way to your back. I have a long ways to go but I felt good about the drills because they’re small and digestible things to focus on to break swimming into doable pieces. I like to feel successful – I think we all do. But sometimes trying to think about everything at once is hard so it’s nice to feel smaller successes along the way. Head: Check! Hands: Check! Hips: Meh….

I’m definitely looking forward to next week. Though I, along with the pool staff, hope that I swallow less pool water…

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24 Pool

After spending two consecutive days on the trainer watching it snow, and seeing the weather forecast for last night (SNOWPOCOLYPSE!) I started getting worried about work travel and getting my training in.  And about work travel. And about getting my training in. I’m okay with changing the plan, but I’m not very pleasant to be around when I don’t have a plan, so after confirming on every channel and website I decided to take action against the weather. (Never mind that it didn’t snow, the pool was still closed for inclement weather so it’s a good thing I’m nuts!)

My knee is a bit creaky and sore from so much time on the bike (see the last 2 days above), and I don’t dreadmill, so that leaves the pool. But public pools operate on school inclement weather schedules which tend to be conservative and unpredictable here. We live 2 blocks away from a 24 Hour Fitness, one with a lap pool that’s also open for 24 hours per day, but I’ve never swam there because I’m not a member and didn’t swim when I was (3 years ago). As a last resort I chatted up an online sales specialist last night, signed up for a free trial to get me through snowmageddon, and headed over there this morning.

First off, the front desk attendant took one look at my ID and remembered me. FROM THREE YEARS AGO. And I’ve even gotten married since then, so my name has changed. Then, I went down to the pool and there were four glorious lanes, and one person swimming. One person total. I could have had three whole lanes to myself if I wanted!

I’ve been trying really hard to convince myself that I like the public pool enough to inconvenience myself by continuing to go there. What will I do without my pool friends? How will I dry my hair at 24, because they don’t have hand dryers? But I like the drive home from the pool as the sun rises! But really, a lane to myself, 24 hour per day availability, and a 2 block walk might just win out. Stay tuned for the life-changing details.

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My Pool Friends

My favorite is the 12 year old (maybe she’s 14) whose mother sleeps in the car while she swims in my lane. Always, when I’m there, she is in my lane. I wonder where she swims when I’m gone? She is the most considerate, always letting faster people pass but staying aggressive in her pace throughout her workout. I know nothing other than that she goes to private school and didn’t want to loose fitness over the holidays, but I feel like we’re friends. Probably because her work ethic reminds me of myself.

I like to eavesdrop on the blond European women who hop in the fast lane about half way through the session. They deserve to be in that lane, for certain. But some days they probably only swim 500 yards in their 45 minutes there. I’m sort of jealous of them, because with so much gabbing and so little swimming I just can’t understand how they’re that fast!

There are a few slow guys who wait until later to show up. Theres two or three of them but I swear they’re the same person – they’re certainly the same swimmer – and I’m grateful that they start their swim late so there’s less dodging to be done.

There’s snorkle guy, who I avoid at all costs. He is the only person that will make me swim in lane that’s too fast and inconvenience the faster swimmers. You’d think that without rolling sideways to breathe you’d have to extra energy to focus on following the black straight line, but apparently it doesn’t work that way.

Blue fin women who swims about 489732580435743849 yards all with a pull-buoy (and who brings her own blue fins), everyday. She does everything possible to make sure that she’s swimming in front of me, be it waiting until I’m almost at the wall to start or hurriedly jumping in front of me before I choose to go.  Really it’s fine, because she swims the exact pace that I do so I don’t have to focus on maintaining when she’s there.

The agro dudes start their workout like normal people but end up trying to recruit everyone in their lane (and sometimes neighboring ones) to join in their sets in the last 15-20 minutes. Usually they get a few additional guys in on the fun and some attention from the lifeguards, but they don’t let anyone else steal the show. It’s cool, dudes, I’m just there to swim.

Theres the lady who has no concept of personal space in the dressing room. The woman who awkwardly talks to everyone in the showers. The two girls who never shower before or after their swim. And a couple of women who appear to be fellow triathletes but we haven’t all acknowledged it yet.

I recognize these people, they recognize me, we say “hi” and we swim. I make up little stories about them in my mind, as I’m sure they do me, and I’m sort of relieved to see them on Monday’s and Friday’s knowing that the crew is at work. I realized all this when I was the lone Mon/Fri-er on Thursday and had noone to knowingly glance at, but it made me happy that I’ll see them Monday, and it made me realize that I’m happy to finally feel like I’m swimming as a swimmer rather than runner.

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Pool Victory

Did I complete 10×50’s on the 50s?


Did I finally get the roll to my weak side even to my good side?

Not quite.

Did I get a new awesome swimsuit and love it?

Yes, but that’s not the point.

Did I grow fins and gills and become a fish?

No, but that would be awesome.

Did I have a whole lane to myself?

Furthest thing from that.

BUT. During yesterday’s pool session, one that was longer and harder than usual as of late, the dreaded slow guy got in my lane. I tapped his feet, he didn’t get out of the way or let me go. I waited until he was almost done with his lap to maximize my space, but I caught him within a minute and the feet tapping played out again. Gah! I cursed him under the water, perfected my annoyed face to try to summon the lifeguard, and kept trying to swim without getting stuck. This girl had a job to do!

My annoyed face must be pretty effective – or the lifeguard just felt bad for me – because for the first time ever she came over and asked him to the slow lane.


And just for the record, so you don’t think I’m quite such a brat, 2 folks moved out of the slow lane and into the other slow lane upon his arrival because he was just that inconsiderate.

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Run Bike Swim. My weekend was a reverse triathlon.

This weekend was nothing crazy, in a good way. Some good strong training. No major breakthroughs, but no major breakdowns either, and I’ll it where I can get it.

Saturday morning I ran the Seattle Half course. I improvised a bit because I wasn’t about to jaunt through stopped traffic on I-90 to weave my way through the parking lot of cars. That would be dangerous, not to mention illegal. But I tracked the course as closely as I could and dare I say that I think my version was harder and hillier with a cut up and over the Central District.

I’m pretty accustomed to the route from my house to Seattle Center. Running down Fifth Avenue was an exercise in patience more than running while I stopped every 4 blocks and dodged aimless pedestrians. I didn’t feel truly in the run until I hit Judkins Park, and at that point I was sort of almost half way through; that’s when the running really began. It felt sort of out of body to have started at our apartment and end up in Leschi by the lake
by foot; I travel in that direction frequently but only by bike, my long runs are generally more north/northwest in orientation to avoid the major hill factor. Anyway, the newish scenery kept me busy and engaged while I tried to keep my run easy and heart rate down. Heart Rate! Stay down! Legs! Slow yourself!

Just as I got to the stair climb that leads down to the water’s edge I (literally, almost) ran into my coach, cycling and also enjoying the beautiful day. I shouted a quick hello and continued on after some Corpore Sano love. It was perfect timing, because less than ¾ of a mile marked the second half of my run; the second half being the part where my heart rate should be higher, my pace should be faster, and things should be harder. The majority of the second half is also uphill, making the harder part easy to reach but feeling fast and strong not as much.

But I battled through and carried a 7:36 mi pace average for the uphill portion of the route. The second half is a challenge physically but absolutely gorgeous, especially on a perfect day, so I willed myself one block, two blocks, three blocks, 3 miles further, and dreamed about how it will feel and look to actually race through Interlaken Blvd rather than just run
fast. Hopefully on race day I get more cheers than pondering why-is-she-clearly-torturing herself sorts of faces.

Sunday was equally gorgeous and I was happy to have a good ride slated. Instructions said take it easy, mind you, but it’s easier to slow down breathe it in when it’s likely one of the last opportunities to enjoy the explosion of autumn.  I rode to and around Mercer
Island, and weaving, winding and climbing through the redish yellowish orangeish trees with occasional peek-a-bo’s of the lake and low pockets of fog. I spent the first half of my ride wondering why I seemed to be the only cyclist on the road on such a spectacular day; I spent the second half of my ride no longer wondering because every cyclist in the state had deemed Mercer Island and Lake Washington Blvd the place(s) to be. It was a very slow ride home, but rather than get frustrated and leapfrog the large groups I tried to enjoy every second in the saddle. I did a pretty good job, much better than usual.

Sunday was also weights day; originally scheduled for today I knew I’d be too slammed with work and wanted to guarantee a good session without compromise. And that, I did! Weights have been notably easier with every session, and I’ve been feeling markedly stronger too, until my session last Thursday. Last Thursday I was tired, my legs were burning, and I felt like I made a small step backward. Yesterday I at least got myself back to par and pumped through the hour without fanfare or torture. Some of the exercises continue to feel challenging (leg extensions and ham curls, why do you hate me so?) but upper body was cake and for the first time in years I can tell my already strong core has made additional headway.

Last but not least, this morning I got to hit the pool. Though today is no longer weekend, at 5am I hadn’t yet been to the office so I’m going to group it in with a solid 4 for 4 weekend of workouts. Today’s session had the one-fin drill assignment (kidding!); not only am I glad I didn’t attempt a single fin swim for embarrassment’s sake, but because the real drill was really a good one. I’m not feeling marked progress during every swim session like I was a few weeks back, but if I isolate certain parts of my stroke I can tell that drills are working and that my hard work is paying off. I’m no fish, but my butt burns less after kickboard drills, I can actually breathe bilaterally (the alternative being rolling my body and gulping water on the weak side), and though I’m not spot on I can feel the difference in each side. It’s starting to even out more.

Now I just want a rinse, wash, and repeat on the weekend so that I can do it all again. I truly don’t mind the 5am alarm clock most mornings, but there is something to be said for a warm cup of coffee and and extra hour or two of sleep before you battle it out. And I especially enjoy my days revolving around my training sessions, rather than fitting them in at the mercy of life.

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Let’s make the (swimming) world a better place

I would like for someone to explain swimming pool etiquette to me. And then I would like that person to assess my swimming and tell me which lane I should swim in. Last but not least I would like that person to assess all other swimmers on earth and assign them their own placement, and then we can all be happy and life can go on.

There’s nothing worse than trying to rock your workout and have someone too slow get in the way. But there’s also nothing worse than ME trying to rock MY workout and have someone too slow get in MY way!

Every time I go to the pool it’s a battle. I’m not at all Slow, and I’m faster than Medium. But if a self-proclaimed Fast is doing TT’s or quick sets I could become that person. You know, the one in the way.

I arrive at the pool early, shower, and as soon as the lifeguards allow I claim a lane and start immediately to establish the speed with the goal of scaring off leisurely swimmers to one of the assigned slower lanes. But EVERY.SINGLE.TIME someone with a snorkel mask or who enjoys sidestroke or who simply prefers turtle stroke* ends up in my lane.

Do they really think that they’re swimming the same speed I am? Do they really think they’re a Medium given the sample present? Is it the same thing as teenage girls thinking they’re a size 2 just because they can close the zipper when they suck it in? Perhaps we’ll never know, but I would like to get to the bottom of it.

I would hate to frustrate someone else in the pool, but I feel like I’ve paid my dues and perhaps it’s time that I graduate to the next lane. Hopefully the Fasties are patient with me and maybe my graduation will even help inspire their own!

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