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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I did it. One mile. 44 laps. 88 touches. 50 minutes of straight swimming without so much as a break to fix my foggy goggles. People came in and out of the pool and I kept on pushing through. And I honestly worried that I wouldn't be able to do it today.

My shoulder started hurting last night. No, not the one that hurt last Friday when I had to give up my attempt at my first mile, but the other one. "Oh, great!" I thought. "Here we go again!" Thankfully, it didn't cause me much trouble in the water.

I almost skipped going to the gym this morning. I went to bed late last night and had a bit of trouble getting up when the alarm went off...and it went off 4 times after I hit snooze again and again... But I got up eventually. Late. Running behind.

"Whatever. Just go."

I went. I put on my suit and my HRM and hopped in the shower to water myself before hitting the pool. I stretched my arms, swinging them around like mad, rotating my shoulders to get them loose. Yes, I fully believe that I am Michael Phelps or Dana Torres when I'm about to step into the YWCA pool in lil 'ole West Virginia. I'm not, but who has to know that?

Unlike running, there's not much time to think under the water. When I run, the movement of my feet is second nature. My phone tracks my mileage and keeps me updated and the only concern I have is not falling. So my mind tends to prattle off my worries and concerns for the day. Sometimes it can be a great thing - I can settle my nerves with a run. Other times, I spend the entire run trying not to cry or whine (and sometimes I do both). Sometimes I have too much time on my runs to think about how much it hurts, how bad it feels, how hard it is, and how much I want to give up. And the mental struggle to push through has been a great exercise in mental toughness for me.

But under the water, things are completely different.

I went into this thinking it was like running. I was training in the pool like I trained for 5ks, sure. But I was going about the mental aspect of it all wrong. This was water. So many things must work in tandem for it to work correctly. I needed to focus my breathing. I needed to keep my head low. I needed to engage my core to keep my body in line, but not tense up because a good stroke is about a relaxed body. I needed to keep kicking. Not big, wild kicks, but small and controlled kicks from the knees down. I needed to maintain a long stroke and reach through at the top. I had to pull the water back while I twisted my body from one side to the other, allowing my arm to extend beside me and helping me to move through the water. I needed to tap the wall with my hand, then twist my legs around using a sort of tuck motion, turn my torso and push off the wall as I extended my arms above my head just under the water. Each step was important. Leave any one out and you go from a smooth swim to a sloppy mess.

I'm not a perfect swimmer. I get extremely sloppy sometimes, especially when I'm tired. There is a time or two where I inevitably miss my breath and take in some water and have to come up early to cough it out for a second. I lose focus sometimes. It tends to happen. So how was I going to maintain all of that for 88 long lengths of the pool?

Simple. I wouldn't do 88 lengths. Not all at once.
10.
10 lengths of the pool.
When I first started out the idea of 10 lengths of the pool (about 200 yards) made me want to wave the white flag immediately. I'd be gasping for air after just two, so the thought of 10? Hell no! But now? Now 10 lengths of the pool is an easy swim for me. I can do 10 lengths of the pool. So that's what I did.

10 lengths of the pool.
8 times.
And then 8 more lengths for good measure.

Each 10 lengths I used to focus on another aspect of swimming.
I spent 10 lengths working on my breathing.
10 were spent engaging my core.
10 were spent focusing on my body roll under the water.
10 focused on a long reach and smooth stroke.

By 70 I was starting to run out of things to focus on, but by then I was almost there.
The last 8 laps were spent putting it all together. Making them the best 8 lengths I could muster...which wasn't saying much considering how tired I already was.

"Swim a mile," they said. "Sure!" I replied.
I never realized the focus and strength and stamina that goes into that.

88 lengths.
1760 yards.
50 minutes.
A speed of 1.2 miles per hour.
And 528 calories burned, 36% from fat.
Average HR at 127, with a max of 141.

Today, I joined the Mile Club.



I always wanted "runner's legs"...I didn't count on getting "swimmer's shoulders/arms"...

Arms Before Pictures



Arms Today

And close up...


And flexed the other way...

And closer...


...now off to ice my shoulders and back... *lol*

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