August 2009 - Posts

Singing Jonathan Coulton while you swim across the lake.

So why would a fairly sane guy do such a thing. Well I could run a 5k every weekend and I'd probably get faster but to be honest I like the variety of trying new things instead.

I've swum since I can remember but never was any good at the old freestyle and certainly never good enough to swim any distance. Thanks to some tips from J and lots of practise I managed to get up to a nice 800m for the triathlons but out there in Seattle is a lake with only 2 ways across it and I figured I should try to find a third. Thankfully I didn't have to work out the logistics myself as there is an annual race which goes across a fairly narrow part. They claim its 1.5 miles but they moved the start line so I think its now about 1.4. Either way outside my one long practise run when I did 100 lengths (which is about 1.4 miles) this would be my longest swim ever. Its certainly my longest swim without anything to touch every 40 seconds!

So just like running up we got at  5:30am for an early breakfast and a drive to the other side of the lake. The parks service apparently were still in bed and there was chaos as the car park and toilets were still locked. Thankfully I was changed and didn't need to leave a car so I was fine. A couple of agave Chocolate #9's(these things are good) to keep me going, on with the wetsuit (the water was very warm but it helps with the buoyancy) and before I knew it they were counting us down and I was waving good bye to J&M who came to see me off. Really the park on the other side didn't look all that far away so I figured I would be there in no time ;-)

One of the biggest problems swimming in the lake is sighting on your destination. You have to break your stroke somewhat and correct. Today I had the super hero power of perfect direction. Though I checked often I was on target every time. Sadly I can't say the same for everyone. At one point I swear someone swam perpendicular to me! It took me a few minutes to get in the groove and since I wasn't trying to go fast I just went at a nice even rhythm. When I checked my line as suspected the other side had got no closer at all whereas the place I left had already got much smaller. It was nice to see there were more people behind me than in front of me too but I could see the faster waves had already started to leave so they will be passing me soon.

For some reason I ended up singing a few Jonathan Coulton songs as I was swimming (ok to myself in my head - its cheaper than an iPod people and more waterproof) - I have no idea why they popped into my head but whatever floats your boat (or wetsuit). A few renditions of Code Monkey and I think I am half way. The faster swimmers still have not caught up to me and I'm pretty sure I've only been out here 15-20 minutes. WOW that would be a great time. I try a few verses of Mr Fancy Pants and I Feel Fantastic and realise I don't know the words. Skull Crusher Mountain seems to be around the right pace and I have vague recollections of that buzzing through my head for the rest of the swim. The odd thing about the middle of the lake is that the park I am swimming to really doesn't seem any closer than it did when I started and only the relative position of the boats that are protecting us from yahoos on jet skis gives you any indication of progress. Still at least there is progress eh?

Suddenly people whiz past me in orange and pink caps - these guys started 5 and 10 minutes behind me and they are moving. At this point I realise the other side is slowly growing and I can make out people on the bank. I think I've been out here about 25 minutes now and it doesn't seem far to go... but it is of course. More fast swimmers go past me and I put my head down and just plug away. I'm in a good groove, its not feeling hard and I'm certain I am on a great time so no point in pushing it. Good job because as you are sure to have guessed I am further away than I think and there's still lots of swimming to do.

And then I see the weeds at the bottom and realise I have less than 50m to go so I pick it up a bit 100% sure that I've somehow swum 1.4 miles in 35 minutes. I have no idea how.

J, M, M and F are waiting to cheer and as I stand up I realise that its quite odd going from horizontal to vertical and I wobble a bit. I ask J my time - 50 minutes she says. No way! I guess as well as the distance being hard to judge time in the water is hard to judge too when you don't have to go back and forth. 50 minutes is still a fine time for 1.4 miles so I'm still very happy. I have to ask her again just to check because its hard to imagine I've been gone that long. A few more wobbles and I get my finishers breakfast - no bacon which is a damn shame! I think I was a bit excited at this point and I'm sure my mouth was just working overtime.

In the end it was much easier than I expected thanks to Coach J for the workouts of course. I honestly think I could have turned round and swum back which means I should be able to go faster next time... or maybe I will just do what I normally do and  double the distance.

Of course I'm still training for crazy running races so I don't get the weekend off and I didn't want to run yesterday and tire myself out. So 30 minutes after I finished the swim I put on my running gear and went for a nice 9 mile run. In the end the whole lot was done before lunchtime. What a good day that is!

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