QUOTE OF THE DAY (OR MORE): "No, no. You don't understand. This is an '89 Calico. I'm pretty sure that exceeds the Kelly Blue Book value. The cat's totaled." --A comedian whose name I forget talking about a vet who presents a $3,000 bill for a 12-year-old cat

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

You... I wanna talk to you...

above: my own rendering of me sucking at swimming

I told myself that I'd be happy after I qualified for Boston; it had been my prodigious goal for a little over a year or two. I told myself that, after I qualified, I could do more fun, hilly marathons and not worry about being so competitive.


At some point after I qualifed, not being sure of any exact moment, I decided that I wanted to do an Ironman triathlon the year I turn 40. That would be next year.

So hmmm. I'd better get some triathlon experience in before I start training for that next year.

Next up is a local Olympic Distance triathlon at the end of May. Sure, it would've been more ideal to have begun with a short sprint tri to get my feet wet (literality intended). I didn't know anything about triathlons (and still don't know much) so I had to google the distances. An Olympic tri is about a mile swim (1.2, maybe?), a 40-something-mile bike ride, and a 10K run (6.2 miles). A sprint is about a 1/2 mile swim, 20-something-mile bike ride, and a 5K run. The Ironman that I want to do next year is a 2 mile swim (or perhaps a little more?), a 112-mile bike ride, and a full marathon (26.2 miles). hee hee.

I already swim and cycle to cross train for marathons, so I'm not starting from scratch. Like many beginner triathletes, however, I'm not a strong swimmer. I've practiced (I did a "long swim" instead of a long run for my last long run for the Boston marathon because of a strained back) and improved so that I can go longer and breathe on both sides now, but I still suck at swimming.

A swimmer friend of mine, an ex college roommate, recommended my taking a masters swimming class, which is a class with an instructor who critiques your stroke and kicks your butt with a prescribed workout.

Long, boring intro almost over.

I went to my first masters swim class last night. I was so proud of myself for having taught myself to breathe on both sides (after many trials of sucking in water and coughing for minutes on end like an idiot)...

The first thing I learned is that I've been swimming farther than I thought, because I thought it was a 25-meter pool and it's a 25-YARD pool!!!

Thanks for sharing in my joy.

We did our warm-ups, 200 YARDS of freestyle, and the other two ladies went on to the workout, while the instructor called me over.

"I want to talk to you," she told me, finger waggling me her way.

"You're swimming box-like," she told me. "You need to imagine you're turning a big wheel and round out and stretch out your stroke."

I looked at her, not quite understanding.

"Here; I'll show you." And she did.

And I practiced another two laps stretching out my stroke turning a wheel.

"Better," she praised me.

I need praise.

I continued with the laps.

"Come 'ere," she waggled her finger once more.

I did as I was told.

"Swim toward me while I watch under water."

Again, I did as I was told.

"You're scooping your arms too far down in the water; you need to push back instead of down."

She demonstrated again.

Now I was practicing trying to push the water back closer to the surface rather than scooping down and around as I'd been taught as a kid.

I'll spare you the details, but by the end of the hour I had been corrected again and again so that I couldn't focus on all of the new forms simultaneously: push back closer to the surface, keep your elbows low, keep your butt up, skim your fingers closer to the water when you take a stroke, rotate your hand so that it's facing forward when you dig back into the water, stretch out your stroke longer and more round so that you're turning a metaphorical wheel... it was all a lot to remember....

I was grateful, though, for the advice; it's actually why I took the class. I knew my stroke sucked and that I needed some coaching. I think it's going to take awhile, though, for the changes to make it to my muscle memory...


  1. You go girl! My only participation on a triathlon, marathon, 1/2 marathon...whatever ,would be passing out water to those that went by.

    Good luck with your training!

  2. I think I just got better at swimming by reading this. Sheesh. That's a lot of to-dos. Good luck with all that. Cheers!

  3. No kidding. That's how I felt after my swim clinic. Our instructor was good about getting us to focus on one thing at a time. Do a lap, focusing on keeping the head down, the butt up, etc.

    I don't think an Ironman is in my future. I'll be happy to advance to Olympic distance triathlons and a full marathon. Kudos for you for wanting to do it!

    BTW, from what I've noticed about tri-athletes, they are very strong cyclists.

  4. thanks for ruining my 2 glass of wine buzz.
    i think i'll go throw up now.
    dude... take up knitting!

  5. You are THAT much younger than me? sigh.

    I suck at swimming. I remember trying to learn over and over when I was younger. Yes, they did swim in those days.

    Love the card...LOVE LOVE LOVE the drawings you do just for me and


  6. I am tired just reading this. I also think my fingers look a little pruney and I smell like chlorine. Thanks a lot.

    (You're nuts, you know that....right?)


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