I loved to swim as a kid; my family referred to me as “the fish”. As I got older and got heavier I had some very negative experiences at the pool. People would laugh, point, make jokes and say some less than flattering things. So by my teenage years, I said “to hell with it”. These days, on the rare occasion I get in the water at all, it’s generally in board shorts (or basketball shorts) and a tank top or t-shirt.
While board shorts are technically made to be worn in the water, they are not meant to really swim in. Mine even have cargo pockets, so I would basically be swimming with small parachutes on each leg! So I had to break down and get something a little more appropriate. I flat out refuse to wear a “swim suit, I find them unbelievably humiliating, besides no one wants to see this mess in a swim suit…especially me! There are people that can wear spandex and there are people that should be arrested for wearing spandex, I fall into the second category.
Luckily for me, in my research on Triathlons I was made aware of what is called a tri-suit, it’s basically a one piece swim suit, but the bottom portion are bike shorts, which I’m very used to wearing. I realize this is totally a mental thing. I look just as fat in a tri-suit as I do in a traditional one piece swim suit, but I’m more comfortable in the tri-suit and it’s what I’ll have to wear for a triathlon anyway, so it’s a win all the way around! The tri-suit is designed to be worn in all three phases of a triathlon. Now anyone who has ever worn bike short knows they are padded to make your time on a bike seat more bearable. Tri-suits have a much thinner bike pad as to provide some (very little) added comfort on the bike, but not absorb so much water during the swim that you sink to the bottom of the pool. I was fortunate that the company that makes my favorite bike shorts, Pearl Izumi, also makes tri-suits. And I didn’t have to get some obnoxious, burn your retinas out, color. I have simple black and white.
What could be worse than wearing a swim suit? Wearing a swim cap! When I first got my swim cap, MK gave me a valuable piece of advice “DO NOT look in a mirror with it on!” Unfortunately for me that advice came too late, I had already sported the silicone skull crusher and stood horror struck in front of a mirror! Somehow Michael Phelps looks very natural in a swim cap, the rest of us…we look like idiots…or maybe it’s just me! Regardless, with my ridiculously long hair (which I used to keep extremely short) I need to wear something or I can’t see a damn thing. So the idiot image swim cap is a must, but it just adds to the rest of the hot mess!
And of course what swim ensemble would be complete without goggles? I have a nice reflective pair, but again unless you’re Michael Phelps you just look goofy in them. So there I am, IN PUBLIC (for the first time in about 20 years), violating numerous spandex laws (tri-suit), with my blue skull crusher (swim cap) and reflective bug eyes (goggles). Just one problem, I complexly destroyed my skull crusher with my finger nail while adjusting it. Thank God MK walked in and had a spare; otherwise I would have been basically blind!
I spent some time talking to MK, she gave me words of wisdom, tips and a lot of support. An added bonus was I had fantastic freestyle swimmer in the lane next to me. Now, this is a blessing and a curse. On the positive side, MK was able to use her as an example of things I need to do, smooth stroke, head down, hips up, bilateral breathing, etc. On the down side, being next to someone who clearly knows what they are doing only further emphasizes that I don’t have a flipping clue what the hell I'm doing!!
Ok, on to the workout. It looked so simple on paper, swim a few laps to warm up, run in the shallow end for a few minutes, then a few more laps, then some more running, swim a couple easy cool down laps and I’m done. The warm up laps weren’t spectacular, but they weren’t horrible either and the good news for me, my shoulder didn’t seem to have an opinion today, it was playing relatively nice with the rest of my body. Next, run laps for 10 minutes, hell, I can do anything for 10 minutes (HA! That's a total lie!) At 2 minutes I was sucking wind, at 4 minutes I thought I was going to die, at 5 minutes I wanted to die and at 9 minutes I couldn’t believe I hadn’t died! At 10 minutes I was clinging to the side of the pool as my legs had simply given up all hope and called it a day! OK, so maybe it wasn’t that bad, but it was a hell of a lot harder than I thought it would be.
I learned a lot today, things like I cannot (no matter how hard I try) breathe under water (and I did try…multiple times), in fact I seem to need a significant amount of practice breathing above the water! The breathing/timing thing is not going overly well for me, but I have faith that it will get better. On the bright side I now know that I can drag my fat-ass from one end of the pool to the other without the assistance of the lifeguards! This is a good thing, as CK reminded me “drowning is not good!” Just like everything else this week, today was a starting point, my swimming will get better!
Ok, I think I’ve rambled on long enough for today!
PS: MK reminded me that I should mention the "extra credit" I did today. While she was doing a bike workout, I hoped on the bike next to her and put in a stunning 2 miles while we chatted, laughed, complained and supported each other!!! It's great having someone who is going through the same stuff I am!