Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Swim Workout: Impromptu Racing

Our family has gotten busy of late.  My girls are in 6th and 8th grade, respectively, and if they don't have quite the same level of commitment to their sports that I had at their age, they nevertheless have a lot going on.  Both girls take multiple sessions of modern dance/tap, ballet, and gymnastics weekly, and on top of this, they're both in the local church youth group.  I've also been teaching Hannah to run and lift weights for the past few months.  My wife Sally works most nights teaching various fitness classes, so especially of late, it seems like our house is as more a way-station at times than it is a working family home.

Nobody was home again last night, so I went to the pool to grab a workout.

Warm Up
4 x 100 @ 1:30 easy

Main Sets
16 x 50 @ :45, every 4th 50 fast
4 x 200 pull @ 2:55

100 easy

4 x 100 @ 1:20 fast

100 warm down

A guy got in the water with me a little after I started.  He was wearing fins, but he was otherwise swimming well, and after a while, I invited him to do my workout.  I hadn't realized he'd accepted until we hit the 4 x 200 pull, and he passed me on the first 25.  I hit the gas to catch up, and for the next 100, we went stroke for stroke at something like full power.  I wasn't entirely sure that I could keep up with a guy wearing fins, but it's so rare that I have the opportunity to race against anyone that I was super-excited to try.

We took it out fast.  My first 100 was a 1:06, which is blazing for a 43 guy wearing paddles and a pull buoy.  We turned at the halfway mark, and if you've ever raced against me, you will know that this is where I usually put the hammer down, that the psychological blow of having a guy smoke you just as you're starting to feel tired can be devastating.  I got a half-bodylength lead off that fourth turn, and when we hit the fifth turn, I hit it hard.

My man cracked like a crystal vase and fell off the interval, refusing afterwards to try any more of that particular workout--or even to look me in the eyes.  His face had fallen.  He looked totally unmanned.  I tried complimenting him, telling him how much I'd enjoyed racing him and that I hadn't been pushed like that in a long time, but he just shook his head and gave me a rueful little smile.  He refused to be consoled.

It made me sad.

Look, I'm a good swimmer.  The fact that I win a race shouldn't be taken by someone else as proof of anything.  I like to race, and for whatever reason, I got a gift from God that made me good at it, especially in the pool.  More to the point, I've been back in the water at a reasonably serious level for a little more than five weeks.  Though I will never again have the kind of speed I had in college--or even high school--I'm getting faster, literally every day.  I kept those 4 x 200 pull all under 2:20; this would have been totally inconceivable as recently as a month ago.

It feels good to be back in the water.  It feels good to feel like myself out there.

All of this makes me more apt to race, and I like to win.  That doesn't mean that I plan to lord it over random strangers on a Tuesday at the local YMCA.  It just means that competition makes us better, and I like to compete.  I spend so much time competing in other peoples' best sports that it's a real rush to actually compete in my own.

I don't know why my man stopped trying after less than a full rep.  I hope it wasn't because he thought I was laughing at him.  Honestly, just knowing he was there made me faster.  But I could see in his face that he didn't realize that, and here we are.

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