The Fargo Marathon is only 10 days away, so what did I do today? Why, swim of course! I'm starting to freak out that my first triathlon is only 4 weeks after the marathon and I've only been in the pool a couple times. The bike is an even worse situation as I've only ridden a little bit on the trainer this winter. My legs are feeling pretty sore though, and with the marathon quickly approaching I don't want to start hammering my legs on the bike. So, it looks like swimming will be my new activity until the marathon is over.
As a kid, I swam on the neighborhood swim team until I was 13 or so. I was never very fast at freestyle, but I managed to make it to conference a few times swimming breast stroke. If you saw me run, you would see why breast stroke and I were a good match. My leg likes to kick out in egg beater fashion when I run and swim. It's not a very efficient technique for freestyle swimming or running, but it's a match made in heaven for swimming like a frog.
Today was the first of my four lessons with Sarah, a swim coach at my fitness club. She's done a marathon and some triathlons, so she knows what I'm looking to accomplish. I don't need to be kicking my guts out in the water to get on the bike with my legs already toasted. Being able to swim at a decent pace and get out of the water without noodle legs is what I'm looking for.
So what happened? I loved it! Sarah watched me swim some laps and smiled and said that she was "pleasantly surprised." Now, as a kid, I was a pretty good athlete. I played all kinds of sports and, with the exception of softball, was always one of the better kids on the team. As an adult... not so much. I'm not flexible, so I'm terrible at yoga. I took an aerobics type class at the gym and could never figure out why I was always going one way and the rest of the class was going the other. Running, as you know, is a passion but no one is "pleasantly surprised" by my results. Really, the only evidence of my athletic prowess as a youth is my ability to shoot dirty clothes into the hamper from across the room.
But today was different! She was "pleasantly surprised" and I loved being in the pool. After she assessed my stroke, she had me do some drills with the pull buoy and swimming on my side. I had a little trouble staying afloat with the side swimming drill, but I survived. I did a kicking drill that became much easier when she lent me some flippers. Then she had me do four sets of two drills followed by 100 yards of freestyle. I still don't get the lingo of how you describe the workouts, but it made sense that the drills worked on an aspect of technique and then you try to put it all together during the freestyle laps.
One of the things I love about running is the feeling that I get when I'm done. I'm just too tired to be anything but relaxed about everything. I had the same feeling about swimming today. Afterwards, I just felt very calm and relaxed... and relieved that I seemed to be on the right track. I'm guessing that open water swimming will be more challenging than doing some drills in the pool, but for right now, swimming and I are friends.