Cycling, Running, Swimming, Triathlon Training

Thoughts I Think While I Tackle The One-Mile Swim

On Friday I completed my very first long swim of one mile. (I think I completed something close to a mile before in an open water swim, but I don’t count that too much because we took a lot of breaks and it was with a class.) It was one of the few times where I had the lane all to myself and didn’t have any music or people distracting me from the task at hand. Not only that but it seems like they had cleaned the pool since I was last there a few days prior. Huzzah!

The first few laps were easy enough. I thought of them as more of a warmup than a workout. The first half mile was moderately difficult since I was mostly doing the backstroke. As I closed in on the second half of the swim I incorporated more and more freestyle. The thing with swimming is that I find that my lungs and heart fatigue much faster than my legs and arms. I need to work more with my breathing, technique, pacing, and speed, before finding out what the best swim routine is.

The pools I train in are generally 25 meters in length, so…
½ mile = about 800 yards = 32 lengths
1 mile = about 1700 yards = 68 lengths
1.2 miles = about 2000 yards = 80 lengths

The last half mile was much more difficult as the tiredness was setting in to my arms and legs. By the time I was in the home stretch, I wanted nothing more than to go home, munch on some almonds, and lounge around. I figured that I only had a few more laps to go before I could get there. Right when I was three or four laps away from finishing I ended up having to share the lane with her. It wasn’t too big of a deal since she knew what she was doing.

As I’m trying to get back into the habit of swimming, I’m still incredibly fixated on the idea that it’s my weakest sport. (I should really try to fix that with some visualization or meditation.) Thank goodness it’s first in the trio of triathlon. The 70.3 I’m racing in is in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. I actually went there a few years ago while on a family vacation and thought that it was a nice spot…I never did realize that I’d be back so soon!

Every time I’m in the water I try to visualize what I remember of Lake Havasu. I can remember London Bridge, all of the little shops, the rocky sand. It was a really calm, placid lake, with a gorgeous view of the mountains. The air was crisp and calm. I know that the morning of the race, the lake will be anything but placid — the it’ll be rough whitewater with thousands of other people paddling and kicking their way to the finish line. What’s really neat about this swim course is that you swim in Lake Havasu, in the state of Arizona…but you can actually see California in the distance. It’ll be a nice mental game for me when I’m in the water — “Just swim towards home and you’ll be fine!”

As for the distance…I’ve had a few thoughts about downgrading to the Olympic distance (0.9 mile swim, 24.8 mile bike ride, 6.2 mile run), but I really think that seven months will be more than enough time to train for this event, if I make a schedule and stick to it. Each time I train I feel like I get one step closer to achieving that goal…and it feels empowering.

I’m not looking to give up on my goal or anything, and when I take the 1,000 foot view I think it’s completely achievable. However, when I’m in the thicket of training it’s really difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. No one is there alongside me when I’m short of breath, halfway down the pool lane. No one is there when I’m struggling with the mileage on my bike or when I get three flats in a row. No one is there with me when my legs are quitting on me during a run. It’s just me competing against myself, so instead of trying to psych myself out, I focus on something else. Call it distracted swimming…

Some things that I think about while swimming:

-I generally think back to all of the support I’ve had for the LA Marathon, my blog readers and the kind words they’ve left me. I think back to all of the literature I’ve read on triathlon. I think of my friends and family and somewhere from there I find the drive to continue.

-For a long time (while I was still in college), I was really driven by anger. I suppose that’s another blog entry altogether. I’ve had to deal with a few issues in my life that were very difficult. Every now and then I have flashbacks but I try to quell that anger. I like to think of how far along I’ve come in that regard.

-I think of my significant other a lot.

-I play music in my head. I have a tendency to overplay music while running so I’ve pretty much remembered the beat and track for every song I have loaded.

-I think back to my LA Triathlon experience. I can’t believe I swam off course so many times. I can’t believe how difficult it was to swim in the ocean. It was great to be able to take breaks by hanging off of buoys or flipping to a backstroke.

-I think of my swim coach last summer. She was really nice. She also had great form. I can’t believe she taught me how to dive…I was completely scared to do that prior to meeting her. I wish I can hire her again this summer to help me.

-I think of what it’ll feel like to cross a 140.6 finish line.

-I think of how tired I’ll feel after a 2.4 mile swim and that the distance I’m training at is nothing in comparison!

What do you guys think of when you’re training hard? What keeps you going?

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About Amara Poolswasdi Hulslander