Last night I had the opportunity to join the Edinburgh Road Club for one of their evening swim sessions. It felt so good to be a part of a club atmosphere and it definitely helped me to push myself. To be honest, I haven't been swimming as often as I should the last month, but last night's session made me realise that I actually like swimming and that I need to do it if I want to be ready to compete in a triathlon this summer.
My lane had three other swimmers in it, and for most of the workout, I swam in the second position. It felt good to know that I was fast enough to be second, but it also made me push myself. I didn't want to be caught by the other two behind me: that's the competitiveness in me. We all worked hard and I was able to take a lot away from that practice. For example, I have always known that my arms are my weakness in the water, but last night I realised just how badly my arms need work. We did a pull set, which means that we only used our arms to swim through the water. I stayed in the second spot, but by the time the first 25 metres were done, the two behind me had caught up. I let them pass as I didn't want to interrupt someone else's practice, but my arms are going to definitely need some work.
I fought with the lane ropes as I always do and came out with the bruises to prove it. My left elbow is a glorious shade of green this morning and I have, what we like to call, "lane rope burn" on my upper arm, just below my shoulder. I had forgotten how much that stuff hurts. That said, I've dealt with worse. Once, while training in Brazil, I sliced my pinky finger open to the bone because the insides of the lane ropes were so sharp. I constantly opened the finger back up for the whole two weeks we were there. A little bruising is nothing in comparison. :)
From everything that triathletes have told me, you use your arms for the most part in the swim portion of the race in order to save your legs for the cycle and run portions. If that is the case, I better start lifting more weights and doing a lot of pull during my water practices.
I realised that my legs are a lot stronger than I thought. Maybe it's from all of the running I've been doing, but whatever the cause, if we did just kick, I blew everyone out of the water. Both of these things are good to know.
I also realised that I am faster than I thought when swimming full stroke. Part of our workout was to do 4 200 metres on 3.30. This means, that we had to swim 200 metres faster than 3 minutes and 30 seconds, four times through. My 200 metres were well below the 3.30 mark, which excited me a lot. The best part was that I was able to maintain that time all the way through the 800 metres; very encouraging.
After the practice I sat down with L, the coach I've spoken about before, and M, another coach. We discussed our options for finding me a guide, or more precisely, a pool of guides. With a pool of guides, the time commitments would be spread out amongst people, which would mean that I would probably have a guide for most days of the week and I could stop primarily training in the gym. I still don't have a problem supplementing workouts by training in the gym, but if I could get some time out on the road running and cycling, my times, technique and endurance would improve very quickly.
M sent me a bunch of questions that people have asked about training with me and I sent an email back with my answers this morning. He will circulate my answers, we'll have a social gathering for those people interested and then hopefully have a few different guides after that.
I felt like last night was very productive both during practice and in finding me a guide or two. I've run into a few road blocks, but I think eventually things will get worked out.
Things WILL get worked out.