Thursday, April 24, 2008

Breaking the 4,000 Barrier

While today I still had the tail-end (hopefully) of a cough/cold, I did get up slightly earlier, and by the time I entered the water, I still had 1hr 35 mins left to swim. The first 1,000m was pretty relaxed, and then the next 1,000 or so I had one or two more people to negotiate and to avoid occasionally as I went up and down the pool. Around 2,600m I managed to switch to another lane where I had a little more freedom to move and also do the odd kicking length. At 3,500m I grabbed my paddles for 350m of relaxed and controlled hand-paddle swimming. Then a moderate 50m without them. Finally a "race" over 100m with my usual racing friend. While I lost by about 2 seconds (mostly on the last stretch), I did not really feel I was pushing that hard, although around the end of the first 25m I felt I was turning into a hovercraft and starting to motor, only that the turns (I did not flip today) brought me to a standstill and it was hard getting the momentum on each of those (short) 25m lengths. A very easy 50m just before the pool had to be cleared got me up to 4,050 meters. It seems like 3 years at least since I covered a distance like that. Although I lived in Kona, I could not afford to spend too long in the morning swimming, as by the time I got home, I more or less needed to go back to bed. In addition, I quite often went biking and that took a lot of time. On Saturdays, I would sometimes start training at 6 am, and not finish until 2 pm or even 4 pm or later on occasion. I remember going into McDonald's in Kailua-Kona at the end of a 100-mile plus bike ride, having barely enough energy to order a Powerade and then sitting outside trying to drink it and squeezing the ice in my fingers. Swimming an hour and a half is nothing by comparison.
Early in the swim today I was not going fast, but I was taking fairly big and long strokes, often doing the length in 15 or 16 strokes or even 14 on occasion with little of a push off the wall. It just tended to feel comfortable. I was kinda cruising as it were. I need to do more strengthening and flexibility exercises. I tend to have a slow turnover (as in running with a longer stride), but I go further than a lot of people on each stroke.
As a child, it was hard for me to buy long-sleeved shirts (even in the UK) as my arms were longer than normal (perhaps not surprisingly since I was taller than normal as well). If I stretch my arms across a wall, the distance from fingertip to fingertip is at least a couple of inches greater than my height. I don't know if this can be used to my advantage in swimming, and so I am trying to find out.
This Sunday there is a big Olympic distance race on in Florida (the St. Anthony's Triathlon), and many big names (Andy Potts, Macca, Greg Bennett, etc.) and many famous women (including at least one I am in contact with) have entered. It will take place in the late afternoon Taiwan time, which means that if there is any live coverage, I can at least watch it at a time when I should not either be in the pool or in bed. Good luck to anyone doing the race who reads this!

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