Sunday, April 20, 2008

End of a Week of Swimming

The characters you see in the picture make up some of the artificial scenery surrounding a huge temple that I pass on my way to the pool in the mornings as I ride along the side of the lake.
The pool is closed for maintenance Mondays, and that means I have the day off, so to speak, and a little more energy to channel my efforts into my translation work. Today I went down the pool as usual and got started in the water at 6:25 am. Fortunately, the pool wasn't crowded and I got some solid swimming (up to 2,500m) before I took a short break in the jacuzzi. Since 8:00 am was soon approaching (when the pool is cleared for about an hour), there were gradually fewer people and I got 500m done with hand paddles. Very relaxed. My paddles are red (I forget who they are supposed to be for, either masters or college swimmers. However, they are not much bigger than my hands, so when used carefully, they actually help me rather than giving me discomfort. After an easy 100m by myself, my friend (the same as before) challenged me to a 100m. I felt pretty beat by then, and he was two lanes away from me. I did not notice him going down the first stretch (and wondered if I was ahead), so slowed down, but then he was actually ahead. Anyway, I did not want to try to go hard, and he finished a few seconds ahead.

So, this week I recorded 18,500 meters in 6 days. A lot of it was fairly continuous and easy, but I did add some variety. When there are more people in the pool, it can be hard to take a long rest in between sets, for someone may seize the opportunity to jump in in front of you, then you have more issues to deal with. However, my problem this week is that I had a cold all week. It in fact was at its worst today. I rarely ever get colds. I think my immune system is a little weaker recently, perhaps because of some medicine I have had to take, plus the muggy weather. I felt comfortable while swimming, although I was a lot more comfortable trying to keep my breathing more controlled. I placed more emphasis on long, powerful strokes, as opposed to breathing hard.

So, what about my setting some goals? I've read several blogs recently about how people (including some of you who may read this) have been doing sets on 2:05 sendoffs, etc. Well, first of all, for me it is difficult to go to the pool with a "fax" listing the workout down to the last detail. I may have to swim with others in my lane or around me in the open area. Then, of course, I can improvise a little. When I catch someone up, I can wait for an opportune time to pass, and then go flat out past them until I reach the opposite wall (that will make them feel good, won't it?), or I may have a do some kicking only to slow myself down. Secondly, with my cold, I have just had to rely on how I felt each time I went to swim. Enough said. So I will wait until I am a little better and set myself a few goals.

At the pool, I am slowly getting to know some people and actually talk to them. My wife and I after all only moved down to this city (her home town) about three months ago, so for me in particular it has felt a little strange. Some of the older people (i.e., those already retired) do not speak much Mandarin Chinese and since they don't expect me to speak the Taiwanese dialect will probably not talk to me for that reason (I can actually get by in Taiwanese, but need a lot of practice). Today one friend introduced me to the elderly gentleman swimming in the lane next to me. Since he may not have spoken Mandarin very well, my friend asked me if I could speak Japanese. So I greeted him in Japanese and it turned out he spoke it very well. He asked me a couple of questions, which I more or less understood, but I kind of froze on the spot and could only use one-word answers. Well, communicating and getting to know people is interesting, but also difficult. In Taiwan, once a foreigner, always a foreigner.

Today is/was Ironman China. When I told my wife about it, she asked why I didn't go to race it. Of course, it would help if I had a bike. However, I want to spend my limited time training, and not traveling to and from venues, unless it is somewhere I have a great interest in and also have friends I can race against, e.g., Hawai'i. I feel that the best races are the Peaman's, the Mango's and the Lavaman and Honu races on the Big Island. Then I can race against my age group and buddies, and sometimes beat them and sometimes not. If I can really get good at something, I will try to race against strangers, if I think I have a reasonable chance of beating them.

Well, I guess I'd better get a little more work done before I call it a day. When I feel a bit better, I will try to set a few swimming pool goals, and then go for it. At least I am grateful that my shoulders don't feel sore. I would also like to thank fellow bloggers for their example, inspiration and encouragement.

No comments: