So this morning I had to wrestle myself out of the bed at 5:30 (late already) and force myself to the pool. It never fails that these difficult mornings turn out to be fantastic and today was no exception. My friend Wendy was at the pool today after a long absence (she had a baby ). It was great to see her and fun to catch up on little Hannah. See this is one of the joys of Masters swimming. The camaraderie in your lane and later in the showers can’t be beat. I am also lucky enough to have two different pool coaches who keep the workouts interesting and the advice coming. I have improved my stroke technique and am injury free at the moment (well except for a knee thing from skiing, but that hardly counts). Last year at this time I was in physical therapy three times a week trying to undue the damage I had wreaked on my shoulders and neck from training to swim across Lake Tahoe (10 miles) and having something in my stroke that wasn’t right and caused great pain. I never stopped swimming, much against their advice, but I did get a lot of technique instruction and somehow fixed my stroke. That is one of the fun things about sports, there is always something to work on, something to improve. People always ask, “How can you just swim back and forth for so long with out getting bored?” My answer is that I am always thinking about some aspect of my stroke, or the feel of the water, or how my body is moving through the water. There is always something to concentrate on. And then there is the meditative aspect of just zoning out and swimming with out consciousness which is good too, but I can’t do that as well in the pool as I can in the ocean. Every time I dive into the water, I feel like I am coming home. My every synapse and nerve sighs with relief. I must have been a sea creature in another life.
When I was younger, my older brother Tim was a “practicing” triathlete. I put practicing in quotes because he was a maniac. He trained all of the time. I was always amazed that he could do an iron man at all and I still am, but the thing I remember most was that he went to bed around 8 PM. To me, we always saw each other on vacation and with lots of family around, he was missing the best part of the evening, namely dinner and conversation. Well now I am “in training” and I find that on a night that I make it to bed by 9 PM it is easy for me to get to the pool by 5:50 am and if I stay up until 10 or 11 watching TV with my girls it takes a herculean effort to get there at all. So now I understand my brother, but I still hate missing out on the night times with my family.
Well Lucky me it’s Thursday and I can stay up as late as I wish because Friday is my rest day and I take the morning off in anticipation of two big swims on the weekend.
I woke before the alarm because I couldn't wait to get to San Francisco and get in the water. Today I was swimming with friends from the San Francisco Yacht Club back to the South End Rowing Club. It's not a long distance, and there was a strong flood, so it would be fast and fun. About 15 swimmers packed into a retired hearse and headed for the yacht club. We went about 200 yards and couldn't make it up the first hill, so 6 of us got out to walk. In the confusion I was lucky enough to get a ride from Jim our club's poet. He was full of interesting information on some of the truly inspirational swimmers in out club, the ones over 80 who swim in the bay every day and have for decades. Crazy start, we had to wait for those who weren't lucky enough to find Jim, but everyone was cheerful. We made it to the beach and faced a breathtakingly beautiful bay with sun and tons of sailboats. The swim started with a horn, and we were off. There was a lot of flotsam and jetsam in the water, seaweed, sticks, grass and debris from the previous night's rain. But the flood was fast and we were back in the cove at Aquatic park within 30 minutes. This meant that I had to swim around the cove by myself for an other hour if I was going to keep to my training schedule. The water was 53 degrees and "dirty" but I had a good time and was glad to be back on track. I have been fighting a hacking cough that makes sleep difficult and makes my husband wonder why I continue to plunge into cold water every weekend. But my pediatrician always told me that cold doesn't make kids sick, tired and run down, now that makes kids sick. So I keep swimming and coughing and I am fine.
I have been reading other people's accounts of channel crossings on the web and it is obvious to me that I need to work on "feeding". And what to feed. Yeah something else to obsess about and research.
Tomorrow is another hour and a half in the Bay. I hope the debris has moved out to sea.
I missed the group swim this morning thinking that sleeping in would be of more value than swimming with friends. As usual, I was wrong. It was foggy and overcast and even though it was the same temperature as yesterday, it seemed several degrees colder and it felt like my arms had little knives attacking them for about thirty minutes. I had planned to swim outside the cove but the flood was so strong that I could barely reach the opening. It was like swimming in an endless pool. I persevered and made it half way to Fort Mason, and then had a sleigh ride back to the opening. Once back inside the cove I basically swam laps just to make the time. Not very inspired, but not every swim can be. I did try drinking orange juice after 45 minutes. It was delicious and rejuvenating, so I plan to add it to my list of fuel.
The best thing I did today was to bring Aly my dog with me to the bay. She loves the water almost as much as I do and her happiness is contagious.
52.6 degree water
Tight shoulders but no pain.