My training plan, such as it is, is to increase my distance slowly. I swim 4000 yards four or five times a week, but I swim a longer distance once a week, building so that I gain one mile a month. Last Saturday, I did my five mile February swim.
The five mile report is positive, although the swim was a strange experience, especially compared to the four mile (or to my daily 4000 yards). The first 3000 yards, I was surrounded by people. But for the next 2500 yards or so, I was all alone in the pool.
Now, I don’t require a lot of entertainment while swimming–or maybe I create my own entertainment while swimming–but I do look around and see what other people are doing. And as the yards stretched on and on and it was just me and six black lines on the bottom of the pool, I began to wonder if I were the only person left on earth.
I stopped to drink my store-brand Ensure-like beverage at 4500 yards. An older man came by from the therapy pool at that time, so I had some brief human interaction. He told me he used to swim two miles a day when he was younger. His son does triathlons now, but they only swim a mile or even a half a mile. We agreed with swimmerly camaraderie that a mile or half a mile is ridiculously short compared to the long bike and run sections. And then I got back to my swim.
Around 5500 yards two people got in the pool. I know one of them as a regular. He can swim, and I was originally pleased to have company. But he and his friend stood at one end or the other talking to each other for an hour. Every once in a while they would swim a length and then resume their conversation. In the last 3500 yards I swam, I don’t think they swam 200. I became increasingly perplexed as these two fit young men, at least two decades younger than I am, stood in the water chatting while I dragged myself through the second half of 9000 yards. What were they doing? Competing to see whose fingers became more pruney?
Eventually, other people started to appear. The chatting men had to move to share one lane together, making their conversation more intimate. And as other swimmers came in and started swimming, I perked up. The last 1500 yards were better than the previous 3000; I don’t know if I got my second wind or I liked the company, but I finished fine.
All of this makes me think that I need to consider the psychological effect of swimming for five plus hours. I don’t know how I will feel in a lake, and I’ll have a kayaker to keep me company, but I don’t expect to be surrounded by competitors. I should be prepared for a little loneliness.
I swam the five miles–really 9000 yards–in 1500 yard blocks:
5 x 300 (kick-swim-kick-swim-kick)
5 x 300 (back-free-breast-free-back)
12 x 100 swim
300 cool down
The whole thing took over two-and-a-half hours. I drank the chocolate drink (250 cal) halfway through at 4500 yards, after becoming hungry around 4000 yards. Once I had the drink, though, I did not feel hungry for the rest of the swim. On the other hand, after the swim and into the next day, I ate like a newborn baby, feeding every 2 hours.
I would call the five mile swim a success. I learned things. Most important, I am confident that I can swim twice that. By July, I will be ready.
The big swim on Saturday put me over 100 miles for the year. Here’s my progress toward my 500 mile Go the Distance goal: