The Six Mile Report

It occurred to me as I swam six miles on Saturday that training is a way of making the extraordinary mundane. Last year, I would have considered swimming 10,000 or more yards to be a big deal, a special occasion swim. But this month I swam 10,000 yards twice, two Saturdays in a row. The swims were neither horrible nor fantastic. They were just swims–good long swims. And I am now a person who swims 10,000 yard workouts.

I swam 10,000 yards on March 8th. Following my training plan (such as it is), I didn’t have to swim that far so early in March, but I was close to 10,000, and I thought I would go for the round number. Everyone likes a round number. Then I swam 10,600 yards, or six miles, on the 15th, which puts me where I need to be for the month of March; I will swim seven miles in April, eight in May, nine in June, and finally ten in July for the big race.

I didn’t have high hopes for the six mile swim. I slept poorly the night before, and I wasn’t feeling great on the drive to the pool. But once I started swimming, I felt fine.

It helped that the swim was much less lonely than the five miles I did in February. There were people coming and going almost the whole time. One colleague was there when I arrived, although he finished up soon after. Then I was joined by two women walking and a student-athlete I know, and then suddenly there was a bloom of men in black swimsuits, both walkers and swimmers. One man, a regular with a snorkel, told me, “You’re going to get a speeding ticket.” He always tells me, “You’re going to get a speeding ticket.” I have no idea how I should respond, no matter how many times he says it, so I smile and say, “Thank you.” I guess it’s a compliment.

I am like the Flash.
I am like the Flash (according to the man with the snorkel). Image from funnyjunk

I decided before I got to the pool that I would swim the 10,600 as a series of familiar 2000 yard sets, the sets I used to do (and sometimes still do) when I was swimming 2000-2500 yards a day, with short kicks in between:

  • 1000 warmup
  • 8 x 250 (100, rest 5 sec, 75, 5 sec, 50, 5 sec, 25)
  • 200 kick
  • 10 x 200 (100, rest 10 sec, 50, 5 sec, 50)
  • 200 kick
  • 20 x 100 (alt IM/free)
  • 200 kick
  • 40 x 50 (on :55)
  • 200 kick, 200 pull, 200 kick, 200 pull, 200 swim

I ate oatmeal (mmmmm oatmeal) for breakfast before heading to the pool, and I drank an Ensure-like beverage at 5400 yards and another when I got out. I tried to drink the Ensure-like beverage while floating, but it did not go well. Food is not permitted in the pool–I feel as if I’m abusing my VIP privileges having it–so I was avoiding spills by drinking through a straw rather than gulping from an open cup (see Steven Munatones, Feeding Fast in Open Water). It was slow and difficult. I need to get myself in the lake and practice there, where I don’t have to worry about spilling a little.

Nonetheless, the six mile swim was a positive experience. I am struck mostly by how it seemed like a completely normal thing for me to do on a Saturday morning. And that is the point of training for the ten mile swim: not to feel like some kind of superhero, but to feel like myself, able to swim ten miles.

Speaking of round numbers, the six mile swim put me at exactly 140 miles for the year.

My USMS flog total for March 15: a nice round number
My USMS flog total for March 15: a nice round number

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