Thursday, May 8, 2008
Last night our Tri class did a workout to start simulating some of the differences we'll experience when doing a race in open water. While all of our training to date has been in a pool, which has lane lines to help you swim straight, clear and calm waters, and walls to push off of when turning, we'll be competing in a lake. We'll have to swim towards and around bouys out in the middle of the water. We won't be able to push off of any walls. The water will be dark and murky and we won't be able to see where to go without lifting our heads up to see the bouys. And we'll all be starting at the same time, rather than staggering our starts like we do in the pool. Hence, there will be many bodies all entering the water at the same time and struggling to get going in the right direction.
So to simulate some of these experiences, while still in the safe and relatively warm confines of the pool (the pool temp is about 82 degrees; the lake we'll be competing in was 58 degrees yesterday... brr!), we did a few different exercises yesterday.
First, our instructor Betsy took out all of the lane lines and put some orange cones up at each end of the pool. We had to swim from cone to cone, which didn't line up with the black lines on the bottom of the pool. We all started at the same time, pushing off from the wall and swimming the 25 yards or so to the other cone. It was quite a different experience to be swimming 12-abreast! There were arms and legs and bodies bumping and pushing, water splashing, and all the while you're just trying to find your own rhythm and get to the other end without drowning!
After several reps of the 25 yard swims, we started doing 50 yards-- down and back. The only trick was that we couldn't use the walls to turn. Oh, and because we swim at different paces, those of us who turned first to swim back were met head-on by those who were still coming our way. After only a couple of head-on collisions I learned to look up a little more!
Finally we moved on to 100 yard swims, still with no touching the walls, with having to look up and sight your cones (which kept changing places), and with all of us clobbering each other for space to swim. It was full-contact swimming at its best. I'm sure I elbowed several people, and others returned the favor. I got kicked in the mouth. Someone grabbed my toes several different times (that'll make you kick harder!). And I even swam right over the top of one girl!
After 50 minutes, we were all drained. So we spent the last 10 minutes of class treading water in the deep end and talking about race-day strategies and other things we need to practice. Finally, Betsy had us circle up and gave each person the opportunity to say something nice that they've observed or learned about the person on their left. It was a good feel-good session, to boost our attitudes at the end of a hard workout. We're all beating each other up, pushing each other to get better, and ultimately competing against each other. But it's all in fun, and it was nice to have that positive reinforcement.