Adult Swim

It is getting toasty in Arizona. We’re hitting our first 90-degree high this weekend. Of course in seven months when 90 is on the way DOWN, it’s going to feel downright cool, but right now it feels warm – like early morning or post-sunset runs and days lounging by the pool.

The heat has made me remember the summers I spent on swim team – an hour every weekday morning and meets on Thursday nights – and made me realize my swim sessions lately haven’t been cutting it.

I like swimming, but I was always talking myself up to get in the cold water and stink like chlorine for the next day all for the sake of a rushed 20 minute distance-goal workout! So, I decided to take this summer to pretend I’m on swim team again!

I don’t have any tris on my calendar, so no distance goals to meet, it’s just about swimming for the amazing workout that it is. Of course, I’m not anywhere close to getting to the pool five times a week for an hour each time, but I’m setting time goals and doing more interesting workouts than just up and down the lane to get the distance done.

Workouts I’ve done so far:

45 minute ladder: 500 free, 100 breast, 400 free, 100 backstroke kick, 300 free, 100 breast, 200 free, 100 backstroke kick, 100 free

45 minute ladder: 300 free, rest, 400 free, rest, 500 free, rest, 400 free, rest, 300 free

30 minute drills: 500 free, 10×100 (50 free sprint, 50 free kick), 250 free cool down

Mostly I make them up the second I get in the pool, so I need to work out figuring some out ahead of time particularly as I work up to 60 minutes, but they’ve worked out well so far and the first two were 1900 meters, which broke my distance record for any pool swims recently. Definitely worth the fuss of actually getting in the pool!

Runs are going to be increasingly easier to skip as the window for running outside closes and my race calendar wraps up (April 27 is my last), so having the option to get in a GOOD swim is fantastic. Are you changing your routine as it gets warmer?

You know it’s summer in Arizona when…

You know it’s summer in Arizona when the pool is deserted!

Kinda like this…only the exact opposite. Ew.

It’s not so bad right now, but as the heat wears on, it’s too hot to be outside and the pool start feeling like a bath.

After a few errands today, all I could think about was jumping in the pool and I was so happy when I got to my community pool after work and it was EMPTY!

It’s like having your own pool without the maintenance! And, when the pool is empty, you remember what it was like to go swimming as a kid. It’s just FUN! I even practiced my butterfly stroke and with no one around, I’m pretty sure it looked like I was the one who taught Phelps.

I didn’t stay too long, but long enough to cool off AND get my heart rate up and probably get my sweat on (I love how in the pool you don’t feel sweaty!). An active lifestyle doesn’t have to mean strictly planned, sweat-soaked hour-long seshes! Working out is fun…yeah, I said it.

Two Birds and Two Confessions

I spent summers as a kid in one of these:


As a result, from the first week of swim team practice in June until about December, I had one of these:


And as a result of that, I now avoid tan lines like the plague. Before my recent trip to Vegas I ruined some poor salesgirl’s night making her search all over the store for the perfect bikini with bandeau top (and they ended up not having my size). I mean, yes, I still have a runner’s tan, but I try not to make it worse with bathing suit lines.

Anyway, since May was so crazy, I didn’t have make much time to work out or lay out by the pool (a guilty pleasure) enjoying the sun as it gradually went from delightfully warm to center of the earth blazing in the last few weeks.

So, I’d like to confess that when I snuck in swim workouts in the past few weeks, I put on my bandeau bikini, cap and goggles and did laps in the outdoor pool hoping to get my heart rate up and even out that runner’s tan at the same time!

Embarrassing? A little, although there were no slippage incidents and let’s be honest, I’ve done goofier things at the gym pool.

I’m also now very happy to confess why May was so crazy!  I spent the first three weeks sitting through 90 hours of real estate school, the last week studying and today passed my test to become a Realtor!

I’m really excited about this new path in my life.  It’s going to be a hot summer cutting my real estate teeth, but if I can break every now and then for a dip in the pool to clear my head (and tan my back evenly), it’s going to be a good summer!

That Time I Won a Wetsuit

Go ahead and ask me what the most ridiculous piece of clothing I own is.

Oh, thanks for asking, it’s this…

I was going to rent a wetsuit for my upcoming tri and then swear off any events that would require one because swimming in the warm September water was so much better, but then the universe gave me this one.

Red Rock, the tri event company, and Durapulse, a local multisport training company, put on an open water swim clinic this weekend at Saguaro Lake in Mesa, open to any athletes competing in next week’s tri, but limited to 100 registrations.  Then, out of those registrations they picked a winner for a free wetsuit and it was me!

Lucky me..last week I also won a book from The Chick Lit Bee!

So, they gave me the suit and helped me figure it out and then at the clinic I learned a few things about swimming in a wetsuit and swimming in crowded open water.  Mostly, though, I learned that I’m not good at either of them.

Don’t get me wrong, as I cut the last corner of the first practice lap, panicking for shore or at least waist-deep water, I gave myself a pep talk about being a good swimmer and even a good open water swimmer, but not a great crowded open water wetsuit swimmer and that’s okay.

I commiserated with a few other women, each having her own unique panic issue – mine was the neck constriction of the suit affecting my breathing + being kicked – listened to the rest of the instruction, but kept my swimming to parallel to the shore, ate my pancake breakfast and went home.  And had a pity party for a few hours before I took that damn wetsuit to the gym, put it on (with the help of two very nice foreign girls) and swam the distance in the pool.  Hated it, looked ridiculous, but did it!

Back-Handed Compliment

I had an awful thought today.

After learning that the twenty-minute run on my training plan the day before the race was more for psychological benefits than training purposes and getting the go-ahead that rest for my ankle was probably a better idea anyway, I swam.

The 1200-meter swim included eight 25-meter sprints and for the last four I decided to time myself and make each one faster. And I did – 22, 21, 20 and 19 seconds. Because I’m awesome and all.

And then I thought…I’m a good swimmer.  I’m much better at swimming that I am at running. I pretty much back-hand complimented myself!  I almost immediately realized it was a little rude and that I definitely don’t need those negative thoughts the night before a race.

My thought was that I haven’t seen much improvement in running.  I haven’t been able to tell myself to run negative splits and do it, they happen or they don’t, running, to me, seems much more of an “it is what it is” activity.

It might be the voice of my favorite yoga teacher in my head reminding me to focus on the positive…”wow, my right hip is really open today” or “I’m really strong on my left side in this pose” instead of thinking about what hurts or being frustrated about the poses that I’m struggling with, but I know I should have just stopped at, “I’m a good swimmer.”

Since then (yes, for all of the last five hours), I’ve been saying much nicer things to myself about rocking the race tomorrow. I’m carbo-loaded, my gadgets are charging, my outfit is laid out. Now I need to get some sleep!

My Yogi Valentine

Apparently some people had plans yesterday?!

Mine included a 1400 meter swim – no stopping, just using breaststroke as a little recovery: 300 free/100 breast/400 free/100 breast/500 free – and my must-attend Tuesday yoga class.

Since the new year, the yoga classes at my gym have been you-only-have-your-mat-space-forget-about-extending-your-arms packed.  And good for the JJs for keeping up with it, because the instructors didn’t ease up for their sake by any means.

But yesterday, true love and/or unrealistic expectations won out, which meant there was breathing room and it was soooo nice!  There were all of six students so we stretched out and the instructor declared the beginning of class playtime.

We flowed like Tibetan monks!  The movements she taught were linked to breath, like traditional Vinyasa, and are practiced daily by the monks, or, I suppose, Buddhists in general or people who enjoy aligning their chakras? 

We started with prostrations:

Okay, that was the cutest version I found, but ours involved using blankets to slide in front of our mats (thus why it’s not doable in a crowded studio) and doing a Superman-style back strengthener on the floor.  I think she said the monks do 108 a day!  We just did 10, then we moved onto the Tibetan Five, the first of which is spinning, so we skipped and did the Tibetan Four. 

It’s a lot of ab work and we did 10 of each, but the full ritual calls for 21! The instructor said something to the effect of, “when we’re doing them, you’re going to think it’s not much, but in two days, you’ll be cursing my name.” 

It didn’t even take two days, my abs are feeling it already!

The rest of the class was a typical Vinyasa flow, but pretty fast-paced and even though I haven’t been sweating in yoga much, I was yesterday!  I got some good handstand hangtime in and plow again.

I have to admit, I thought about cutting out of the gym after my swim, but I’m so glad I went to the class…I love trying new things in yoga!

On Swimming

One of my current, ongoing fitness goals is to swim a mile every week. It’s doable in one workout, or I could split it up, although I’ve yet to take that option.  I kind of have a love-hate relationship with swimming.  Here are my thoughts on the topic:

1. It’s usually a negotiation to get in the water. I don’t like being cold and that’s the biggest deterrent – the water’s cold, getting out of the water is cold, the locker room is cold, but as with most of my workouts, “you’ll regret NOT doing it” wins 98% of the time. 

2. There are four pools at my gym (which is pretty much the only reason I don’t know how to quit it, Brokeback style). I recently discovered that the indoor play pool they use for lessons in the afternoons is the warmest. Because it’s shallow?  Because it needs to be warm for the skinny little kids?  Because it’s close to the big windows and can sun itself throughout the day? Because the kids pee in it? I don’t know and I don’t really care to know, but I always swim there when given the option because it makes the thought of getting in a lot better.

3.  If I want to swim in that pool, it means I have to plan around those kiddie lessons so the lanes are available and usually go early morning or mid-day.  The only time I was able to go mid-day was when my office had to close early because someone stole the copper pipes and there was no running water in the building.  So, usually I go early morning, but swimming a mile kinda wipes me out and I want to fall asleep at my desk by about 10am.

4. The play pool is 25 yards v. 25 meters like the others, so I feel like I’m constantly turning around and I have to do an extra six lengths to get in my mile, but it’s still worth it.

5. I’m good at flip turns…the secret is to start blowing out your nose before you’re inverted so water doesn’t have a chance to get in…but usually on at least one I get a little chlorine surprise, but I kind of like it because the smell and burning feeling reminds me of summertime when I was a kid.

6. I was on a swim team during summers while I was growing up.  I think I cried before my first meet (and in my defense I was five!) but after that I loved it.  Yes, I was a Dobson Dolphin!

7.  Each season we’d have a stroke-a-thon during one of the practices and the goal was to get a mile. It always seemed so huge and took the whole hour, even though we probably were swimming that daily with warm ups and drills and cool downs anyway.  

8. Swimming that much wiped me out back then too and I remember frequently coming home and crashing out for a few hours, which is maybe why my mom signed me up in the first place so she could get some peace and quiet in the summertime.

9. My sister was also on swim team until she lied to our mom about having her suit on under her pajamas. She didn’t and she just sat out the whole time (she was much more into team sports, while – or maybe which is why – I liked the individual sports). I’m not sure why that was easier than just saying, “Mom, I don’t want to do swim team this year,” but it kind of explains a lot.  

10. My mom says she swam while she was pregnant with me, but not my sister. I definitely plan on swimming while pregnant because I want mine to come out little fishies too!

11. For how often I’m swimming, I’m still really bad at counting the laps. I count by meters (or yards)…so 25, 50, 75, 100. Sometimes when I get close to the end, like the last 200, I count down by numbers…8, 7, 6, etc.  If I think I’ve lost count, I’m more likely to undercount and repeat a lap if necessary so I don’t cheat myself.  

12. I keep a decent pace and it feels like work, but by the end, I think it ended too quickly and was too easy and usually add on a 50 or 100 in case I did mis-count somewhere along the way.

13. Sometimes I don’t feel like counting at all and start off thinking I’ll just swim for a half-hour, but counting is kind of a habit and it makes me feel good about the distance I’m accomplishing.  During my last swim, the mile took me less than 25 minutes. Swimming is such a great whole-body workout that I don’t even feel guilty about working out for less than the recommended 30 minutes a day!

14. I hate that I smell like chlorine all day and I hate even more that the next time I do a “dry” workout, like running or yoga the next day, I sweat even more chlorine! But I also secretly think it makes me a bad ass.

The Kiddie Pool

Because you have to start somewhere, I pulled on my one-piece suit for the first time in a long time today, and because you have to use what you have, I swam about a million laps in a pool that looked more or less like this:

I’m pretty sure it’s how Michael Phelps got his start.  With my super-savvy math skills, I figured it was about 500 meters.  And that’s okay, because like I said, you have to start somewhere. 

It was fun!  And refreshing on a HOT summer afternoon!  And relaxing after sitting at a desk and in a car all day! 

I don’t know why I’m surprised…every time I swim laps I remember how much I love it and I’m so glad I made myself do it today, even if it was just a quick swim.