100x100m is the swimming equivalent of running a marathon. Obviously, the two aren't exactly the same - but in terms of relative time and aerobic taxation, they're pretty close. Much like riding a hundred miles, it's as mental as it is physical. And, like any of those other activities, something you have to build towards.
Since my marathon last month, I have spent my training hours each week largely in the pool. Over the last four weeks I have logged a shade under 100km in the water, which is about on par with the biggest month I've ever swam. I'll admit, even I've had to ask myself: "why?" And while the answer is largely because I felt it was a small contribution I could make help Alyssa get through it, it is also at least partially self-serving. Even though I'm not putting a big focus into long races this year, I don't think a high swim volume, particularly in the early part of the year, can hurt. And, if my workout yesterday was any indication, the proof may already be in the proverbial pudding.
Things I've noticed during the 62km last 14 days:
1. I absolutely despise swimming twice a day
2. I swim better at times other than 5:30am
3. I am not as hungry as I thought I'd be
4. I am always tired
5. My skin is melting off my body from the chemicals
At least twice a week we've had to get in the pool twice. This is more mentally draining than anything else, particularly on the days that masters are in the pool in the morning, and then later in the day, the kids' swim team is in. We are constantly fighting for one of the precious pool lanes in our tiny pool (4 lanes). After our 75x100 dress rehearsal, I knew the 100 would be manageable, but would be pretty exhausting. The intervals were not impossible, it was just the sheer quantity and time spent in the pool, that was going to take its toll.
Since swim kids and masters Occupy the Pool until 11:30 on Saturdays, we had no choice but to wait until then to get in the water. When we got out onto the pool deck, it was as if we were Mariano Rivera coming out of the pen in the 9th to take the mound. See the other byproduct of us being at the pool so much is that we are now mini-celebs. Of course, I've always been a favorite there, but now that all these people see Alyssa and have familiarized themselves with her CV, she has become like the Queen, and I am the Mayor. She is awed and respected, I am just the funny guy who everyone likes.
We had told a few of the guards and the masters coach earlier in the week that we were doing the workout, so as we made our way to the lanes, we were greeted with positive encouragement and thumbs up from the people in the pool area. This is what you get when you go to a gym that has a pool, rather than a pool that has a gym. We are far from the fastest swimmers at this place, but we are the most consistent.
The warmup was over pretty quick and before we knew it, it was time for Main Set A of 42x100m. It was sliced into groups of 6, which made it go by a little easier. Following that, it was 30x100m with the paddles, pull buoy, and band. Normally I crush these, as I have the odd tendency to swim an average of 7 seconds per 100m faster with paddles than without, but on this day, my arms were pretty tired, and I kept the effort even. After that was done, we had just 10 left, and poof - after a full 3 hours in the pool, we were done. 10,000 meters. 6.2 miles of swimming.
It was, if nothing else, a cool accomplishment for someone who does not consider himself a swimmer. Of course, OJ brought me back down a little when he informed me he did that set once in a little under 2 hours. This was also when he was swimming 100k a week in college. Whatever, this was big for me.
After the swim it was serious pizza time, and then, inevitably, falling asleep early on Saturday night to very sore, very tired arms. I had run an easy 8+ miles prior to the swim, and Sunday's workout was a morning long run on the Club Challenge course. Of course, it went from being reasonable weather to 22 degrees and biting, mean, angry wind overnight, so the workout was brutal. 14 miles, 6mi w/u, 3mi of fartlek, then 2.5 miles of tempo, before cooling down. It went just okay - I was clearly tired from the week, and, believe it or not, STILL had to swim (again) Sunday afternoon.
Team CYB headed over to the pool, with Andy coming as our special guest, and Zero making an appearance. On Thursday, when we were supposed to do 25x100, a kid threw up in the pool, which forced them to kick us out and close for the night. We had only made it through 9, so we had 1600 meters to tack onto what was supposed to be a chill 2000 on Sunday. We made it through 2500 and decided we would do 9x100 and then 100 cooldown to get the additional time in.
Then, something happened that I can't quite explain: I swam FAST. For me, at least. We cruised to a 1:30 on the first one, and we had decided to go on 1:45, so had plenty of time. Wow. Normally I do not swim this fast, and I certainly would not have expected to swim that, comfortably, the day after such a big swim. From there, I held, or went faster, on each one. For the last four, we turned them into going on 1:40. My last 100 was 1:25. I felt awesome. I fully realize that these times are a joke for anyone who swims, but for me, that's a very encouraging sign that the swimming I've been doing is paying dividends. My 18+ hours of training last week consisted of a staggering 11+ hours in the water.
But, as Ariel says, she is "sick of swimmin'" and that she's "ready to stand," which is what I now need to do. My running is a little off where I'd hoped, in terms of volume, and comfort. I have run 45 miles each of the last two weeks, which is okay for me, but I need to run a little more than that now, and, get a little quicker doing it.
For a day, though, I did feel a little bit Phelpsian. While they would certainly cover the meters much faster, it amazes me that anyone can spend that much time in a pool. That's why I run and ride - you're outside, seeing different things, and able to talk to those around you. So I am looking forward to resting a bit from the water, maybe not having to swim twice this week!