I've always been a believer in long steady training swims... descending pace the whole time... Intuitively it just makes sense to me to train this way sometimes because when we race we go long at a sustained pace. Don't get me wrong- I like 50's and 100's and speed stuff too, but if you're going to train for triathlons, you've got to be able to just swim a steady pace for a long time. Typically when I'm training for an Ironman I'll do a timed 4000, descending the 1000's, once a month for the 3-4 months leading up to the race. Just good practice. And it gives me good confidence as well.
Today our swim was 3500 straight, descend the 500's. Do the math on that and yes, that's 7 x 500's in a row, getting faster with each one. Start your watch when you push off the wall, look at it each 200-300M (as you flip at the turn) to check pace, hit lap at each 500, repeat. Faster each time. Simple, but not easy.
I couldn't swim first thing this morning because Scott had to go to work early, so Nalani and I did this separately today. She sent me an email with her splits after she got done this morning... she nailed it, of course. Noon came (Moana's nap time!) and it was my turn to try.
Getting in the pool I noticed that I didn't shiver at all. Hmm. Water feels warm today. Whatever. Start your watch and go.
500 #1. Arms feel kind of heavy. Stretch it out. Nice and easy. Check my watch at the 300 and see that I am quite a bit faster than I was planning on taking this out. Slow it down a bit so I have enough room to descend this 6 more times. At the 500 I hit lap on my watch and see that I'm about 12 seconds faster than I anticipated. Whoops! I guess 1st gear isn't so slow today.
500 #2. Pick it up, but just a little. The water feels waaaarm. Check my watch at the 300 and see that I am 2 seconds faster than I was at the first 300. Keep this pace. Lap at the 500 says I'm 6 seconds faster than the first 500. Definitely faster than I'd planned on being at this point (um, wasn't this speed 4th gear?) but, Ok.
500 #3. 3rd gear now. Steady swimming. Still feeling pretty comfortable... it occurs to me that this is about Ironman pace. And I still have to find 4 more gears after this one. Hmmm. I wonder if I can do that? Is it warm in here or what?? Lap at this 500 says I dropped the pace by 4 more seconds. Nice.
500 #4. 4th gear. Since I took it out too fast, I'm starting to pay the price because in order to keep descending now, I'm gong to have to start working harder now, but yet I still have 3 more to go after this one... This definitely feels harder than IM effort. It is HOT in here. Lap split says I dropped another 2 seconds. Ok.
500 #5. 5th gear. Pick up the pace now. Definitely harder than IM pace. Will someone please dump a bucket of ice in this pool? Start kicking a little harder. Still a two beat kick but definitely using my legs to kick rather than just to balance. Keep your core tight, Michelle. Don't start wiggling. Long strong strokes. Will someone please dump a bucket of ice in here? Lap split says I dropped another 4 seconds. Nailing it. But do I have 2 more gears?
500 #6. Throw in a surge for the first 100 here and then try to hang on to it... I think I might die of suffocation because IT IS SO HOT IN HERE. Complete nausea. I would NEVER work this hard in an IM swim. Use your legs, Michelle. Hallucinate about ice. Lap split says that 6th gear was a whopping ONE SECOND faster than 5th gear. Oh boy. Do I even have a 7th gear?
500 #7. Ice. Will someone please put ice in this pool? It is so hot in here. I'm sprinting as fast as it's possible to sprint after 3000M. All I want to do is slow down and recover for just a 50. No Michelle. Keep pushing. It is so hot in here. Just keep pushing. Final 500. GO! Turns out, I do have a 7th gear and it is 2 seconds faster than 6th gear.
I did it! Descended all 7. Barely. Phew. If that isn't a lesson in pacing I don't know what is?
During my easy easy 100 to finish up, I started to think that anyone who thinks that I'm just a lucky natural born swimmer has really got it all wrong. I think the only thing that is 'lucky' about my swim is that I live 1 mile from a free longcourse pool. That, I admit, is lucky. But the rest of it? Not luck. I work hard (and have worked hard, year-round, for years) for every second of the cushion I earn in my swim. I think a lot of triathletes think the swim is such a short little part of the race that it doesn't deserve the time and effort that they put into the bike and run. I say, while the swim may be the shortest part, a 2 minute cushion is not a bad thing to have getting out of the water. I'm just sayin'. I work for those minutes.
Anyway, I checked the pool thermometer as I was getting out of the water. 88 degrees? Are you kidding me? No wonder I felt nauseous the whole second half of that swim. I turned the shower water onto COLD and just stood under that shower head and let the cold water evaporate the steam coming off of my body. I was radiating heat. Then, at 1:00 in the afternoon in the full sun, I ran home. Heat? What heat?