I was (atypically) mostly awake before the 5:00AM alarm this morning, but I still didn’t really want to get up. The force of sleep is strong in this one, but I got up anyway. It’s hard to say exactly why sometimes. Certainly the knowledge that I can only get better at swimming by swimming and the fact that I have a plan helps motivate me, but I think now it’s mostly just the sheer force of habit. I had also told Pat, who was trying out her new wetsuit, that I would be there for moral support.
On the days that I go to the lake, it’s a little easier. There’s community and conversation and the promise of a really easy workout. We’re going to swim 1/2 mile to the dock. We’re going to gab while waiting for the slower folks to arrive. And then we’re going to swim back. Easy peasy. No send-off intervals. No kick sets. No drills. Just continuous endurance swimming in a beautiful setting.
This week is an easy recorvery week on the schedule, and technically I was only supposed to swim about 800 yards, but I often ignore the plan when it comes to swimming. “If I take it easy at the lake,” I tell myself, “there’s no harm.” Plus, the pool has been so crowded lately with swimmers getting ready for their late-season triathlons. “Where were you in February when there was no one here and I had a lane to myself to work on my speed and technique?” I wondered on Monday without feeling at all superior or actually wishing that the pool had been crowded in the dead of winter. I was the second person in the pool that morning, yet I still end up sharing a lane with two other people who didn’t want to (or know how to) circle swim. One of them accidentally stiff-armed me in my busted rib just below my left collarbone. That took my breath away for a moment.
I was definitely happy to be going to the lake this morning. The beauty of the predawn sky sent me running back inside to get my point-and-shoot camera. The cat, confused, seemed nonplussed about the fact that (again!) I wasn’t feeding him.
The sunrise, the slight coolness in the air, the water temperature, the calmness of the air and the water, the camaraderie—it was pretty much perfect. I swam relaxed, enjoying the morning and just being in the moment. At the halfway point we talked about last weekend’s Ironman Lake Placid results before heading back. I started at the tail end of the pack and decided to see if I could catch Pat and her pink swimcap on the return. (After all, I did need to inject a little speed into the workout to try to stay within the spirit of my training plan.) I swam easy for a minute or two and then counted my strokes to do 30-or-so yards of sprinting, followed by more very easy swimming and more sprinting, and so on. My mind was as still as the lake I was gliding through. The early morning sun shone beautifully on the trees and the water and lit the V-shaped cove by the parking lot with a radiant glow. It was a wonderful swim.
Friday, I will be back at the pool, no doubt pushing my way through the masses as I do a short set. I’ll try to stay in the moment again, but I know somewhere in me, I’ll be wishing I were at the lake.