I was planning on swimming a mile in the Cove so I drove over Friday after work. I found a place to park straight away, a bad sign, since it's usually packed, forcing me to park a mile away. The weather had been chilly and windy with gusts up to 30 mph. I had a sinking feeling the water would be rough. I got out of the car and walked to the path overlooking the Cove. I gasped. There were whitecaps stretching all the way west to the horizon. A few die-hard swimmers lurched back and forth as they were tousled up and down with the enormous swells. It was high tide and the waves crashed up on the tops of the rocks where the cormorants roost. I could imagine all the bacteria from the bird poop flooding the water as the waves washed it off the rocks. The Cove, which is normally laden with snorkelers and calm and clear, had an empty beach, and the water was frothy with tumultuous waves. I remembered forcing myself to swim a mile in conditions like these about a year ago, returning to shore extremely seasick and having swallowed a ton of water. I got sick from swallowing all the nasty stuff washed off the rocks and spent the next few days hovered over the toilet, emptying all contents of stomach. I looked wistfully at the water once more, got back into my car, and promptly drove to the pool.
A couple of years ago, I would have just driven home. The thought crossed my mind. I gave myself the option. "I'm tired. It's Friday. I have a big weekend ahead of me. It would be perfectly okay to go home and rest." Then I thought, "I've only swum once this week. Let's just go and see how I feel. I'll be happier afterwards. Swimming is not that taxing on the body." And I realized I wanted to swim.
Even the pool seemed cool the first 10 minutes. I guess it's just that time of year. I started with a nice warm-up of 3x150s--free-back-breast (50 each). Adjusted my goggles and did a test 50 free. Then, I started my 4x500s. This is great practice for a Half-Ironman distance swim. I decided to do them descending, trying to do each one a little faster. The first 500m, I took it real easy. On the odd 50s, I swam bilaterally. The whole time I focused on form. 2nd set, I tried to swim at moderate pace. However, I counted strokes on the even 50s, trying to elongate my stroke, think about form and subtract a stroke from each progressive even 50. 3rd set, I swam bilaterally on the odd 50s again, trying to swim a moderate pace. The final 500 meters, I let the lead out and decided to see how fast I could go. Afterwards, I swam an easy 200 meters cool-down. I couldn't believe how quickly the time went! It was a fantastic swim. The water felt slippery, and I felt I was cutting through the water. I wanted more! I also have found it's easier to swim fast, if you can maintain it, because you are positioned higher on the water.
Here's the break-down:
Set 1: 10:50
Set 2: 10:45
Set 3: 10:35
Set 4: 8:45!!!
I have NEVER swum that fast before. Normally, my race pace for a 500 meter swim is about 10 minutes. However, I have been concentrating so much on base pace and technique, I haven't been working on speed much at all. I decided to just let 'er rip on that last set. I couldn't believe I could maintain such a high intensity for all 10 laps. But it felt awesome! My technique has improved and my strength and endurance have increased as well. I've been fighting the hardest for this, so I was extremely stoked after.
I enjoyed a soak in the hot tub afterwards. It was one of the most awesome swims I've had in a loong time.
Woke up this morning and enjoyed a nice, very slow 12 mile run in Penasquitos Canyon. I was tired, and it was hard. I got it done. Last long run before the half-ironman. I can accept that. Tomorrow is my last long ride before the race--Tour de Poway--metric century.