Finding Time for a Swim

Probably 90 percent of my swimming over the years has been squeezed into the workday. In Napa back in the day and then here in Portland, I usually hit the pool around 1:30. It's a good time, after the lunchtime crowd clears out and before the after-school or work folks roll in. But there was a drawback: Between getting to the pool and getting back to the office, I had just 45 minutes or so to swim. That meant I rarely swam more than a couple thousand yards, which wasn't a big deal for a half-iron tri, with its swim of around 2100 yards. I would have benefited from bigger volume, no doubt, but I was able to remain a tolerably poor swimmer with my 45-minute sessions two to four times a week. Ironman, with twice the swim, did put the pressure on me to find a way to do longer sessions, but even in the run-up to last year's race I probably did just two or three swims over 2500 yards.

So today when I hit 2000 yards I kept going. And I didn't stop when I hit 2500, either. I swam right on up to 3500 yards, which is almost the kind of distance that serious triathletes regularly swim. I can't say I enjoyed the last 500 to 750 yards; my arms were pretty whipped, especially after a 15x100 set, all in <1:45 with 20 seconds rest, plunked down in the middle of the swim. But what could I do? There was nothing tugging me back to the office. No fear that the boss or a winery owner had called, or that a writer needed a high-resolution jpeg of a bottle shot by the end of the day to make deadline. Whatever might be awaiting upon my return, it wasn't that overwhelming obligation called The Job. So I swam long. And I will again, and again, and again.

Later, I did a ride on the trainer, warming up for 15 minutes, then spending 40 minutes at 160 watts, 40 minutes at 175 and 40 minutes at 190, followed by a 15 minute cool-down. That's two or so of the 10+ hours I'll put in on the bike this week.

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