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The Anatomy Of A 10K Swim

Posted May 07 2011 7:05pm

First the BEST news of all - today's swim was a fundraiser for Ballou Skies and when all was said and done $1000 was donated! Yeah! Not too shabby! :)

The other good news is, I survived! And had fun! And swam all 10K! (It shall be noted however that running 10K is not only much quicker but quite a bit easier. I suppose the same could be said for riding 10K also :)

I had been looking forward to this for quite some time. There were 4 different swim options (3K, 5K, 7.5K and the 10K). Because I have been keeping my long swims at around 5-6K each week, I knew I wanted to do at least the 7.5K to give myself a challenge and of course what I REALLY wanted to do was the 10K. When Dirk said it was okay to try I was thrilled!

When I got up this morning though I was nervous! I wasn't so sure I could finish all 10K and I was also worried nobody else was going to want to swim that far and I would be holding up the entire operation. Not to fear though, when we all lined up according to which swim we'd be doing I was so happy to see 6 others were doing the 10K also! AND within that little group was one guy who had swum the English Channel (he ended up swimming a measly 15K today!) and another guy who was training to reclaim his record time for swimming across Lake Erie.

Well okay then, I was in some pretty good company!!! :)

The pool was set up like a lake:


It was awesome! The 10K was 66 and 2/3rds laps (each lap = down 50 meters/across 25 yds/back up 50 meters/across 25 yards). It was a continuous swim but my strategy involved stopping every 1500 (10 laps) for a sip of Gatorade, a PowerBar gel blast and as a way to break it down and keep track of how many laps I had done.

The first 5K flew by. There were a lot of swimmers doing the shorter options so there were lots of people to swim with, by, around and draft off of! It really did feel like open water for a bit with a bunch of bodies in the water and having to manuever around people, get around the buoys, etc... FUN! The time passed quickly as I watched other people's strokes, took note of how people got around the buoys efficiently, etc...

After halfway, the number of people swimming dropped considerably. All of a sudden I felt like I was alone in the pool! Still I felt good and just kept trucking along.


I swam about 15 laps by myself before one of my masters teammates Mark caught up to me. I thought "Aha - perfect! I will jump on his feet for a while and take a break from swimming alone."

Mark is a lot faster than me but he obviously wasn't swimming hard and he is the perfect person to draft off of because he hardly kicks. He is smooth as butter and creates such a beautiful wake to swim in! I definitely had to pick up my tempo some to stay with him but we were cruising and I was loving life. My plan was to stay with him until he was finished (I knew he was a couple laps ahead of me).

But my calf had other plans. With about 1000 to go my calf cramped MASSIVELY! AHHHHH!! I hardly ever cramp but when I do, it's in the pool. It's usually my feet but this time my calf let me know it was NOT happy. I think the increased effort to keep up with Mark after having already swam 9K is what made Mr. Calf angry. So I just backed off some and it was fine. But I lost my feet so the last 1K was by myself.

Nevertheless, I finished! Including about 6-7 minutes of rest time taking drinks and refueling, I swam for 2:21:15. I actually thought it would take me quite a bit longer. Really though I didn't care either way, I was just happy to have intact shoulders and to be feeling pretty good (wayward calf not withstanding).

When I was talking to my masters coach Jen (who graciously set up the entire event), I asked her how much she swam when she was in college (she swam for Texas A&M). I knew it was going to be a lot and I wanted to put my 10K swim into perspective. :) Sure enough, she said most weeks they swam twice a day - 6-8K in the mornings and 5K in the evenings. AND...she was a sprinter! She said the distance people would usually do 10K in the morning and evening. Ouch, ouch, ouch. The thought of going back to the pool tonight for another 10K makes me want to cry a little. But still, finishing 1x10K was a small victory for me and I celebrate all small victories! :)

How did I celebrate? Well by riding my bike of course! I was bummed to miss riding with all the other triathletes but I don't blame them for not wanting to wait for me! So I drove home and got to pedaling on my merry little way.

Now, back to watching IMSG coverage! Hope everyone is having a great weekend and Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there! Most especially my mom, the best mom there is! :)

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