Today was a day of firsts. First, today was the first time I ever tried a swim workout the day after a bike race, which was the Berkeley Hills Team Time Trial. Here is a truncated race report: it was a so-so day for our team. Chuck pushed through some terrible phlegmy head cold illness, despite my deliberate whining about his condition, and then on top of it, his back wheel was noticeably rubbing the frame on his time trial bike. Going down the hills it was very wobbly. Up the hills I was dropping him — I’m not saying that doesn’t happen, like, all the time, but it pretty much doesn’t — so that is more or less the reason why we didn’t win the race or, more realistically, at least why we had finished minutes behind our previous personal bests.
I still felt like I wanted to throw up at the end, so it was a good day.
So today I tried my second Sunday workout with Pac West, and the other first was that I rode my bike to the pool in Mill Valley from my place in San Rafael, in the rain. Last week it didn’t rain, so this makes today a first.
Pac West Athletics is this triathlon club that I had never heard of until just a few weeks ago from a friend of mine who’s a pro triathlete. I want to keep this group on the low down, because I don’t want my swimming friends to know about it, because I think it’s going to be my secret weapon in my big comeback.
As I typed that, I questioned my wording. “Comeback?” To what? But anyway.
Today’s workout was much more difficult than last week’s. We swam 4500 yards, in what seemed like one continuous main set of a series of 200s, 300s, 150s, and 100s on a 1:20 per 100 base, mixed with either build up or sprint 50s. I swim 4500 during the week, but never like this. Not in twenty years. Today was a first!
I have not done a workout this challenging, and well-organized, I should say, since I swam in college. It turns out today’s coach was Chris Hauth*, a pro triathlete. He never let us rest between sets, but he kept the lane pace in check. Like one guy suggested that we swim the 50s on a more “challenging” interval, which is so typical of masters swimmers out to push that envelop of sanity, and Chris said, no, that 50 seconds is fine, because we need to be able to swim slow on the slow 50s.
I thought that was a very nice thing for him to do. I love swimming slow. I embrace it.
I liked my lane mates. They were patient with me. I made quite a few rookie moves that irritated first the lane that I had been in, and then this one, but they quickly forgave me.
Then I rode my bike home in the rain, up and over Camino Alto. I’d never done anything like this. Ride in the rain, yes, but I was riding in the rain to go swimming so I could ride back home in the rain.
When I was twenty, would never do anything like this. At the start of today’s practice, I thought it’d be all I could do to maybe swim the warm up, but I was not only able to survive the workout, but thrive. Who started that whole lie that once you turn 24 or whatever, you start to slow down? That you get all weak? The phases of decay would start at 24, it was said, and then 30 would be the next milestone, and I would have to look in the mirror daily and get used to this aging, sagging woman, and embrace my growing behind, the flabby arms, because that’s just how it is and there’s nothing you can do about it, other than eat Healthy Choice frozen dinners and wear lots of foundation to hide all the wrinkles.
Now I’m forty, and I’m telling you, it doesn’t have to be that way. I want to go back and find those people who told me those lies and tickle them and tell them they were being very silly.
*I just looked up Chris Hauth on the Internet. Hello, he’s a former Olympic swimmer. Oh my. Please, please, don’t pass this on to my swimming friends!