Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I had a bit of a pre-Ironman anxiety moment today. I had to hit the pool after work for an endurance swim and I suddenly couldn’t remember why I enjoyed that sort of thing, why the hell I was doing it, and how I was going to traverse 140.6 miles in less than 17 hours.

It doesn’t help that I hadn’t swum in a couple weeks. Last week was recovery week and I didn’t crack the ice at the cottage to get in that water on the weekend – even for fun. The previous week had the two aborted outdoor swim attempts with tornado accents. The joy of swimming had, as a result, been completely forgotten by my mind and body.

I dutifully got to the pool and started the workout. As I was working through my first few laps I found myself swimming next to someone doing the backstroke. That brought back memories of racing. Backstroke is my warm up stroke, my rest stroke, my anxiety stroke, but never my practice stroke. I put in lap after lap of freestyle, bilateral breathing from end to end. In races, when I’m not backstroking I’m single side breathing doing the front crawl. Why, I ask myself, don’t I actually practice what I seem to do in races?

I think it’s because, although one nice effect of backstroke in a race is to see how far you’ve come, the past should never be a reference. I am looking forward to a race that I can bilateral breath and swim fully immersed in the water and that’s what I’m training for. I had a taste of that last year at Muskoka 70.3 and hope to replicate that feeling a week from Sunday when I do it again.

I left the recreation centre at Ryerson University listening to a frosh week orientation party going on in the quad. Took a moment to remember my own frosh week all those years ago and take a quick look at how far I’ve come.

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