Frank & Friends 10k Swim for Strong Kids

Posted: April 16, 2013 in Swim
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A few weekends ago, I had a rather unique opportunity to participate in a worthwhile charity swim for Strong Kids, as promoted and sponsored by my local YMCA.  The goal for the event, “Frank & Friends 10k Swim for Strong Kids” (yes, it says ‘100k‘ in the advert, but it’s a typo as that would be freakin’ ridiculous!), besides raising money for noble cause, was to keep a continuous swim going among its volunteers and thereby complete a 10k swim inside a three hour period.  Hey, volunteering and offering something back to the community that has been so supportive of my past athletic endeavors was definitely on my radar this year, so I figured, ‘yeah, why not’?  Even though I’d completed my two designated swim workouts for the week, I could use a few extra easy laps in the pool to work on my form anyway.

The original plan was to go in and do 4 x 1 kilometer sets with 30 seconds to 1 minute intervals of rest between them.  Ideally, I’d like to hold my Ironman pace from this past September, but I would see how things went as form and technique were definitely my priority over speed or pace for this particular session.  All in all, if things went well I’d be out in an hour and onto my intended weights workout for the afternoon.  Perfect.

And just think, this glamorous shot was taken BEFORE the swim.

And just think, this glamorous shot was taken BEFORE the swim.

12:55pm – Arrived on the scene, last of about a dozen other swimmers slotted for the 1:00pm  start.  A few photographs later and we were ready to get rolling.  I jumped in my lane, for no other reason that that’s the lane I always swim in, and pushed off the wall promptly at 1:00pm, the first to go.  A few of the others swimmers started out fancy in butterfly stroke, but they were pretty easy to go around for the few hundred meters or so, and I quickly settled into my usual pace, focusing on my catch, core rotation and quick hand entry; the techniques I’ve been working on improving this year.  After the first initial 500-600m  or so, a couple of the younger collegiate swimmers from the Ridley Swim Team in the next lane over began sprinting so I used the opportunity to motor it out with them, raise my heart rate a little and just send a subliminal message that the chubby old boy next door still has a few chops.  After about a 100m of sprinting they were completely spent and clung to the wall panting for air, so I went back to my normal pace and got back to the business of being awesome.

Gettin' er done...

Gettin’ er done…

2:05pm – I completed my first 4k with a few minute rest breaks between each kilometer to hydrate, stretch, etc.  My shoulders were feeling great and I was happy I was more or less able to complete my kilometers on pace with minimal effort.  By ‘minimal effort’, I mean I didn’t have to kill myself to do it and felt pretty comfortable throughout.  For the most part I was the only one doing a consecutive swim that I could tell so by the time I had finished my intended workout,  but I was the only one left in the pool so I figured ‘hey, might as well keep going’.  The whole point of a ‘swim marathon’ to my mind was to have people swimming continuously, so I decided I’d simply keep going until someone else showed up to keep the event alive and kicking.  So after begging a granola bar off one of the lifeguards, I pushed off the wall and starting back swimming again.

2:45pm (ish) – A few girls have jumped in my lane now and are swimming laps at a good pace.  After an extra hour swimming on my own, just having some extra bodies around to help pace me is a huge welcome.  I completed kilometers 5 and 6 nearly on my own, so having some company has lifted my energy and motivation somewhat.  I’ve also become a pro and eating while still swimming.  I thought enough to bring my water bottle, but not figuring I’d be going this long I don’t have any real fuel so I’ve been begging granola bars off the lifeguards.  Every 400-500m, or so,  I stop quickly, take a bite, flip over on my back and continue backstroking whilst I chew and swallow, hopefully, without breaking the pace I’ve established with the other two girls.

Just over half way to my goal of 400 laps.

Just over half way to my goal of 400 laps.

3:15pm (ish) – At the 8k  mark my shoulders began to show the first signs of reluctance in turning over smoothly and began to get a little stiff and a sore.  Remembering that the longest swim I have completed to date was around 4.5k, around this time last year, I figured it was prudent to stop briefly and stretch them out for a bit before attempting to continue.  I will admit that the urge to call it quits had been building pretty well in my mind over the last kilometer but, once again, I found myself the only one in the pool after the two girls I was swimming with left.  ‘C’mon, buck up sissypants.  It’s only two more kilometer’s to go’, I told myself.   So, albeit with a little reluctance, I cinched up my now extremely pruny apple sack and pushing off the wall…again.

The next two kilometers went pretty well actually.  I swam, nibbled granola bars, backstroked, and otherwise kept going as best I could, counting out the laps in my head as I went.  For the final 200m, I even amped up the pace just a bit to simulate that last few meters at the end of any triathlon swim.  Just it was just the pool at the YMCA and the only ones around were the oblivious teenage lifeguards who could care less how long I had been swimming but, in my mind, it was the home stretch in the FKCC Swim Around Key West.

3:35pm – Done!  10 kilometers!  Ho-lee shit.  I’m so exhausted and spent that it’s all I can do to lift myself out of the pool and collapse again at the wall with a well-deserved apple and about a dozen oatmeal cookies the organizer brought for me.

My official time – official, in that this is what my polar stop watch recorded anyway – was 2:35:30, for a pace of approximately 1:32 min/100 m.  Not too bad for my first real endurance swim.  Of course, we’ll forget for the moment the short 5 minute break at the 8k  mark to stretch, or the current urge I have to to puke but, generally, I feel pretty good with myself.  My shoulders feel relatively okay, but I look like I’ve aged about 60 years given that my skin now has the texture of pudding skin and my hair feels like straw.  But I can live with that for the time being in light of my accomplishment.

All in all, I REALLY enjoyed that impromptu challenge.  It was a validation, that while still not perfect, my swim technique is coming along nicely and that I can maintain a decent pace when needing to do so.  I can see myself doing a few more of these long distance swim events in the future; maybe even complete an official aquatic open water marathon someday.  I’ll definitely be putting this event on the calendar for next year as an inspiration to keep up my work in the pool through the next off-season.

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