Posts Tagged ‘Kids’

“Fabia’s Big Ride”

Posted: October 11, 2016 in Bike
Tags: , ,

So this past holiday weekend (yesterday) I got to do something very special of which I am immensely proud.  And not necessarily for myself either.  No, yesterday marked HRH‘s epic bike ride from our home here in Ridgeway to Lock 3 in St. Catharines and onward to the grandparents’ house.  This is what the last 3-4 weeks of cycling with the kiddo have all been leading up to…her own Ironman journey, so to speak.

I don’t have a lot to say that I haven’t already posted HERE so, instead, here’s a record of the trip in pictures:

We left at 10:15am after a big breakfast, a coffee and a poop.  Well, I did anyway.

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We first rode along the Friendship Trail from here in Ridgeway for approximately 14 kilometers passing through Sherkston to Port Colborne.

We arrived just in time to make it across the Lock 7 bridge before a boat passed through on it’s way to Lake Erie.

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We then joined up with the Canal Trail beginning at the Robin Hood plant and, from there, we simply pedaled northbound towards St. Catharines stopping briefly at the Flatwater Center in Dain City for a picture in the grandstand.

The autumn colors were in full bloom along the entire pathway. This is one of the reasons why I consider myself so lucky to live and ride where I do.

Absolutely gorgeous.

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As we had planned, we stopped for a brief lunch of peanut butter and jelly and a few apple slices at the Flatwater Center in Welland before continuing on again.

It wasn’t long afterwards that HRH  learned another valuable lesson about riding:  always spit out and to the side…not directly ahead into the wind.  Hey, some lessons you just have to learn the hard way.

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We continued pedaling on through Allanburg towards Thorold for another 20k or so.  Fortunately at this point, the majority of the ride was on a gradual downhill as we were heading north down the Niagara Escarpment but there was still the odd small hill every so often to conquer just to remind her that this was meant to be something of a challenge.

After all, anything that matters take a little work right?

After another hour or so we popped out at the tippy-top of the Flight Locks in Thorold to begin our big decent down to our finish destination at the Lock 3 Viewing Complex.

Oh, we stopped for these candid shots with the amazing murals in Thorold as well.

It was only another 10-15 minutes from there before we arrived at our intended “finish line” after 53 kilometers of cycling.  Of course, we had to take the obligatory victory photos.

I had even brought along my dad for the ride seeing as how I was using his bike (click HERE) and I like to think he was looking down on us from somewhere smiling.

This one however I think is the real winner on the day:

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Of course, it took her a moment to get it up there in the first place.

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So a celebratory hot chocolate was definitely in order.

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Lastly, we tackled the final 2 kilometers to grandma and grandpa’s house and a well-deserved treat.

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So what does an 11-year-old cyclist do to warm down after a long, chilly, autumn ride?

Why, this little ensemble of course:

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I’m sure all the greats had one:  Eddy Merckz, Bernard Hinault, Miguel Induráin, Greg LeMonde…shit, I hear Chris Froome even warms down in a fuzzy Kermit the Frog suit.

Me?

I’ll stick to the essentials.

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Anyway, this was just about the best way to begin winding down the riding season if you ask me.  I know I’m currently getting in the mindset to renew my Ironman training so I figure having a little fun before that hammer drops would be a good idea.

Besides, if you can’t enjoy your passions with the ones you love…what’s the point?

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Family Cycle

Posted: March 31, 2015 in Bike, Lifestyle
Tags: ,

I have recently taken on another challenge as the next stage in my on-going triathlon-slash-athletic evolution.  A challenge so daunting and arduous that it baffles the melon just to imagine it; a challenge so fierce and grandiose in execution that it makes all my other successes and endurance tests to date seem like a mere walk in the park.  What is this challenge you ask?  Well, get this: I have now agreed to lead a weekly 30 minute Family Cycle class for parents and kids, ages 8-13 years of age.

Is that some scary shit or what?

You’re probably thinking, “So what’s so scary about a spinning class for kids”, right? That was exactly my thought process when I suggested and then agreed to take this on as a weekly commitment. The idea occurred to me as the result of HRH  becoming a bit more reluctant recently to tag along with me to the gym to participate in the kids’ activities as I do my own thing; be it teaching or participating in a spin class, lifting weights, swimming or whatever.  Before, she enjoyed sitting in the  corner of the spin studio after her “Kids Club” had let out and watch me have my ass handed to me on a silver platter.  She was content to sit quietly and observe for 30 minutes until my class had finished.  A year later, however, well, not so much. I guess seeing me tsunami out in a huge tidal wave of sweat and agony grows old eventually – go figure.

Furthermore, the other kids in her “Kids Club” are now significantly younger so she doesn’t quite have the same connection she once did to be completely engaged yet, unfortunately, she’s also not old enough to participate in any of the adult classes like spinning, water aerobics, etc., so she’s bored.  Who could blame her?  So providing opportunities for kids and families to try this whole spinning thing seemed to be a good idea; something for her to get excited about as well as other kids for whom their parents also have the same challenges.  It something the family can do together to provide a fun and safe introduction into a new possibility as an interest in maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle.  Sounds great, huh? And seeing as coaching and supporting kids programs has become a bit of a passion for me after becoming a step-dad (click HERE) this opportunity seemed to be tailor made for me.  How could I go wrong?

But as the date grew nearer, I became more and more stressed about it.  Making matters worse, I was worried that the kids might sense my nervousness too; like the way a king cobra senses the panicked heartbeat in a nervous kangaroo rat.

I mean, seriously, what do you do with kids exactly?  For all intensive purposes, what do I even know  about kids?  At best, I’m just fudging my way through this whole step-dad thing and hoping, at best, to not seriously scar HRH in her later adult life.  On any given day I’m the kind of boob you might otherwise see spinning (no pun intended) a sign outside a Verizon store.  I know as much about spinning and children as Lucrezia Borgia knows about gourmet cooking.  I knew I wanted it to be fun while still providing them with an opportunity to get familiarized with spinning and, hey, if they get a decent workout as well, awesome!  In short, I wanted it to be the kind of thing that Ron Howard would eventually make a movie about.  But what I have learned, however, is that coaching a kid’s orientated spin class is very, very different than coaching adults…like, apples and oranges different.

For example, you can’t too be too tough.  Unlike the adult participants in my Monday night Masters Spin Class, I can’t exactly stomp them into the ground like a late season gewürztraminer.  No, it’s not that easy; it has to be a real hoopty-doo if you know what I mean.  It has to be “fun” and kids’ do not immediately associate “suffering” with “fun” the way my adult spin masochists do.  Nor, is there any pleasure in it for me. I mean, I admit to being totally into my ‘schadenfreude’, but watching kids pummel the pedals until they’re ready to puke is not really what I would call a good time.  Nor should it be.  I want them to enjoy themselves and come back, not ultimately give them another reason to hate going to the gym.  So I had to invent ways to keep their fragile eggshell-like minds off the “activity” itself, and more on something that was deemed as “entertaining”.  And believe me, given that typical kids has the attention span of a grapefruit, this is harder to do than one might think.

So, to accomplish this, I had the brainwave to – after giving them a brief instruction on how to use the spin bike features properly, of course – lead them through a game of “tag” just as they might play on the schoolyard at lunchtime.  What kid doesn’t like “tag”, I ask you.  The difference here being that when the person was tagged as “it”, they had to then either stand up into a light climb, or spin faster with a higher (yet controlled) cadence, or “sprint”, until the next person was deemed as “it” until we had worked our way around the room.  They seemed to enjoy this.  In future classes, I aim to incorporate other such schoolyard games such as “Eye Spy” and “Simon Says”, but geared towards spinning of course.

The second major difference is that in keeping things “fun”, that also means using and playing music that they like; and as it happens, the kind of stuff that might also get me laughed at and ridiculed if any of my training peers should happen to find them on my iPod.  Now, let’s get one thing straight, I prefer to keep my iPod “pure” (click HERE), in that all the music contained within is the kind of manly stuff that I might also listen to while hammering out swords shirtless in my medieval iron forge and, you know, Taylor Swift is not part of that formula. Now I know that “haters gonna hate, hate, hate” and that inevitably I just “gotta shake, shake, shake, shake it off” but, still, it’s not cool and I feel slightly less of a man for it being there.

The good news is though, that HRH, seeing as she’s into records and developing her own taste in music these days (click HERE), helped me put together a decent playlist, which along with the popular kids music on the radio, also included tracks by the Cars, Michael Jackson and the Bee Gee’s (click HERE) so that at least the parents brains didn’t 100% melt out their ears as I’m sure they tend to get enough of the radio pop pabulum shoveled at them throughout the day as well.  God knows I do.  So I tried to find the happy middle ground.

All in all things seemed to go well, even if it was the longest yet probably the most rewarding 30 minutes I think I’ve ever spent coaching on a spin bike. Afterwards, we even had some favorable comments from the participants (kids and parents alike) and everybody seemed to enjoy themselves and left with a smile on their face.  Maybe this won’t be such a bad thing after all.  The best part is that HRH  dropped almost immediately into bed upon getting home without so much as a fuss.  Who knew that having so much fun would be so exhausting?  That alone made the whole stress worth it and I’m looking forward to future classes and working with these amazing kids as they discover the – hopefully – exciting world of spinning.

Peachbud 1k

Posted: July 6, 2014 in Races
Tags: , , ,

Nearly two weeks ago, the kid and I took to the mean streets (and sidewalks) of Grimsby for the annual kid’s 1k event.   I have to be truthful, I didn’t like our chances.  We haven’t trained the way we had in previous years but, she seemed eager to go and cruisin’ for a bruisin’ which, in fact, we did.  She killed it, shaving almost 2 minutes off her previous years effort with a finishing time of 7:34.2  (not that any of this matters, like, at all).  Most importantly, she embraced the whole good natured happy runner philosophy we talked about just prior to the start.  So what was this profound philosophy you ask?  Well, besides the obvious ‘if you don’t win don’t come home’  thing, she opted to go with something a bit more, well, unconventional: “Eat Hot Death”.

*Sigh* 

“From the mouths of babes…”  they say.  Anyway, it’s a long story.  ‘Eat Hot Death’ it was.

Afterwards, I attempted to run out 10k worth of pent-up anxiety and frustration during the 10k event and ended up totally shitting the bed, err, not doing so well.  But that’s also a long story.

So without further adieu, I present you this latest video diary from this years epic Peachbud 1k Fun Run.

Word.

Big thanks to my buddy at ‘Waving Cat Media’:  http://wavingcatmedia.com/

Now that my triathlon season has effectively come to an end, I’m refocusing a bit while I continue with my foot rehab to spending more time volunteering at events that have become near and dear to me, namely, the SunRype Tri Kids series.  This is my second year volunteering with this event series as working with kids and promoting kid’s triathlon has become a bit of a passion for me, particularly this year.

T1 for the 3-5 year-old's

T1 for the 3-5 year-old’s

Now, I have volunteered at adult events before but, well, let’s just say that being grunted at all day by exhausted athletes doesn’t exactly provide me with all those warm n’ fuzzies.  I realize it’s an important role come race day and its very appreciated despite the lack of direct ‘thank you’s’ from the competitor’s, but working with kids is just so, so…awesome.  I feel like my experience as a developing triathlete at this point is both welcome and appreciated at the bike mount line where I prefer to be positioned; reminding kids to breathe, smile, have fun, not to mention fixing any skipped chains, untied shoelaces, etc.  I genuinely love the absolutely shell-shocked expressions on their face and then reminding them – despite the pressures often being placed on them by their over-excited parents – that it’s okay to relax and just have fun.

I think they appreciate that.

Now, having said all that, if there is one thing that I have learned through this experience is that every parent likes to think that their child is special.  And while I agree, every child is special; some parents will take that to the absolute extreme.   I could go on and on about some of the crazy things I saw and heard parents do and say during the course of the day but, well, let’s just say it’s often crazy:  “Don’t drink unless you absolutely after to!”, “Ride hard!”, “Push! Push! Push!”, “Catch that kid in front of you!”, “Can’t you go faster?!” 

I only wish I was joking here.

Hey, whatever happened to “just have fun?”

Just sayin’…

T1 for 3-5 year-old's

T1 for 3-5 year-old’s

Anyway, the added bonus for me this year was that HRH  was also able to participate in this year’s event (being the idiot I am, I forgot to actually register her for it last year) and, as such, we’ve been preparing her both physically and mentally to do her best since April.  We’ve done a few run workouts on the track at the Fort Erie YMCA, and we’ve biked together along the Friendship Trail, and we’ve worked on her swim skills in the open water at the Welland International Flatwater Center.  Of course, these “workouts” were more like play but, hey, who’s keeping track?  I figured she didn’t have to necessary know that she was also participating in interval workouts just as long as she was having fun.  All she really cared about was getting a finisher’s medal – just as it should be.

So the evening before, we organized out last preparation “workout” to familiarize her with the transition process.  We laid out her clothes, towel, bike, helmet, etc. on our front lawn to mimic her transition set up and proceeded to make a game of getting dressed and one the bike, and then off the bike and running.  I had her get into her swim suit and after being spun around a few times (to simulate the feeling of getting out of the water), I had her get into her bike stuff and ride to the end of the street and back, before hopping off and running to the corner and back.  She absolutely loved it.  I figured she was as ready as she was ever going to be.

HRH's transition set up.

HRH’s transition set up.

Come the next morning (race day), she was more than excited to get going.  Once she and Kelly arrived (I was already on site and working at the bike mount line with the 3 year olds), she proceeded to get her body markings, got her clothes set up in transition the way we practiced (which, I must say, was nothing like we adults set our stuff up) and, before she knew it, she was lined up and getting ready to hit the pool.

From then on, she had a ball.  She swam the 75m well even if she didn’t kick a whole lot (a chip off the ‘ol block I guess), and by the time she got changed and ended up at my mount line she was all smiles and giggles…exactly how I had hoped she would be.  In fact, when I asked her if she was having fun, instead of the blank stare or unsure grunt I typically got from a lot of kids I asked the same question to, she responded with a very enthusiastic “YEAH!!”

Awesome.

So I sent her off with a gentle push and watched her ride out onto the bike course pedaling like a demon possessed; if only she pedaled like that when we ride.

When she dismounted a few moments later after a 3k lap around Ridley campus on her bike, she casually walked her bike into T2 and – low and behold – started running!  I mean, like, really running.  I was shocked.  I know she doesn’t really like running and I fully expected her to walk the run course (which is fine, of course), so when she actually started running I almost passed out from sheer amazement.  Clearly, she was really getting into the spirit of the thing.

T1 for the 3-5 year-old's

T1 for the 3-5 year-old’s

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see anything more after she had passed through T2 onto the 1.5k run course.  However, I heard that she walked some of it and ran some of it.  Not bad really.  A really funny I learned later is that each time she passed through the water aid station (which was conveniently manned by my coach) she both drank a cup of water as well as dousing herself with another.  Where she learned this little maneuver, I’m not sure but, yup, a chip off the ‘ol block for sure.  Whatever she was doing, she also remained true to her intention (as well as our track workouts) of finishing strong and saving a bit for that final sprint to the line to earn her coveted finisher’s medal.

Here’s the big moment captured for all posterity (complete with motivational music and everything:

In in all, HRH’s first triathlon went very well indeed.  You can read that as:  she had a lot of fun while maintaining a smile on her face the whole time, and that she is definitely looking forward to participating in the next one next year.  She now has a better idea of what it takes to not only complete a triathlon, but what it takes to prepare for one should she choose to go down that path in the future.

Did she have a finished time?  Sure.  But who cares?  Did she ‘place’ in her age group?  Probably…but, again, who cares?  I’m very proud of her regardless of what any numbers might tell me about her performance.  The most important thing is that she enjoyed herself and that definitely seemed to be the case, so I’m chalking this up as a total victory.

All we can say now is, “Bring on the 2014 season!”

Jerry’s Peachbud 1k

Posted: June 29, 2013 in Races
Tags: , , ,

Where this past weekend was all about me, Tuesday evening was about ‘us’ as HRH  and I returned to participate in the annual Jerry’s Peachbud 1k kid’s ‘Fun Run’.

Oh yeah.

All year we’ve been doing our Fartleks on the indoor track at the YMCA.  Why?  Because we’ve been planning our big return to the Jerry’s Peachbud 1k (click HERE for last years race video) in order to defend our titles; that’s why.  Except this year, I also had the 5k  race to contend with afterwards as well as Kelly withdrew last minute with a bum knee.  So, yeah, first I tackle the kid’s ‘Fun Run’ then I would proceed to kick ass in the Women’s 40-45 age group.  That’s right – ‘women’.  Am I a total hero or what?

But first things first, here is how the kid’s race panned out:

All in all, we improved our time by nearly 10whole seconds (chip time) with a time of 8:57.4  while also moving up in the overall rankings to finish 55th out of 81.  Shazam!  We rock.  And as per usual, we looked awesome doing it too.

My 5k race, which I just used a tempo workout opportunity, went well enough as well with me placing 6th out of 40 other ‘women’ runners in a time of 24:38.2.

Oh yeah.  I crushed it.  Take that, bitches!

Over the years, especially lately now that the initial Ironman quest is behind me, I’ve learned that there is a delicate balance that exists between having fun and training to compete.  Up until this past September, I was flat out balls to the wall in ‘training to compete’; in fact, it’s safe to say it totally consumed me.  Nowadays, well, not so much.  I mean, it will again I’m sure – but just not now.

I think the most important lesson I’ve learned this year is how to mentally cope with being an “Ironman”, something that as it turns out, is not quite so simple.  I literally spent three years of my life focused on the singular goal to endure and complete a 140.6 mile odyssey of pain and then – *poof* – it was all gone in a flash of adrenaline and ibuprofen.  What followed wasn’t pretty either.  Now, eight months down the road I still haven’t 100%  physically recovered, but I’m a little wiser.  I know now that ‘all work and no play makes Terry one grumpy son of a bitch’, that’s for sure.  So, forget the ‘training to compete’ this year, I’m focusing now on the Fun’ aspect, the one thing that I more or less depraved myself of for the past few years of training and competition in an effort to get faster, go further, and become stronger.  After all, seldom does one ever smile 150k into a hot July afternoon’s bike ride, or a 3 hour Brick run afterwards.  Typically, I wanted to die but I persevered and I got it done.  I had to, and nobody can ever take that away from me.  I’m proud of those accomplishments but, in the end when it was all over and done with, I was mentally drained…empty.  Part of me still is.  However, this doesn’t necessarily mean the end either.

Given all the 360-degree turns my life has taken in recent months the journey has just changed a bit – that’s all.  So while my body continues to heal and my gimpy leg rebuilds its strength, I more relish my bike rides with Kelly, “training” with HRH  (click HERE  for more HRH-related stories) in preparation for her own kid’s triathlon in August, and working on my stroke in the pool.  I am still very active and accomplishing goals, I’m just not ‘competing’ and I’m making peace with that now.  It’s that symbiotic relationship of mixing fun with competition that makes it all bearable.  I realize and understand that now.  So if I’m ever going to return to the intense mental and physical rigors of training to qualify for Kona in the future, I figure I’m due some fun this year in order to help keep it all in its proper perspective.

Getting warmed-up.

Getting warmed-up.

With that in mind, I had the pleasure and the privilege lately to present to the Grades 1, 2 and 3 classes at two different public schools in our area about the ‘fun’ that is triathlon.   HRH  has lived and breathed triathlon vicariously through me now for the past year so, needless to say, she has talked about it some amongst her classmates.  After all, she has a step dad who wears tight, brightly-colored spandex clothes and rides the weird bike everywhere – stuff that typically doesn’t escape your average eight-year-old’s attention.  So the idea struck me then to approach the principal at her school about opportunities to officially talk about it with her class given that triathlon is now being introduced at the high school level now despite few kids even realizing what it is.  Fortunately, my proposition that was immediately welcomed.  Later, the idea was even welcomed at another school nearby as well.  Yayness!

You like me!!  You REALLY like me!

Okay, I had to do that.

Besides, Lord knows that if I had discovered triathlon 30 years ago I would never had evolved into the gelatinous blob I would become for the majority of my life later on.  In a way, triathlon kind of saved me.  So to even pass along a little of that love and appreciation to kids would be totally worth the time alone.

Getting photo-bombed by an eight-year-old.  But, hey, at least he's smiling!

Getting photo-bombed by an eight-year-old mini me. But, hey, at least he’s smiling!

Forget triathlon being a unique challenge, or a means of sustaining a healthy active lifestyle – which, to an eight-year-old, is about as exciting and meaningful as leftover Brussel sprouts – I really wanted to stress the ‘fun factor’ knowing full well that competing with the likes of Super Mario Bros., Pac Man, or Sonic the Whatshisface (okay, so I’m little out of the video game loop) would be tricky business indeed.  After all, what kid wants to bike and run a zillion miles in the thousand degree weather throughout the summer when they could instead be sitting on their couch playing their Wii in the central air-conditioning?  Not going to get many buy-in’s that way.  With that in mind, I brought in my tri bike and wetsuit as a ‘show and tell’ opportunity to build interest and provide the chance to play dress up.  They loved that.  What kid doesn’t love dress up?  Of course, one astute little kid wanted to know what happens when I had to go pee, but I managed to avoid the question by running the ‘ol smoke and mirrors routine and dazzling them instead with some heady bling in the way of finisher’s medals.  Yup, shiny objects.  Works every time!  So after walking them through the different swim, bike and run stages, it was time to actually try our hands at competing in a mock triathlon.

SAMSUNG

Introducing Lucille. Can’t you just hear the “Ooooo’s” and “Ahhhh’s”?

Of course you can’t really swim or bike around a gymnasium or playground, but we did our best at simulating the sensation of going from discipline directly into another whether it entailed whirling our arms to simulate swimming, or picking up our knees to simulate riding a bike (running is running).  What can I say?  It’s just another arrow in my quiver of whimsy.  At the best of times, the kids hurled themselves around the staged triathlon course like crazed Vikings and seemed to enjoy themselves.  Hopefully, and judging by the way they fell to the ground exhausted afterwards, they burned off more than a little steam making the rest of the day a little more peaceful and relaxing for the teachers.

Take THAT, Sonic the Whatever you are!

But, here’s my real coup d’tat.  I wanted something the kids could take home and – hopefully – talk about with their parents, so I designed and created my own triathlon Activity booklet complete with mazes, coloring pages, word searches, crosswords, word jumbles, and other learning activities to act as a take away to reenforce the things we talked about during the presentation including safety, specific triathlon terms, etc.  Now, I admit that I’m no Paul Rand or Wolfgang Weingart, but I was still pretty damn proud with the end result.  I love that HRH  still drags it out and works in it from time to time.  In the future, I hope to find an actual graphic designer to help me flesh it out with actual cartoons, better detail, and more engaging activities *.  But as it is now, this was pretty groovy if I do say so myself (and I do!).

Activity Book (click to view)

All in all it was a very enjoyable experience; one I’d like to repeat again another time.  I’m now looking forward to volunteering more than ever at the mount line for the SunRype Kids Triathlon series of events this summer and getting to witness them actually participating in the real McCoy.  Hopefully, they’ll enjoy triathlon as much as I have and maybe, just maybe, I’ll even see a familiar face or two.

* If there are, in fact, any budding creative cartoonists or graphic designers out there willing to help me out and become involved or, at the very least, work cheap, please contact me.

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.