3 days, 3 lakes, and more
by, May 8th, 2012 at 01:48 PM (1119 Views)
I’m back home today after my little Arizona adventure. I wrote briefly about my swims in Saguaro and Canyon Lakes on Friday and Saturday—they were both dam-to-dam swims, and turned out to be maybe 9 miles each. By late Saturday afternoon, after a wonderful lunch with Kent and the SCAR series gang, I was feeling pretty tired and arm-weary, and was beginning to doubt if I had another swim in me. But a brief nap followed by a delicious and engaging dinner with my wonderful hosts revived me. A trip to the local gourmet ice-cream parlor afterwards ensured that I was fully re-calorized for the next day’s adventures, and I fell asleep early with visions of a third lake swim the following day dancing in my head.
Sunday was another early start—local swimmer Brad kindly picked us up for the 2-hour drive to Roosevelt Lake at 4:20 am. We learned a lot about the water system and local ecology as we drove out—this is definitely a fascinating area. I thought going into this that the three days of swimming might all blur together, but the three lakes we swam in were so different that that didn’t happen. Unlike the previous two lakes—Saguaro with its flowering desert vegetation on the rocky banks, Canyon with its sheer canyon walls on either side—Roosevelt was more open. The land around it was fairly flat, with some mountains and cliffs visible in the distance. Because it was so exposed to the sun, with many shallow areas (we swam over some swampy treelike vegetation that looked like it was periodically exposed when the lake level was lower), this was the warmest of the three lakes.
This swim was part of a 6-lake series of 10-mile swims organized by Gia Kolack. We swam a ten-mile out-and-back course that took us by the dam that separates Roosevelt from Apache Lake. It was a lovely day, with a few clouds in the blue sky, and I felt very content as I swam along beside my ever-cheerful paddler, Andrew. There was minimal boat traffic, and I enjoyed just settling into a pace and listening to my armstrokes as I swam along. The other four swimmers quickly got ahead of me, and I just settled into my own rhythm and thought about how wonderful it was to be out doing what I love on such a pretty day.
The only glitch with this day’s swim is that when giving feeding instructions to the kayaker I forgot to ask if he had a watch to time the planned 30-minute feeds. Turned out neither of us did, so instead of 30-minute feedings I just stopped whenever I felt hungry or thirsty. That worked pretty well—at one point I started cramping a little in my right forearm, but that went away after I stopped and drank some water, and otherwise I felt I had sufficient energy during the swim. But I will stick to the 30-minute schedule in the future (and make sure there’s some way timing them!), because I realized I’m reluctant to stop even when I start getting a little thirsty/hungry—I had to keep reminding myself it was important, and that I would probably regret it later if I didn’t take in fluids regularly. Also, I think the fewer decisions I have to make while I’m swimming, the better I like it.
My blissy “I can’t imagine anything better that this!” mood lasted for about the first 8 miles—during the last two I started feeling some muscle fatigue and was eager to get to the finish. Still, there was never any point where I wasn’t enjoying the experience, and since it was the last day I was especially keen on savoring and taking in everything. Finally I did finish, and Andrew and I arrived back at the boat and climbed gratefully on board, where a bounty of baked goods and other treats awaited us.
So ended the third and last day of lake swimming, but I wasn’t quite done with my Arizona aquatic adventure. On Monday morning Dave, Clare, and I drove over to Skyline for a Paul Smith workout! I finally got to meet Paul, who was friendly and gracious as could be. I also got to see aztimm—in fact, I swam in the lane next to him, and he schooled me on the small portion of the workout I even attempted. Here’s what I did:
200 lcm warmup
8 x 50 drill/swim @ :15 rest, various strokes and drills
1 x 100 IM
Then I moved over to the other side of the bulkhead and did about 150 yards of more sculling and stretching before rejoining the main group for the rest of workout.
4 x 200 @ 3:15 [I made (barely) 1, 2, and 4, but flipped mid-pool on the third one to catch back up to Tim, and to demonstrate to him what proper cheating during a set looks like. ]
I had thought that going to practice after all the weekend’s swimming—28 miles in 3 days, for goodness sake—was overkill, but it turned out to be a good idea. I felt much better afterwards, and the IM and sculling felt especially great. The only thing that didn’t feel good was freestyle—I felt as low in the water as I ever had, and could really feel the fatigue in my arms and lats.
After workout I got to have breakfast with Kent, Tim, Dave, and Clare, then we chilled out a bit before heading back east that afternoon. What a great trip! Today I feel surprisingly good—I have some muscle soreness (deltoids, lats, triceps, forearms, quads), and the sinews in my wrists and elbows feel a little overstretched, as if I’d been carrying heavy luggage (maybe partly from carrying heavy luggage). But my shoulder joints and neck and back feel fine, and those are the body parts I was most concerned with.
From a training point of view, these swims were very helpful, and gave me a sense of where I’m at now and what I need to work on. I wasn’t having my best swimming days ever—I think I got a little too fatigued the week before I headed out west, and by the time I realized my body needed more rest it was too little too late. In the end, it’s good to realize that I could manage these swims even when everything hadn’t gone perfectly in my preparations—I learned something about my capabilities and about how I need to manage my preparation for future long swims.
And there were so many other highlights to the weekend: meeting Patrick and his wonderful family, seeing the desert for the first time, getting to be part of the whole bold adventure of testing these lake swims, spending some time with Clare and Dave and getting to know them better, finding out that I can run into a dead fish without dying from cooties (apparently I head-butted one on Friday’s swim, and didn’t even know about it until my kayaker told me over lunch!), enjoying Bella’s wonderful meals and Phoenix’s great restaurants (and ice cream parlors), and most of all being welcomed so graciously and completely by the Arizona masters swimming community. Swimmers really are some of the greatest people on the planet!