Strait of Juan de Fuca: training, part 2 of 2
by, July 15th, 2013 at 08:14 PM (1574 Views)
WooHoo! Itís taper time! [Cue Team America music, cleverly sing ďTaper Time!Ē instead of ďAmericuh!Ē]
Actually, pretty much every other week has been a taper since the last training entry, and the reason is counter-intuitive. I stopped moving around. Yes folks, Iíve not travelled for work in over five weeks. Once again, I have a permanent address (and my new mattress is being delivered in a few hours). But with the open schedule comes a choice of how to spend my time; I can all of a sudden choose when to train, and not let departure times dictate when I must train. It took a few days to relearn that skill.
Making it harder to set a regular training schedule, the water in the Sound has been changing. Seattle has had an amazingly sunny spring (amazing if youíre into that sort of thing). Sun is something both Seattleites and algae love, and therefore Alki beach has been crowded with both. And where the algae bloom, so do the jellyfish.
Before we get to the jellies, letís talk about the temperature. The endless sun here has been causing me a bit of trouble. In the evenings, with the downtown buoy reading 53F, the water at Alki (3 miles away) feels downright warm. Naturally, if you want to swim in cold water, you resort to waking at 4am to swim at 4:30 before the 5:11 sunrise. And with great pain (consider, bed to 53F in under 30min at 4am) comes great beauty. The beach at that hour is gorgeous. And all mine, no crowds.
Getting out of bed at 4am is a complicated set of mental gymnastics. ďMy waterbottles arenít filled,Ē was my first excuse that kept me in bed. Lesson learned. ďJellyfish,Ē was the next, and legitimately so. Iíd been doing a Matrix-style front crawl for days dodging the three to twelve inch blobs of terror, and had no emergency vinegar on hand. Turns out, those blobs donít hurt. The egg-yolk jellies sting so weakly they canít be felt anywhere but on the thinnest of skin, which is excellent because by mid-June they were unavoidable. There were days where Iíd be wrist-deep in one while shaking off another that had draped itself across my goggles. I even managed to get a tentacle up the nose at one point (only mild irritation).
The height of my training was a test swim with SJDF kayaker Steve at the end of June. We left Alki and headed around the lighthouse and south to Lincoln Park on the flood tide, and returned four hours and 13.5km later on the ebb. Although I was tired after, it felt great. All of the experience from the past three years is paying off. And the best part: no Advil and no sore joints! My shoulder was pretty bad after MIMS last year, but Iíve been working on, no, conscious of technique since then and itís paying off.
Following the four-hour swim, I promptly got on a plane and took a week-long roadtrip, then returned to Seattle for a few more days of solid training. One last big push. The 90min to 120min swims have been mentally draining after a long day at work, so I traded once-or-twice-weekly for daily short swims (60min to 90min). In addition, I tried making them more fun. Iíve been doing runs up the seawall stairs every kilometer, or swimming to the Anchor Park pier (2.5km), jumping off it, and swimming back. Itís very different than just doing 2, 3, or 4 trips to the lighthouse, and exactly what I needed to keep my focus as we approachÖTaper Week! Woot!
Looking back, the past few months has held the minimum amount of training required to make this swim a success. Normally, Iíd be disappointed with this. As I learned in the Chesapeake Bay swim a few years back, Iím a better swimmer than ďmade it out of the water alive,Ē and hence should act accordingly. But this swim has been about so much more than yardage. Youíve seen the posts about planning, right? Victory in this swim will be defined as jumping in and touching Canada. After the start, itís easy. After the start, itís just a 6 hour swim.