As I found in my marathon prep, one of the greatest shortcomings to winter training can be a lack of realism. The treadmill doesn’t do a marathon course justice. A stationary bike trainer is useful, but doesn’t replicate the wind and hills of an actual ride. The black line and clear water of the pool fall short of the challenges of open water swimming. Fortunately for me, I had a couple of helpers to generate some realism for tonight’s swim.
I’m still in the hotel in Montreal this week, and somebody turned the heat off. I woke up this morning to 20 degrees outside and light snow. I had my jacket and running tights, but no hat or gloves. I wimped out and elected not to run outside, so back on the gerbil wheel for a 30 minute workout. This is my recovery week, so I didn’t feel like it was too much of a loss to fall back to the treadmill for one workout.
Tonight’s workout was a long swim, done in the hotel’s 11 yard pool. Lots of laps, done by myself if I’m lucky. Not lucky tonight. I was about halfway through the workout when a family with a couple of kids came in. No problem, I thought, I’ll just stick close to the edge and try not to bother them. The feeling was not mutual. How much space can two skinny little kids take up? All of it. Between the cannonballs generating small tsunamis, splashing games, and poorly executed handstands that sent one kid crashing down on my head, I got a pretty good feel for what a crowded lake might feel like. Well, not really, but I can kid myself.
Despite the “crowd”, the workout went well. I was able to finish 2300 yards, my best distance yet. I got in one 650 yard set, which is no small accomplishment in an 11 yard pool. Try counting 65 laps while silently repeating to yourself, “don’t drown, don’t drown”, my new motivational mantra. Between that and my marathon mantra, “don’t puke”, I’m beginning to think perhaps I need a slightly more positive training outlook?
Tomorrow is planned for a 1 hour ride on the stationary bike in the morning, and another swim in the afternoon. If the pool kids aren’t available, maybe I can get the hotel staff to go pick up some jellyfish or piranhas at the local fish store. Anything for a little added realism.