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Stairs. Marathons. Bikes. And now water.

April 1, 2012

That was the text of the email that Paul sent me last night. After we both registered for the Big Shoulders 5k swim, in September here in Chicago.

I’m honestly pretty intimidated by the idea of 5k in open water (3.1 miles, longer than the Ironman swim). And Lake Michigan is more difficult water than Tempe Town Lake to be sure. But I know I need the swim practice. And the pacing practice. During my Ironman team meeting, I mentioned that I need more swim practice, and someone suggested I look into this race.

Once I found the race details online, I thought “well maybe Paul will want to do that with me.” At least if I know someone else doing the race, it becomes mentally a little easier. And I’ve blogged here before about how Paul has inspired me in the past to push my athletics. And of course, Paul was all for it! He might be slowly returning to his running form, but when it comes to swimming, he’s still very strong. Knowing Paul would be there settled my nerves a little, and I went ahead and signed up. I’m doing the wetsuit category and Paul is doing it without a wetsuit, so we’re not actually in the same wave. And even without a wetsuit, he’ll finish before me. But that’s okay. Just knowing a friend will be there makes a big difference! And I’m sure we’ll try to do some training swims together in Lake Michigan. I probably would have signed up for this race without Paul, but I’m glad to be doing it with Paul!!

My swim progress is still very frustrating. This past week has been largely a wash. I had a bit of a head cold — not enough to really feel sick, but enough to get congested. I can still run like that. The running actually helps force stuff out. But I tried getting in the pool and didn’t last long. It’s not so easy to just cough and spit stuff out while in the pool! (Don’t worry, I didn’t try to spit anything out in the pool.) After 15 minutes, I was done. Next week hopefully I’ve cleared up enough to be back in the pool.

I’m realizing I’m just not getting enough breath if I try to breathe every fourth stroke. And that’s a big part of my limiting factor right now. By 100 yards of breathing every fourth stroke, I’ve just run up too much oxygen deficit. And sure, getting better at my breathing will help a little with that, but there’s only so much I can do if I only breathe every fourth stroke. So I think I just need to get comfortable breathing every other stroke. And try to relax and just swim long, and not worry about my speed. If I can be consistent, that will do more for my time than anything else. I’ve been playing with alternating breathing every other and every fourth stroke (i.e., four strokes, breath, two strokes, breath, four strokes, breath…). Not as a long term solution, but as a way to try to focus on my body alignment while I turn to breath. I can’t wait to feel like I can actually breathe well enough to really workout in the pool. Slowly.

In the meantime, I have this 5k swim to look forward to, two months before Ironman Arizona. I probably will specifically try not to go all out on it. Instead, I will probably approach it as a test run for my Ironman pacing. Meaning I will want to leave the water not feeling completely spent. But the good thing is, if I do go out too hard on the 5k swim, I’m done when I leave the water. So if I leave the water completely spent, I know I need to adjust pace for IMAZ. If I leave the water feeling okay, I know I might be close to good pace for IMAZ.

231 days till Ironman Arizona.

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2 Comments
  1. Beth Kozura permalink

    Jeff, I am a strong swimmer in the pool and I breathe every 3 strokes alternating sides, but in open water all bets are off. I have to breathe every 2 strokes on my right. We had an OWS in Tempe Town Lake. My time was good, but I could feel and see (my husband got me on tape) that my left arm was come over with straight elbow, so I am sure I was wasting energy. I played around with breathing like I do in the pool, but for some reason I need air sooner in open water and I have a harder time turning to the left in my wetsuit. So still trying to figure it out. You need to find your pace for sure and not overexpend in the swim or your race will be over. Keep practicing Jeff, you are going to be so ready in November. Too bad you can’t come out here and do our OWS series. Tempe Town Lake is so calm. A very windy day could change things or a very cold day too, but our cold is probably still warm for you. I love my wetsuit and I hope you love yours or you will when you get into the open water.

    • jbkosbie permalink

      It is so reassuring to hear how calm Tempe Town Lake is. Lake Michigan is often choppy and windy. So if I’m practicing here, I should be set. Fortunately the part of the lake where I’ll be practicing swimming is a long stretch along the lakefront path, where I can touch the bottom most of the way, and there are stairs up to the path. And lifeguards there in summer. So even if things really blow up when I get into open water swimming, I should still be fine.
      It’s still too cold to swim in Lake Michigan, so I haven’t had a chance to try out my wetsuit yet (bought it at Thanksgiving). But soon enough. Once I get comfortable with breathing on one side, I might try bilateral breathing in the pool. I breathe a lot better on my right than my left, so for now I’m just focusing on getting breathing down on one side. My latest swims in the pool I felt like I was getting better with my body position and not lifting my head as much, so progress, but now I was taking in water in my mouth. I’ll get it, just need to keep at it!

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