Do you have certain training distances that make you feel like you’ve really “done something?” I have a few. Running at least three miles, for example. Riding at least an hour. For swimming, it is going at least 1600 meters, a mile, in other words.
This morning I needed to challenge myself to go a bit farther than a mile. I’ve been known to wimp out after 1000 meters because I get a little bored or distracted. The other day I got involved talking with a guy one lane over and wasted so much time I only finished 1000 meters. Not good.
So I put my head down and got to it this morning. No backing off.
To make that happen, I swam 200 meter intervals right from the outset. None of this wall-hugging bullshit where I sit there too long catching my breath or thinking about whatever comes to mind. “You can think in the water,” I told myself today.
Mind in other places
And so it went. The only time I took a break was saying hello to a fellow triathlete with a Lake Placid 70.3 cap on. He told me the race was great. I told him I’d grown up in Upstate New York. He said he went to school in Ithaca, at Cornell University. I told him that I studied at the Laboratory of Ornithology and shared that that I’d grown up at the other end of Cayuga Lake in Seneca Falls. He explained that no one is encouraged to swim in the lake anymore. I looked that up and it appears there are algal blooms causing the lake to be toxic these days. Like so many other places in this country, the phosphorus from agricultural and residential rain runoff is turning lakes like Cayuga into breeding grounds for algae that can kill you, your dog and anyone else who enters the water. I grew up swimming in that lake. I guess no one goes in the water much these days. This is what a toxic algae bloom looks like. Who wants to swim in that?
So I had that to think about during the next 500 meters of swimming.
Then I shifted from 200s to 100s for a few laps. With 200 to go, I shortened the intervals to 25 yards and hit them as hard as possible. Go fast when you’re feeling tired. That’s the way to teach the body to respond in races.
I did that in the best swim I had this past summer, down in Muncie. I closed the second half of the mile swim two full minutes faster than the way out.
So the goal of swimming a bit longer and finishing a bit faster was the answer to “Why 2K today.”
When it was all done it did get me thinking about the fact that Y2K (the year 2000) was so many years ago. You might recall that the world was afraid of what might happen that New Year. Computer programmers spent hours converting poorly completed code so that entire systems would remain running rather than shut down because there were not enough 0s and Is to go around. Or something like that.
The other part of the world swore that Jesus was gonna back and trash the place.
Twenty years later, we’re afflicted with threats of insurrection and the sickening truths of religious complicity with a godless demagogue, a pandemic of biblical proportions and a year called 2020 when no one could seem to see shit when it came to solutions.
Want a visual take on 2020 in hindsight? No matter how you look at it. America fucked up.
That is in part why I took off my older swim goggles halfway through the workout and broke out the new ones in my bag. The anti-fog juice wasn’t helping those old Nike goggles anymore. They clouded up every two laps to the point that I almost hit my head on the wall. That would be a terrible way to end a workout, bleeding all over the pool from a laceration on my naked skull. I’m thin-skinned about such things.
With the new goggles firmly on my face, I felt like a new man in the water and could see ahead of myself the entire length of the pool. That answered the question “Why 2K?” Because it’s there. I could actually see it.
Going farther than you think you can is always a good answer to why you do anything in this world.