10 x 100 on 1:30

I love the feeling first thing in the morning of diving deep into the water, letting it wash over me, feeling weightless and being aware of the silence. Just floating. I love frolicking in the water. You know, as a kid, doing handstands in the shallow end. Cannonballs off the diving board. Throwing the frisbee while waist deep at the beach. I love being in the water.

If I had a pool in my backyard, I’d fly home for lunch just for a quick dip.

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At 5:30 in the morning Monday, Wednesday and Friday, it’s not quite like that.  It’s a workout. It’s serious business. I’m building my swimming strength for the 4km of open water that lay out in front of me. Each morning, the plan is laid out beforehand by our intrepid coach and it contains a series of notations. Having never swum competetively, I had/have no idea of some of the notations.

10 x 100 on 1:30 des. 1–> 3:  I’ve come to learn that we’ll be doing 10 reps of 100m each one being 1 minute 30 seconds (meaning the rest between the 100m is determined by how fast you can swim it) but each series of 3 you are trying to progressively get quicker. This also tells me, buckle up, we’ll be swimming 1km pretty much non-stop at a good clip. It tells me that when I feel exhausted, push on.

And we’re off. Plunging my arms through the water, I try to feel sleek and porpoise-like in the water. I can swim. In fact, I’m a strong swimmer. Maybe it’s the years of splashing around in my parents’ backyard pool. The strength of my upper body helps too. This gives me such solace knowing that the swim is what scares many triathletes.  The swim is my weapon.

But then there are the days that scare me. The days that shake my confidences.  The days where I suffer. Mostly, it is days I suffer brutal calf cramps. I almost never cramp up on the bike (it’s happened twice) and I’ve never cramped up running (I’m usually walking by then) but swimming often finds me grabbing at my calf trying to relax my muscle, pushing gingerly off the wall so not to cramp up because I know they are near and standing watching while the rest of my lane swims on.  I worry about muscle cramping during the swim.

I know this is a matter of hydration (though with the amount of pool water I drink it shouldn’t be) and probably my lack of potassium intake, which is part of the nutrition exam I’m studying for.

Each morning, as I jumped into the waiting water, I recognize the glory. The cramps may come today, my time might be slow, but I get to frolic. The frolicking looks different, instead it looks like laps and laps, continuous monotony broken only by intricate notation and the odd calf cramp or neck strain. But each morning, for that brief moment, all I’m aware of is the silence of the water.