Friday, May 23, 2014

When The Fence Is Topped With Barbed Wire

I'm sure there is a country song about the pain and indignity of crossing a fence topped with barbed wire.  If not, there should be, if only so I could have a theme song for my swimming right now.

I am trying to cross such a prickly fence - between one interval and the next fastest - and it is a delicate and painful process.  And not just because I'm wearing a swim suit.

Every practice there are four possible outcomes - I move up and swim great, I move up and swim horribly, I move down and swim great, I move down and swim horribly - and two of them lead to me feeling like I am hanging upside down by waterlogged polyester from a barbed wire topper.  More than just my ego is liable to be bruised.

I've made moves of this type before in the pool, several over the years, but previous iterations just...happened.  The first because going from zero swimming to more-than-zero swimming can only make you faster.  After that, it was more as an outcome of increased general strength, low-hanging-fruit-type technical improvements, and simply getting more and consistent volume under my....goggles.

This decrease in lane pace is the first one I have chased, and of course it is ending up being the hardest so far.  There are few glaring errors left to fix (leaving my backstroke out of it), and to add significantly more volume, I would have to go to two-a-days.

So every day has become something of an educated and hedged bet: what's the workout, what are the lane intervals being offered, how do I feel now, how do I think I will feel in 3000 yards, who will I be swimming with, would I need to lead or could I get a draft, and what toys are we allowed to use and when.  Then, based on the answers to those questions, I tentatively ease one leg over the fence and do my best to keep the undercarriage off the barbed wire.

Some days I ease the second leg over the fence and some days I end up vomiting in the gutter (like on Wednesday).  

Eventually - for sure, eventually, god d*mn it - I'm going to be permanently on the other side of this prickly fence. 

And then the view will look like this:

A gentle uphill to the promised land.

But it will feel like this:

Just a short rest between two fences topped with barbed wire.

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