Monday, October 15, 2012

Time Trials

It's Saturday morning at 7am. It's cool and crisp outside and the sun is coming up. A beautiful morning for my last long run before the Niagara Falls half next weekend.

So what am I doing at the pool you ask? Why am I standing around with a whole bunch of nervous strangers instead of running under the rising sun and fading stars?

Because it's time trial day.

This is Christine's doing. She encouraged, cajoled, pushed and shoved her swimmers to the pool on Saturday morning. She brought a whole pile of stopwatches, clipboards and time sheets. The goal? We were all going to be timed as we swam various distances and this would give us our baseline upon which to improve our speeds.

I arrived in the lobby of the Kiwanis building and was followed in by a woman I didn't know. She was using crutches. Oh wow, I thought (naively), she must have an injury. I wonder if she is coming to do some pool running like I used to do? That sucks.


She was in the same section of the changeroom as I was. She undressed and then proceeded to remove her prosthetic leg. She pulled on her bathing suit and swim cap. She followed me to the main pool and Christine greeted her with a smile. No recovery pool for her - she was time trial'ing it with me.

I didn't count but it looked like there were about 20 of us. I knew about 5 people. We all hopped into the pool to warm up (200m swim, 200m pull, 200m kick). During this time, Christine's daughters installed a mirror on the bottom of lane 1. Once it was set up - she asked me to swim over it. I did and popped up with a huge grin. "That's awesome!!". I could see myself swimming. I could see what I was doing with my arms and that darn crossover she's always on me about. When you run, you get a sense of how you look when running by store windows but I've never had a sense of what I look like swimming. It's pretty cool to see.

The setup looked liked this. Apparently you can tether yourself to the side of the pool and swim in place which really allows you to check your form. I just swam over it a few times but it was still pretty cool. 

Everyone piled out of the pool. "We are going to have a 200m, a 400m and an 800m timed swim. What is everyone going to do?" she asked.

"I'll do a 200m and a 400m" I said. "No" she replied, "you can do a 200m and an 800m".


800m is 32 lengths of the pool. Without stopping. As fast as you can.

Everyone chose their distance(s) and sat down to wait their turns. There would be four swimmers in the water at a time.

We started with the 200m. I hopped in lane 3. The lady from the changeroom hopped in lane 4. The whistle blew and we were off. She was my speed but a little faster. So I chased her but I couldn't quite catch her. I finished in 3:48 and she finished in 3:47. I think I may have just met another hero...

I watched the next few 200m swims. It's such an odd thing - when you're swimming you feel like you're working so hard and swimming so fast. But, from the surface, everyone looked pretty leisurely.

Then it was time for the 400m. Sixteen lengths of the pool. I watched. I watched swimmers pushing hard and I watched them start to tire. When it was over, several people's arms were shaking with exhaustion and they could hardly pull themselves out of the water.

Good lord. I was going to have to swim that distance - twice.

Into the pool I slid. I adjusted my goggles, took a deep breath and waved to show that I was ready. There were three other swimmers doing the same distance at the same time. Two of them I knew and one, an older and rather unassuming gentleman, I did not.

We were off.

The first 200m were really tiring. My arms were still spent from my first 'event'. The second 200m were really really tiring and I began to think "uh oh". In the third 200m, something kicked in and I suddenly felt better, stronger and faster. That's about the time that the older gentleman in the lane beside me lapped me. Still, I did feel better all of a sudden. I guess it's like running - it always takes me 5k to warm up and feel good.

Two hundred metres to go. Eight trips across the pool. I counted down but no longer felt the desperate need to stop that I had felt at the beginning. I touched the side and my timer yelled "last 50m!!". Back and forth once more and it was over.

Fourteen minutes and 47 seconds. Which meant that my pace was a little slower but not much off my 200m one. And apparently I was pretty consistent and didn't slow down toward the end. Céline Parent: human metronome.

Never having done a time trial before I didn't know what to expect. But that time felt good. It felt fast but with plenty of room for improvement.

And I adamantly refuse to think about the guy in the second group who did 800m in 10 minutes.

Absolutely refuse.

As for diabetes - it was an interesting morning. I am usually done my swim by 7am. This time I was starting at 7am and we were going to be there until 9 but not swimming the entire time. I would be sitting a lot and then swimming hard and then sitting again. I would be unplugged from my pump for two hours.

I never eat before a swim (unless I'm low and even then it's only a small handful of raisins). I knew I would be hungry by 9 but I didn't want to eat before because I haven't practiced eating and bolusing before a swim. I was not in the mood to have my first in-pool low during a time trial. So I had a handful of raisins and a spoonful of peanut butter. I unhooked and crossed my fingers. I felt ok for most of it but could tell when I was finished my 800m that my sugar was climbing. I waved goodbye and headed for the showers. My blood sugar was 11.9 by the time I was ready to reattach my pump. Not awful but higher than I'm used to after a swim.

I increased my basal rate as I usually do but chased highs for the rest of the day.

Just over year until I am eligible for a new pump. Bring on the waterproof one!