When I was training to do my first sprint, I found it comforting to go out and do "the distance". I was in lousy shape, so running 3.1 miles for the first time was a big deal. The 15 mile bike wasn't anything to worry about, but the .5 mile swim felt like a big accomplishment. Once I had done the distance, it gave me confidence that all I had to do was get fit enough to string them all together. Probably not the best training method, but it fits well with the way my mind works.
Fast forward a few months and I'm now looking at much longer distances. Going back to what has worked for me, I decided that last night would be my first attempt to swim 1 mile with the gang from the St. Pete Mad Dogs. First, the mile walk down the beach seemed like it took forever! I know it's twice as far as I've been walking, but it feels like more than that! Into the water we go and the water is bathtub HOT! So much for it being a refreshing swim.
Heading south, the current is pushing us a little and I start to fall into a nice rhythm. Doing my best to make long strokes and to get some glide on each pull - I'm feeling pretty good about myself. As usual, the faster swimmers make it past me and the herd begins to thin out. As I start to get a little tired, I notice that it's just me and a girl in a green swim cap. I notice her as she swims past me. By the half way point, I'm getting bored and I'm totally alone. Ms. Green Cap has a 40 or 50 yard lead and is pulling away a little bit at a time.
I'm swimming a good distance out from the beach and have the realization that if something were to happen to me - no one would know! I've spent a lot of time on the water, so I'm not particularly worried about sharks or other creatures - but you are responsible for your own safety. I decide to work my way back towards the beach a little when it happens . . . .
I take a breath and when my head goes back under water, I seen the front of something swimming directly underneath me. If you watch enough space movies, you've seen the scene where the good guys think they have won the battle only for the huge and ominous "bad guy ship" to glide up behind them (or in my case, underneath them). Yep ~ that's how it felt!
My first instinct is to scream (bad option with my face under water). I'm thinking it must be a rather huge sea ray gliding by. Sorry, much too long for a sea ray. My curiosity turns to panic when I decide that it's too long to be a ray, so it must be a shark. I should append my statement from two paragraphs ago. I'm not afraid of sharks as a general idea. I do however fear sharks that are swimming directly beneath me at dusk when I'm all alone in the ocean!
As the shark continues to glide by, I notice that there is no dorsal fin and the tail is all wrong. Suddenly I realize that it's not a shark - it's a manatee! How fun did this swim just get??!! I'm being tracked by a Sea Cow! I watch some bubbles come up as the mammal glides out of site. I have to turn my head to take a breath and it's gone.
The rest of the swim went well. I did have time to decide that being passed by a sea cow is probably an accurate representation of how I swim! I was the very last person out of the water (except for the folks that got tired and got out early). So, now I know I can do the distance. Could I have hopped on my bike and done 56 miles? I think I could. Run after that . . . not so much! I plan to do my 56 miles over the weekend and get that hurdle behind me. Not sure when I'll be ready to tackle the 13 mile run, but I know that no later than October 4th, that will be done too!
Good news - I'm down to 234.2 this morning! This exercise and eating right really works!