The ups and downs of my first foray past 10k... stuff I learned... stuff I still need to learn

dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member

... and my biggest question: How the @#$% do you guys who swim 20 plus miles even DO THIS??

Okay, the ups: --I was happy w/ my nutrition choices, which consisted of Trader Joe's vanilla protein shakes (very easy to digest and also helped w/ hydration), Glukos Energy powder (http://www.glukosenergy.com/products/glukos-energy-powder.html), combination of Glukos Energy gummies (http://www.glukosenergy.com/products/glukos-energy-gummies.html) and Clif shot blocks, and of course the all important water (which I livened with about a quarter tsp of ginger extract... though I find I need this more for salt water than fresh water, to help prevent seasickness--that was never an issue in this swim). --Great organization and attention to safety--besides my kayaker, who was wonderful, there were always people from the race overseeing things and checking in on swimmers. --Beautiful wooded course, easy to follow. Going got tough when wind picked up and countered the effect of the current assist going back, but that was Mother Nature's doing, not the race organizers. :) --I found it helpful to forget worrying about distant landmarks--with houses and such on the river bank, I would use those as my motivation. "Get past this house... okay, done... next house..." which helped my mindset and kept me from getting discouraged about how far I had to go. This worked great in a river swim. In large open bodies of water, not as easy to do--my experience with the Great South Bay (not a marathon swim, but edging up to that distance), I knew from experience about where I was based on certain points in the course, such as shallow sections, islands, and such, but landmarks weren't as obvious. --Longest swim so far--in my own small way, I've eked out a marathon swim. :) --I was the straggler, but there was still food and beer left for me when I got in (I love these people!) :)

The downs: --Needed more distance training. While I managed 8500m the Sun. before the swim and about 7500 yards a week prior to that, my longest swim prior to the 7500 yards was the Great South Bay, 5 and a half miles, July 17. I wasn't as conscientious as I should have been keeping up w/ distance, so that needs attention. --Arm trouble--I think this may be a technique issue. And it was brought out more as I kept going. But I also need more stretching, strength work, whatever--or maybe just more intestinal fortitude to set aside pain and keep going... I got to a point though where I couldn't lift the left arm out of the water for the recoveries, and I think if it had been overall soreness, I might have gone on, but when there's a possible injury, I don't want to chance it.

So the downs were my doing. To the swim organizers I credit almost all the up sides (happy w/ my nutrition choices and just keeping on keeping on as long as I could).

But here's the puzzle--a couple rest days, and then last night, I participated in the last of a half-mile race series put on by my coach, same river as the long swim... Heck, I'd paid for the whole series, so wasn't going to miss this race, especially w/ temps in the 90s! My arm was feeling better (still going to my sports doc Friday for some torture massage), and I took a couple tylenols to ward off any remaining pain--figured half mile, how hard can that be? Started in the back b/c I wasn't planning to swim too hard, just enjoy the race. But within a couple hundred yards, I passed a bunch of people, almost bumped into the turn-around buoy, and didn't have any problem w/ pain (actually, right arm was a little tight, maybe from having to do most of the work late in Friday's swim). In fact, my time was about three minutes faster than I'd done the previous swim (where I actually had some other issue--I think recovering from a cold, but still...) I even began to wonder if maybe I should ALWAYS precede these half mile swims with seven mile swims lol!

So the question that came to mind was--could I have kept swimming... was the pain just mental? Could I have pushed past it? I won't look back. I do need to ask myself, though, when the handwriting is REALLY on the wall, vs. when I could go further if I willed myself to. Not worried so much about what's already "water under the bridge" (ha--using an appropriate metaphor here). I figure I have the beginner's allowance to make mistakes and learn from them.

So, experts--how do you know when enough is enough? And how do you know when to soldier on? I know with running marathons (finished seven of the nine I attempted), when I stopped, it was due to injury, and in neither case did I have any regrets about stopping--I figured "live to run another day." I've had marathons that were real suffer-fests, but I completed them b/c there was no specific injury, just all-over soreness and I felt I could gut it out. So I suppose I could carry that into swimming but none of my marathons went longer than 5:07 so swimming something like 10-15 hours and more still seems very foreign to me.

I thought I'd never attempt another marathon swim--now I'm thinking there are still goals I want to achieve. They won't likely include the 10+ mile swims just yet. I want to inch my way up to maybe 8 miles now, and then we'll see about longer stuff. It's been a wonderful journey in its own crazy right. I don't see how I can stop just yet. So much to learn and experience!

loneswimmer

Comments

  • SpacemanspiffSpacemanspiff Dallas, TexasSenior Member
    edited September 2015

    @dpm50 Congrats on your progress. You've already identified the issue that jumps out at me: you need more distance training. Both weekly volume and long days. The people doing 20+ miles are not as enigmatic as they appear. The relative effort you put in during your 10K was probably no more than @malinaka expended on his epic swim last week. In fact, your effort (relative to your training) may have been greater. The answer to your question "How the @#$% do you guys who swim 20 plus miles even DO THIS??" (even if rhetorical) can be found in this rich quote from Andrew Malinak's post following his swim:

    When I finally could see the ground, it occurred to me that the last three years of work would be done once a few more sea shells passed by, an adventure that began a week after I moved to Seattle ending on that delta of stones and driftwood just ahead. Preparing for this swim has been my life for longer than I've called this city home and has led me to more places and adventures and friends than I could have possibly imagined.

    Good luck!

    dpm50loneswimmer

    "Lights go out and I can't be saved Tides that I tried to swim against Have brought be down upon my knees Oh I beg, I beg and plead..."

  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member

    Thank you for your comments, @Spacemanspiff ! And the quote you mention is so spot on! While I'm still in rookie-land in all this, I have to say, looking back at this swim and even the pre-10k swims, the adventures and friendships have been extraordinary... I'm still well behind the progress many of you report here.

    And I don't know how much of this is in my future. I'm nearing 65, but I haven't let age stop me yet, and I still feel like a kid, probably more so b/c of all this.. going to masters practices, running, doing stuff others my age don't have the health to do, sad to say--so every bit of experience I can squeeze into my life is well worth it. And I'm lucky to have coaches who don't see my age as an excuse either. I might not look for the big swims such as MIMS at this point, but I can always push the envelope a little further and a little further and see where it takes me.

    I love the beauty and variety of water, of swimming in it, no two swims the same, even in the same body of water. Yet I'm fine with pool swimming too as it extends the time when I can train--in my neighborhood, there isn't a lot of open water (well, a stream that's two feet deep after a rain), and the river swims are supervised by a coach--I haven't gotten to where I'd swim there alone, even with one of those orange buoys to hold my belongings and make me visible.

    What's the saying, "You don't stop playing because you got old; you got old because you stopped playing."

    tortuga
  • SpacemanspiffSpacemanspiff Dallas, TexasSenior Member

    dpm50 said:

    What's the saying, "You don't stop playing because you got old; you got old because you stopped playing."

    Indeed. My 85-year-old father (who still runs 20+ miles a week) says (over and over and over): "Son, as you get older, it's important to not stop doing things because they seem 'too hard'. You're not making your life easier by eliminating the hard thing: you're just moving one step down the ladder where you'll soon find the next thing down will be just as hard as the thing you quit. Eventually, getting out of bed will be the hard thing. It's not the 'thing' that's hard, it's age. Accept that it gets harder and keep moving."

    My mom hates it when he says that...

    OnceaRunnerIronMikedpm50swimdailytortugamolly1205jendut

    "Lights go out and I can't be saved Tides that I tried to swim against Have brought be down upon my knees Oh I beg, I beg and plead..."

  • msathletemsathlete Victoria, British Colubia, CanadaGuest

    @dpm50 congratulations on your swim! And good on for you for learning so much from it. I find I learn more an more every time I swim. Sometimes I learn about things I thought I already new about, so for me at least, its a never ending process, but part of the beauty of the sport.

    I like that you didn't want to chance it. Very smart. If you stop before you do you can always try again at a later date, but if you injure yourself you never know if you are doing permanent damage or not.

    I got to a point though where I couldn't lift the left arm out of the water for the recoveries, and I think if it had been overall soreness, I might have gone on, but when there's a possible injury, I don't want to chance it.

    And I love that you want to keep

    how do you know when enough is enough? And how do you know when to soldier on? " I like to rely on my crew for this in the really tough spots.

    I've pulled myself from 2 swims, the first was because of the weather and the second was because I was really sick and had only eaten about 1000 calories over 18 hours - the bonk was inevitable. But I do know that when I swim for a long time I really can't rely on my own judgement as to how I am doing, especially if I am getting a wee bit hypothermic. I spend time with my crew before my swims, making sure they know me really well, when to push and when to not. In many ways they are a much bigger part of the swim than I :)

    Best of swims with the next one!

    dpm50
  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member

    Thanks, @msathlete ! I worried the day of the swim whether my arm would be OK for future swimming.

    Thankfully, though, I've been swimming since Friday, nothing too intense -- some east open water swimming the next day, a half mile open water race a few days later, and masters practice last night--and so far so good. Bit tight the day after but I expected that. I think the easy swimming may even have helped. Then today, the sports doc did some deep tissue massage. I think that hurt more than the swim. ;)

    That I even wanted to swim again the very next day tells me that I'm hooked. It also, some would argue, tells me I'm crazy. But that's hardly news. ;)

    Alicia
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