Thursday, July 5, 2012

Walden Pond swim - go confidently in the direction of the....trees?

So last week I did my first MeetUp open water swim at Walden Pond.
Of course everyone knows, Walden - Henry David Thoreau & the transcedentalists and all. 
"What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.”  So I was filled with all sorts of inspiration, and I wasn't sure what to expect of this little pond with such a big reputation. 

Well it only took me about 40 minutes to get there, so I was WAY early  (meetup was at 5pm.) and when I parked in the DCR lot there was already this mood of good relaxation.  People weren't coming up from the beach looking stressed out w/ kids or sunburns.  It all just seemed exceedingly mellow - and I grabbed my giant blue IKEA bag from my trunk and damnit, damnit, dab-nabit - I forgot a towel.  How in the hell did I forget a towel?  And if you could see this bag I carry!  I had two swim caps, two pairs of goggles, a comb, a wetsuit, a couple a packs of goo, a water bottle, my ipod, my sunglasses, a canister of PAM cooking spray (Triathletes know what that's for)  But I remembered that there was a pillowcase in the back seat of my car and I threw that in my bag.  I also knew that my son Aidan had blown his nose on said pillowcase the day prior during a sneezing fit, but OH WELL - I wasn't going to let a little wetness or nose snot STEAL MY MELLOW!

I wanted to do the 1/2 mile swim.  I wanted to do it without touching any walls or putting my feet down.  There is something in my head that feels like all this pool swimming is a bit of a cheat.  It's hard to tell if I'm really making it or if I'm using the wall every time I tap touch.  The Sharon TRI is a half mile swim so I need to know - in my head - that I can swim it, without stopping or drowning.  

The water was PERFECT....I got in and started going, we were heading back and forth from the MAIN BEACH to the RED CROSS BEACH.  (note: I'd never seen this map before)  I started trying to work it out in my head how far I'd need to go to get to a half mile. 

Here's how that went. 
When I arrived, I saw a sign that said the perimeter of the trail around the pond was 1.7 miles.  So I converted that to feet first (not an easy math problem while swimming) to get to the circumference of the pond.  Then since I know that the circumference of a circle is Pi * diameter, I was able to back into the distance across the pond.  Of course my math was way off, because the pond as you can see from this representation is nowhere near circular!  Anyhow, after I'd gone back and forth to a few trips furious converting feet to yards and dividing by pi.  I said to Marlene -  could you just tell me when I've gone 1/4 mile?  She said, "you're already over 1/2 mile!"  I was stunned!  I ended up swimming a total of 2600 yards.  WAY over a mile swim!  It was great and I felt great!

Now for the sighting part.  The other half of this swim clinic was to practice swimming straight.  Its important to swim straight in a race, and its difficult - without the help of lane lines that you're so used to in a pool.  My goal was to go directly to the opposite beach -- not swim off course toward the middle of the pond.  So I was trying to keep the tree line at a certain place in my field of view.  Every time I would take a breath on that side of my forward crawl I would try to make sure that the trees were where they were suppose to be.  Of course, they weren't.  Those damn trees - hopping all about the place!  It was worse when I used the setting sun to sight, as it kept moving in the sky and I wasn't adjusting for it correctly.  Overall, I learned that I have a long way to go in terms of sighting, but its pretty far down on my list of things to improve on.  I can't be a champion of everything!  The big hurdle was just the swimming part - so I'll take the successes when I can. 

Lastly - with all that swimming I felt pretty good for the 4 on the 4th race yesterday in Dedham.  It was pouring during the entire race but I ran OK, maybe a bit slow, but OK.  I met some fun people from The Parkway Running Club and we had a couple of beers (and a few laughs afterwards)  They were fast runners -  but seemed really welcoming  & now I'm thinking of joining.  The 4th was a blast at my sister-in-law Colleen's and I felt fine eating a football sized portion of potato salad - even though its not something I tend to eat anymore.  And I wore a bikini to the pool, which isn't something I felt confident enough to do in years past.  All this working out is really helping.   

I plan to go to Walden over the weekend and swim to Ice Fort Cove....that's 850 yards, so there and back will be just shy of a mile.    



  1. FANTASTIC! You're getting in some kick-ass training. That Sharon-Tri doesn't stand a chance.

  2. it felt really good to get it done! today was a long run....i felt good during, but not so great now!