In Shape / It's Life

Chronicles of a Swimmer: Week 14

Blues Brothers Tribute Band. Complete with cop car!

Blues Brothers Tribute Band. Complete with cop car!

People watching while running is just the best. It makes runs so much more enjoyable. And if the people you are watching are also running, I find that you run faster as well. This weekend I stumbled upon the Houston Rhythm and Blues Half Marathon during my 8-mile run. The race was routed along Allen Parkway (and thus Buffalo Bayou aka my favorite place to run). And the people watching was just the best. I turned my headphones off for most of the run because there were live bands and stations set up every mile or so blasting music–hence the theme. Here are some exciting things I saw:

  • Two “rhythm and blues” bands complete with singer, keyboards, bass, and other instruments
  • A TX Blues Brothers tribute band (this was actually pretty cool)
  • A Bicycle World van blasting classic rock with one sole woman jamming out next to it.
  • Thirteen-year-old Kaytlynn Welsch just killing it. She ran the half marathon at a 7:10 pace and got 2nd place over all. RESPECT
  • A couple wearing superman socks with little red capes
  • A zombie chasing after little kids on the course….
  • A woman dressed in a pink bunny costume with a sign that said “hop to it bitches”
  • A sign that read “Run now. Wine later” (personal favorite)

So it’s about two weeks till race day for me. I’m getting a wee bit nervous. I have a calendar tapped on my wall with all my required runs and workouts.  Each day, I cross off a workout after I complete–or leave it blank if I skip it (haven’t missed a “rest” day yet!). It’s right there by my door, so I see it every time I walk in or out of my house. Positioned perfectly that I see it quite frequently and it serves as a reminder of what I need to do that day. My New Year’s Resolution was to stop skipping that third run of the week. And I’m proud to say I haven’t broken it once! This week I did all my required workouts, but I just can’t bring myself to cross them off yet. It’s getting eerily close to the real deal. And crossing them off gives a tangible visual to just how many boxes are left. And how many days closer the actual race is.

I’m weirdly feeling nervous for the race (or maybe that’s the coffee I’m currently drinking…). But also I used to get this feeling all the time before water polo games. The minute before jumping into the water before warm ups was always the worst. Those few moments when you’re prepping and putting on your cap and zipping up your suit (yes, in water polo your swim suit zips) are just so intense. But once I actually got into the water and started to swim the set that I had done a million times before I would begin to calm down, and then as I finished I would be fairly level headed and ready for the game.

As the title of these posts suggest, these are chronicles of my adventures in running as a swimmer. Although I may not have run as many miles as I have swam, I know physically I’m there and can complete the race. My main concern goes along with the old adage: it’s a marathon and not a sprint. Not only is water polo a sprinting sport (you generally swim no more than 20 yards at a time, but you do that a million times throughout the game) but I was often cast as the “sprinter” on my team. For those unfamiliar with the sport, at the beginning of a quarter the teams start on opposite sides of the pool, the ref blows the whistle and drops the ball into the water, and the two teams sprint for the ball. I would be the designated player on the end, whose goal is to sprint as fast as possible to the middle and flip the ball back to my team for the first possession (kind of like a tip-off in basketball). For basically my entire water-sport life, I have been trained for sprinting and not distance. So in addition to being on land (WHAT IS LAND?!), this running thing is also throwing me a curveball and making me rethink how I manage my energy as well.

halfmarathon not a sprint

All this nervous energy pulsing through my body combined with zillion other nervous bodies on race day is going to make me go crazy and want to sprint immediately. But I know that’s not the way to go. Studies have shown that if you do an all out sprint at the beginning, your performance is significantly lowered. My mantra from now until race-day is going to be: It’s a marathon and not a sprint. LITERALLY. I need to practice being patient between now and then, so I can maintain my pace that I’ve been so meticulously cultivating for the past 14 weeks. And take it literally one step at a time.

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