I’m a member of the Calcutta Swimming Club (CSC) and one of the annual events here is the Swim-A-Mile competition held each year on 15th August, India’s Independence Day. Last year, I had wanted to participate in this competition and had trained for it too. Unfortunately, I’d fallen ill with only a couple of days to go and couldn’t participate. I was really disappointed then and kept telling myself that I would definitely make it next year.
And so, for a year I’ve waited for this day. I was so eager to participate that I had been particularly careful this last fortnight, taking care of what I eat and trying to make up whenever I felt I hadn’t slept enough. In fact, I slept for 10 hours for two consecutive nights leading up to the event to make sure I got ample rest.
Today morning, I woke up nice and fresh and ate a workout bar along with a cup of chai that Dad made. This was at 7:30 and the event was to begin at 9. Plenty of time. We reached just before time and I realised that fresh, on-the-spot registrations were being made, which essentially scrapped the registration made when I’d called earlier in the week. Nevertheless, I registered again and was allotted a time slot for 10:30. To ensure that I was alert and didn’t have a heavy stomach, I didn’t eat anything in the interim and just had half a cup of coffee.
I hit the pool at the appointed hour, having a couple of glasses of water just before I entered, to try and reduce the chances of cramps.
A note here: I had not trained for this event at all. Owing to a cocktail of circumstances, I haven’t been able to go to the club to swim these last couple of weeks. Neither have I been working out, which would’ve helped my shoulders. Plus, I suck when it comes to breathing while swimming free-style. So I knew I would be swimming breast-stroke, which is nice and easy. However, that takes up a lot of time and hence, the worry about cramps. The only training, if it can be called that, are the runs that I regularly go for (which is why this post is categorized under Running, in case you were wondering).
I plan to write a separate post about this, but when I run long-distances, I always struggle the first 4-5 kms. Only after a while am I able to tell myself “You’re ok, you’re good. You can do this.” This got repeated today too: I struggled from the second lap itself. I could feel my triceps were not as powerful as they needed to be and I felt like I was going to have to push through this mental barrier.
This particular challenge lasted for the next 5 laps. Once lap 7 got over, I told myself “You’re a quarter of the way there. You’re good, you can do this.” After that, it was smooth sailing. My speed was pretty ok, and just like while I’m running, I was alert to my thoughts and didn’t allow myself to get competitive with better, faster swimmers swimming in the adjoining lanes. “You are your own competition, and I’m already pretty bloody proud of you.”
Only in the last two laps did I finally begin to cramp. I finished the competition in 56 minutes 2 seconds, which meant that I hadn’t had any water in an hour. Still, pretty cool for having competed and finishing the challenge. Next year, I’ll target going freestyle for the entire distance and gun for better timing.