Going A Little Bit Longer

I swam 95 minutes straight today-somewhere around 5 to 6 km. A new personal time/distance milestone for continuous OW swimming. I started at about 8:00am. The sea was nearly glass smooth- we call it ‘flat as a bedsheet’ in Turkish. The weather was sunny, warm with drier air than the previous several days. I didn’t take the water temp because at this spot by the cliffs, the water is a mixture of cold-fresh water coming out from under the cliffs and sitting at the top, while the sun-warmed salty water lingers a few inches below. But when I got away from the cliffs it warmed up much more. In two more weeks the open sea will start feeling a bit on the warm side and not so pleasant for hard swimming- so I may need to then swim along the cliffs where I can find cooler surface layers to swim briskly in.

Today’s goal today was to simply expand my continuous distance and see how my body responded to it, then decide how much further I will try to go next week.

I started out easy, and within 6 minutes I had settled into a cruising pace that I had to focus to restrain a bit more than usual, keeping in mind how far I was going to go. Then I experimented with different tempos and SL over 250 stroke intervals to see how I could change gears while holding similar effort levels. I made it to my turn-around point at 45 minutes and only then noticed the current I had been swimming with. I must have slipped into it around the 15 minute mark. So I realized I would have add a little time going back although I expected to go at a faster pace. Sure enough, on the way back I was swimming into it, then hit a spot where the current started shifting to my side (where it was coming toward the shore then veering westward) and was pushing me toward the shore. But then I swam out of it and was in relatively still water for the final stretch.  It is satisfying to be come to this point of sensitivity even to the subtle changes in the sea current simply by feeling the way the water flows against my skin- I could tell I was being resisted at a new angle without any visual cues.

Although I performed my stretch and situp routine this morning I had some irritations all over my left side. The knot under my left shoulder blade tightened up- not as bad as before but still annoying. My left shoulder socket felt a little bursitis-like soreness in it, my elbow had a strange tendon-sore spot, and my left wrist was sore from some chronic ulner nerve sensitivity I have there (I only feel it on these OW swims- not in the pool).  So the first 30 minutes I was reviewing position and tuning in to how the joints were moving and tensing, looking for ways to tweak my stroke to relieve these points. But after 40 minutes they must have gone away, or got covered up by endorphines because I didn’t notice them so much anymore.

The last 30 minutes I was really cruising- it felt so good. I had a brisk, strong tempo, but one I feel I could have kept up for another km. When I stopped the only thing that hurt was my lower back from holding a slightly concave position that long- I am a sloucher- but it felt fine with a little stretching in the sun. I think I can do 120 minutes.

The knot I can work on. The shoulder soreness? I don’t feel it other times than during the beginning of these swims. But I am concerned about my wrist- I got ulner-nerve problems from tense hand work (hand-drafting and heavy construction labor) 15 years ago and have to be careful in certain activities- Rock climbing? No problem. Computer-mouse work? Be careful.  Why this flares up in OW but not in the pool I don’t know yet, but I will keep examining my form and tweaking it to see if I can eliminate the strain. I know a small irritation becomes a big chronic problem when subjected to a lot of repetition- like the 2000+ continuous strokes that wrist made today. I’ve had my share of over-training injuries way back in my fast and foolish youth.

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