March 22, 2015

This one time, at swim camp...

I have discovered the reason why hard-core athletes get so many injuries. It's the stumbling around in the dark. Do you know how dark it is at 6:00 a.m.? The truly hard-core have probably been on the bike trainer for an hour at that point. But for me, this is a totally uncivilized time of day to be doing anything. It seems even darker when that early morning is on a Sunday. On this particular Sunday, I had signed up for TechnoSport's swim camp and was scheduled to be on the pool deck downtown at 6:45. I jumped out of bed to the sound of my alarm and proceeded to stagger around getting dressed, bumping into just about everything as my brain took its time booting up.

I scarfed some oatmeal, threw a post-workout banana in my bag, and headed out into the dark. My water bottle skidded under the car as I was packing up, and I got some bonus road salt along with my first swig. Holy mother of God... the early hour and lack of light must be playing tricks on my mind, because I could swear it's like -20 out here. But it's March 22nd, so there's no way that could be right. Could it? As it turned out, four hours later on the now sunny return trip home, the radio announcer glumly reported a current temperature of -14, -24 with the wind chill. Someone please remind me why I live here.

Malevich's "Black Square" -- also known as "Early Morning Before Swim Camp"

I knew the camp was to take place at the Ottawa U pool. No problem, I know where Ottawa U is. At least, I know the several-block area that encompasses the campus. Trying to find the pool, however, was an exercise in frustration. Pulled over in the dark, arguing with Siri that there IS such a place as University of Ottawa, that the street I'm sitting on exists outside my imagination, and how the hell do I get to the pool... it was like a Hotel California of pedestrian walkways, construction areas, and one way streets going the wrong way. I rolled down my window and called over to a fellow walking with a bag -- "Hey, do you know how to get to the pool?" As it turned out he was looking for it too. I offered a ride, which meant now I was disoriented, in the dark, with a strange man in my car. But all's well that ends well, right?

The actual camp was great -- it included underwater video and body composition analysis along with the swim coaching. Apparently, I'm dropping my elbow and pulling too far to the side, especially with my right arm. The coaches emphasized long, reaching, slow strokes. This was a departure from what I was comfortable with, and I struggled a little to keep constant pressure on the water with such a slow turnover. The masters swimmers from the same club were in the other lanes while we did our clinic. They all looked so fast, and efficient. I tried to absorb as much information as I could, and make the most of the exercises we were given. At the very end of the clinic, I got the best compliment ever -- a lady from the masters practice said "nice stroke". I did one of those things where you look around to see who she was talking to... and beamed when I realized she was talking to me.

A giant salad spinner for swim suits, which I found in the locker room. Apparently these are a thing.

A benefit to the early start? The Elgin Street Diner still had plenty of good tables available at 9:00 when I got there. Turns out my server is an aspiring triathlete, and we volleyed a few lines back and forth from "Shit Triathletes Say." Quite entertaining, if you haven't seen it.

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