Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pool Stories 2 - The Big Show!

Monday saw our intrepid explorer (me!) travelling into another dimension - one of early morning hours and and inexplicably happy swimmers.

Wednesday involved different dimensions, decidedly larger ones.

Yes, that day would see me heading to the big show, the serious pool for serious swimmers, 50 metres of poker-face intensity, swim hard or go home - the Vancouver Aquatic Centre. This is where the serious swimmers go, I was a little nervous as I'd heard people could get impatient with slow pokes and I'm not the fastest swimmer out there (except at Percy Norman
Pool from 6:17-6:22 am).

The day started poorly and my original plans had to be put aside due to technical difficulties (i.e. hitting the snooze button too many times). The morning swim got shuffled to an afternoon swim, with grand plans to spin after.

When I arrived at 4:30 it was lap swimmers nirvana. There were four 50m lanes: slow, medium, medium (although presumably a faster medium) and fast. FOUR LANES! I'm sure I heard angels singing when I saw this.

I jumped in and it was glorious. Five or six folks in my lane, all a little slower than me but I timed my intervals to avoid them and it worked well.

Then lane four was closed and those folks pushed into my lane. No worries! They should all be ahead of me so no problems. A little tight for space but all good.

About 400m later I finished my length to the site of a "Lane Closed" sign. Now we had to shuffle into lane two, about 20 people doing 20 different paces. Suddenly it got annoying. Especially as I was doing a pyramid (100, 200, 300, 400, 300, 200, 100 - my fallback mainset when I have no real plan for a swim) and was about to do the longest sets.

I survived, and realized that after being afraid of cranky faster swimmers that that turned out to be me (I'm sure there's some new age-y conclusion I could reach about becoming what you fear). Instead of being annoyed, I mostly managed to treat is as training for crowded tri's and that I was adding mini-sprints every time I passed someone. At the end of the workout I was in a good mood and had not attempted to use any pool toys as a weapon, generally the sign of a good swim.

Various observations from my swim:

  • At masters I am a slower swimmer, in tri's I'm mediocre but in rec centre lap swims I am apparently a speedster. There is no glory to being the fast swimmer in a crowded lane, just a fair amount of frustration.
  • VAC is not home exclusively to elite, super-fast swimmers. Or at least they don't do the Wednesday afternoon lap swim.
  • The wall is my friend - compared to a 25m pool, when swimming 50 meters my stroke count was embarrassingly high while my 100m times slowed by 5-10 seconds.
  • Getting lost in a change room is really distressing. And sort of embarassing to admit to.

If I manage to conquer the snooze button tomorrow morning should be the sequel - "Big Show 2 - Swimming at Sunrise!"

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I'm taking a break from the photo challenge. It became work and stress and something I couldn't deal with so I'm on hiatus for March.

Spring pretty much always brings me down. I can't remember a year when I approached my birthday (April 1 - please mark your calendars) in a good mood. It's not that I mind birthdays or getting older, half the time I can't remember my age anyway, it's just the time of year. Maybe allergies are to blame - lack of sleep and oxygen can definitely get in the way of joie de vivre. Perhaps my version of Spring renewal is more like a really painful case of pins and needles in your arm as sensation returns after you fall asleep on the couch in an odd position. Or maybe I just don't like March? It certainly doesn't seem to like me.

Regardless of the cause, the effect is that I'm easily overwhelmed and pretty low in terms of energy and attitude. In order to keep both my sanity and my friends (been a wee bit cranky lately) I'm simplifying - no photo challenge, doing workouts at home when I can rather than trecking out to join the group or skipping workouts entirely in order to cook a decent dinner.

We hope to return to regular programming in April.

Pool Stories 1 - The Twilight Zone

My pool (YWCA downtown) is closed for three months so I’m experimenting with finding another pool that’s convenient. A little frustrating to deal with mid-season, but I’ve decided I’m taking a tour of the Vancouver Rec Centres.

First Stop – The Twilight Zone
On Monday, my first YWCA-less day. That morning it seemed I was traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, Percy Norman Pool!

The pool opened at 6:15 and, as usual, I messed up my bus timing and got there ridiculously early. Walking in I was dismayed to see a crowd already waiting. Even more dismaying, none of them looked like speedy swimmers. I seemd to have hit the seniors swim and was upset that I’d likely spend my entire time stuck behind geriatric breast strokers.

As I was thinking these thoughts, I noticed something weird. Seriously weird. These people were happy. Cheerful. Smiling. Chatty. They seemed to know each other well and all said good morning (in one of at least three languages). When the staff member showed up they asked about her vacation and teased her about her tan.

In the change room there was no glowering over bench space, people moved aside to let me in and smiled. Smiled! Did I mention it was 6:15? In the morning?

On deck it got even stranger. While I was looking for somewhere to drop my towel the lifeguard approached and asked if I was new to the pool. She gave me the goods on everything (dive tank, slow to fast lanes, no flags so be careful with backstroke) and told me to come to her if I had any issues or questions. Proactive lifeguards - what universe is this?

The lanes weren’t as slow as I expected but I was still continuously passing all but one person in the fast lane. However, there was plenty of space to pass and the slow swimmers would stop at the wall and let me by, even the men (at the YWCA, a woman passing a male swimmer is generally viewed as an attack on his virility).

I couldn't get in as long as swim as I would have liked as I had to get to work (couldn't they just pay me for not showing up??), less than an hour of swim time but about an hour of commuting doesn't quite add up to a good morning workout location. Hopefully when the new pool opens someone will start a masters class that begins earlier in the day.

My conclusion: a pool full of happy, chatty, cheerful swimmers and staff early in the morning – quite possibly the strangest swimming experience I’ve ever had. Not sure if I'll back before the new pool opens, however, as the location unfortunately doesn't quite work.

Next up - Vancouver Aquatic Centre.

Monday, March 08, 2010

The week in review

"Week in review" sounds much better than "I'm totally behind on posting."

I blame drugs and alcohol!

Robaxicet on Wednesday, and no photo that day. I put my back out changing my bike brakes the previous Sunday and that threw me off from workouts and life in general for the week. The back is mostly better but I'm still babying it a bit.

I did get in a good ride out to Iona with the crew on Saturday and the back didn't protest until right near the end. I did my first post-bike run of the year regardless of the back.

Vast amounts of Malbec on Saturday night made for a fun evening but I forgot about getting in even a last minute shot. The Malbec also made for a painful start to my Sunday a.m. swim. The upside was that the workout would have been hell regardless (all out sprints interspersed with core work) so I got all the pain out of the way at the same time. By the time we ran I was feeling vaguely human and knocked out 1:20 reasonably easily.

And then the allergies kicked in Sunday afternoon:

Defunct playground equipment by Lord Byng Pool. sort of how I felt during the swim!
Rainbow seen in the a.m.
Cherry trees on the banks of the Fraser. I forgot my camera but the light was so fabulous I took the shot with my phone. It didn't turn out half bad.

Monday, March 01, 2010


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