I started my triathlon training Monday night. I'll be competing in an Olympic distance event in North Carolina in mid-June before shifting into a series of sprint-distance events throughout the summer. Swimming has always been the hardest part of my routine to get done. Last year I started on March 13. Outside. In my parents' pond. The pond part isn't so bad. It was dug by the crew that four-laned the highway near my parents' house so it's a long rectangle about 130 yards long with a clean bottom and no weeds or the like. It was stocked with catfish, but they leave you alone except when heavy droughts leave the water under-oxygenated and they swarm you for the O2 like the day I quit the swim team in middle school. (Our local pool had been condemned my last year on the team so we used the pond for practices.)
The problem is that the water was still pretty cold, even in south Georgia, that early in March. There were days when it was actually colder above water than under, too. Then, not long after I completed my first sprint triathlon, the pond dried up to the point I could no longer use it to swim. That was the last time I bothered getting in the water until this week. As passionate as I am about running and as much as I enjoy being on the bike, I'm still indifferent at best to swimming. The local pool (the one that replaced the one that replaced the one that was condemned when I was a kid) turns out to be heated and covered by an inflatable building and for a small monthly payment I get a key and basically get to use it whenever I feel like. That's good because the pond is still only ankle deep and only that deep because of a series of heavy rains that rolled through in the last couple of weeks. My shoulders were probably more tired after the back-to-back 800-yard workouts Monday and Tuesday than they would have had I been swimming all along, but I didn't struggle either.
I really hope that the fact that week 2 of the 100 Pushups program was harder the third time around than it was the second is because of the swimming. And yes, I really am stuck in the weakling column for week 2 for the third week in a row. I've mastered that week, but I can't get beyond 11 reps in a row on my exhaustion test for week three when I need 15. I'm adding to the reps now to help build myself up, but this week was a step back from the swimming's effects on my shoulders. Just getting that last, largest set each day was a challenge again.
Sadly, swimming won't help ease my tan lines this year either. That photo is basically what it looks like in the pool. The only lights come from below the water. Going into a workout at 3 p.m. in dusk-like conditions is kind of what I imagine a lot of the Iditarod would feel like, even though March isn't really all that dark up there.
I'm sure the dogs of the Iditarod could do more pushups than me, too. Those things are badass. They'll cover 40 miles of rough terrain while pulling a sled, often at average speeds that would put an Olympic marathoner to shame. I'm following the race again this year through the website. I didn't pay for any of the special features like GPS or video because my internet connection sucks, but I get a pretty good feel for the race from the standings page and the Anchorage Daily News' coverage, especially their ADN_Iditarod Twitter feed. Trent Herbst is my favorite, by the way. Mammoth beard and a teacher. It's like cheering for myself.