I tried two new workouts back-to-back, and to be honest, I’m still a little sore.
1) Ocean Swimming! Ever since I committed myself to a charity swimming event in the Pacific Ocean (a commitment that still sends shudders down my spine), I’ve been tackling my pre-race checklist:
- Registration completed? Check.
- Wetsuit purchased? Check. (Wanna see me in a wetsuit? You know you do. Click here.)
- Keep up training by swimming laps in a pool? Check.
- Try swimming in the ocean? As of a few days ago… CHECK!
If I had to sum up my first ocean workout in one word, It’d be…
FREEZING. Holy hell, the ocean is cold! I’m thankful I had the wetsuit, because it helped, but it was still cold.
I picked Will Rogers State Beach in the Pacific Palisades as the location for my workout. I looped my car key through the strap of my goggles and left everything else in the car: my clothes, my shoes, my towel, my camera (so don’t expect any pictures) – everything. After locking my car, I was able to walk directly into the water.
Before going further, let me try to reassure anyone that might be concerned for my safety. I picked a stretch of ocean between a manned lifeguard station and a summer day camp where there were dozens of kids learning to surf. I was there by myself, but I wasn’t alone. While the course for the race heads straight out into the ocean .6 miles and back, I opted to swim back and forth along a 100-yard stretch of coast. I was never more than around 40 yards from land and never in water I couldn’t stand up in. I considered wearing a cross around my neck, so I could stab any frisky sharks in the eyeball (a la LL Cool J in my favorite terribly excellent shark movie, Deep Blue Sea), but then I read this article which says that you’re more likely to die building a sand castle or getting a soda from a vending machine than you are from a shark attack. So… no need for that cross necklace.
I took my time acclimating to the frigid water, and quickly learned that it’s smart to keep moving. All in all, it wasn’t a super-intensive workout – I went up and down the coast a bunch of times, and even though I have no way of knowing, I’d guess I swam less than 1,000 yards. And that’s fine. My goal wasn’t to push myself to the extreme – it was to get a feel for the wetsuit, the currents, the waves, and the murky brown water. I learned I have really good luck when it comes to taking a breath right when a wave is crashing into my mouth. I learned that it’s really easy to get pushed around by the water. I learned that I get startled way too easily by clumps of seaweed that suddenly appear right in front of my face.
In total, I spent close to 50 minutes away from my car. Subtract walking time and water acclimation time, and I’d say I spent 25-30 minutes in the water. I’m glad I went, because now I have a better sense of what to expect during the actual event in August. My training goal is to make it to the pool once a week until the event, but I may not actually train anymore in the ocean. We’ll see. Part of me wants to experience everything on the day of the event through fresh eyes. Plus, ocean swimming requires about 90 minutes of commuting time, so I won’t be able to do it weekdays (thanks to my new job), and weekends at the beach during the summer are a freakin’ mad house.
Oh, and when I got home, I hopped on the elliptical in my building’s gym for 30 minutes to supplement my day’s workout.
2) Cardio Barre. Last weekend I saw my friends Maggie and Mat, and Maggie mentioned that she’s been taking Cardio Barre classes. I jumped at the chance to join her for a class.
Cardio Barre is a ballet-based group fitness class. Everyone is stationed at ballet barres, and it combines barre work with cardio and light weights. The website says you can “get a dancer’s body with no dance experience,” although I’d say having a little dance experience (or, at minimum, knowledge) would be a good foundation.
The class moves very quickly – lots of quick moves timed to dance music, with quick transitions. Our instructor, Laura, talked a lot and moved around the room, and since I don’t really know the basic ballet positions or what it means to, say, releve, I found that the only way to keep up was to watch the women around me, which I did throughout the class. Oh, did I mention I was the only guy there? Yep, just me doing a ton of leg lifts in a room with 25 women!
It was a pretty good workout – I especially felt it in my thighs and core (and I felt it the next day, too). I know I’d become more comfortable with the moves if I go more often, but I’m not sure it’s my cup of tea. I don’t have plans at the moment to take another class, but I don’t think I’d rule it out.
Still – two new workouts in two days?
Keep it up, David!