Thursday, January 10, 2013

Pool Time Continuum

For me swimming is like a dream, and by that I don't mean that it's "dreamy".  I mean that the passage of time in my head and the passage of time in the real world lose all connection to one another.  Have you ever had a long and involved dream, only to wake up and realize that in the real world your marathon dream lasted about 1 minute?  Well, that's what I'm talking about.  When I swim, my perception of real world time goes right out the window, which makes it really hard to remember if I'm on lap 3 or 4 16 or 17.  I know that I'm not alone in this regard as I've seen all sorts of tools and tricks designed to help with this.  One woman who swims at the same pool I do has a bin full of nasty green pennies that she moves from the bin to the lid and back as her workout progresses.  Another has some sort of lap counting device that she wears like a ring on one of her fingers (this was new to me so I had to Google it).  Personally, I splurged for a Garmin FR910XT which has an awesome pool swim feature that counts your laps.  The problem is I still need to keep track of laps or I risk quitting early, only to look at my watch and realize that I have another 50 100 left to swim.

Before I got the Garmin and even now I use a system that involves multiple steps/senses in an attempt to keep accurate track.  First, I don't count both walls, only my starting wall - for me this means I count 50s not 25s.  Second, I don't count with numbers, I count with body parts that I then touch or tap so I have a tactile reminder.  As an example, I tap my penis right-ear at the 100 mark, my right-eye at 200, my nose at 300, etc, working my way across my head until I'm finished or I'm starting over with right-eye.  You would think this would be enough, that I would be able to keep track of hundreds in my head, but it's not, so to help keep things straight, I touch my butt/leg on the 50s.  Of course this leads to strange internal conversations like, "was that lap nose, or was it nose-butt?" and sometimes it leads to gawking stares and comments from strangers like, "how come the guy in lane two keeps wiping his ass every 100 meters?".

With an excellent system like this, you would think that all miscounting has been eliminated, but of course it has not, which brings me back to the whole dream theme that I started with.  I can daydream a crazy, detailed and elaborate scenario over the course of half a lap (25 meters).  I can also concoct and revise an entire blog post over that same distance.  BUT, the second I start daydreaming or blogging, I end up asking myself the eye/eye-butt question.  I swear I'm probably the only person who can lose track of my lap count in the middle of a 100 EBEH, and yes, this has happened to me.

So you now know way too much about my little pea brain and the fact that I can get confused while counting to 4, or 16 or 40.  Let me know what you think or if you have any foolproof counting strategies that I can try.

Additional Note
After I wrote this post, but before I actually published it, I finally took the time to sort out the, newly updated, swim alert feature on my 910XT.  I had used it before, but it never worked very well since it would alert for 300m AFTER you pushed off the wall and started your way towards 350 and that was too confusing for me.  However, now the alert comes just before you touch the wall for 300 which is much more logical.  Last night I swam 2x1000 so I set the swim alert for 300m and I gave it up to Garmin.  After the third buzz/beep, I new that I had another 100 and I was done.  This worked like a charm, allowed me to daydream and not think at all about lap counts until the last 100.  Amazing thing technology.

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