Thursday, March 31, 2011

Three things Thursday

1. Back into the swing of things!

I am feeling good about my fitness level and ability again. It's amazing how short a time it takes for you to start doubting it. A week off due to illness after a few weeks of poor quality workouts due to illness and I had started wondering whether I even had it in me anymore. The answer? Most certainly! I'm back to regular running, and I'm making great strides in improving my swim. My weak point? Well, that's number 2...

2. I am once again neglecting my bike

In getting back into training, I've been focusing on 2 areas. My run because I have my half marathon coming up, and my swim because my technique needs so very much improvement. My poor lonely bike has been sitting neglected. I know that the bike is actually the biggest part of the triathlon. So, I certainly can't keep leaving her alone. Having said that, I'm optimistic that Bella (my road bike) will very soon be able to get outside. Heidi (the hybrid) may be hitting the trails as early as next week - if we don't get too much snow this weekend, but that's number 3...

3. In like a lion, out like a lamb

The month of March has certainly been following that pattern this year. I can't complain about the weather this week. It's been beautiful and I've got a few runs in, some walks with the kids and a trip to the zoo. Having said that, this weekend, mother nature is apparently going to teach us that it can still snow in April. There's supposed to be 15-20 cm (6-8 inches) of the white stuff on Saturday. On the plus side, we're still supposed to get temperatures on the plus side of freezing. So, there is a reasonable hope that the snow won't last too long this time.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A wet run - but no complaining!

Today I did my long run. Usually it's something I do on the weekend, but I just couldn't bring myself to confront what the weather website referred to as "freezing drizzle". Truthfully the temperature was much warmer then many days I've ran through the winter, but I'm just plain done with winter. The weather today was warming up and I planned to take advantage of it.

My husband is fabulous, and came home a bit early so I had time. Plus, it's light late enough now to make evening runs a very real possibility. I got dressed (a bit overdressed really), put my garmin on, and hit the trails.

On the plan for today was 16 km (10mi). I started off with the easy paved section by my house. There's about one km of gradual uphill, but then it's the gradual down. I really enjoy it as my warm up section. Plus, it's along the river and at the end of the path I get a view of the mountains. A lovely reward. I did that little section, then up a big hill. Then on to the sections of path that are red shale, rather then asphalt...

Splish splash! Almost immediately, I stepped into what I thought was snow but was really very wet slush. Within seconds, my feet were soaked. I kept running, but started stepping a little more carefully. It really made no difference though. Every dozen steps or so, I'd hit a big puddle and soak myself again.

I carried on, did a section with sidewalk and then back to a section of Cochrane's pathways. SO wet and snowy and slushy. Even worse then the first area. My feet had just started to feel less water-logged and I soaked them again. I carried on for a bit until I reached a point where I could detour to a sidewalk.

I finished my run on the sidewalks, up and down a few hills, in the sunshine and warm weather. My jacket was tied around my waist; it was way to warm to actually wear it. Truthfully, I think I could have been running in shorts rather then the tights I had on.

This run was a struggle. It's been a few weeks since I've gotten my long run in and it was starting to worry me. Between sicknesses and my race, I'd missed a few. This run was a good reminder of what it feels like to run those distances. After a while I get into a rhythm, but even so, there are days where I have to push myself to keep going.

Despite the struggle though, this was my "welcome spring!" run. It felt great, and I'm happy to lose the gloves, toques and face masks.

The wetness wasn't great for my feet though. I have a couple little blisters that I don't usually get with that choice of sock. They aren't that bad, so I'm sure they'll clear up quickly - this time. What do you do to avoid blisters when your feet are wet during the run?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

It's not about discipline

I ran into a friend at the pool last night. She was leaving the family swim while I arrived for lane swim. She commented on how disciplined I am with my training.

I get comments like this fairly often. I live in a town, so it's not uncommon for me to run into friends while out for a run, at the pool or on those occasions where I think I can quickly pop into the grocery store while all sweaty after a run. (Hint: if you live in a small town, you'll always run into someone you know if you go to the grocery store without showering.) I also am very public about the existence of my blog, so most people that know me know that I am pretty "dedicated".

Here's the thing though: It has nothing to do with discipline. It's not about dedication or determination. It's about making a simple decision and following through with it.

It's easy for me. I had one of those "aha moments". I reached a point where my obesity and sedentary lifestyle were seriously affecting the quality of my life. So returning to a sedentary lifestyle simply isn't an option. I am a different person then I was a year and a half ago. I am a better person. I like myself more; I am happier; I am healthier.

It's about losing the "if" mentality and adopting the "when" mentality. I'm not going to claim I'm perfect. In fact, just today, I wimped out on my run because I didn't feel like dealing with the temperature and the "freezing drizzle". When I make decisions like this, I always consider the "when". If I can't workout right now, when will I? If I'm skipping a run, when will I make it up? If I feel like death for a week because I'm sick (which was the case recently), when am I going to be able to get back at it?

It's like brushing your teeth. Nobody needs to tell you that it's a good idea. If something gets in the way of your routine and you don't brush them at your usual time, it's not a question of "if" you'll brush them later. It's "when" you'll get to. You know that you are going to do it again and get back to it.

That is where my mindset comes from when it comes to my workout and training. It is one of those things that needs to be a part of my life. I do it because I need to, because I want to, and because it's part of who I am.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A conversation from the dollhouse

First of all, a little background. In order to fully get this, you have to understand that the dolls in Sweetpea's dollhouse *are* us. As she often informs me the mommy doll is me, and the big girl doll is her.

Sweetpea: (sound of doll running around, ticka ticka...) Me Sweetpea, me Sweetpea! Hi Mommy!

Mommy: I going to go for a run now. (ticka, ticka..)

Sweetpea: You a good runner Mommy. You a superstar!

Mommy: Yeah...

Sweetpea: I a good runner too! I superfast. (ticka, ticka...) Me go potty now!

Yes folks, even at the tender age of 2.5, Sweetpea understands that running often makes you have to poo...

Do to the content of this post, I really need to dedicate it to Beth at SUAR.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Three things Thursday

1. I signed up for the bike maintenance course!

Truthfully, I can't say it will put me that far out of my comfort zone anymore, because Jen and Nicole signed up for it with me. I'm good with that though. I can go outside of my comfort zone by swimming in open water sometime. I'm happy with feeling comfortable taking a class I need, with a couple of awesome buddies.

2. I went to McDonald's today

It wasn't planned. I was going to do lunch at a local cafe with a couple friends, but when we walked in, it was PACKED. Since we had 6 children between the three of us, we couldn't just squeeze into a corner, so we ended up walking down the street to the local McDonalds.

I have to say, I was so unimpressed. It's been a long time since I've been there. First of all, they don't even display the majority of their menu. What's the deal with that? Do they make an assumption that everyone has it memorized? Their french fries were super heavily salted. Their "grilled cheese" is disgusting. My kids like grilled cheese, but I make it with real cheese and actual bread. At McDonald's it's just a bit of melted, processed cheese between two pieces of tasteless bun. I could go on, like mentioning how incredibly dirty the the play area was, but I'm done.

I know this may sound really judgy, and I don't mean it that way. Fast food has it's place and I truly think that for most people, it's fine in limited quantities. Has McDonald's just grown too big for it's britches though? Have they sacrificed the last vestiges of quality and service because people have just made it a habit to go there?

3. My run yesterday was a trudge

Some days you have great runs, others not so much. I was running at the track and hadn't been able to talk any of my running buddies into coming with me. I only intended to do 6km, so it should have been easy. I can actually get decent speed most of the time when I do shorter distances now. Lap after lap, I was going so slow. And, it was just hard to keep going. I felt like I could have gone faster speed walking.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Happy Spring!

I've been reading blog posts lately about how some of you are getting out on your bikes. I'm jealous, but I am taking it as a sign that spring is coming - to some parts of the world at least.

Yes, that's right. It's spring now. The first day was Sunday.

This is the view from my back door today. It's spring alright.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I'm back!

For real this time. I'm feeling strong and motivated. Not quite healthy, but not too far from it either.

Yesterday, I spent the day flip flopping on whether I should go to my swim program.

I had a headache that that wouldn't go away, and I still got out of breath walking up and down my stairs. Perhaps I shouldn't go. Perhaps I needed more rest and it would be better to give it a day or two...

On the other hand, I am getting so much out of this program. Even if I my energy was still low, surely I could still benefit from the technique refinement. And I was starting to feel like a giant lump. I needed to do something and swimming was probably a good choice for getting back to it...

But, maybe I keep getting sick because I'm not letting myself fully recover? What if I am stuffy in the water and can't breath? Not a good place to be unable to breath...

I paid for this course, darn it! I don't waste money like that. And I was feeling better, at least somewhat. I don't think I've ever regretted a workout. If it was truly bad and I honestly felt horrible, I could always bail halfway through.

So, I went.

And like usual, something clicked for me. We were doing some one armed drills that made me feel like I might just drown. Then back to the swim. And I felt different somehow in the water. I felt faster. On a whim, I timed myself on my way back. I swam 25 meters back down the pool in 30 seconds. To some of you, that may not be fast, but let me just say that the fastest I have ever timed myself doing 25 meters was 30 seconds, and that was at a full out sprint. This time, I was just going at a moderate, sustainable pace. So, despite my recent whining about swimming better, but not faster, I may have actually made some headway on speed too.

The best part of the whole night was how good I felt afterward. I had found the workout hard, but it had given me that great feeling of euphoria that I get after a really good workout. It reminded me of why I am doing this and that I want to do it more.

Sometimes it is hard to decide when to get back to things after being sick. I think the most important part of that decision is the decision to get back to it. Having said that, I'm glad I made the decision when I did.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Going outside your comfort zone

So, I've decided that I need to learn how to maintain my own bike. At least for the basic stuff. I've got a year of free service, and then I'd like to learn some of the less basic stuff as well.

Lots of bike shops in Calgary run classes, but they're basically only over the winter and won't be offered again until the fall - when their mechanics are less busy. The university however, does offer a class that still runs this time of year.

My hold back? I'm convinced I'll be the only person in the class that is: A - female and B - over the age of 22. Chances are also good that it will be taught by somebody approximately half my age. Maybe I'll be really lucky and it will be a former student of mine... (I run into those on a semi-regular basis. The last time it was a pharmacist that was filling my son's prescription. Weird...)

Ridiculous really.

There is no good reason to avoid taking the class for any of these reasons. I just think I might be somewhat uncomfortable. Then again, I've always been happy to learn something from somebody able to teach it.

And sure, I could also learn this stuff from a book, but if I'm going to start tinkering around with my very expensive and pretty road bike, I'd like somebody there to reassure me that I'm not breaking it.

I guess that means I'm signing up for the class.

When is the last time you went outside your comfort zone?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

My mind is ahead of my body...

...and I think it's a good thing.

The last couple months, I've been almost constantly sick. It's been hitting me hard, both mentally and physically. I've been feeling lethargic and tired so often, even in the brief spaces between illnesses.

Today, I am wanting to get out there and be active, but I know I can't yet. I'm pretty much exhausted by walking across my house. It probably doesn't help that my stomach still feels off and I'm not eating much. The run that I had hoped for today isn't likely to happen.

But the thing is, I feel like I'm getting my motivation back. I'm getting excited about being able to run, bike and swim. I've been having a hard time pushing myself lately and going through the motions. Now, I feel like I have to hold myself back - but just for a little bit longer.

I have my drive back and I'm not going to waste it.

Now, if I can just avoid any more colds and flus and gastro bugs...

Friday, March 18, 2011

It's a good thing I was ahead on my training...

...because I just seem to be getting sick time after time after time.

I thought I was going to build up to 24 or 25 km (15 - 15.5 mi) prior to my half marathon. Now, I have already run 18km (11.2mi) a few times, but I fear I won't get my mileage much beyond that. It may end up being an accomplishment if I can even get back up to it...

What I thought was *just* a cold seems to be more then that.

It hit me hard shortly before lunch. Right now, I feel like I could collapse at any moment. In fact, I've spent the last couple hours in a somewhat collapsed stage. I've been laying in my bed while my kids play suprisingly well. I can barely get them fed, let alone do anything entertaining or fun with them.

Yeah, cheese, crackers and banana for lunch. Not exactly winning any mommy awards with that one.

Running? Yeah, definitely not happening today. I better be feeling a lot better if I'm going to manage a long run before the weekend's out.

Best laid plans...

A month ago, I probably could have run a half marathon. I only hope I can get myself back to that state in another month.

Seriously, what are your immune boosters? I know the handwashing one. But what else do you do to avoid getting sick? (Shipping off the 2.5 and 4 year old plague carriers is not an option.)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Deb's ABCs

This has been going around on the blogosphere for a while. You might say that I'm jumping on the bandwagon, but really the bandwagon came by ages ago, so I'm just running behind it. Never hurts to get an extra run in, right?

(A) Age: 33 - Though I keep thinking I'm 32 and have a sudden realization that I'm not anymore.

(B) Bed Size: Queen. We recently bought a new bed. Although we were very tempted to upgrade, we decided that we'd stick with the Queen. Besides, our kids don't sleep in our bed anymore. It would have been really tempting when they were.

(C) Chore You Hate: Cleaning the tub.

(D) Dogs?: Not likely. I'd love to have a dog to run with, but I don't want another being dependent on me right now. I'm good with my two children and am enjoying the fact that they are getting a little older. Getting a dog would be a return to sleepless nights and copious amounts of poo.

(E) Essential Start Your Day Item: Breakfast. I am not a breakfast skipper and never will be. If I don't eat shortly after getting up, you don't want to be around me.

(F) Favorite Color: Aqua. It was red up until recently, but I've changed.

(G) Gold or Silver? Jewelry and me don't get along well. For appearance, I prefer white gold or silver, but I'm allergic to my wedding ring (white gold). I've even had reactions to sterling silver, which isn't supposed to happen.

(H) Height: 5'11

(I) Instruments You Play: I used to play the flute, and kind of played the guitar.

(J) Job Title: Mom.

(K) Kids: Spud, 4 year old boy and Sweetpea, 2.5 year old girl.

(L) Live: Cochrane, AB - close to the mountains.

(M) Mom's Name: Janet.

(N) Nicknames: Deb is my nickname, as my full name is actually Deborah. Superstar.

(O) Overnight Hospital Stays? Gall bladder removal and both children.

(P) Pet Peeve: People who block aisles in the grocery store.

(Q) Quote from a Movie: I don't remember movies that well.

(R) Right or Left Handed? Right.

(S) Siblings: Older brother Ray, younger sister Gin. Yes, I am the middle child, which means I can lay claim to being the screwed up one in the family.

(T) Time You Wake Up? Depends on the kids. On a normal day, usually between 6:30 and 7:30. Can be easily be as early as 5:00 or, on the rare occasion, as late as 8:30.

(U) Underwear: Yes.

(V) Vegetable You Dislike: I like almost any vegetable, but I'm not a huge fan of radishes.

(W) What Makes You Run Late: Children.

(X) X-Rays You've Had Done: Teeth, chest, spine. Maybe others, but I don't think so. I've never broken a bone.

(Y) Yummy Food You Make: I make good pies, but I also make a killer butternut squash soup.

(Z) Zoo, Favorite Animal: Otters. They are so fun to watch.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A new name, The same focus

So, after debating a name change for months, I've finally done it. For the time being, I'm keeping my url. After all, I just topped the 100 follower mark, and I don't want anyone misdirected and going to the wrong place.

It's been a long time since the primary focus of my blog has been shrinking, so "Deb Shrinks" just wasn't working anymore. I've changed the name to "Deb Tris". If you do triathlons, you probably have figured it out, but if anyone is confused, the "tris" rhymes with "buys". It does not rhyme with "kiss".

I say it's the same focus, because I think that's been my real focus for close to half a year. Truthfully, I've even noticed my readership changing. Some of you know me in real life and love me and read my blog because of that. The online community I belong to isn't the same one it was when I started. I used to be immersed in the weight loss blogosphere, but I've largely moved over to the running and tri blogospheres.

Yesterday, my husband came home from work and I headed out the door for a run. Just a short 3km jaunt. I've heard lots of complaining about the time change. I have kids who haven't totally adjusted to it, so I get it. Having said that, I love the fact that there is now daylight in the evening that I can make use of. This time of the year, it's dark at the time in the morning when I could run regardless, so I'm taking advantage of some of this evening light.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Happy Birthday Spud!

It has been over 4 years now since I became a mother to my first born, Spud. This weekend we had a small party to celebrate as well as an afternoon out in the mountains.

Happy Birthday my big boy!

(Truthfully, the birthday was over a week ago, but we just had our celebration this weekend due to Sweetpea being sick last weekend.)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Quick results

So, the quick and dirty account of today's 10k race.

1. I rolled with the punches and and didn't get worked up about things out of my control. Truthfully, this was a well organized race, and there weren't too many things to get worked up about. Parking was a bit of a gong show, but I still found a spot only 2 blocks away. I got there 15 minutes early and spent 10 minutes waiting for the bathroom, but I knew I had the time. Fortunately, some 5k racers let me go ahead of them in line, so I got through quickly (their race started 15 minutes later.)

2. I succeeded in pacing myself well. I did line up far too close to the front, so I was tested right away when everyone around me was going much faster. I kept to my pace though, which was slightly faster then I had planned but was still a pace that I basically stayed at for the whole race - up until the last couple kilometers.

3. I pushed myself hard and finished strong. I ran that 10k faster then I have ever run before. My final km was the fastest I have ever run a full kilometer. I felt like I was going to puke when I crossed the finish line and I had almost nothing left in my tank. A few minutes later though, I felt amazing.

My time? As I mentioned before, I wasn't setting a specific goal. However, thinking optimistically, I expected that I'd likely be able to complete it in 1:02. I finished in:

This is my chip time

Now, I'm going to admit that there is a little bit of bittersweetness to this time. Like the fact that I was TWELVE SECONDS away from breaking the 1 hour mark. Yet, if I consider the race as a whole, I can't think of a single kilometer I ran that I could have run harder. I will break that one hour mark; it just wasn't on this race.

Having said that, I achieved a personal best with a margin of 6 minutes, 16 seconds. That's pretty darn sweet.

A full race report will come later!

Race day - dreaming...

It's race day today. As I mentioned in my last post, I have set goals that I hope will carry me through the race. It doesn't include a time goal, but I'd be lying if I didn't have something in mind. I'm just trying not to get too tied to it.

I checked out the race map and elevation profile yesterday evening. It looks like the first 4.5 km is a gradual downhill followed by about a km of up and down; then the last 4.5 km is a gradual uphill.

I'm glad I checked it, because now I know what to expect. It means that my thought of negative splitting seems less likely, and I'll likely let my pace be quicker then I otherwise intended for the first half. It's mostly a gradual slope though, so I'm not too worried about it, and I'll take it as it comes.

I had a pre-race dream last night. In it somebody stole my bike pedals and cleats (not the entire bike shoe, just the cleats). When I got to transition, I wasn't able to carry on, and after wandering around looking for them, I had to DNF (did not finish).

Now, since this is a running race rather then a triathlon, I'm all good. But, I just want to let any nefarious people know: stay away from my bike!

My number for this race is 230. I've tried to find some meaning in that, but I'm having trouble. If this was 2 weeks ago, I could have said that it represents that I'm mother to a two year old and a three year old, but the three year old is now four. Regardless, it's a nice low number.

I tried to get a good picture with my race shirt and number, but I looked like a dork in all of them. I considered just not posting it, but I've kind of made it a tradition, so here it is:

See you on the other side of the race!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Setting goals, without setting yourself up for disappointment

My next race is coming up on Saturday. This will be my fourth race. So far, I've done 2 5k races and 1 10k race. This will be my second 10k race.

My first and second race were amazing. It was my first time for each distance and my main goal for each of them was to finish. The experiences were full of victory and accomplishment, the overcoming of barriers and achieving something that I never thought possible.

My third race was frustrating and disappointing. I don't look back on it with good feelings. The reasons? The congestion at the start line, my poor pacing, the confusion of where the start line actually was, the short course. Looking at those reasons though, there was only one of those items that was in my control. Yet, at the time, I let myself get worked up and stressed about it all, which surely didn't help my performance.

So, looking at my goals for this next race there's a few criteria I need to consider. I need to keep my goals realistic. I also need to keep them flexible. If race day logistics aren't what are expected, I'll adjust my goals.

When I first signed up for this race, it was with the thought that I might be able to achieve a sub-60 minute time. I am now reconsidering that.

I am still a very new runner. I've been running for less then a year, and have only done a few races. I do very little speed work, focusing instead on building my running volume.

I also haven't really trained for this race. That's not to say that I haven't been running. I have. But, I've been training for a half marathon. My long runs are up to 16-18km and are long and slow. I usually do three shorter runs a week in the 6-8km range. As I get close to this 10km race, I'm realizing it isn't really a distance I feel prepared for. I know I can go faster then I run at almost twice the distance, yet it's not such a short distance that I can get away with going too fast and pacing poorly.

For all of these reasons, my goals for this race are not really time based. My goals are:

1. Control what I can and let go of what I can't.

This means that I'll arrive early to find parking, but I won't start freaking out if it's really busy. I'll try to line up in an appropriate spot for the speed I plan to run, but if I get stuck in a crowd and have to go slower at first, I'll accept that and pick up the speed when I can. If the course is long or short, that's life. I'll run it and finish it.

2. Pace myself well

It's easy to let race day adrenaline carry you away at the starting line. In my last race, I also got caught up in trying to "make up time" after a congested first kilometer. This time, I intend to find a pace that pushes me, but is sustainable, and then hold that pace when I can. I do have an approximate pace in mind, but I'm going to play it partly by ear as well, depending on how I am feeling.

3. Push myself and finish strong

While I'm looking to find a sustainable pace, I'm also shooting for one that challenges me. I want to finish this race feeling like I gave it my all and I pushed myself as hard as I can.

Right now, my races should be about the execution, not the time. Once I have more experience, and I consistently execute well, I can start shooting for time goals and personal bests. I truly believe that this approach will yield some personal bests regardless, but I want to finish races feeling good about how I ran the race, rather then then just the time I get.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. In like a lion...

So far, March has not started off nicely in the weather department. All the other Calgary area bloggers are whining about it too, so I'm not alone. Somehow, I find it much harder to deal with now then I did at the beginning of winter. Back then I had an attitude that I better suck it up. Now, I am so done with it and I just want warmer temperatures to start coming. I'd settle for -10 (including windchill). That's a nice comfortable temperature to run in. But, by April, I expect a chance to take my bike off the trainer and on to the roads...

2. I reported the dog that harassed me on Sunday

Initially I wasn't going to. I'm not trying to get somebody in trouble. But, this is a public road and an extremely popular running route in town. Even if I may never be brave enough to run it alone again, other people surely will. The owners of the property need to know what their dog is doing and they need to make sure it doesn't again. I'm told that they generally just give people a warning unless they act aggressively or are rude to the bylaw officers.

3. I know I'm swimming better...

...but I'm not going much faster. I timed myself on 500 metres last night and it took me 14 minutes. That's the same speed I've been able to do it for the last couple months. My body position is better; my roll is better; my catch is better; I know my technique is better. Why isn't it translating into speed?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


I can't say enough good things about the swim program I'm currently in. I am learning so much and can really feel the difference in my technique.

I can't say that I always enjoy it. I think I complain (at least in my head) pretty much every time Angie makes us do kick sets. Even if I feel like I actually know how to kick now, I still hate just kicking. I move so slowly I feel like I'm going backwards. But, I do them, and I even do them when I swim on my own because I'm convinced that it is good for me.

Another thing I don't like much: skulling. It was taught to me in my last adult swim class and I had an even more negative attitude to it then kicking. Not only do I feel like I'm not moving, but from my perspective, it was a completely unnecessary skill to learn in order to swim in triathlons.

The first thing I asked was "why?" What's the purpose of it? It's a question that made teachers in high school love or hate me. I always needed to know why and some teachers hated that. Others appreciated my curiosity. In this case, I wanted the why even moreso because I needed some motivation to actually do this activity. Fortunately, Angie is the type of coach that is happy to answer the why.

To get a feel for the water.

I started doing the skulling. Now, if a length of the pool seemed a long ways when kicking, it seemed that much longer while skulling. It's something I didn't really *get* when I took the last swimming lesson and so I never bothered to do again. I moved my hands back and forth in the figure eight like we were told to do. On the way back, Angie stopped by to give me feedback and encouragement. I told her it felt clumsy and awkward and she told me it looked that way too.

I swam a length and then back to the skulling. And something happened. Rather then just moving my hands in the motion described, I started actual feeling how my hands and arms interacted with the water. How changing the angle of my wrist made me move more; how having my hand one way created resistance and slowed me down...

Don't get me wrong; I still moved like a snail, but at least I was moving. Plus, I actually seemed to be getting the purpose of it. Because, I was feeling the water; I was feeling the effect that my motions had on it.

As I got close to the end of the pool, I vaguely (my head was underwater, so sound was rather muffled) heard Angie exclaim "she's got it!" When I got to the end of the pool, she stopped the conversation she was having briefly and told me that I was doing much better. I carried on with renewed purpose. I experimented a bit to see the affect I had on the water if I moved my hands slightly differently, changed the angle of my arms, went faster or slower...

When we finished the set, Angie talked briefly about the other purpose for it.

Relaxing in the water.

It's made me realize that relaxing is something that I still need to work on. When I started swimming, it was with a panic of water deeper then my neck. While I got past the acute panic, I'm not sure I've ever been truly relaxed. Part of that is the fact that I've always got my head full of what I need to do technique-wise. But, I think part of it is just the fact that it became habit to enter the water with a certain degree of tension.

Tense muscles sink. Relaxed muscles float.

I still don't like skulling much. I will spend some time doing it though; at least when I'm swimming on non-busy nights and I have a lane to myself. Like kicking, I've been convinced that it's good for me.