On Finding Nemo: Swimming at the Lake

20130803-162159.jpgEach summer, we head up north to my husband’s family lake house in upstate New York. It’s right on the border of Bennington, Vermont and in close proximity to the starting line of the  Shires of Vermont Marathon, which I ran this past April. Being away from home for a week meant adjusting my training accordingly. There isn’t a lot to do at the lake except enjoy the outdoors and relax, so it’s the perfect place for me to go for a run or unroll my yoga mat. This summer, my main focus was preparing for my fall marathons, but I’ve also spent some time on my bike to prepare for the upcoming Steelman Triathlon. I’ve been enjoying the time on my bike, but my training for the swim has been sub-par, at best. As our visit to the lake approached, I knew it would be a great opportunity to increase my confidence in the water.

For awhile, I aimed to get to a pool once per week and crank out a little more than a mile. As summer wore on, I decided laps in my own pool in my backyard would suffice. It’s a rectangular shaped in-ground pool, but quite a bit smaller than a lap pool. Finally, I decided I’d just wait until we headed up to Babcock Lake for vacation and spend time in the water. I know how to swim, and I realize I’m not setting any records. All I really needed was some open water swim practice.


I think if I could swim in a lake all summer long, I’d swim often. It’s not convenient to practice in open water at home but it’s much more fun. Swimming in a pool at the gym is monotonous, even when I pull out my little book of workouts and have a goal in mind. The whole act of going to the pool is annoying and inconvenient. At Babcock Lake, my “pool” is conveniently located in the backyard and my workout is to swim the length of the lake and back to the house. The temperatures are pretty cool everyday, but it warms up enough by noon or so that I was happy to get in the water and work on my open water swim skills.

Each time I’d get ready to swim, my husband would get in one of the kayaks and row alongside of me. I guess it was to make sure I wouldn’t drown, or in case I needed to take a break. Either way, it was cute and I loved that he would join me. He was usually my only company, but a few times a bunch of his family members hopped into the rest of their kayaks and came along for the trip. I think it’s just over a mile round trip, and I could do it in just under 30 minutes. It’s about the amount of time I’d like to finish the swim portion of the triathlon. Since I only had the chance to do this for a week, I’m not sure if it actually helped. It did, however, increase my confidence in swimming in open water. The triathlon is in exactly a week, and I’m getting really excited for it.



As for running, there is no excuse for me not to get in the mileage while we are staying at the lake. There isn’t much to do besides relax or spend time out on the water, so there are no excuses for me not to run. I finished out last week’s mileage and ran 62 miles for the following week, meaning I ran a total of 71 miles during our stay. I only took one rest day from running during our entire trip this year. When I first began running, getting me to go out for a run at the lake was like pulling teeth. I would be lucky if I were motivated enough to go out once or twice during our stay, and never for more than four-ish miles. Each year, I’d enjoy running more and more and I’d figure out routes to keep things interesting.

20130803-162147.jpgThe weather is usually just right, but the terrain and elevation make running challenging. It’s extremely hilly regardless of where I run, and it’s a few thousand feet above sea level. A few years back, I got very lost on some of the back roads and it resulted in a much longer run than intended. It was an uncharacteristically warm day, and I went for a 11 miler. 11 miles turned into 17 miles and a ride home from a total stranger, so I stick mainly with the loop around the lake and a few of the very main roads.


The hills and elevation present a challenge, but it’s a nice change of scenery from the Lehigh Valley. Since my routes are a bit limited at the lake, running tends to get a bit monotonous by the end of our stay. I ended up doing my long run (an 18 miler) on Monday, before the routes began to bore me. I just keep the pace relatively easy since the hills and elevation are challenge enough. There’s never a flat area, you’re either running up or down a seriously steep hill. I try to choose routes that are uphill on the way out so I can cruise on the downhills at the end of my run.

I even had the chance to unroll my yoga mat and get out on the kayaks often. The best place to practice yoga is on the porch, but this year was pretty chilly so my practices were a bit short. Overall, it was a fun and active week, with just the right amount of relaxing mixed in. Usually, I worry that I’m going to lose some endurance or skip a few runs before the end of our stay. This year, I think the challenging roads and frequent open water swim sessions was a refreshing change to my daily routine. I’m excited for the triathlon next weekend, and I can only hope that my efforts swimming, biking, and running have prepared me for the event.


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