Monday, February 4, 2008

You want me to do WHAT??? (Permission to Pee)

Well, today I peed in the pool. Not proud of it, but at least I'm being upfront about it. And acceptance is one of the first steps, right? You can't FIX a problem unless you acknowledge that it's there. So yeah - it's gross - and yeah - totally wrong - but I confess. It happened. But it wasn't my fault. I blame my coach.

Has anyone ever done this? Or am I the ONLY one? Come on... Ever?? Come on, I know you're out there. Wait! Stop! Halter-gebleibin!! You mean to tell me that after hours of swimming countless laps, following a pace clock, ticking off specific times, you've never-not-once-in-your-life-ever peed in the pool.


I don't believe you.

Especially if you've ever followed one of Jen Harrison's swim workouts. (Liz, Ashley, Beth - any takers? :)

Nope - still not believing...

I've seen how you swimmers are. With your speedy suits, cool caps, and Swedish goggles. You jump into the pool, no qualms about the cold temperatures, while everyone else is left shivering at just the thought of placing a toe near the water. You swimmers are intense: set on following your lane buddies, finding your hurt box, making each-and-every session count.

And for the life of me, I can't imagine this would include a 5-minute pee break.

So when the water suddenly becomes warm in your vicinity, accept the fact that NO, the pool staff haven't turned on the pump. It's probably your friendly neighbor in the lane over, doing his or her best to keep the water as warm as possible.

Because if there's one thing that "serious" and "real" swimmers can't stand is warm water. So it's cold. All the time. Which makes bladders shrink. And THEN what happens? Yup, you guessed it. The pool temperature miraculously goes up 2 degrees.


Let's be honest (while we're on the subject of honesty and peeing), who doesn’t pee in their wetsuit before the start of a race? Pretty disturbing if you think about it.

So let's not.

I digress...

Back to the pool.

There's chlorine. Lots of it. So everything is okay in the end, right?

Now that's squared away, we ALL have a clean conscious, we can discuss the matter at hand: Jen Harrison's swim workout for me.

As I had just come off a high volume, low intensity (hurrah!) weekend, Monday's swim was all about recovery. And breathing - breath sets to be exact.

Let me tell you, I have never done breath sets... but I'm fully aware of what they are.

During my sophomore year at Wisconsin (Go Badgers!), my roommates were all Varsity Badger Swimmers. As the lone rower in the house, I stuck out like a sore thumb: but they were great, and patiently explained all about swimming and listened intently to my rowing stores. I was always really impressed by their grit, their determination. And while they all swam different disciplines, had different specialties, the three of them were phenomenal athletes.

One morning, I returned from practice to find Betsy sprawled out on the couch. She looked awful. Her face was white-as-a-ghost, her eyes were puffy from goggle marks, and she was complaining of nausea.

"What's wrong?" I asked, wondering if she was coming down with a stomach bug.

"Breath sets..." she managed to croak, her eyes crossed. "It's where you control your breathing, your oxygen intake, and take very few breaths."

She was winded even from speaking.

She continued to explain the principles, but with her slumped-over form draped across the couch, I told her that she didn't need to finish. I had already gotten a clear picture of what the workout was about. Crystal clear.

A few minutes later, our other roommate, Jenny returned. She looked worse, and headed straight for her room, clutching a bottle of Tylenol in the process. Before she shut the door, she mentioned that Sarah (the third swimmer of the trio) wasn't going to make it home, that she was in the trainer's office "resting" after the swim.

It was then and there that I decided swimming looked way too painful. And that I would happily stick with rowing. One roommate was dazed on the couch, a second was passed out in her room, and the third couldn't even make it back from the pool (4 blocks away).

At least with crew, I could inhale sweet, pure, clean, crisp, cool air whenever I wanted. None of this "holding your breath" nonsense.

My, oh my, times have changed.

No longer am I rowing. But I'm doing this crazy triathlon-thing.

And now, breath sets are on MY menu.

Can anyone say "Fantastic!"

After a great warm-up, I started my pre-set. Nothing too serious... but I had been given instructions to take 4 strokes after every push-off from the wall BEFORE breathing. O-k-a-y... not too bad, but I could feel the pressure inside of my head increase throughout the set. Adding the dolphin kicks (while fun) only added to the pounding of my head.

But I was kind of getting the hang of it.

Perhaps this isn't soooo bad... dare I say?

And then I hit the main set. Different story. It's wasn't hard in the beginning, but the last 25 of each set - where I had been instructed to take 1 OR 2 breaths for the ENTIRE length - were challenging.

Like I said before - this breath set-thing is new.

And speaking of "holding one's breath" - who in the WORLD came up with this idea anyway? Air is our friend! We need to breath to survive! Holding back, denying our body what it needs, is slightly masochistic - if you ask me...

But in my haze of oxygen-deprived thought, I reasoned that this was... ahem... good for me (whispered in a small voice). These workouts are the exact kind of thing that I need. Something new, something never done, something out of the ordinary… Life isn't about doing the same thing over and over and over again - we need new challenges, to try and complete new things.

And if it were easy every time we attempted it, then where's the satisfaction when we FINALLY accomplish what we set out to do? Sometimes things take a little time, a bit of effort, and a lot of heart. And when you finally get what it is that you want – you’re all the better for having gone through the process.

At least this is what I told myself while inhaling water up my nose (can still taste the chlorine!)

The second part of the main set was just as hard, if not harder. Swim 8 X 25 without taking a breath... What? No breath??

Written very nicely next to these instructions (as though Jen could tell exactly what I was thinking when I read them...) were these reassuring words:

"You will not pass out or die. You might pee a little..."

And you know what? It was possibly one of the hardest things I've done in the pool. I wasn't going fast, wasn't pushing my pace: but I was seeing stars. There was a whole new world to be explored on the pool bottom while my brain was starved for oxygen. Colors became more vibrant, other swimmers were oddly defined, and towards the end of each 25, I felt peculiarly detached from my body, as though I was drifting. I followed Jen's instructions and focused on smaller kicks and really following through with my arms.

And no, I didn't pass out or die. May have peed a little - but I dare you to prove it (blog entry aside!). Made it through the workout and was only a little worse for the wear.

Afterwards, I returned home and stared at my reflection in the mirror. Even though I'm sure the workout wasn't that "hard" for the real swimmers, it was new, exciting, and hard for me. My face was white and the dark circles under my eyes were highlighted by goggle marks. Without thinking, I reached for the Tylenol and tried to placate my headache. The thought of food made me want to gag.

So I waited for my stomach to settle, waited for my head to clear, and went on with my day.

Incredibly though, after feeling as though my lungs were going to burst, and that my heart would beat out of my chest, my lung capacity felt, well, great. Maybe it was just the post-workout high, or perhaps it was because I was allowing myself to breath whenever I wanted, but man-oh-man, the sweet air never tasted so good.

So there you have it: my lungs didn't explode, I didn't pass out, and I survived my first of many Jen Harrison swims. Sure, I peed in the pool. But who doesn’t?

Strangely enough, I can't wait for the next opportunity to swim... And it won't be soon enough. I've got my very first Master's Swim on Wednesday. Good vibes will need to be sent my way! to be continued.


BreeWee said...

Truth be told... I am a pool-pee-er too! Funny, I am one of those germ freaks that wash my hands 100 times and wipe down the shopping cart before pushing it... BUT I am too stubborn to leave a swim workout! Hey, good vibes coming your way from the middle of the pacific! Enjoy Masters Wed. That is awesome!!

Beth said...

I'll admit it also - as Bree put it - I'm a "pool pee-er" at times too! :)

Anyway, yes - good vibes on Wednesday for masters!! Have fun!

Ness said...

Marit, I love how you just busted all of us! - Ness

Pedergraham said...

Well, urine IS sterile...

I have a bit of an overactive bladder--well, not bladder, but pelvic floor muscles--and have to pee A LOT and my physical therpasit is always a little bit horrified when I bring in my voiding diaries from swim days.

Great work with the no-breath swimming, Marit.

Train-This said...

Breath control is like LSD for swimmers..... makes everything more vibrant with a little bit of haze....


:-) Mary

Train-This said...

Breath control is like LSD for swimmers..... makes everything more vibrant with a little bit of haze....


:-) Mary

Anonymous said...

Maybe the question should be who doesn't pee in the pool?! Guilty!

Steve Stenzel said...

Umm, no. I've peed multiple times in lakes, and I've been known to pee on friends in the shower (locker room in high-school). But I haven't in a pool.

Mostly because I'm afraid that it will have the stuff in it that makes the pee-water turn purple, and I'll feel like a dork.

Kellye Mills said...

Too Funny!!

Scary story...did not grow up swimming, only swam laps as an adult on my own having no clue what I was doing. Went to my first masters class, being a BAD swimmer in March of last year. Very first day, we did a set of 8 x 50's. 25 no breaths down, 25 head-up back.

Did I mention this was my first masters class ever?? I thought I was going to die!!! I honestly can't believe I ever went back again! :)

Great Job, and you'll LOVE masters! Lots of fun!

Ryan said...

Yuck! If it weren't for triathlon, I would keep my swimming to the ocean type after what you "nasty" people have enlightened me to. I thought I was the only pool pee-er ;)
Also, I saw you running the chip trail on sunday as I had my daughter out doing her mile. Did you pee on the chip trail too?

Anonymous said...

Hi Marit, I am coached by Jen too and have swam that workout. When I read the "you won't die...might pee" I was cracking up. But holding your breath does make you pee...I am not sure why. Very weird.
You will love working with Jen!
Katie T.

IM Able said...

Apparently Jen's love of seeing stars has rubbed off on Liz, who has a pee session for me scheduled for the first time next week. She said -- go over and see Marit's post about it. And now I realize that I may just, finally, see the wizard.

And I may have peed myself just thinking about it.


Courtenay said...

i hope that swimming at high altitude counts as a breath workout. i am constantly gasping, it took me forever to learn flip turns because i couldn't seem to get enough air!

when i was in college, i lived with rowers my first two years. i became the biggest crew fan... i'd even go to the gym with them when they did erg workouts there. i was bummed when uva cancelled their lightweight program because i had dreams of being on the team but it's just as well, i was big into horseback riding at the time and wouldn't have been happy giving that up.

have you seen the cycling movie "pro"? chris horner is in it a lot, as are some other good racer (my other fave is ivan dominguez, he's cuban, his accent is adorable). lemme know if you want a copy. great for trainer workouts, if you are into watching dvd's on the trainer.

Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...

Hi Guys!

Wow - lots comments - most of them not very reassuring. So... we all do it... well, just about.

Now I'm terrified: there's DYE that they can add to the chlorine to detect bodily fluids? Now THAT is gross. There are some things you would just rather not know. If I saw a whole bunch of red dye in the pool... well... I would probably have a pretty difficult time jumping in. "Easing" into the cold pool is hard enough for me. But knowing that I was just about to swim through other people's red dye would simply be too much.

Next time I pee - you know what I'll be looking for :)

Ryan - I THOUGHT that you looked familiar, but couldn't quite place you. Hello right back atcha! Your daughter is really cute. And don't worry - I didn't pee on the trail. There are NO bathroom stops along the path to make a break in. I have nightmares of getting arrested on a military instalation after peeing in the woods. Not great for me and even worse for Nate.

No - I take that back. My WORST fear of peeing in the woods on NAS would be if there were "special forces" types practicing their camoflouge in the woods - hiding in those funky-looking suits. Now that would be awful - to go about my business witha platoon of snipers near by. Don't care that they're out there - they can do their thing. Just don't want them to see my deriere (ahem).

So yea - you looked great on your run! I was just finishing up my long run... good luck at the marathon - I'm doing the 1/2...

Anonymous said...

geez Marit, I don't look at your site for 12 hours and all of a sudden there are 14 comments on a new blog!

as i competitive swimmer since the age of 7, i would like to add my input anyway.
of course i pee in the pool. i stopped feeling guilty about it when i was about 9, and stopped even thinking about it shortly thereafter. Use whatever justification you want, just don't be hesitant or ashamed. ever.
Breath control sets suck. They give me headaches. I used to have to do a lot of them growing up and in college but one of the great things about being self-coached is that I have decided to, um, use my motivation for other things!
seriously though, I always thought they were overrated for distance swimming as an aerobic activity, but then again swimming here at 6300 ft is a constant breathing challenge and I also use the finis snorkel quite a bit, and so then I feel like I have unlimited O2 at my disposal when I race at sea level. so who knows?

keep up the good work,


Amanda Lovato said...

I just can't do it though....:(

E.L.F. said...

Oh boy. I know that set well - I did it originally at masters and almost died. So I sent it to JH saying "here's a fun one." This is what happens when one coach coaches another coach. You start to share evil workouts like this.

Chad Holderbaum said...

I might have gone once or twice when I was younger, but have never pee'ed in the pool since racing tri's. I don't have a problem going in a lake, or even pee'ing in my wetsuit before the start of a race, but never in a pool. I'm already paranoid about that accidental swallow of water and now I'm going to be petrified!!!

Brooke Myers said...

Haven't you seen the 80's movie (forgot the name) where the kids were peeing in the pool and it would turn purple because of the chemical used to spot the pee'er?
I would be careful!
Well I guess it's okay as long as no one is drafting you...Ha ha