Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Pleasant Fatigue in the Shoulders

One of the things I missed most during the worst of Boo-Boo Kitty Syndrome was the sensation of pleasant muscular fatigue. My muscles went from stiff and unused to burning, cramping and aching with nothing in between. So when my arms and shoulders felt loose, heavy, and tired yesterday evening, I relished that.

I hadn't done too much to get that feeling, but I will count it as my first real swim of the Big Fat Fitness Comeback. The heat was squatting over the big valley, and I was feeling oppressed by it. Having failed to get outside in the morning while it was still cool, and having sat through the entire California-Oregon football debacle, I decided to shed my frustrations and get into the water.

Last time I'd swum in the American River, my friend and agent Dave was in town. Dave is a big proponent of swimming at every opportunity (Chapter 14), but the water was chilly and crowded with kids and boats, so we didn't get too serious, just splashed around some. But I got an annual pass to Discovery Park and I thought it was worth exploring the beach there as an option for actual open water swimming.

Just upstream from the confluence of the American and Sacramento Rivers, an old erector-set metal bridge crosses the American. The kids were mostly down on the wider sandy area of the beach, and the boats were sticking to the middle channel, so there seemed to be an opportunity on the river-left side of the bridge to swim up and down. The current in late summer is pretty negligible.

I slipped into the water, relishing the cool green rush. I quickly ran into some weeds though, which I loathe, and I flailed about a bit before finding some deeper water without the hideous scratchy tentacles of green. I went up and down a bit, focusing on what I could remember about technique: high elbows, high hips, rolling body, getting a full breath. I wasn't going hard at all, but I did feel like I was really swimming. I had to pause a few times to dodge a soggy football, but there was no malice involved, just kids having a good time.

The swim probably lasted less than 20 minutes, but I felt it in my arms and shoulders, even my hips from a little vertical kick drill. I eased my way out of the water and the 95 degrees of Fahrenheit felt great. Not oppressive at all. Later in the evening Tim and I went to see
Inglourious Basterds and my arms felt like sandbags on the armrests of my seat. It was awesome.

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