Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Hitting the wall

Yesterday, I went swimming. Swimming is an activity that I rather enjoy but rarely participate in. This is partially due to the lack of facilities, but also because I also feel slightly self-conscious taking part in such a solitary activity (swimming laps) in such a public space.

Maximus had originally agreed to hit the pool with me, but bailed out last minute in favour of other (XX) activities. However, J-Rock, Yuffie, and Yubin were also headed to the Athletics Centre to work out and convinced me to follow through on my plans even so.

As luck would have it, the 50 m pool was open for an hour; so while my friends headed to the track, I proceeded to the pool. To preface my adventure, let me just explain that I am not the most fit individual. In fact, aside from my vaguely robust rectus abdominus, you might call me rather out of shape lean (but certainly not frail, despite the opinion that some deluded individuals might express).

I wasted no time in plunking myself down into the "slow lane." I swam freestyle to one end and then back - a total of 100 m. By that time, I was already pooped. My heart rate had tripled and I could feel it pounding just standing there. Since the pool increased in depth from one end to the next, I wasn't sure if I really wanted to attempt the entire 100 m distance again. I was afraid I might crap out halfway through and drown.

I hoisted myself onto the deck to ask the lifeguard if it was okay for me to swim just halfway and turn back. The reason I wanted to double check was that many people swim in the same lanes, and there is in fact a system to adhere to. He kindly confirmed that as long as there was no oncoming traffic, I could do as I pleased. However, being on the deck made me realize how tense and shaky my legs already were.

Having just completed my Metabolism and Nutrition midterm, I immediately recognized the signs of lactic acidosis in my legs. Thoughts of "hitting the wall" (a depletion of glycogen energy stores leading to rapid loss of strength) danced through my head, though in retrospect I realized that this phenomenon usually only occurs after extremely prolonged exercise.

Still, I quickly decided that it would be both lame and unprofitable to cop out after just one lap. I jumped back into the pool and took another go at it, this time swimming just halfway and back (~50 m). At the end of this, my heart was again racing and my legs fatigued. I briefly played with the idea of abandoning freestyle and swimming around with a flutter board.

At the same time, I watched as another swimmer made his laps around the entire 50 m length of the pool. He was travelling very slowly, but was going nonstop with admirable endurance. I decided that I was not going to spend all of my time standing offside waiting for my legs to recover, so I resolved to make one 50 m lap every time the other swimmer completed the entire 100 m circuit. I did this another two times.

By that point, more than half an hour had passed, and I decided to give up and go find my friends. I heaved myself out of the pool and...

Whoa... woozy.

I guess I didn't realize how unprepared my body was for the meagre workout that I had given it. By the time I got back to my locker, my muscles were screaming from severe lactic acidosis, my head was throbbing, and I felt like I was either going to throw up or pass out.

I leaned against the locker huffing and puffing for a few minutes, trying to give my body time to metabolize the acid build up and stop my brain cells from screaming bloody murder. No improvement. I changed back into street clothes, then sat down for another ten minutes - still on the precipice of losing my lunch on the change room floor.

Finally, I decided that maybe walking around would do me good. I pulled myself up and went to look for my friends. After all, the prospect of collapsing unconscious and alone on a locker room floor was not attractive.

Things were a bit smoother from there. My head did indeed reduce the intensity of its throbbing, and by the time I finally located the others I was probably eighty percent better. Crisis averted.

I'm not entirely sure what the lesson from this experience is. Andy, you're pathetically out of shape? Take it slow? Swim in a smaller pool?

I'll think that one over and try to wise up by next time.


Oh, and to draw a perfect close to my perfect day, I had a Clinical Skills practice session later that evening. I managed to stick together with Kon, Yuffie and Yubin, providing a familiar and comfortable group. At the last minute, however, an extra person was thrown into our little troupe: Sandoval. Yes, out of 10 rooms, the coincidence was uncanny. Perhaps it was the Big Guy warning that I ought to be more gracious and less judgemental.

1 comment:

Teddy said...

LMAO I know who Sandoval is...

Did anyone tailgate you at the pool? Did you feel that you get stares at your 6-pack from every direction by girls, guys and wrinkly old ladies alike?