On the street in Paris.
Leica M3. 50mm Summicron
Okay, so right now I'm sitting in the comfy waiting area at First Texas Honda getting my car's oil changed, tires rotated and brakes re-done. I can't wait to write the check for $598. I'm kind of kidding but the car has been like a great horse for me; never throws me, never sick and always reliable. I figure routine maintenance is the hedge against standing alongside the highway waiting for a tow truck...
As I sit here I'm getting work done. I just wrote a piece describing what I'll be (casually and informally) teaching during my nine days in Iceland (we're about a month out). I wrote an equipment recommendation list as well. Too bad the full frame Panasonic cameras won't be ready by then; I'm sure they'll take the world by storm.
But what I really want to write about today is this morning's swim practice. I got up early this morning, brushed my teeth, kissed Studio Dog on the top of her head, and headed out the door at 6:45 to make the early swim practice at 7:00. It was still dark when we filtered out of the locker room and made our way to the pool deck. And since it's been raining a lot lately the water was cooler than it has been.
We call the early Tuesday and Thursday workouts the "varsity" workouts because it's when a lot of the hardcore swimmers on our masters team come to really plow through fast and competitive yardage under the watchful eyes of the somewhat scary coach, Chris.
The attendance started out a bit light and for a while I actually had my own lane. The warmup was a Chris classic: 400 freestyle. That's it. When the 400 yards are over you know the hard stuff is just around the corner. We started with a set of "sprint-y" 300 yard swims. 3 x 300 on an interval that, if you swim them fast enough, gives you about a ten second rest in between sets. I've been working on my head position lately, trying to keep my head more in line with my body. It's starting to feel more natural and it is improving my freestyle pace.
I was about to start the next set when I looked over and saw all the fast lanes had filled up with fast swimmers who'd straggled in during the warm-up. Bruce D. joined me and in a flash I no longer had a lane to myself, I'd just inherited one of the fastest masters swimmers in my age cohort, anywhere. Bruce was an All American at prestige swimming school (especially in the early 1970's), Indiana University, where he swam for the legendary coach, "Doc" Councilman (author of "The Science of Swimming."). Bruce missed making the 1972 Olympic team in distance events by something like a tenth of a second. He's never slowed down but decided, today, to come down to my lane and "hold me accountable." His quote, not mine.
Our next set was 3 x 150 yards on a tight interval followed by 3 x 50 kicking. We cycled through this set four times for a total of 1800 yards. I put on hand paddles and went as hard as I could and even then it was an exercise in watching Bruce just continue to pull away and leave me in the proverbial dust (we really don't have dust in the pool). After that set we did a final set of 8 x 50's, swimming down freestyle and back in our choice of alternate strokes. Bruce let me/insisted I go first on this set but he (benevolently) spotted me :20 seconds lead so he wouldn't end up catching me at the end of each 50.
It was hard work and I was out of breath by the end of the workout. We went for an hour and fifteen minutes, straight through, and nailed down something like nearly 3,500 yards. It's an interesting way to start a day... And it sure makes you hungry for breakfast. Swimming a workout with someone much faster is a good way to improve; at some point you just get tired of being left behind...
I sometimes wonder why I swim as often as I can but then the pants I wore in college still fit, my resting pulse rate is usually around 50, and my blood pressure is generally in the range of 115/65. I attribute this to consistent and challenging aerobic exercise. It's all helpful when you need to hold a camera for hours on end and still have the energy left to take a few flights of stairs two at a time.
Wouldn't you know it. The Honda people sent me a text (hey! dude! I'm sitting right here!) and let me know my car is ready. Ah well, it's an end to the free coffee and power bars. I was just getting settled in.