Another great thing about the move to Washington, DC: we now have an indoor pool a mere three blocks from our front door, with lanes set aside at various times for adult lap swimming, and it’s completely free for use by DC residents. We made our first trip there this evening, and after having taken a month off of swimming, I put in a mile’s effort. It was a little weirder than normal, though, since during the evening the pool is laid out so that the lanes are 20 yards long — which meant that I was doing math pretty much the entire time I was in the water, figuring out the difference in distance between my normal routine and what I was doing in the mini-lanes. And at 20 lanes, my breathing pattern gets totally thrown off, something I’ll have to figure out over time (or avoid by going in the mornings, when the lanes are oriented in the 25-yard direction).

It’s nice to settle into my routine in DC… it definitely rounds out the feeling of being at home here.

The good news: I was able to swim 4,000 yards tonight, the furthest I’ve pushed myself since getting back in the pool.

The bad news: now that I’ve gone 4,000 yards, I’m unclear whether I’ll let myself do anything less next time I’m in the pool. Damn that competitive nature!

Today marked a milestone — the first day that I swam two miles in a single workout. For the past month, my goal workouts have been 10 sets of 300 yards, for a total of 3,000 yards or 1.7 miles; about two weeks ago, I vowed to convert the last set of 300 to a 400, and then when that felt fine, to do the same for the second-to-last set, and so on. Today was the day that I aimed to move up to three sets of 400 at the end, for a total of 3,300 yards, but at the end of that, I still felt good and decided to add an eleventh set, also a 400. That put me at 3,700 yards total, or 2.1 miles — and that felt great. (It also feels good that I passed the two-marathon mark at the end of last week.)

This week also made me remember the whole slow/fast pool thing from the swimming meet pools of my childhood. I normally work out at a pool that’s in a college gym just next door to my hospital, but the whole gym is closed for three weeks for pre-schoolyear maintenance. That put me in my local pool this week, and after a few laps, I realized that the pool feels just plain slow. Part of it is certainly the lane lines that are anchored a little above the waterline at the ends of the pool, allowing pretty big waves to make their way from lane to lane; I’m sure that there are other reasons, but swimming there is definitely a little more of a struggle. I’m anxious to get back into the college gym pool to see if my suspicions are correct.

Probably around a year ago, I got fed up with being lazy and out of shape, and decided that I’d try to do something about that. A long, long time ago I swam competitively (seriously, I started back when I was able to express my age using only my fingers, and gave it up not long after I had to include a toe or two), and since the present-day me hates running, weightlifting, and most other forms of cardiovascular torture, I figured that trying to get back into swimming might be a bit more preferable. So a friend and I started trying to get to our neighborhood pool once or twice a week, but between the pool’s odd hours, my screwy schedule, his twin sons, and a Boston winter that was incompatible with human life much less with walking a half a mile to the pool, we never seemed to get into a sustainable rhythm, and gave it up entirely after just a few months.

About three or four months ago, I exploited a day in which I was again feeling particularly lazy and out of shape to motivate me to do something about that, and after a few emails I found a gym nearby that allows employees of the medical center to join up and use their indoor pool. It took me a few more weeks to get off my ass and join, but I finally dove back into the pool last month in an effort to find an exercise rhythm that worked for me. I’m happy to say now that I’ve kept with it thus far, and when I updated my unbelievably geeky Excel swimming spreadsheet today, I realized that I surpassed an in-pool marathon this past Tuesday. That’s oddly exciting to me, and I hope that I’m able to stick with this long enough to realize more and more weird little milestones like that, all in the name of keeping healthy and staying in shape.