Brad Feld

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Swimming At Night

Jun 17, 2010

I hurt my back three months ago.  It is a stupid injury – I lifted a printer out of the back seat of my dad’s car and as I was straightening up I turned to the left and twisted my lower back.  Three months later I’m finally feeling almost better.  My marathon plan for 2010 is trashed; I’ve reset and am now looking toward an October marathon in Detroit.

There were two positive things that came out of this.  First was my realization that I can no longer fake the core / non-running stuff.  I’ve always been a little too heavy and I’ve done almost no upper body stuff.  The result – monster legs and skinny jewish boy upper body with a flabby core.  That’s got to change – I’m hoping P90X will kick me into a different gear.  The other is that I’ve rediscovered my love of swimming.

I’ve always been a good swimmer.  I learned young – probably at four or five years old – in Dallas.  I have vague memories of splashing around in the pool at the North Dallas Racquet Club (where I also played serious tennis from the age of nine to about fourteen.)  I’ve always been comfortable in a pool and like to swim, although I never built it into my routine.

Over the last six weeks I’ve been swimming a lot.  I don’t have a completely rhythm down because I’ve been travelling and many of the hotels I’ve been in don’t have swimming pools.  But I had a special experience last night.

After a long, two board meeting day (Gnip and Zynga) I got back to the Intercontinental in San Francisco on Howard Street.  I’d skipped dinner – the Zynga board meeting ran late and we just nibbled on Zynga-snacks as we talked (physical ones, not virtual).  I got back to the hotel around 8pm, called Amy to say good night, and then took the elevator down to the sixth floor and the indoor pool.  It’s a beautiful pool – 20-ish yards – and while it had a few kids splashing around, was big enough for everyone.  I settled into a lane and was in a great zone after ten lengths.  I finished up about 35 minutes later and went back upstairs, took a shower, and went to bed.  I then slept the sleep of the dead; I woke up completely refreshed at 6am and am now on my way to LA for an Oblong board meeting.

I can’t run late at night – it ramps me up way too much and it takes several hours for me to cool down to fall asleep.  Swimming seems to have exactly the opposite effect.  I imagine it’s because of my core temperature (I’m always hot and sweaty, even when I’m sitting in a 65 degree room); when I get out of the pool I feel totally chill.  I’d never realized this before – partly because I hadn’t thought about it and partly because I avoided swimming at night because I was worried I’d have trouble sleeping.

I love it when I discover something totally new and unexpected.  I see a lot more night swimming in my future.