When the alarm sounds at 4:30 AM, the impulse is to head for the local bomb shelter. Something must be wrong is almost always the first conscious thought of the day, jerked out of REM and that dream you were having, the recurring one about running a red light and having your picture taking while doing so. The most dangerous moments are the next 10-15 seconds that you lie there in the dark, thinking Surely I could swim at some other point today. But you manage to get the light on, brush your teeth, put the contacts in, and at that point there's no chance you'll go back to sleep.
The early early morning swim is quintessentially lower-case pro. PROs get to sleep in a bit, eat, wait, train, eat, sleep, train, eat and go back into the big sleep (toss some massage and stretching in there, for good measure). pros, like age-groupers, have day jobs, so we've got to get to the pool, track, or trainer (I'm assuming you wouldn't ride your bike outdoors before five in the morning; no matter where you live (unless it's Alaska), it's dark then) before we head to that 9 to 5. We arrive at the pool cold, sore, and dreading that first immersion in the alien medium. The coach, usually a former big-time D1 swimmer (and now full-time sadist) plots his workouts from the deck, and heckles. After an hour and a half, wrung out and starving (hanging out in any water temp around 80 signals disaster to your body: survival messages start to flash eat, eat, eat like emergency beacons), you shower, shave, and...head to the office, the sun maybe starting to color the sky the deep blue of early dawn.
But the rest of the day, you feel created. Everything is gravy, as nothing will be as hard as 4-5000M at 5:15 AM. Keep bringing the early morning swim. I hate those first fifteen seconds of consciousness, but the remaining sixteen hours are worth it.
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