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Life in the (not so) fast lane

I'm a converted distance runner and didn't swim a stroke until I was 35. I decided to switch when I realized my joints could no longer take the beating on a daily basis. As a relative newbie to swimming, I have some catching up to do, but I am making good progress. My goals are to become a faster, more complete swimmer, stay in shape, have fun, and make new friends in the process.

  1. Hey, let's go for a swim in Lake Erie!

    by , May 29th, 2012 at 03:03 PM (Life in the (not so) fast lane)
    With a number of open-water swims coming up over the summer, I've been shifting my focus to workouts outside the pool lately. So when I was up in northeast Ohio over the weekend with some time on my hands, I figured it would be a good opportunity to get in a little extra OW practice in Lake Erie.

    The water was 62 degrees, which felt magnificent on a 90-degree day. The downside was that it was really windy out and there were some pretty heavy swells. I kind of got thrown around like a rag doll the whole time. Also, the rocks along the beach are really slippery and I fell on my backside numerous times walking out to and from where it was deep enough to swim. That was kind of embarrassing. Still, I got in a good hour of swimming through some fairly rough water, so it's all good.
  2. How not to taper: a true story

    by , April 17th, 2012 at 09:13 AM (Life in the (not so) fast lane)
    Last weekend I did the Great Lakes meet at Bowling Green as a taper meet. As a team we had been doing a 3-week taper. In my case, I did a couple of the things one probably shouldn't do to get the most out of it:
    • I took a little over 2 weeks off of swimming immediately prior to the start of tapering. I had to travel out of the country during that time and didn't have access to a pool while I was gone.
    • Because of the above, I increased my yardage and, to a lesser extent, the intensity of my solo workouts just because I felt pathologically out of swimming shape.
    • I'm also training to run a marathon at the beginning of May, and my long runs have gotten up to between 15 and 20 miles over the last few weeks.
    In addition, I went all winter without getting sick, but I somehow chose the week of this particular meet to come down with a chest cold.

    So now that my excuses are out of the way , here's how I did:

    I started with the 400IM. This was only the second time in my life I've swum it for time. Last time my splits were:

    1 43.71 43.71
    2 1:37.01 53.30
    3 3:44.83 2:07.82
    4 3:44.83 0.00
    5 4:38.44 53.61
    6 5:34.54 56.10
    7 6:18.61 44.07
    8 6:59.58 40.97

    Excruciatingly slow, but hey I did it.

    This time, my splits were:

    1 :43.21 43:21
    2 1:37.36 54:15
    3 2:36.13 58:77 (okay, this one was all recovery )
    4 3:31.34 55.21
    5 4:23.24 51.90
    6 5:15.65 52.41
    7 5:57.85 42.20
    8 6:37.60 39.75

    I took it out really easy, tried to hang in here, and improve on my splits, which I did. It's much better than last time, so I'm happy with this swim. Clearly, there is some low-hanging fruit as far as further improvement goes. That second 50 fly is rough for me, and my backstroke just plain sucks out loud. But I can safely say that I no longer dread this event and will undoubtedly train specfically for it and do it more often.

    My other events were 50/100 FR and 50 BR. My times in those were average for me, and given that the entire meet was done in less than 2 hours, I have no complaints.
  3. Making some progress

    by , December 14th, 2011 at 01:15 PM (Life in the (not so) fast lane)
    The other day I participated in my first SCY meet since last April. This is just the beginning of only my second year competing and training to compete. For this meet, I decided to swim a pentathlon, and my objective for this one was to evaluate how (or if!) I've progressed while training mostly on my own over the last several months. I did an SCM meet last month, but I never swim SCM outside of that one meet, and I would rather have an apples-to-apples comparison of my times.

    How did I do? In short, not too shabby. Of five individual pentathlon events, I set four new personal best times. I've done some faster with a relay start, but I track those separately.

    In the 50 fly, my previous best (admittedly of a small number of samples) was 41.39. Now it's 36.06.

    Backstroke has always been my worst stroke (and I mean it really, really sucks out loud), and in the 50 I went from 42.29 to 39.56.

    My best 50 breast time went from 39.99 to 39.28.

    Lastly my 100 IM time went from 1:23.03 to 1:22.42.

    Even though I'm not fast, the best thing about stuff like this is that the steady improvement in my times I keep seeing is a huge motivation for me to train harder and actually make myself do those things that I don't really like to do in practice but pay off. I expect to continue making improvements over the next year. After every swim I always notice something, e.g., the start or turn, I could have done faster, smoother, harder, etc.

    I'll have to set some specific goals to strive for and keep measuring progress.
  4. First meet in a while, plus some odds and ends

    by , November 7th, 2011 at 02:22 PM (Life in the (not so) fast lane)
    This weekend I did the Miami Redfin meet in Oxford, OH. It was my first meet since Y Nats in April. I have not been training very consistently over the summer, focusing on a few OW events and running the Columbus marathon (my first ever), which I did last month. This was just a good chance to see where I am and what I need to work on most.

    Although I don't have too many SCM times to compare against, I did set new PRs in the 100m free and 100m IM (that one by almost 6 seconds from a year ago. One nice thing about being in only my second year of competitions - I set lots of PRs). I think working on building core strength and improving my dreadfully weak kick is starting to pay off. My other events were mostly average for me, which, given limited training and a general lack of conditioning I can't complain too much about.

    However, one very disappointing thing was my 50m free. My start felt great, got some hard SDKs in, smooth breakout, and I was really cranking. It was going very well until I totally flubbed the turn - somehow mistimed it *badly* - and had to stop, reset my feet on the bulkhead, then push off. I would have easily broken :30 for the first time had I gotten it right. Oh well, not much margin for error in a 50 free. Even though I won't do another SCM meet this year, I think that's a pretty encouraging sign as far as making progress. I expect to break into the 27s at the next SCY meet.

    Some other things:

    I started doing my own workouts in a different pool since the one I had been going to just got too crowded. Not only is this one empty most of the time I show up, but the lifeguard doesn't care if I work on starts off the blocks on my own. It's nice of him to bend the rules a little for me, so I'll just keep that our little secret.

    In GTD, 500 miles seems to be a very difficult goal to attain with the way my schedule usually is. I couldn't quite make it last year, and I'm right about 365 now. I'll probably finish the year in the low 400s, which is still pretty good. I'm sure I'll reach that goal next year! I hope I get my mesh bag this week. Mine is on its last legs.
  5. My first attempt at OW swimming

    by , June 19th, 2011 at 09:33 PM (Life in the (not so) fast lane)
    A while back I decided I was going to try open water swimming for the first time, so I signed up to do the USMS 15K Relay National Championships in Noblesville, IN. Might as well make my first ever OW swim a 5K right?

    It actually went pretty well. It took me a while to get used to spotting and breathing in the choppy water at the start. I was struggling for a bit at first because every time I looked for the buoy, everything was a blur, so I just focused on following the swimmers in front of me. Once we spread out a bit and I settled down, things went fine and I had no problems.

    Except for the fact that I was unfamiliar with the course and unaccustomed to swimming that distance, so it seemed to go on forever.

    In all it was a good time and a nice change of pace from the pool. Not sure if I'll do another OW event anytime soon though.
  6. Ah, so *that* is why I quit running

    by , May 1st, 2011 at 05:57 PM (Life in the (not so) fast lane)
    No swimming for me this weekend. Yesterday I did a 5K with my kids, although we just walked. Despite the decent weather, there was a pretty light turnout, so even though I just walked the course with my 15-year-old daughter, I took first place in my age bracket. lol

    Today I did a half marathon. It was cold, windy, and raining...first one I've done in crummy weather. My left knee has been giving me a little trouble lately, but I wanted to do this anyway since I plan to run a full marathon in a few months. I would like to see how well that knee would hold up. This race was a good test since it's a hilly course.

    I took it nice and easy. I finished in 1:56.23 which is very slow, but a fast time really wasn't the goal today.

    The verdict: Mixed bag. My knee was fine during the run until a few miles before the end, when there was a long, downhill slope that bothered me quite a bit. It's gotten progressively more sore during the day to the point where I am now walking with my mother-in-law's cane. A crutch would work better, but I don't have one handy. So for today at least, I am literally this guy:

    Hopefully it'll be fine tomorrow for practice and I'll be able to push off the walls!
  7. Not as lazy today

    by , April 23rd, 2011 at 01:26 PM (Life in the (not so) fast lane)
    So the pool was empty this morning, the water temperature was better, and I was feeling pretty good today. I did a total of 4,200 yards, with my main set being a 200 reverse IM ladder by 25s on :15 rest.

    For some reason, I've had the munchies in the worst way today. I ate an entire bag of Doritos followed by an entire box of Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls. I couldn't stop. Now I wish I hadn't done that.
  8. A whopping 700 yards this morning

    by , April 21st, 2011 at 01:37 PM (Life in the (not so) fast lane)
    Our pool opens at 6 a.m. and that's when I usually go. Mrs. Jethro gets up at around 6:15 to wake the kids up for school. When I wake up around 5:30 and try to slip out the door quietly, apparently I'm never quite quiet enough. Every day I wake her up 45 minutes early, and that's not enough time for her to fall asleep again knowing the alarm will go off soon.

    I'm all about compromising when necessary, so we tried something different this morning. I woke up at 4:30 instead, then went downstairs for a while before heading to the pool at the usual time. That way, if I happened to be noisy, there was plenty of time for her to go back to sleep.

    That part worked great. She didn't hear me at all this morning.

    Anyway, I showed up at the pool a few minutes before 6 o'clock, and it was as crowded as I have ever seen it. Totally jam packed. Even worse, the only lane that had any space available is one against the wall, where the wall runs halfway down the lane before opening up into the diving pool. In that particular lane, the corner of the wall (before the diving pool begins) sticks about two or three inches in from the lane rope, so if you tend to hug the lane rope when sharing (as I do), you tend to have close encounters with the corner of that wall (as I have).

    So between sharing a lane with a noodler, immersed in 85 degree water, and being in constant peril of smacking a wall, I was not exactly motivated to do much this morning. So I didn't. After doing a 400 swim and 300 pull as part of my warmup, I said screw it and left. Yes, I could have asked to switch sides, but I decided not to. Meh.

    Fortunately, it's been a pretty slow day at work, so around 11 I went back and did another 2,800 yards. The pool was STILL packed, so rather than do the fly-heavy workout I had planned for today, I improvised a bit, changing up full stroke to kicking and drills. I guess I just picked the wrong day to swim, but it was better than not swimming at all.

    Tomorrow will be better.
  9. My takeaways from Y Nats

    by , April 19th, 2011 at 09:47 AM (Life in the (not so) fast lane)
    This past weekend I participated in Y Nationals. I'm very glad I was able to go. I had a blast and met a bunch of great folks. Since I've been doing masters swimming for just over one year now, I think this meet was a good measure of how much progress I've made since I started (it's a lot! I'm very happy). I also think my results are a good indicator of what I need to work on next.

    My times were:

    50 free: 28.03*
    100 free: 1:08.38
    200 free: 2:31.17
    100 IM: 1:23.03
    200 IM: 3:09.99
    400 IM: Let's just say 6+ min, but I did it!
    50 breast: 38.51*
    100 breast: 1:28.44

    * = personal bests. I had never swum a 200 or 400 IM or 100 breast for time before so I guess those are too.

    Anyway, my takeaways from this meet are:

    1. My backstroke is an atrocity, especially swimming it outdoors and relying on peripheral vision, and it's absolutely killing my IM times. Fixing it is my top priority now.
    2. I really need to figure out how to pace a 200, perhaps even a 100. Being a noob, I've focused on other things, but that definitely needs work.
    3. I seem to make a lot of silly mental mistakes. Fatigue is one thing, but I was doing goofy things early and often.
    4. For me at least, the 100 breast is a surprisingly painful event. I have not yet attempted a 200.
    4. My 50 and 100 free times have been steadily decreasing the last few meets. This time, the 100 free was my last event of the meet and I was dog tired. I was just kind of cruising, but still, my time was far from awful by my standards.
  10. A little redemption

    by , April 3rd, 2011 at 07:31 PM (Life in the (not so) fast lane)
    So we had our state meet today. My goal was mainly to make up for the disappointment I had on the last meet.

    I did the exact same events as last time: 50/100/200 free, 50 breast, and 100 IM. Despite feeling completely out of it today (and even false starting on one event), I think I did alright overall. I dropped time in every event compared to last time, and I finally went under 29 in the 50 free (28.69).
  11. An up and down meet

    by , February 28th, 2011 at 11:22 AM (Life in the (not so) fast lane)
    It was double posted. Looks like I messed up the deletion of one of the posts. Reposting...

    This is my first year doing meets, and Saturday's meet is only my third SCY meet ever, so I'm a noob. All things considered, the meet was just kind of okay. I did:

    50 free: 29.36

    This was very disappointing. My last time was 29.03 and I was absolutely certain I was going to break into the 28s this time given how I was swimming in practice, but it was not to be. It felt like in the movie A Christmas Story when Ralph gets a C+ on his essay. Next time.

    50 breast: 40.91

    This was a total WTF, since I've been under 40 the last couple of times I did it. I felt good and someone was right beside me the whole way, so I was pushing hard. Maybe a late start? Slow turn? I don't know.

    100 free: 1:08.36

    I was happy with this, since this is a best time for me. My splits were 36.03, 32.33.

    200 free: 2:32.29

    This was okay, since I generally *hate* 200s of anything. At least I hate doing them in practice. I felt good here, and will probably do this event next time. I expect to beat this time handily at the next meet. My splits leave plenty of room for improvement with more disciplined training: 38.99, 40.74, 38.34, 34.22

    100 IM: 1:24.57

    About average for me, and I didn't beat my seed time. On the backstroke leg, I'm convinced the pool water suddenly changed to molasses. It really happened! My splits: 43.69, 40.88
  12. Swam my first-ever 200 fly this morning.

    by , February 4th, 2011 at 09:35 AM (Life in the (not so) fast lane)
    I took it nice and slow (heck, my time was in the neighborhood of 3:30), concentrating mostly on maintaining reasonable body position. At the end, I actually felt like I could keep going so tomorrow I'll try pacing it a little differently.

    Still, not a bad accomplishment to start my day.
  13. Alright, what was I thinking?

    by , September 18th, 2010 at 03:01 PM (Life in the (not so) fast lane)
    I took up swimming a few years ago because I was completely burned out on distance running, kept suffering injuries from running, and basically just lost all motivation to keep doing it. I was a halfway decent runner back in the day, but by my mid-30s I was slowing down a lot and it just didn't feel like my thing anymore.

    So last spring, I decided to not only register for and run a half marathon, I figured I would also powerwalk a 5K the evening before. I had completed a half marathon last year with absolutely zero training whatsoever, and was darn lucky to finish it. From about mile 8 onwards I was pretty much hating life the whole way. Why would I not only do that again, but add the 5K on top of it? I dunno, but it seemed like a good idea a few months ago.

    The 5K was last night and the half marathon was this morning. I did both as planned, but right now I am unable to get up off the sofa without a great deal of dramatic moaning and whining about the pain in my legs. Ugh. Tomorrow is really going to suck. Hopefully I'll be okay enough for swim practice Monday, but I'm not sure.

    What the heck was I thinking? Maybe I should, I don't know, actually *train* for these events, but doing so would cut into my swim time.
  14. So much for that idea

    by , August 7th, 2010 at 08:37 AM (Life in the (not so) fast lane)
    I had every intention of getting up on time this morning and spending about 90 minutes in the pool. However, last night I got really tired, crashed around 8:00, and woke up a little after 6:00 this morning.

    I had absolutely zero motivation to swim, so after giving myself some time to wake up I threw on some shorts and running shoes and ran about 3 miles. I have a half marathon coming up next month for which I am woefully unprepared, so I had better get some kind of training in. I ran it last year with no prior training whatsoever and found myself hating life for the last five miles. Today's run isn't going to cut it, but I suppose it's better than nothing.

    I may try to swim tomorrow but I don't like the Y on Sundays with the pool full of kids.
  15. Too hot in the hot tub

    by , August 6th, 2010 at 10:20 AM (Life in the (not so) fast lane)
    Okay, I wasn't swimming in the jacuzzi, but I might as well have been. The pool water had to be a good 86 degrees today. It sucked the life out of me and I thought I was going to melt. Aside from that, I felt pretty good today.

    My workout was just a hodgepodge of different things I wanted to work on. I usually pull my workouts off the internet, but lately I've been coming up with my own based on what I want to or can do. Generally speaking, I fail miserably at coming up with a cohesive, enjoyable workout, but I think for the most part, any swimming is good swimming. Here's what I ended up doing:

    Warmup: 5x200 SKIPS

    1650 free. With the water temperature as it was, this was a joy to swim, and by "joy" I mean "sucked out loud." I didn't even care what my time was when it was over. I could not have been good.

    10x200 kick, alternating br/bk/fr/dolphin, all but br w/fins. I typically devote Fridays to doing lots of kick sets and today was no exception. I just don't seem to get a whole lot out of my kick and need to keep working on it.

    3x100 free fast on 2:00. A horrifically long interval, but I was wearing down by this point. I probably should have done a few more of these but...nah.

    6x50 stroke/free on 1:00. Fly felt a bit off today, so tomorrow's workout will most likely be flyapalooza.

    150 warmdown

    Total: 5,400 scy
  16. It's all good

    by , August 4th, 2010 at 10:39 PM (Life in the (not so) fast lane)
    Tonight was my first team practice since I injured myself. I felt really good, except for some minor neck pain when doing backstroke. I got there a little early to do some extra warmups. I did:

    3x200 easy. Did those on my own.

    5x150 swim/stroke/drill/kick/swim

    1650 free broken
    25x11/10/9/8/7/6/5/4/3/2/1 :20 rest

    6x50 stroke not particularly hard

    10x50 free from dive (25 balls to the wall/25 easy)

    200 warmdown

    4000 total
  17. Returning to normalcy (almost)

    by , July 31st, 2010 at 12:54 PM (Life in the (not so) fast lane)
    The last two weeks or so I have been terribly beat up (back, neck, shoulder, even legs and feet are hurt in some way), but not all of it has been swimming-related injuries. Sadly, I had to skip team practice all last week and still can't even attempt fly or back right now, but fortunately I've been able to do at least something in the pool every day.

    I'm going to a chiropractor on Monday, which should go a long way to getting back to normal. Today I felt okay enough to do more than some easy drills, although I'm still limited and just do what I can.

    Today I did:

    6x100 swim/pull/drill

    400/300/200/100 free, with :30 rest between each. On the 100 I touched in 1:11, which I was happy about, all things considered. I felt good here.

    8x50 double-kick breaststroke (was trying to go a little easier on my back)

    Dolphin kick on back w/fins (I had to be very gentle on the turns)
    200/100/50/25/25 first 2 fairly easy, last 3 sprint kick

    100 warmdown

    2500 total

    As far as workouts go, this one sucks, but it's definitely progress. Tomorrow's an off day. I'll see how it goes on Monday.