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Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine

My wife and kids motivated me to get my big belly back into the pool after buying a pair of SwiMP3's for Christmas in 2008. I focused on swimming the Peaks To Portland (Maine) 2.4 mile swim in July, 2010, and have added meets and consistent training since then. I mostly swim on my own because I am only able to get together with the local Master's workout group a couple of times a month. I love the backstroke and short free events, and I have a newly discovered fondness for Open Water, having completed my first 10K in Sept '11 and 10 mile in July '12.


My faith in Christ sees me through the exhausting practices and long hours driving to competitions (well, everything day by day, actually), and helps to keep me grounded in the knowledge that the events are only to give me feedback on how my training is progressing. If you're interested, just ask.

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Check out my swimmer info page here.

  1. 03/15/14: NEM SCY Champs Distance Day

    by , March 16th, 2014 at 09:55 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    The New England LMSC Short Course Yards Championship, affectionately known as "the Harvard Meet," attracts close to 900 people each March to the Boston area for some fast swimming in a great pool. This year there are a total of 854 swimmers from across New England and beyond. The meet is spread out over two weekends, with Distance Day in the middle of March on a Saturday offering either the 1000 or 1650 for both sexes, and then the regular meet the following Friday-Saturday-Sunday. I have never competed on the distance day and last year didn't swim at all, so with my weekend off this weekend I signed up for the 1650 this year.

    I was able to schedule a trip to Boston, my favorite city just three hours to the east of home, with my family and also squeeze in a swim at a pool I always look forward to swimming in. With our my daughter unable to attend and Jinho in Guatemala on a missions trip with the school, I rounded up my wife, Preston and Lina to join me. I also arranged to meet up with my aunt Pat, who lives a a few towns north of the city, to help show us around - she is apparently immune to the humid environment of the pool and tries to watch me swim when I am in town.

    We headed out Friday and checked into our hotel in Cambridge after an easy drive in. I had requested a parking pass, but they were out; fortunately I was able to get street parking within view of the room for the overnight period. We took the T into Government Center and explored Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, deciding to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe for pre-race nourishment. While chilly, the moon was shining as brightly over the lights throughout the area and we had a wonderful time.



    The next morning, I woke up before 8am in order to drive the car to the Harvard athletic area and park for free for the day. I walked from Blodgett Pool to Harvard Square to catch the T back to the hotel for breakfast. At this point I was able to get a parking pass (oh well, at least I would be covered for after the meet), and we headed out to meet my aunt at Park Street. We checked out the Old Granary Burial Grounds and Statehouse before making our way through the Commons, past the Ducklings and the Swan Pond, and down towards the finish of the Boston Marathon. We continued west on Newbury Street before getting back on the T to head up to Harvard. We farted around Harvard Square for a bit (there is the newstand with media from around the globe and checked out Newbury Comics before grabbing a quick bite at Subway (those new Flatizza things are tasty and not to heavy) before heading on to the pool. (I've been wearing a pedometer and so far had logged 11300 steps!)


    How long is it going to take to squeeze into this?

    Checked in, warmed up and waited. I was asking around for a counter, and met Matt from RI who was swimming in the heat before me in the shallow end so we counted for each other. Harvard has the main competition pool, 5 lanes in the diving well (29 yards), then 6 lanes in the shallow end. For distance day, you can opt to swim in the shallow end with an in-water start and save $2 on your entry fee; since this is my first 1650 (I did the 1500 scm at Riverton a couple of years ago) and my training has not been focused, I choose to swim there [Really, I'm just cheap ]. Matt had a great swim (his first mile, too - way to go, Matt!) and I quickly went from the turn end, grabbed my goggles and cap and hopped into the start end for my race.

    My plan going into the swim was to string together 3 x 500 then finishing out with a strong 150 to complete the 66 lengths required for the race. I maintained a comfortable pace and lead over Jon in the lane next to me for the first 500, working on two dolphin kicks off the wall and 13 stroked per lap. I increased to a strong kick for the first 4 strokes off the wall in the middle 500 and was able to stay ahead of Jon. I felt tired in the final 500, and around 47 Jon caught me as my upper back/shoulders tightened up, actually sneaking ahead in the mid 50's. I decided to pick up the tempo at 59 (a little earlier than I planned) with increased turnover and a stronger kick, battling back and forth with Jon. I gunned the last fifty and just touched out Jon, coming in at 19:38.89! What a race! I ended up taking first in my age group for the event.


    (rx in the green cap FTW!)

    Event 4 Men: 35-39 1650 Yard Freestyle
    ========================================
    1 rxleakem 36 Bennington-NE 19:57.75 19:38.89
    32.49 1:06.14 (33.65)
    1:39.93 (33.79) 2:14.82 (34.89)
    2:49.73 (34.91) 3:25.51 (35.78)
    4:01.03 (35.52) 4:37.08 (36.05)
    5:13.64 (36.56) 5:50.09 (36.45)
    6:26.14 (36.05) 7:02.19 (36.05)
    7:38.81 (36.62) 8:14.97 (36.16)
    8:51.13 (36.16) 9:27.72 (36.59)
    10:04.57 (36.85) 10:41.70 (37.13)
    11:18.35 (36.65) 11:54.62 (36.27)
    12:31.42 (36.80) 13:07.75 (36.33)
    13:44.25 (36.50) 14:20.92 (36.67)
    14:57.90 (36.98) 15:34.06 (36.16)
    16:10.23 (36.17) 16:46.25 (36.02)
    17:22.62 (36.37) 17:56.84 (34.22)
    18:32.58 (35.74) 19:08.21 (35.63) 19:38.89 (30.68)


    *Note that twice I had the same 50 split, something I have always found awesome in others swimmers.
    The second occurrence was back-to-back; a combo bonus!
    ** So I swam: 5:50.09, 6:04.53, 6:02.22 plus 1:42.05. Probably took the first 500 out ever so slightly too fast.

    After a quick warmdown (totaling 3774 yds for the day), we brought the car back to the hotel and took the T into town for dinner at Jacob Wirth/'s German Restaurant, in honor of our exchange student. I refueled with Wiener Schnitzel. We had a great time, capturing this photo before saying good night to my aunt after an excellent day:


    Preston (yes, he is 16 and that tall now), Auntie, Rx, and my beloved.

    This morning we ate breakfast at the hotel and then took the long way home on Route 2, driving through Lexington and Concord to check out the pivotal starting points of the Revolutionary War along the Minute Man National Historical Park. We took some pictures at The Wayside, Orchard House (where Louisa May Alcott penned Little Women), Emerson House, and finally Walden Pond, which is on my bucket lists for an OWS.

    Another most excellent swimming adventure!

    Updated March 16th, 2014 at 10:18 PM by rxleakem

    Categories
    Masters Swim Meets / Events
  2. 2012 Harvard New England scy Champs 3/16-18

    by , March 18th, 2012 at 09:42 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    Just pulled into station from our trip to Boston for the weekend. Another excellent meet with fast swimming and plenty of time for socialization with the other 887 swimmers from New England and abroad. I spent most of my days hanging out with my adopted team, Cape Cod Masters, but was able to check in with fellow bloggers [ame="http://forums.usms.org/member.php?u=4899"]U.S. Masters Swimming Discussion Forums[/ame] and [ame="http://forums.usms.org/member.php?u=5129"]U.S. Masters Swimming Discussion Forums[/ame]. I also met some new folks, including the Kosiorek brothers, who I went to UMass (Amherst) swim camp with way back in the day, and Justin B, who is battling the GTD with me (at least we always seem to be neck and neck). I was able to better all of my Masters best times, so it was a very successful meet for me.

    Friday, March 16

    #10 Men 50 Freestyle Time: :24.37
    WENT: 24.22 r:+0.92
    This swim felt good. I was a tad slow off the blocks and didn't start attacking it quickly enough - need to work on breathing less and just powering it.

    #12 Men 200 Backstroke Time: 02:11.88
    WENT: 2:09.15
    31.27 1:04.28 (33.01)
    1:37.15 (32.87) 2:09.15 (32.00)
    I split this really well and was happy to swim it during the first day of competition this year. Two second time drop, still need keep at those SDK's off the walls - went 7,5,5,4,3,2,1 and streamlining, which fell apart in the last 75. Still, first place finish for my age group.

    #14 Men 100 Individual Medley Entry Time: 01:03.18
    WENT: 1:02.88 r:+0.83
    28.24 1:02.88 (34.64)
    Dropping time, which is the goal. Felt really good, not too much to comment on here.

    ** Early night - at the hotel by 4:30ish. Took a nap, had supper, and then went to the planetarium (Boston Museum of Science) with my daughter to watch a flick about the universe - amazing stuff.

    Saturday, March 17

    #24 Men 50 Butterfly Entry Time: :26.84
    WENT: 26.48 r:+0.75
    Played with more SKD's - helped a little. Good swim.

    #26 Men 200 Breaststroke Entry Time: 02:55.14
    WENT: 2:52.84 r:+0.84
    38.89 1:24.37 (45.48)
    2:08.62 (44.25) 2:52.84 (44.22)
    Wow, I actually gave a some fruit to the 200 breast? Yuppers - my goal for a FIRST EVER EVER 200 breast was to break 3 minutes. I focused on LONG underwaters (just about made the 15m mark the first four), swim an easy 125 then rock it home. Was a good swim (I've been working pull and kick from my Cape buddy Jim), and Rich suggested tossing the kick at the end of my pull after he swam. You'll recall my slow pace put him into a trance and the announcer had to call "SwimStud, wake up and get on the block." It was as if St. Nick was dashing down the stairs at Harvard, as I saw him spring onto the lane 3 platform then rocket off to a PB. Dude is awesome.

    #32 Men 200 Freestyle Entry Time: 01:57.19
    WENT: 1:56.62 r:+0.77
    27.55 57.50 (29.95)
    1:27.68 (30.18) 1:56.62 (28.94)
    Felt really strong, and I used a forceful two beat kick for the first 50, then gradually added legs after each turn. I waited until the 75 flip to really pick it up, and I will start a little sooner next time and attack the 3rd 50 more.

    #34 Men 100 Backstroke Entry Time: :59.45
    WENT: 58.78
    29.18 58.78 (29.60)
    Finally under the 59 mark, and based on the swim I need to take this out faster - I think I can hold on the back end. Dan from Pittsfield noted that I was not driving my shoulders enough, so I will work on that.

    ** This was not only my long day, but the meet's, as we got out around 6:30pm. That was a lot of swimming - I just ate supper and went to bed.

    Sunday, March 18

    #42 Men 200 Individual Medley Entry Time: 02:22.47
    WENT: 2:14.31 r:+0.80
    28.14 1:00.99 (32.85)
    1:44.72 (43.73) 2:14.31 (29.59)
    Wow! I went 2:22 in January, so this was a SIX second drop for me - still hard to fathom it. I stayed strong on the fly, worked the shoulder rotation (with less kick) on the back, then busted a long while shifting my kick for the breast before bring the free home. Jim noted that I did not lose time on the Breast, which I have always done before. It felt awesome, so it is getting the Chiquita®.

    #44 Men 50 Backstroke Entry Time: :27.76
    WENT: 27.60
    Happy with this swim. The only thing I will note, without a hint of whining, is that in lane one the flags do not fully extend over the lane - they are clipped to a plastic line. I was really far from the finish when I pulled out the "Leake Lunge," and could have short stroked it for a quicker time. Still, I was happy to get a little faster.

    #52 Men 100 Freestyle Entry Time: :52.60
    WENT: 52.14 r:+0.79
    25.23 52.14 (26.91)
    This was a good swim, and I was right next to Dave F. from the Cape on this one. I swam it 25 strong, 50 sprint, 25 last swim of the meet ... probably could have gone out with more intensity on the first 25 and gotten under 52. That will have to wait until next year.

    *** Beautiful day in Boston, 70 degrees, St. Patty's Day parade (which the family took in). I feel really blessed to be able to swim in this neck of the world, and to have this great facility and meet to dive into. For the 3 hour ride home I always take Rt 2 back to Vermont, driving through Concord like Paul Revere, past Leominster (birthplace of Johnny Appleseed) and Gardner, the furniture capital of New England before you get to the the toilet paper factory in Irving. Lot's of history here. A great meet, and our prayers for save travel and competition were answered. Now, I am going to complete my warmdown for the day with a dip in the hot tub, then .

    Updated March 18th, 2012 at 10:01 PM by rxleakem

    Categories
    Masters Swim Meets / Events