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  1. Getting De-All'd

    by , January 23rd, 2013 at 10:26 AM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    If you have ever been the victim of rule-mongering bureaucracy run amuk, and would like some misery to provide you a little company, grab a shawl and settle in for the blood-boiling pleasures of my most recent experience at the hands of our beloved "We do it all for the swimmers" organization!

    Yes, my swimming comrades! I have been officially De-All Americanized five weeks after the Top 10 listings became official!

    http://byjimthornton.com/2013/01/22/the-rise-and-fall-of-an-all-american/
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  2. Preamble to a Catalog of Woe

    by , January 11th, 2013 at 04:49 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
  3. Merry Christmas from Me and My Dicksons!

    by , December 22nd, 2012 at 10:14 AM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Another year has come and is almost gone.

    Here, my swimming friends across the globe, is this year's Christmas card and Big Present to each and every one of you!

    Don't feel obligated to give me anything in return. It is enough that you allow me to warm my cockles by being beneficiaries of my generosity, for truly, 'tis better to give than receive!

    Click below link to receive your card and gift!



    Click above link to receive your card and gift!

    Suggestion: Why not fire up your Big Present during Christmas dinner so the entire family can listen to it right after Grace?


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  4. I'm No. 1! Plus, Hudson, OHIO, IM results

    by , December 19th, 2012 at 10:42 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    No. 1, that is, in the 60-64 men's 100 LCM freestyle and the Boys and Girls 10-and-Under National Age Group record books! (Assuming I could pass for 10-and-Under in either gender category, which would involve a doctor's note attesting to a diagnosis of progeria and indeterminate sexual organs. Frankly, this shouldn't be all that difficult to secure.)

    Anyhow, to read more about this unbelievable triumph of mediocrity over reason, I invite you to click here http://byjimthornton.com/2012/12/18/random-inventory/ to be whisked instantly to a world of fantastical swimming enchantment...

    PS 5:45.80 and 2:39.94 in the 400 SCM and 200 SCM IM's respectively, this despite coming to a virtual standstill in the respective breaststroke legs of each race. A race dissection of the 400 comparing my splits to the current No. 1 Event Rankings placement holder, the legendary walrus-mustachioed Jim Clemmons, is also added to the link aformentioned above.

    Click, whisk, enchant!
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  5. The Big Snake Project

    by , December 7th, 2012 at 03:18 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    I suspect I am fast reaching a point of diminishing, perhaps vanishing, returns with this cross-platform monetization optimizing paradigm here.

    However, I am confident today's entry shall turn things around entirely!

    If you are swimming in a SCM this weekend, more reason than ever to click on the Big Snake Project for a turbocharging of energy levels!



    http://byjimthornton.com/2012/12/07/...snake-project/

    Have an enjoyable weekend!

    Off tomorrow to swim the 400 IM, the 200 IM, and possibly, if I am still able to move, the 800 freestyle in a SCM high school pool in Hudson, Ohio.

    Embarrassing results to be posted here next week!
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  6. My Chief Technology Officer

    by , December 6th, 2012 at 01:13 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
  7. My Rudder

    by , December 4th, 2012 at 01:41 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Okay, so maybe today's blog entry is not 100 percent, entirely swimming-related the way yesterday's was.

    On the other hand, it is on a subject that roughly half the USMS swimming population owns, and--at least according to Sigmund Freud--roughly the other half wishes they owned.

    Which reminds me of the classic old joke, wherein a little boy and a little girl are playing doctor.

    The little boy points at his nether regions and sneers, "Na na na na naaaaa na! I have one of these and you don't!"

    The little girl just shakes her head wisely, points to her nether regions, and replies, "With one of these, I can get as many of those as I want!"

    Which to me remains the most convincing of all arguments that Freud's notion of penis envy just doesn't pass the real world test.

    [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penis_envy"]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penis_envy[/ame]


    In any event, for today's reading and viewing pleasure, I present to the greater USMS diaspora an in-depth meditation on the nature of my rudder:

    http://byjimthornton.com/2012/09/22/...the-squeamish/

    Note: click on the above, not the picture, which will take you nowhere.



    Note: I am pretty sure that the bugs have been more or less worked out of the RSS feed thingy, making it even easier than ever to subscribe, absolutely for free, to my new blog!

    Though for those who can't figure out how to do so, I shall continue my quest to create infinite loops between hither http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?u=26 and thither http://byjimthornton.com/


    PS I signed up for the 400 and 200 IM and the 800 freestyle at the Hudson, Ohio SCM meet next Saturday. I shall keep you posted.

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  8. Criss Cross Chicane!

    by , December 3rd, 2012 at 04:49 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Today, an actual and fully swimming-related blog complete with partial race results and the kind of trash talking that gives anyone beyond 38 hope!

    Simply click on this link to be whisked immediately to a world of utter swimming enchantment! Can't wait? Click now! http://byjimthornton.com/2012/12/03/...t-ruminations/

    Bonus: includes two of my Sewickley teammates/Kona World Champion Triathlon competitors modeling actual underwear.

    Real people! Real underwear! Real trash talk! Right here! Right now! http://byjimthornton.com/2012/12/03/...t-ruminations/


    Still waiting? Okay, now click! You've made your point! No sense belaboring it! http://byjimthornton.com/2012/12/03/...t-ruminations/

    Really!
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  9. Vlog Aggregator for byJimThornton.com!!!!

    by , November 30th, 2012 at 12:40 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Great news, everyone! And just in time for the free gift-giving season!

    My USMS swimming vlog, the No. 1 Internet source of news about Jim Thornton's somewhat-related-to-swimming stream-of-consciousness ramblings, is now going to serve a second and arguably even more important raison d'etre:

    Driving traffic to my neonatal blog, http://byjimthornton.com/


    The Vlog will, in other words, now serve as a "news aggregator" for the blog, and vice versa. I would explain what this means if I understood it myself, but I don't have a clue. In fact, I am just throwing around words like "news aggregator" in the hopes that they might apply to what I am doing. In any event, whatever it is I am attempting here, I am pretty sure it will work in some capacity or other, without causing the global Internet to crash under the sheet massiveness of my daily drivel.

    Emphasis on the pretty.

    In any event, my new blog, http://byjimthornton.com/, not to be confused with this current vlog, http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?u=26, will feature some unbelievably enchanting unique content including:

    * Actual .pdf's of some of my magazine articles written over the years. These, unlike most of my vlogs 'n blogs, have actually useful information in them! You can learn, for instance, how to shorten the pain of heartbreak, determine your zygosity if you are a twin, and subscribe via RSS feed technology to http://byjimthornton.com/. And so many more useful things, too!


    Visitors to http://byjimthornton.com/ will be able to effortless click to view and/or save for your permanent electronic library charming and frequently award-winning articles such as the above (which won the 1992 Gold Medal Award for Best Article of the Year, The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE)!


    * Actual cartoon novellas drawn and written by me both now in my senescence and during my juvenilia days--watch a mind develop and decay all at a single one-stop site!


    A snippet from the entirely viewable online and/or downloadable for permanent library inclusion of the ongoing cartoon autobiography: Jim! Up Through Screamer.


    * The Thornton Twins Podcast, not yet up, but which should be up very soon--perfect for downloading to your smartphone and playing either late at night when you need a cure for insomnia, or behind the wheel when you need to stave off grogginess and evade vehicular misadventure!


    Women of a certain vintage who have long fantasized about a dalliance with twins are free to stoke said fantasies while listening to the Thornton twins discuss the leading issues of the day in their deeply resonant male voices that only occasionally squeak!

    Go ahead! We do not mind being fodder for your fantasies, though if you have ever been diagnosed with erotomania (ero·to·ma·nia/ (-ma´ne-ah) 1. a type of delusional disorder in which the subject harbors a delusion that a particular person is deeply in love with them; lack of response is rationalized, and pursuit and harassment may occur), please know that John and I are not what we appear to be in this handsome picture from our younger days, but rather are constipated old cranks riddled with disgusting personal habits and you would be much better off fixating on these twins instead:


    Okay. I know what you're thinking. "Jim, you had me at 'Great news!' What do I need to do to make it incredibly simple to follow your new blog, http://byjimthornton.com/, on the Internet? To be honest, I am not that technologically savvy."

    First of all, don't be ashamed! I, too, am not that technologically savvy. And figuring out how to make things as easy and enjoyable as humanly possible for anybody on earth to find and follow me remains an ongoing challenge.

    But here is what I recommend for now, at least:

    1. Check out this blog entry first, http://byjimthornton.com/2012/11/29/...ckerberg-weep/, which will explain how to use RSS feed technology to automatically funnel any new entries into your "reader"--and I even provide links to some good, free readers for those of you who, like me, don't know what "readers" are. Note: there remain some bugs in the system, so please be patient with the RSS feeding/reader thing! Eventually, it will all go swimmingly.

    2. Click on this link next for an easy-to-scroll compendium of the blogs so far posted http://byjimthornton.com/all-posts/ so that you can read each one at your leisure, clicking away with abandon at all the little buttons at the bottom of each entry (share with Facebook, Twitter, G+, email, and the like.)

    Thanks ever so much, my friends! In the month or so I have been working on http://byjimthornton.com/, I have already managed to "earn" $6.50 in eye ball views, assuming some of these aren't later deemed fraudulent! Once the new blog accumulates $100 worth of non-fraudulent eyeball view-based revenue, which I estimate will occur sometime in the third quarter of 2017, I shall cut a check to my Chief Technology Officer, Liam White, for 10 percent of the amount, and use the remainder to buy premium catfood for a much deserved family celebration!

    And you will all be invited!
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  10. Of Dots, Gluttony, and Muskrats

    by , November 25th, 2012 at 01:42 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    First of all, a very belated Happy Thanksgiving 2012 for all my viewers:


    I ate, of course, the Traditional American Thanksgiving Feed on Thursday, followed by the Traditional American Thanksgiving Leftover Feed the moment I woke up for breakfast on Black Friday.

    And the gluttony has not taken more than a few moments rest ever since.

    I am becoming a bloated monstrosity.

    Last night, for example, I went to the local Bottom Dollar store and found a good price on center cut pork chops. The smallest package I could find, unfortunately, contained four of these beauties. I do not like leftovers when it comes to the other white meat, so I grilled and ate four of these:


    and washed them down with some fizzy water and a whole avacado. Then I went to see Skyfall with my teammate Ben Mayhew and Liam White, son of our other teammate, Bill White. Liam is a boy genius and computer wizard about whom I will soon be writing more TERRIBLY EXCITING SWIMMING TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENTS LIKELY TO REVOLUTIONIZE THE WAY YOU WASTE TIME ON YOUR SMART PHONE!!!

    Anyhow, at the movie theater, I purchased a box of Dots:


    in the only size available. I gave Liam most, though I concede, not all of the green ones, and ate the rest of the Dots myself.

    Thanks to the way they calculate grams of sugar on the size of the box, it seemed at first that perhaps I had not done myself too much diabetes-inducing damage. But then I realized that they were talking about grams of sugar per serving, of which there were actually five servings in the box.

    Bottom line: as a chaser to my four grilled porkers and avocado, and as a prelude to my later beers and Klondike bar, I had inadvertently consumed 105 grams of sugar, somewhat more than the 25 grams per day recommended for men.

    I will leave unspecified my breakfast and lunch preceding the Pork-Avacado-Dots main meal of the day, but suffice it to say, I didn't starve myself.

    All of which circles me back to why this has relevance to my swimming and, for that matter, the Archimedes Principle.

    To wit, I am becoming so bloated with fat and plumptitude that I greatly fear my recent swimming accomplishment (i.e., that first ever individual All American rating: still not absolutely guaranteed, but looking ever more cautiously optimistic as Dec. 1 hustles towards us!) might be my last one.

    Partly because I must move so much additional fat-weight through the water.

    And partly because the sheer bulk of me is displacing so much water from the pool itself that there might not be enough left to actually swim in.

    All of which further circles me back to my Happy Thanksgiving card, photoshopped by my friend, Bill Robertson, who years and years ago similarly photoshopped a picture of me grilling a monkey in the jungle for use as my annual Christmas card. (Do not worry! I shall post this when the time is right!)

    Anyhow, the creature I appear to be eating in my Happy Thanksgiving card is a muskrat, trapped and skinned by Dan E., a carpenter who does a lot of work for my wife and me at out Bed & Breakfast in Western, PA:


    It occurred to me that maybe I could shed a few pounds if I went on the Modern Paleo Pittburger Diet™, eating only things like muskrats and pine cones that I can harvest on my own from the Western PA hinterlands.



    Muskrat in water



    Muskrat in truck



    Muskrat in me belly
    So far, unfortunately, I haven't managed to make the switch.

    But looking at these last two pictures on a regular basis has helped put me at least slightly off my Traditional American Feed Diet.

    And I hope, perchance, they will do the same for you!

    If you get a chance, please check out my new actual blog, where I am hoping to slowly archive many of my published magazine stories over the years. There are already a couple entries up that have swimming articles available for free .pdf downloads:


    I would be thrilled if any of you out there would consider "subscribing" via RSS to my new blog, known simply as ByJimThornton:


    I'm hoping it might one day prove to be a poor man's pitiable pension plan, cranking out revenue via page view advertising in the neighborhood of $3.25 per month.

    I am definitely going to need the money when the Modern Paleo Pittburger Diet™ inevitably fails and I end up--as we all know I shall--in The Nursing Home For Dot Addicted Fatties™.
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  11. Jimmy Boo Boo Child's Possibly Premature Ejaculation

    by , November 9th, 2012 at 11:01 AM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)


    It begins!

    All


    All


    All


    All


    All


    All


    All


    ALL (FIRST EVER INDIVIDUAL) AMERICAN!!!!!?





    !


    Let's hope the above ejaculation does not prove premature, for the listings are still preliminary. My fingers have been crossed so long it looks like I have developed arthritis.

    For those hoping to follow in my path to flukish glory in what the current edition of Swimmer calls "the premiere event in swimming, the 100 LCM freestyle", I say it is critical to have a good role model.

    I will happily shoulder that burden for you, just as a little girl down 'Bama way has shouldered that burden for me!


    Note: to see the movie, you need to click on this link. Clicking on the picture below the link won't do you any good.

    I would also like to thank, in as public a way as possible, cinematographer and still photographer nonpareil, John Kuzmkowski.

    How John has time to work on his artistry while simultaneously racking up the #2 position in Go The Distance is beyond me!

    If I were a young girl, and I assure you I am not, I would find this combination of creativity and indefatigable endurance absolutely irresistible.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gM3wa...ican - YouTube


    Updated November 9th, 2012 at 01:45 PM by jim thornton

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  12. Thornton's Life of Livingston: New Weight Training Ideas

    by , July 26th, 2012 at 04:37 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    I realize that Leslie "the Fortress" Livingston is a much beloved--no, make that a most beloved--swimmer in the pantheon of USMS greats.

    By contrast, I am something of a minor non-entity/known irritant who uses his skills in the latter to win attention, be this mildly positive (yeah, right!) or somewhat negative ("The only thing worse than being talked about," suggested Oscar Wilde, "is not being talked about.")

    To this end, one of the most successful strategies I have discovered over the years has been to Boswell myself to Leslie's Dr. Johnson by which I mean a relationship not entirely unlike the one enjoyed by a helminth in the digestive tract of his human host, only in a literary sense.



    Might Necatur Americanus prove as similarly ameliorative to Leslie's gluten allergy as biographer James Thornton has proven to be in the documentation of her life? The answer in a future vlog (but here is a hint: Yes!)

    As Wikipedia puts it about the exceptional Boswell-Johnson relationship:

    Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. (1791) is a biography of Dr. Samuel Johnson written by James Boswell. It is regarded as an important stage in the development of the modern genre of biography; many have claimed it as the greatest biography written in English. While Boswell's personal acquaintance with his subject only began in 1763, when Johnson was 54 years old, Boswell covered the entirety of Johnson's life by means of additional research. The biography takes many critical liberties with Johnson's life, as Boswell makes various changes to Johnson's quotations and even censors many comments. Regardless of these actions, modern biographers have found Boswell's biography as an important source of information.

    As even a casual review of my vlog entries will convince you, Thornton's Life of Livingston is, in so many ways, my life's great project and metaphorical case of intestinal parasitism.

    It is, I suspect, no accident that both Mr.'s Boswell and Thornton share the name James.

    But why, one might reasonably ask, would we need to read Thornton's Life of Livingston when Leslie, through her own daily scribblings, is providing a perfectly detailed Livingston's Life of Livingston in her own right?

    And while it is true that you can count on Leslie's own incredibly well-read blog, The FAF AFAP Digest, for the minutiae of her life as a swimmer--the yards doing this, the meters doing that, the equipment used here, the other equipment used there, the dry lands, the wet lands, the pilatic yogic positions, the cornu copiae of physical, psychological, hormonal, geo-political-spiritual miseries racked up as a consequence, and so forth--I maintain that to see the Big Picture of the Life Leslie (or La Vie de Livingston, as Proust might have put it), you really need to start reading Thornton's Life of Livingston much more carefully, more often, and with many, many, many more comments left in the comments section.

    At the risk of seeming impertinent, Leslie is much too close to her subject to see the forest for the trees. Not so I!

    Furthermore, like James Boswell, James Thornton has no impediment with "taking liberties" with the "facts" in order to better capture of the truth of Leslie's life, a truth, I might add, is likely to elude the dear girl herself.

    For who among us can truly claim to know ourselves better than I know you, even those I have barely met?

    With all this as preamble, let me cut to the chase here before I lose too many more of you dear readers, for I do sense a certain restlessness in the ether, a shuffling of papers, a clearing of phlegm from the throat, as if in preparation for saying the likes of, "Okay, well..." or "Gotta nuther call..." or "Shut the **** up, I can't stand to hear any more of this lunatic prattle!"

    To wit:

    Some of you may recall that one of my earliest "chapters" in Thornton's Life of Livingston was the classicly controversial vlog entry, Love Leslie, Hate Jim http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?b=8731.

    This simply recapitulated the fan reaction to our ***-for-tat argument on the subject of the putative "benefits" of weight-lifting for swimmers that ran in Swimmer Magazine.

    Leslie argued it is essential to do this in order to swim fast.

    I argued that the literature said quite the opposite and that, moreover, it was dangerous.

    I told you so: on the nature of an obnoxious, but not altogether unfactual, saying.

    It appears that I have been correct, at least in the latter declaration, all the while, proving yet again that Thornton knows Livingston better than Livingston knows Livingston--yet another reason why Thornton's Life of Livingston should remain the number one literary destination for anybody with even a passing interest in Leslie, including most of all Leslie herself.

    For this is what happened to the lass:

    While once again attempting heavy weight lifting last week, Leslie heard something elastic snap in her elbow, triggering instant pain. In a text message, she wrote to me that perhaps she would stop heavy lifting forever, that she had, indeed, come around to my way of thinking: i.e., that it is a dangerous waste of time for swimmers!

    Oh dear, further chase cutting, I now believe, has become a matter of survival. The audience for today's musings, I greatly fear, is dwindling faster than the Donner party!

    Absolutely no more preamble then. For those intrepid few who have remained with us so far, there is a payoff--and a sizable one at that.

    Thanks to Bill White's eagle eye, I am happy to propose a much safer couple of alternatives to classic heavy weight lifting that Leslie can take up instead.

    Please check out these two regimens, one of which is great for the arms, and the other which will give even the flimsiest of us specimens the abs and core of Mr. Ryan Lochte himself (who will be appearing soon in an upcoming episode of the Vlog the Inhaler, AKA, Thornton's Life of Livingston and Lochte.)

    (Note: many of you may be familiar with the first exercise regimen. The second one, however, which Bill brought to my attention yesterday, is likely to be completely novel to anyone who has not spent time incarcerated in North Korea. Don't miss it!)

    Safe approach to arm strength training:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/0..._n_541956.html

    Safe approach to torso strength training:

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/daves4/korea...rse-than-the-s
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  13. Experiment in Pain

    by , June 29th, 2012 at 03:15 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    The incredibly kind Anna Lea Matysek sent me this yesterday in response to my Facebook status, which read:

    After suffering a tear-inducing back spasm yesterday morning--four days before the Spire Institute swimming meet--and still suffering greatly from sciatica, pelvic girdle nerve pains, and agony in the lumbar regions--I have decided to try an experiment: I am not babying myself. I am Marquis de Sade-ing myself instead in the hopes this counterintuitive fix will allow me to swim this weekend. In the meantime, if any of my Facebook friends are secret heroin addicts with access to an abundant supply of the elixir AND a clean hypodermic needle, would you consider letting me know how much it would cost to get a little juice in the right spot?

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpag...pagewanted=all

    Inspired by both Dr. Weinstein and my swimming coach/friend Bill White, who was swimming butterfly two weeks after a severe Grade 3 shoulder separation, I have decided to meet my fate somewhere near the shores of Lake Erie.

    I shall keep you posted, perchance answering the question posed in this self-portrait by early next week.

    The one thought that keeps me going is that if I somehow manage to paralyze myself while diving off the blocks, then at least the pain will go away.

    --A fellow traveler for all the assorted USMS back pain sufferers, Jimmy.


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  14. Leslie's Core: In Praise Of

    by , June 3rd, 2012 at 03:06 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    After the Greensboro meet, during which I managed to beat everyone in attendance in the 200 freestyle who was also at least 59 years old, I decided that it was time for me to take the next step.

    That next step is to become more like Leslie.

    I think I can say with 100 percent accuracy that our little Leslie, AKA, Leslie "The Fortress" Livingston, is not only a World Class Masters Swimmer but also the Patron Saint of Masters Swimmers Everywhere as well as Mither Nonpareil to a Quartet of Unbelievably Talented Athletic Youngsters: Zach, Ali, Gillian, and her favorite of all, Jimmy, the man child.

    One of the keys to Leslie's swimming success, I believe, was her decision to embrace and excel at something most of us post-40 Masters never learned during our swimming youths: the SDK.

    I was trying to recall the exact circumstances that caused Leslie to pursue excellence in this new "second fastest of all strokes"--and to put it into the pitiless vanquishment of her 50 and over female (and, honestly, male) competitors. (I can't begin to tell you how many chauvinistic men of a certain age were muttering in the Greensboro locker room that the 50 fly and 50 back have been forever ruined for them by Leslie's untouchable World Records! Besides me, there must have been at least one more embittered old jerk doing this.)

    Leslie has told me more than once the inspirational story of how she came to devote herself to SDKs and the core strengthening this requires.

    Alas, my memory is not what it used to be, and what it used to be wasn't all that great.

    For the life of me, I just couldn't remember what this story was. So this morning I Googled "why Leslie decided in middle age to become the best 5' 3" to 5' 4" female SDKer in the world" (or words to that effect) and the following image popped up on my screen, bringing the whole episode back with such detail it was as if it had all just happened yesterday!



    For those of you who may not know, Leslie was a stand-out distance swimmer at Dartmouth University, where she specialized in the 400 IM and 200 Butterfly.

    She attended Dartmouth on a full scholarship because her great great great great great grandfather on her mother's side was a cousin to Jim Thorpe's great great great great uncle by marriage. As most of you know, Dartmouth was originally founded for Native Americans, who to this day are given preferential treatment in admissions process.

    Not that this in any way made up for the savage racial taunts Leslie experienced from her Pale Face classmates. Indeed, for much of her freshman year, Leslie's only friend was her roommate and fellow part-Ojibway, Elizabeth Warren.



    How mercilessly were Les and Liz teased for their high Indian cheekbones and somewhat shrill war cries! In one particularly cruel episode, Harvard boy, Mitford Romney (known to the Sioux and Ojibways at Dartmouth as Two Faced White Weasel Born of Multiple Mothers) lead a gang of privileged white country clubbers to the girls' dorm. As the frat boys held the comely squaws down, Two Faced White Weasel Born of Multiple Mothers pulled out an authentic tomahawk purchased for the occasion at a New Hampshire Stuckey's, held it high above his head, and yelled, "Now I'm a'gonna cut your Sacagawea's off!"

    The next thing Leslie remembers was waking up at age 46, with four kids (the oldest of which she hadn't yet met), a bit of mid-life dysthymia, and a desire to get back into swimming shape. She started swimming at a pool near her house in suburban Washington, DC, where she had been practicing law, wifing, and living a completely unmemorable life for decades.

    The coach suggested she might want to learn SDKs, and Leslie thought it was a good suggestion.

    So she practiced, did exercises to strengthen her core muscles, and over the next four or five years became incredibly good at SDKs!

    It's an amazing story, and I am sure that many of you will find it as inspiring as I have.

    All of which is leading up to a set I accidentally stumbled upon while swimming a solo practice at the Sewickley YMCA pool last Thursday:

    Easy 1000 warm up

    Continuous 50s kick for as long as it takes, performed with a kick board but without fins in the following order--

    First 50, all flutter kick.

    Second 50, 1 dolphin kick off each wall, followed by the rest of each length flutter kick.

    Third 50, 2 dolphin kicks per wall, followed by flutter.

    Fourth 50, 3 dolphin kicks per wall and so forth....adding a single dolphin kick per length..

    Until you kick the whole length only doing dolphin kicks.

    In my case, I finally made it with 30 dolphin kicks per length, which brought this kick set to 1500 yards.

    I finished up with some actual submerged dolphin kicks, swimming 25 yards length underwater (took me 28 kicks to do this.)

    Then the normal cool down procedures.

    I was pretty sure my back would be killing me the next day, but it didn't. DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness, kicked in two days later, but not in my back but rather my abs, which became very sore indeed. When I mentioned this to Bill, he said that the pain indicated I was probably doing the SDKs correctly.

    Clearly, I'm far from ready to Venus de Milo my own abdominal regions the way Google has opted to do for World Record holder, Leslie. Nor am I prepared to put on a war bonnet and declare, via blood curdling whoops, my intention to raid the 60-64 Age Group.

    My own great great grandparents were not related to a famous red Indian like Jim Thorpe but rather, I am fairly certain, derived from anonymous pastey-faced European mongrels, themselves beget during one of those frequent collective-horde "love fests" that is a chief reason evolutionary biology has driven human sperm counts to such Zarathustrian numbers!

    Still, I do plan to continue my SDK practicing whenever I find myself solo in a lap lane! Unlike Leslie, I have never had much of a Sacagewea to count on. But as her own experience has so nicely shown us, it's never too late to grow one.
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  15. Swimboy Pictorial

    by , April 8th, 2012 at 04:03 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Leaving tomorrow to interview Mr. Lochte; hoping, upon return, for advice and commentary on this and that regarding hodge podge below:

    Picture 1.




    Note: this first picture is the only entirely swimming related-part of today's vlog, so readers who can respond with advice to the questions raised therein will be excused from continuing onwards into what, even I concede, is ultimately a dark place indeed beginning around Picture 5.



    Picture 2.




    Artists abound within our swimming ranks. At our recent Y championships at Clarion University, an incredibly affable swimmer named Mike Genz drew the following for my coach's 6-year-old daughter, Ciara. Mike was an animator for Disney till carpal tunnel forced him to take a break. He got a tenured position at Edinboro University teaching animation, and that's how he wound up in our hickish neck of the woods. While employed by Disney, he worked on numerous films. He did, for example, all of Ariel's sisters in The Little Mermaid, plus all the eels!


    Picture 3.




    Another great swimmer-illustrator is our very own D.B. "Doug" Dowd, who posts under the name Red60.


    Picture 4.




    Red it is! Anybody with an interest in graphic design and a wonderful way of bringing travel to life should contact Red for a copy of Spartan Holiday!
    You can send him a private message here: http://forums.usms.org/private.php?do=newpm&u=4764

    Picture 5.




    Hypothesis: you don't need to be talented to be a good artist. Example: I happened upon the following picture of myself and noticed that the bottom half of my upside down face had a certain science fiction quality that was more attractive, or at least more commanding, than the top half.


    Picture 6.




    Using Microsoft Paint, I surgically excised the unwanted parts of my face, added a new forehead, sketched in a little mouth, and added some arms. It occurred to me that upside down, and with half my head removed, I looked exactly like one of my pugs!


    Picture 7.




    Hypothesis: Disproven. You do need to be talented to be a good artist. I sent my concept to my twin brother, John "Rusty Scupperton" Thornton, who brought the Pug Jim chimera disturbingly to life!


    The picture reminded me greatly of a poem most of us read in college, which sounds a powerful cautionary note against the bestial impulse that, quite frankly, is universal in human males:


    The Pug Child

    WITH APOLOGIES TO JAMES L. DICKEY
    Pug owners wild to couple
    With anything with soft-curly tails
    With mounds of earth mounds
    Of pinestraw will keep themselves off
    Animals by legends of their own:
    In the dog nest dark
    And dung of yards, they will
    Say I have heard tell

    That in a museum in Ambridge, PA

    Way back in a corner somewhere
    There’s this thing that’s only half
    Pug like a worried baby
    Pickled in alcohol because
    Those things can’t live. his eyes
    Are open but you can’t stand to look
    I heard from somebody who ...

    But this is now almost all

    Gone. The boys have taken
    Their own true wives in the city,
    The pugs are safe in the west hill
    Kennel but we who were born there
    Still are not sure. Are we,
    Because we remember, remembered
    In the terrible dust of museums?

    Merely with his eyes, the pug-child may


    Be saying saying


    I am here, in my father’s Dog-gloo.

    I who am half of your world, came deeply
    To my mother before her bowl
    Of Science Diet, where she stood like moonlight
    Listening for pussies. It was something like love
    From another world that seized her
    From behind, and she gave, not lifting her head
    Out of the kibble, without ever looking, her best
    Self to that great need. Turned loose, she dipped her face
    Farther into the Kennel Ration, and in a sound
    Of sobbing of something stumbling
    Away, began, as she must do,
    To carry me. I woke, dying,

    In the summer sun of the hillside, with my eyes

    Far more than human. I saw for a blazing moment
    The great dog run world from both sides,
    Man and wolves in the round of their need,
    And the hill wind stirred in my coat,
    My paw and my hand clasped each other,
    I ate my one meal
    Of Purina Chow, and died
    Staring. From dark meat I came straight

    To my father’s house, whose dust

    Whirls up in the halls for no reason
    When no one comes piling deep in a hellish mild corner,
    And, through my immortal waters,
    I meet the sun’s flesh eye
    To eye, and they fail at my closet of glass.
    Dead, I am most surely living
    In the minds of pug owning boys: I am he who drives
    Them like wolves from the sow and hen
    And from the chaste bitch in the wind.
    They go into woods into bean fields they go
    Deep into their known right hands. Dreaming of me,
    They groan they wait they suffer
    Themselves, they marry, they raise their kind.

    Picture 8.




    Chances are that anyone who has continued reading up to this point will enjoy the bejesus out of my wonderful brother's latest movie, itself a tremendous gem of activist art! How I love the good nature and earnest bonhomie/sensibility of this American Baby!


    To complete your Easter journey, simply click on here to find out that there are worse monsters afoot in these United States than the odd, short-lived Pug Children who live for a day among us before expiring!


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrpQ...V6qahcFfHS-cI=

    Updated April 8th, 2012 at 04:09 PM by jim thornton

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  16. Comes a flock of Albatrossians!

    by , March 21st, 2012 at 04:09 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)


    Please pour yourself a favorite beverage, be this a goblet of Chardonnay or a punch made from dark roast espresso and Everclear, sit down upon your favorite couch with your iPad 3, other tablet device, or laptop computer, and commit to a good old-fashioned Dickensian style
    meet report that will leave you both inspired and smarter!

    Last Friday, March 16th, I drove down to the Middle Atlantic Compound that I co-own with Leslie Livingston and her family (don't ask: the intricacies of squatters rights real estate law are well beyond the scope of this report, though I will refer interested parties to the Office of Circumlocution for more info). The ride was uneventful; not so the repast of flank steak and asparagus and polenta that greeted my arrival, nor the first two episodes of the show, Shameless, that Leslie and I watched until our respective hypnotics knocked us into our respective rooms to sleep in our respective states of drugged babyhood.


    The next morning, Leslie made one of her smoothies, which include various berries, spinach leaves, aged contents from supplement bottles, potions, lawn waste, unguents, and a few tinctures that I think may have gotten women into trouble in Salem, Massachusetts in yesteryear, though thankfully that is well past us.


    We made our way to the Albatross meet with our respective goals in mind: Leslie to beat her own World and/or National Records in the 50 Fly and 100 Back, and to do similarly well in the 50 Free (she accomplished the first; half accomplished the second; and scratched the third--for more, I recommend reading her excellent blog.)


    My goals were at once more modest and more daring, given our respective reservoirs of swimming talent.


    I wanted to:



    1. Set the new Albatross record in the 200 freestyle
    2. Set the new Albatross record in the 400 freestyle
    3. Do well enough in the 100 to make it into the Top 10 in my new age group
    4. Possibly do well enough in the 50 to do similarly
    5. Contribute to three relays with my 1776 teammates, Dale Keith, Geoff Meyer, and Paul Trevisan, the four of us adding up to exactly 240 years of collective elderliness, thus qualifying to swim in the 240-279 relay category.
    6. Finally, preserve my Albatrossian record (set last year when I was in the 55-59 age group) in the 200 SCM freestyle, though I realized this was no longer in my control. The great Brad Gandee has signed up to swim this, and though his seed time was slower than my record, I suspected that he may well have sandbagged...

    I shall record the various races in the order they took place, with commentary to follow each one.

    100 SCM Freestyle

    Age Group 60-64 - Male

    Paul Trevisan 57.61

    James Thornton 1:00.14

    I came in second to my 1776 teammate, Paul Trevisan, a sensational sprinter who has set a number of World Records in the past and was hoping to break the 100 and 50 records here, too, despite the absence of a tech suit. Paul came close but didn't quite make it.


    What proved somewhat encouraging to me, if not Paul, is that two of us in the 60-64 age group beat most of the other swimmers at the meet in the 100 free.


    The next oldest swimmer who beat me (but not Paul) was Darek Sady in the 35-39 age group--Darek swam a 58.00.


    Two guys in the 25-29 age group beat us both: Bryan Rivera, with a 53.58; and Nick Kaufman-O'Reilly, with a 55.24.


    Commentary:


    Sprinter Paul and Middle-Distance Jim clearly swim the 100 in different ways, beyond, that is, the fact that Paul swims it
    a lot faster!

    Check out the respective slopes of our splits:




    Paul's slope is reasonably steep here, indicative of the "leave nothing behind" philosophy of sprinting the whole race and trying not to die too badly by the end.


    The differential between Paul's 50s was 4.33 seconds. Would he have gone faster overall by saving a little on the front end? Who knows?





    My slope, on the other hand, is less steep, indicating a more controlled approach.


    My differential was 1.98 seconds. Would I have gone faster had I not coddled myself so much on the front half? Again, it's hard to know for certain, but several factors conspired to convince me to swim the race this way.


    First, it's worked for me in various other swims so far this season.


    Second, the difference between my "smooth EZ speed freestyle" stroke and my frenzied "all out sprinting freestyle" stroke is not huge, time-wise, but it is very significant energy-expenditure-wise.


    Third, unlike last year, where I signed up too late to swim the 400, I knew that at this year's Albatross I would be swimming the 200, 400, and three relays. Since I tend to do better, rankings wise, in the 200 and 400, I didn't want to use up too much on the 100.


    All the above notwithstanding, I was a bit disappointed when I looked up and saw that I'd failed to break a minute. At the 2011 Albatross meet, I swam .99 faster, turning in a 59.15, which proved good enough to earn me a tentative 6th place in the World that year--FINA TT rankings:




    My splits last year were 28.47 and 30.68, for a slightly higher differential of 2.21 seconds. One technical flaw this year might have accounted for a bit of the difference--I didn't see the final wall until I was right on top of it, and ended up taking an unnecessary final short stroke. Still, I doubt this made too much of a difference. The bottom line is that I probably tried harder in the 100 last year.



    200 SCM freestyle


    Fortunately for me, Paul Trevisan doesn't like to swim anything over a 100, which gave me a relative free pass in the 200.

    I came in fifth overall for this event, with the only four fellows who beat me (admittedly by substantial margins) were in the 40-44; 35-39; and 25-29 age groups.


    Age Group 60-64 - Male
    1776 James Thornton 2:12.59

    Age Group 40-44 - Male GERM Daniel Bellin 2:01.28

    Age Group 35-39 - Male
    GERM Frederik Hviid 2:00.53

    Age Group 25-29 - Male
    UNAT Bryan Rivera 1:56.99
    CUBU

    Age Group 25-29 - Male
    UNAT Sam Garner 2:08.94

    Despite losing to whippersnappers, I was happy with this swim.


    What was particularly gratifying when I looked up and saw my time was knowing it bested last year's 200, where I'd set the Albatross meet record of 2:13.04 in the 55-59 age group.


    Here are my splits for this year's 200:




    The difference between my first and second 100s was 2.53 seconds. Since the first 100 benefits from a dive, I feel I swam this race pretty evenly, which was my goal.

    Last year's 200 had the following splits (sorry I can't find a SwimPhone graph for last year's results):


    30.66, 33.17 (first 100 1:03.83)

    35.04, 34.17 (second 100 1:09.21)

    Difference between last year's 2 x100s:
    5.38

    Maybe the reason I swam a faster 200 this year is because I saved up a bit on the individual 100 earlier in the day. But I think a more significant explanation is that I simply paced things better this year for my kind of swimming style.


    Could I have done a better time going out a bit faster this year? I am not sure, though I concede it's possible. But more and more, I am beginning to conclude that for my body type, stroke, and energy systems, an evenly balanced swim is the better bet than the "hold on and try not to die" approach.


    In any event, last year's 2:13.04 proved good enough to make the tentative Top 10 worldwide:




    Had I been FINA 60 last year, instead of turning it this year, my 2012 time would have actually been good enough to place No.1 in the world by nearly a second:




    Of course, this year isn't last year, so who knows what will happen.


    My time did set a new Albatross record in the 60-64 age group, plus in the heat after I swam, Brad Gandee ended up having to withdraw half way through the race because of cramps.


    Thus my 55-59 Albatross record in the 200 SCM still stands. Who cares about world placement when one can legitimately boast:
    Ich bein ein duble Albatrossian!

    Men 55-59 200 Free 2:13.04 3/19/2011 James Thornton 1776

    Mr. Roddin, please know that you can stamp Stetari by this 200 Free Albatrossian record for at least one more glorious year!



    400 SCM freestyle

    I signed up for the 50 free, but it was less than 15 minutes away from the 400. The meet, which had started at 3 p.m., was dragging on. Besides Leslie's a.m. smoothie, and a couple of scrambled eggs consumed before we set off from the Compound to the pool much earlier in the day, all I'd had to eat was some Gu Chomps and a banana. My stomach was beginning to roil. It was nearly 7:30 p.m. by the time my heat in the 400 SCM free was ready to be swum.

    I also knew that immediately following this heat, the last of the day, my 1776 teammates and I would be swimming 3 quick relays.


    Call me cowardly, but I decided that if there was ever a time to adopt the controlled pace strategy, this was it. After all, it had worked quite well for the 200, and when I swam that race earlier in the day, I actually felt energetic and good as opposed to shakey and nauseated.


    Anyhow, I came in third overall in the 400 SCM free with a time of 4:48.72.


    The fellows who beat me were:


    Age Group 45-49 - Male

    Jonathan Berry 4:39.19

    Age Group 30-34 - Male

    Jeff "Muppet" Strahota 4:48.06

    I actually spied Jeff on the final length, though I didn't know at the time it was him. I'd failed to secure a counter, and though I was 90 percent sure that I was swimming the last length, there was enough uncertainty about this in my mind that I didn't want to turn entirely to lead in case I had to finish with another 50.


    Nevertheless, I did my best to beat Jeff and almost succeeded.


    Here are our respective SwimPhone graphs:




    Muppet's graph above





    My graph above.



    A couple notes about our respective races:



    1. Jeff told me at the Social after the meet that he always likes to be the first one to touch on the very first 50 of distance races.
    2. His first 50 was 31.75; mine was 34.92. His first 50, in other words, beat me by 3.17 seconds.
    3. By the end of the whole 400, his time beat mine by .66 of a second.
    4. Jeff's last 50 was 35.90, and mine was 34.31, which means I beat him by 1.59 seconds here.
    5. Overall, our average 50s were extremely close: 36.01 for him; 36.09 for me, or 8 one-hundredths of a second for each of the 8 x 50s.
    6. Could I have perchance beaten Jeff if I'd exerted myself a wee bit more, particularly on 50 No. 1? I don't know. The thing about swimming fast at the beginning of a race, at least for me, is that it has a multiplier effect, sort of like the way a tiny millimeter off as a bullet leaves the barrel of a rifle can miss the target by a wide margin, particularly the further away such a target (or final wall) is.
    7. I do think I might have swum a better 400, especially if it had been the first event, not the last individual event of the day. My "meters to yards" conversion time worked out to a 5:28, pretty much the same as my best 500 of the year, albeit in a worse pool but swum first thing in the meet.
    8. Leslie told me she thought I looked "lackadaisical" on the first 50, I am think perhaps I could have gone slightly faster here. When control blossoms into a lackadaisy, is it really control anymore--or something else entirely?
    9. I think for me the ideal way to swim freestyle races 200+ and divisible by 4 is similar to the old school relay order: second fastest guy first, followed by slowest guy, then the third fastest, then the fastest guy as the anchor. Put more simply, grading the four quarters of the race would thus be: B D C A. The difference, of course, between one person doing a long swim and four people doing a relay is that the dive yields such an advantage that the individual race, ideally, should be swum A D C B. Even with the dive, I swam my 400 A D C B.
    10. Conclusion: I probably should swim first 100 a little bit faster, particularly first 50; and start descending a bit more aggressively on the third 100, all the while staying away from teetering over the lactate threshold.

    I didn't swim the 400 last year, but here are the FINA results for 2011's 60-64 age group:




    Who knows how my time will fare in this year's rankings? With luck, I may even get another chance to swim a SCM meet before the end of the year.


    But one thing looks certain: I can add the coveted Albatrossian title for a third time in an individual event!


    Mr. Roddin, sir! At the risk of sounding cruel, please do not dither too long before hiring the masonry artisan to rechisel into the granite tablets a replacement name for Mr's. Harmon and Morgan, former record holders in the 200 and 400 SCM freestyles, respectively!


    Sorry, fellows. There's a new old-bird Albatrossian who is taking over the roost!


    *


    240-239 Year old SCM Relays

    For the infinitessimal numbers of you who are still reading this vlog (thanks, 61-year-old Jim Thornton and older versions of you! I am always happy to see you guys walking down Memory Lane here at our vlog!), I just found out that I have reached my limit of pictures for this blog (you are allowed to add no more than 10--who knew?)

    So let me just make relatively quick work of our relays, which, thanks to my wonderful teammates, earned each of us three more Albatrossian meet records (I am certain of this, though they don't keep records for relays in any spot that I can find.)


    Men 240-279 200 SC Meter Medley Relay

    WORLD: W 2:01.03 12/5/2009 GOLD COAST MASTERS -USA G SCHMIDT, T SHEAD, J WOTTON, C CAVANAUGH


    USMS: N 2:01.03 12/5/2009 GOLD COAST G SCHMIDT, T SHEAD, J WOTTON, C CAVANAUGH Team Seed Finals Points ================================================== ============================= 1 Colonials 1776 'A' NT
    2:09.02 12

    1) Keith, Dale M58
    32.57
    2) Dougherty, Steve M61 38.22
    3) Trevisan, Paul M61 30.36
    4) Thornton, James M60 27.87

    Five minutes later, we swam the 200 free relay. My teammates let me lead off so I could get an official time for the 50, which I had scratched because of it being right before the 400. My lead-off time isn't that great, but it would have snuck into the TT last year.


    Men 240-279 200 SC Meter Freestyle Relay

    WORLD: W 1:49.69 10/17/2009 GOLD COAST MASTERS -USA J WOTTON, C CAVANAUGH, D QUIGGIN, C BURNS


    USMS: N 1:49.69 10/17/2009 GOLD COAST J WOOTON, C CAVANAUGH, D QUIGGIN, C BURNS Team Seed Finals Points

    ================================================== =============================
    1 Colonials 1776 'A' NT 1:50.33 12

    1) Thornton, James M60
    28.22
    2) Keith, Dale M58 28.19
    3) Meyer, Geoffrey M61 28.76
    4) Trevisan, Paul M61 25.16

    Note:
    we missed the World Record by .64 seconds! Those fellows, moreover, swam their time in 2009 and thus almost certainly had the advantage of high tech body suits! We came so close! Who knows, perhaps we will have a chance to try it again, preferably when I haven't just swum a 400 and 50 within the previous 10 minutes!

    Finally:


    Men 240-279 400 SC Meter Freestyle Relay


    WORLD: 4:07.34 W 12/3/2011 VENTURA COUNTY MASTERS –USA G GRUBER, H KERNS, J MCCONICA, M BLATT


    USMS: 4:04.88 N 5/18/2008 OREGON T LANDIS, W EDWARDS, M TENNANT, R SMITH.
    ================================================== =============================
    1 Colonials 1776 A NT 4:13.35


    1) Keith, Dale M58 1:05.08
    2) Thornton, James M601:02.45
    3) Meyer, Geoffrey M611:04.93
    4) Trevisan, Paul M61 1:00.89

    We weren't that close to this World and/or National record, which is confusing.


    How can the world record be slower than the USMS record?

    Anyhow, the faster of these two times, 4:04.88, beats our end-of-the-meet, utter-exhaustion, be-jammered time by 8.47.

    If Paul and I had swum our individual 100 times from earlier in the day, we would have done a 1:57.75 (actually, probably a bit faster because one of us would have had a relay start). The other two swimmers would have had to swim a 2:07.13 to tie—if each swam exactly a 1:03.56, we’d have the new record!

    The point is that there are some new Albatrossians to deal with now in the 240-279 age group.

    Cover your french fries and your eyeballs alike. We are out to peck and pluck out anything we can to feed our insatiable hunger for more glory, and then take flight!

    [nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYW5G2kbrKk"]Flying like a bird | part 14/14 - YouTube[/nomedia]



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  17. Palate Cleansing

    by , March 19th, 2012 at 12:20 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    I'm awaiting the art work for the Sequel to Buck up, Albatrossian! Buck up! (http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?b=21165) and the invaluable life lessons this recent meet bestowed upon me, your Vloggist Everyman, and hence, by extension, to you, i.e., Everymanandwoman Everyman.

    In the meantime, please enjoy today's palate cleanser of a vlog, which I offer in the spirit of less is more, the less being any extraneous verbiage I have managed to X-out, using the pen feature of the Paint program that comes free with Windows ®.

    This represents the first time in history that the words All, American, Listings, for, James, and Thornton have ever been collected together in a single document, sequentially or otherwise.

    If it can happen to me, it can happen to you, too, Everymanandwoman Everyman everywhere!

    Have an excellent Monday, March 19th, 2012.



    PS: Major thanks to Jeff Roddin for running a sensational 2012 Albatross Open during which his dapper-looking and newly minted septuagenarian father, Hubert (?) Roddin*, set two new national records and his doe-eyed daughter, Rachel-Ray (?) Roddin, had her pre-toddler debutante coming-out party (ostensibly to introduce her to Pittsburgh Society/ineligible bachelors).

    I also got the chance to meet Ruth Ann (?) Roddin, Hubert (?) Roddin's lovely bride and quite possibly my future Grandmother-in-Law, as well as continued my uninterrupted winning streak in all distances of 400 m or longer that I have enjoyed against every member of the Roddin family. The streak dates back to the Chris Greene National Open Water 2-Mile Cable Championships two summers ago. It continued its uninterrupted peregrinations to glory thanks to the lovely Mulie Roddin, my likely future mother-in-law, who has shed the last of her baby bumpage, replacing this with blue-steel core musculature, but somehow still managed to lose to me and my own core, which when lightly flicked resembles a water bed. Not to worry, Mulie--it was still your finest 400 m swim in decades, in my opinion.

    And it goes without saying that my gratitude knows no bounds, as well, to my mither, Leslie Livingston, with whom I co-own a house in Vienna, Virginia, which--unlike my other real estate ventures over the years--has actually seen a modest price rise on Zillow ® recently!

    Nice to know that post-starter mansions in the close-to-Langley area of Washington, D.C., have begun to rebound from our recent economic woe!

    One more little peep of disturbance from the Sino-Islamo-Soviet-Indo-North-Korean-et-al geopolitical realm, and everybody in Northern Virginia's gonna get filthier rich, Leslie and me included!


    Here's hoping anyhow.



    Jeff Roddin demonstrates the perfect racing dive, pike position.




    Jeff and Mulie Roddin at a pre-marital counseling session with me during which I explained to Jeff the unbelievably noxious batch of suffering compounds that would be unleashed in his brain if he blew it with Mulie and did not get married in a timely fashion. Shortly afterwards, my possibly future bride, Rachel-Ray, was born, demonstrating once again that God helps those who help themselves. True, I have been accused of helping myself to too much. But God 'n me don't look at this way.


    ______________________________________________
    * My recent inclusion in the highly rarefied-to-my-ilk world of All Americanism has induced such euphoria that even the realization I am only 10-years-young than Jeff Roddin's father cannot dampen my spirits. It does, however, continue to blow my mind. I thought Jeff was several decades older than me. His gravitas certainly argues for such a premise.
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  18. Buck up, Albatrossian! Buck up!

    by , March 14th, 2012 at 04:33 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    It is going to be a bit difficult to write today's vlog, given my recent posting in the No Whining Pledge thread of the discussion forums.

    For those of you who missed it, here is what I wrote:


    When I swam with Pitt masters at the U Pittsburgh pool, there was a morning group (up at 5 a.m.) and an evening group (practice starts at 5:30 p.m.)

    As an unconscious whiner who emitted little whimpers involuntarily, the way a person with halitosis exhales puffs of putrescent breath that he has gotten so used to that its smell seems like normal air, I was informed one day by Pitt's excellent masters coach Jen that I didn't need to be this way.


    There was, Jen told me, a legendary non-whiner who swam in the 5 a.m. practices, a fellow named Rich Durstein who never complained about anything. The man could have a spike through his head and he would not have mentioned it, nor the impact said spike would have on his ability to hold a tight interval.


    Perhaps, Jen suggested, I could try to be a
    little bit more like Rich Durstein.

    I am nothing if not suggestible!


    And from that day on, I determined to Durstein my way through the vicissitudes of life, shouldering no shortage of woe and handicap without so much as a micro twitch of my mouth corners!


    This was approximately five years ago.


    I have yet to meet Rich Durstein; indeed, I have come to wonder if he even exists.


    They say that if God did not exist, then Man would have had to invent him.


    Perhaps it is like this with Rich Durstein.


    I don't know.


    But I do know this: after five years of Dursteining my own way through life's teary veil, the thought of
    ever uttering a whine or complaint has become inconceivable to me. I am, in my own way, a model of Dursteining swimming.

    Take your pledge? No need, my good man!


    This would indicate I am capable of backsliding, of paying attention to my corporal state, my fevers and colics and headaches and cramps, and commenting about same either through soliloquy or groan!


    But I am incapable of doing either!


    Sometimes I believe that when Man felt the need to invent Rich Durstein, Man inadvertently invented me!


    If you would like help following my path, I will do my best to help. My disciple Leslie is making progress. I shall not comment on the nature of this progress. It is not the Durstein way.


    --from [ame="http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?t=20289"]No Whining Pledge - U.S. Masters Swimming Discussion Forums[/ame]


    Part 1. Dispassionately Related Symptomatology*

    *no judgment whatsoever of the sort that might be perceived as "complaining" or "excuse making" or the like is intended; indeed, any such judgment, if espied, is purely coincidental and/or a projection of the reader's own psychodynamic propensity for whining, kevetching, and so forth, certainly not anything that could legitimately be pinned to Mr. Thornton.
    I remain committed to Dursteining, as I have been doing for countless uninterrupted years now, but I do need to cite several medical facts of particular relevance to this week's upcoming Albatross meet. Let me sum up these facts in a plain, unadorned way, using the unemotional language of a long-time coroner who regards each new corpse with the same degree of ennui as its predecessors.

    Thornton, James, male, aged 59, considered 60 by FINA. A generally unremarkable specimen in recent months, Mr. Thornton presents with the following symptoms:


    • Sniffles and a certain gravel in the voice that caused his wife to inquire, "Have you been crying?"
    • Body aches and the episodic appearance of goose bumps, particularly when exposed to a draft.
    • Neuralgia.
    • Inability to walk up a short flight of stairs without a sensation of exhaustion in lower extremities.
    • A sense that his 2-a-day regimen of meals containing at least 8 oz. (and frequently much, much more) or red meat, much of it containing nitrates, may be fueling DNA damage throughout his frail elderliness
    • Unable to complete "child's play" like swimming practices without what he describes as "hog whimpering effort"
    • The following results from his CPAP device (see caption for explanations)




    Thanks to regular use of his CPAP machine, Thornton's AHI, or Apnea Hypopnea Index, is 7.3--most of which is accounted for by hypopneas (delayed breathing: 6.8 per hour, on average) with only a relatively small number due to full-blown apneic strangulation (cessation of breathing altogether: .5 per hour).



    Graphs of Mr. Thornton's generally unremarkable (to knowledgable doctors) CPAP results. It does seem, however, to this layman that Mr. Thornton leaks an awful lot.

    Part 2: Historical Context

    On March 15, 2011, exactly 365 or 366 days ago from today, March 14th, 2012 (Leap Year throws off my ability to calculate), I posted the following Vlog entitled simply, "Albatross" http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?b=14471. Naturally, the ideal thing would be for my readers to go back in time and reread this entry in its entirety. But I know how short-spanned the modern attentional ability is, so I shall simply excerpt a few of the choicer passages that strangely echo with today's situation:

    It almost failed to occur, this bid of mine to come back from retinal detachment, financial depression, and a recent severe case of incapacitating sniffles.

    Last Thursday, I awoke at 3 a.m., my nostrils spilling twin cataracts of Niagara-like mucous falls.


    Last Friday, I spent the entire day daubing my nasal passages with deeply absorbent tissues, and still these were not enough to stem the flow!


    Why can they not make nostril tampons for men who get colds this severe? Why is this natural market niche not being exploited? Best healthcare system in the world? Sadly laughable joke for those of us who cannot find a simple nostril tampon or maxi pad when we so desperately need them.


    On Saturday, I had not the energy to leave the couch for more than an occasional cheesecake refrigerator run.


    On Sunday, I forced myself to go to the Y where I swam an open turn 1650 in about 33 minutes--and almost could not finish, so deeply lethargic and hypoglycemic and dizzy I was in my cold!


    The entry ends on a high note, with me managing to draft my way to completion of a grueling set of 10 x 100 on 1:25 warm up; 20 x 100 on 1:20; 8 x 100 on 1:15; 4 x 50 on :40.

    It is somewhat analogous to this Monday's practice of 8 x 100 on 1:25, 300 kick, 5 x 200 on 2:40, 3 x 200 on 2:30, 3 x 200 on 2:40, 6 x 50 on :50, which I also made--mostly by the grace of god and drafting.

    Two days later, on March 17th, 2011, I posted again, showing how merely finishing practice had been flukish indeed. Again, best to reread the entire entry-- "An Albatross Around One's Neck" http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?b=14508 -- but for those of you who are pressed for time, here's the breast meat:

    After Monday's miracle practice, in which I rose Lazarus-like from the sick couch to complete, albeit with drafting assistance, a grueling workout for an aging fellow, my own pipe dreams and capacity for suspension of disbelief in myself convinced me to enter the Albatross meet.

    Alas, at last night's practice, the familiar malaise and effeteness thrust themselves upon me with renewed vengeance. Weak? Check! Shaky? Check! Hypoglycemic? Check! In no condition whatsoever to swim in a swimming meet, even one that did not first involve driving for a minimum of 5 hours? Check!


    Still, a tiny voice inside me has always urged: Forward Ho, Jim!--its sound, if anything, growing louder in proportion to the hopelessness of my mission!


    And thus, sickness be damned, I will soldier on to Bethesda and do my best to set the new 200 SCM freestyle Albatross
    meet record in the 55-59 age group. If I can accomplish this--impossible, I know, but if...--then I shall be forever known not just as a multiple Zonesman but as an Albatrossian, too!

    And it will be the Albatross who must wear me round its pallid neck, not vice versa!




    Heroically, and against all rational odds, Mr. Thornton did triumph last year, establishing a new All Time record at the Albatross meet (albeit one likely to fall this year to the ever estimable Bradford Gandee, 58-year-old youngster) in the 200 scm freestyle of 2:13:04. (Splits 30.66; 33.17; 35.04; 34.17.)

    In the process, he established himself as an Albatrossian for the first time. The question is: Will it be his last?

    Part 3: Analysis

    Does last year's eerily similar, if less severe, outbreak of pre-Albatross meet physical, mental, and spiritual contagion/weakness hold any prophetic powers for this year's bid for Albatrossian Status Redux?

    The financial community would have us believe that "past performance is no guarantee whatsoever we won't lose all your money this time"--and it is not a bad motto by which to live a good American life, I must say.

    However, let me quickly ruminate on a couple codicils to this fall-back position.


    • I do feel sicklier this year than last year, though I am not sure if you could put FINA 59-year-old Jim beside FINA 60-year-old Jim that the former could completely convince the latter of this assertion.
    • I am swimming in a presumably easier age group this year, and the aforementioned Bradford Gandee is no longer a threat (though he might well steal my record.) Paul Trevisan, human beast of sprinting magnificence, will kill me in the 50 and 100 this year just as he did last year. The difference: Paul and I are now in the same age group (he was 60 or 61 last year.) There will absolutely be no Albatrossian status possible for me in the 50 and 100; fortunately, Paul is not swimming the 200 or 400, the records for which are currently:


    • Men 60-64 200 Free 2:29.31 3/21/2009 David Harmon - ANCM-PV (Doable, I hope)
    • Men 60-64 400 Free 5:00.89 3/25/2000 Edward C Morgan - 1776-DV (Iffy)
    • I have also learned a bit this season about how to split such races better, and unless my symptoms disappear significantly by Saturday, I suspect the pressure to not go out too fast will be even greater. Two examples:
      • 200. At last year's 200 SCM, I went out in 1:03.87 and came back in 1:09.21, a differential of 5.33 seconds. In yards this year, I have had better luck with more even splitting. For example, I swam a 2:00.07 in the 200 SCY free, going out in a mid 1:58 and coming back in a mid 2:01, a differential of around 3 seconds.
      • 400/500. I didn't swim the 400 at Albatross last year, but I had my best midseason 500 in years by slightly negative splitting it 10 days ago: AGE GROUP: 55-591 JIM THORNTON 59 M SEWY 5:28.81





        • 30.82


        • 33.36
        • 33.53
        • 33.63
        • 33.39
        • 33.58
        • 33.07
        • 32.88
        • 33.41
        • 31.14



    It was after this meet at Duquesne in Pittsburgh, which was supposed to be recognized for USMS, but won't be, that the symptoms afflicting Mr. Thornton appeared to gain the upperhand. He won't complain about these, of course. But here are the words that clinicians often hear from men and women with such symptoms who are not of such a stoical mindset as Mr. Thornton:

    Ah, the body aches intensify! The gas leakage, too, even though the CPAP is not turned on.

    Indeed, the most you can coax from the likes of Jim Thornton about his upcoming trip to the Albatross meet is this:

    I shall soldier onwards the best I can--Albatrossian Redux or not, I shall embrace my fate smiling (or whatever twitching of the mouth corners I have the energy to sustain)!

    Vomitari, te salutamus!

    This, in the end, has always been an Albatrossian's proudest oath.

    And on such a note, let this vlog simply add by way of encouragement--

    Buck up, Albatrossian! Buck the **** up!

    You have been in this realm before, and by Odin's beard, ye shall be in this realm again!



    Odin, the King of Norse Gods, advises his son Thor (Old Norski for Thornton) to buck the **** up and ready his loins for Ragnarok. Thor replies in the strong but curiously low voice of men like him everywhere: Jeg vil buck den **** opp, far! Og kjempe sammen med gudene i den siste kampen som allerede er forutbestemte vi skal miste. For hva mer kan en rettferdig spør enn å dø seierrik frem?*


    ------------------------------------------------------------------
    *Translation: I will buck the **** up, Father! And fight alongside the Gods in the final battle that has already been preordained we shall lose. For what more can a Righteous Man ask than to die nobly?

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  19. Garbagio Lessons

    by , March 7th, 2012 at 01:39 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Preamble: Sorry for how long this is. I wanted to jot down a few thoughts I have had on this season so far, and it has gotten a bit extended, verbiage wise, even for me. To leaven the mood, I will put a few pictures in here and there of me playing with Ciara's pony tail.



    Ciara's wonderful father and my father figure/swimming coach, Bill White, perches like a better angel atop my right shoulder.
    *

    We last left our cliff hanger on the eve of my 1650 swim at Carnegie Mellon University, Feb. 26th, 2011.

    At the time, if memory serves, I suggested that if I swam reasonably well, there would be no need for me to quote extensively from Sartre's Nausea. I am happy to report that this has, indeed, proven the case, and there is no reason whatsoever to ruminate for so much as a split second on :


    • "Ma pensée, c'est moi: voilà pourquoi je ne peux pas m'arrêter. J'existe parce que je pense … et je ne peux pas m'empêcher de penser"
    • "Every existing thing is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness and dies by chance"
    • "I know. I know that I shall never again meet anything or anybody who will inspire me with passion. You know, it's quite a job starting to love somebody. You have to have energy, generosity, blindness. There is even a moment, in the very beginning, when you have to jump across a precipice: if you think about it you don't do it. I know I'll never jump again."

    These, and many more existential bon mots just as depressing have absolutely no relevance to today's vlog!



    Ciara and I attempt a mind meld of the sort popularized by those bluish people on Avatar.

    Instead, I would like to take the opportunity to offer something ever so rare in my episodic entries to date: potentially actionable swimming advice that might help my fellow middle distance freestylers approaching their Twilight years (in the non-vampire old-fashioned sense of the term.)

    Data
    One reason for the delay in posting my results is that I keep hoping for the Hyteck Meet Manager results to actually make their way a) onto the Internet, and b) into the "event rankings" section of USMS as was promised by my LMSC. But as is the case with many such promises, this hasn't happened yet, and I am slowly bracing myself for the thought that yet another of my swims in recent years won't count for possible TT consideration.

    So instead, here is the hand-written sheet from my CMU backup timer, who posted the splits from the electronic scoreboard:



    Historical Context

    JIM THORNTON 59 1650 Free 19:38.20

    JIM THORNTON 58 1650 Free 20:03.90

    JIM THORNTON 57 1650Free 19:34.18

    JIM THORNTON 56 1650Free 19:54.24

    JIM THORNTON 55 1650Free 19:47.91

    JIM THORNTON 54 1650Free didn't swim it
    JIM THORNTON 53 1650Free didn't swim it

    JIM THORNTON 52 1650Free 20:41.65

    JIM THORNTON 51 1650Free 18:59.22

    JIM THORNTON 50 1650Free 18:53.69

    JIM THORNTON 49 1650Free 19:27.75

    JIM THORNTON 48 1650Free 20:34.05

    JIM THORNTON 47 1650Free 21:10.00

    JIM THORNTON 46 1650Free didn't swim it
    JIM THORNTON 45 1650Free didn't swim it

    JIM THORNTON 44 1650Free 21:40.54

    JIM THORNTON 43 to 0 1650Free didn't swim it (though my mother might beg to differ--how many laps in a shared placenta is a 1650?)

    As you can see, my times have bounced around a bit over the past 15 years. My lifetime best performance was at age 50, a time when my coach Bill White helped me get into the best distance swimming shape of my life. I remember that year we did the following practice:

    10 x 100 on 1:25 warm up
    2 min rest

    10 x 200 on 2:30

    2 min rest
    10 x 200 on 2:30

    cool down


    To this day, making this practice remains by far my proudest moment as a practice swimmer!

    You will also notice that before age 49, I never broke 20 minutes. I was not swimming particularly hard at this point in my masters career, the body suits had not come out, and these times were all done at practice, not a meet.

    Two other conspicuous 20 min+ outliers include the 20:41 done at age 52, which can be explained by broken ribs; and the 20:03 at age 58 (last year), which was the first year the body suits were banned, plus I had suffered a detached retina that January, which put me out of the water for nearly three weeks.



    I have always thought I look good with that flouncy pony tail out the ball cap look! Now I can prove it!

    Analysis of Recent "Comparables"

    For an apples-to-apples comparison, let us look at my recent swim at 59 (19:38.20) and my swim at 57 two years earlier (19:34.18).

    On the surface, it appears that I have slowed down by 4.02 seconds over the past two years. My pace per 100 has deteriorated from 1:11.41 to 1:11.16, or a quarter of a second per hundred in two years. On an annual basis, it would seem that I am slowing down by approximately one eighth of a second per hundred.

    There are, however, several fudge factors that make this "apples-to-apples" comparison more of a "Granny Smith vs. Red Delicious" situation.

    First, suit differences.

    At 57, I swam the 1650 in my "floatie" body suit, the B70. At 59, I swam shaved an in a LSR elite jammer given to me a couple years ago. Did the suit change make a huge difference in my times?

    It definitely did in some events. At 57, for instance, I swam my lifetime best 200 SCY freestyle in the B70, breaking in the 1:54's for the first and only time in my life. Since then, my fastest 200s have been high 1:57s. My 50s and 100s have also shown clear deterioration thanks to the suit change.

    But for some reason, distance events of 500 and over don't seem to have shown as much of change. It seems like they should--with the B70 on, I took 1-2 less strokes per length swimming exactly the same way as always; moreover, I regularly gained at least a couple feet further on pushoffs and dives.

    You would think such things would prove especially additive over longer distances, but so far that hasn't been the case. Perhaps the inability of body heat to escape the body suit as easily might muddle its impact on my own distance performances.

    Conclusion: replacement of the B70 with a jammer probably hurt my time, but I cannot absolutely prove this.



    In this corner, Red
    vs.


    In this corner, Granny

    Even apples-to-apples comparisons are difficult to make sense of in the post-Body Suit Era!
    Second, accumulated yardage leading
    up to the 1650.


    This year's 1650 was preceded by 423.44 miles in all of 2011; 41.79 miles in January, '12; and 60.60 miles in February, '12.

    The B70 1650 two years earlier was preceded by 330.53 miles in all of 2009; 38.76 miles in January, '10; and 28.62 miles in February, '10.


    Conclusion: swimming significantly greater distance probably helped my performance, though the suit change variable makes this also difficult to prove.



    Is a Jim Clemmons-style mustache the key to time drops in swimming?

    Third, a more
    intelligent pacing
    strategy for me.

    Before this year's swim, I solicited advice from Ande.

    Some selected excerpts from my questions and his always great counsel:
    _________________________________________
    Originally Posted by jim thornton
    Ande, did you post something on swimming the 1650?

    I'd like to do a good time this year, but I am wary of going out too fast and becoming cooked. Once I cross over to that "cooked" stage, it's agonizing to keep on going. But if I go too slow to avoid premature baking, it's hard to make it up on the other end. Any advice?
    Swim by feel, assuming you will probably feel too good at the beginning and thus should consciously slow down?
    _________________________________________
    Hey Jim,

    Great to hear from you. So you want to have a great 1650 & you want to split it correctly, swim it "just right" instead of being over cooked by going too hard up front or under cooked by going too easy.

    "just right" is the trick and it's tricky.
    Your 1st 100 needs to feel EASY.
    You need to cruise it, going too hard on your first few 50's is usually way worse than going too easy.

    BE VERY WELL CONDITIONED.

    Do a great job warming up before your race.

    Know your pace.

    Do some longer swims in practice, some faster than your 1650 pace, some at & some below. Know what that effort feels like.

    Ideally you want to hold the same exact pace the whole way, but diving in and excitement, makes some people rabbit the first few 50's.

    You can only do what you can do. Swimming above pace up front is very likely to be detrimental. Settle into a sustainable pace and hold it.

    Your pace an differ based on water temp. The warmer the pool is the worse your pace might be.

    the best thing to prepare for the 1650 is consistent hard longer training and some speed work.
    _________________________________________
    Originally Posted by jim thornton

    Ande, thanks so much for a very detailed and helpful reply.

    I was starting to feel pretty confident, but last night we had a practice which started off with 8 x 100 on 1:25 warm up, then some 50s kick, then 2 x 500 on 6:15.
    To break 20 on the 1650, I know I have to average around 6:00 per 500. But on the first 500 in practice, I did a 6:01, and the second one I just squeaked in at 6:14.

    It was demoralizing.

    But I usually try to negative split distance stuff, and I probably swam that first 500 faster than was comfortable. Plus the water was hot, I'd swum a meet the day before, and I was pretty tuckered out from swimming every day, without stop, since Jan. 28th.
    So...who knows?

    I am definitely going to take it out easy because by the end of last night's second 500, I was definitely not feeling ready to do another 650!

    Today, I just went in and swam a slow 1650; I will probably take it easy at Wed. and Fri. practices, and just stretch out on the days in between.

    I will take your post with me and try to ingrain your advice.

    Thanks again!


    _________________________________________
    Hey Jim,

    You're welcome for my reply, happy to

    don't let your performance in a particular practice crush your spirit
    just keep showing up & do the best you can
    how many times a week are you training?
    how far per practice?
    if possible, before you taper, attempt to increase your
    x/wk, yds per practice, & pace.
    do it by just being determined to swim faster in practice.

    so you want to break 20:00 on your 1650
    20 x 60 = 1200
    1200 / 33 = 36.363
    so you need to ave 36.36 per 50
    that should be easy and very doable for you

    ingrain my advice & come up with a
    training plan and a
    race plan

    holding 1:12's should be very easy for you
    I bet you can hold under 1:10's
    _________________________________________

    Right before my B70 1650 at age 57, I solicited the advice of an on deck coach, who told me to go out smooth but strong on the first 500, then pick up each 500 thereafter.

    Here are my splits from that race: 1 1-5 Thornton, Jim 57 TPIT-AM 19:50.00 19:34.18
    30.96 1:05.54 (34.58) 1:40.03 (34.49) 2:14.52 (34.49)
    2:49.55 (35.03) 3:24.78 (35.23) 3:59.96 (35.18) 4:34.94 (34.98)
    5:10.07 (35.13) 5:45.07 (35.00) 6:20.07 (35.00) 6:55.36 (35.29)
    7:30.52 (35.16) 8:06.58 (36.06) 8:42.46 (35.88) 9:18.37 (35.91)
    9:54.37 (36.00) 10:30.72 (36.35) 11:07.09 (36.37) 11:43.09 (36.00)
    12:20.04 (36.95) 12:57.12 (37.08) 13:33.82 (36.70) 14:10.80 (36.98)
    14:47.27 (36.47) 15:24.20 (36.93) 16:00.74 (36.54) 16:37.19 (36.45)
    17:13.84 (36.65) 17:50.36 (36.52) 18:26.61 (36.25) 19:02.29 (35.68)
    19:34.18 (31.89)

    I started out following the coach's advice, and I did feel strong and smooth--for a while. My first 500 was a 5:45.07. By the 1000 mark, I was starting to hurt, realizing too late that what feels good early on is not necessarily as easy as you think. My 1000 split was 11:43.09. The final 500 of the race was 6:00.36.

    Compare this "start strong and decay" approach with the strategy I adopted, thanks to Ande's advice, this year. The second strategy is perhaps better described as "baby and coddle yourself beyond belief, and pick it up as you start to feel more comfortable."

    I took the first 500 out in 6:10.38, more than 25 seconds slower than the previous race. The guy on my left and the guy on my right quickly disappeared into the gloaming in front of me, but I reminded myself of Ande's wisdom to ignore the rabbits and realize going out too fast is usually a much bigger mistake than going out too slow.

    At the 1000 mark, I was at 12:10.91, now 27 seconds slower than my time in 2010. To an outside observer, it no doubt looked like I was setting myself up for total disaster. Note: to break 20 minutes, you have hold just a smidge over a 1:12 pace, and I was far from doing this.

    But somewhere around this point, I caught up with both rabbits. I felt good, I felt strong--precisely the opposite of how I had felt two years earlier after going out much more quickly.

    My final 500 was a 5:40.27, which was (at that point of the year) my fastest 500 of the season.

    My final 200 was 2:10.11; my final 100 1:02.91; and my final 50 a 30.01.

    Granted, overall I was still 4 seconds slower than when I swam it the "hurty" way, but when I got out of the pool at the conclusion of this year's race, I didn't feel the need to glance around to make sure the facility had an AED on hand. I felt pretty good, actually--and extremely happy that I had broken 20 minutes.

    Conclusion: each swimmer must know his or her body and design a race strategy that works best for the energy systems and musculature therein. My friend and coach Bill has been a long time advocate of the "go out fast and try to hang on" approach.

    For me, however, I have found that husbanding my energies, especially in longer races, seems to be the way to go. Not only does it hurt less, but I have come to believe that I just do better this way. Don't get me wrong: I am a big believer in pain and suffering. But I am not a believer of stupid pain and suffering, the kind that comes from misplaced Calvinism. If I tip over into what we used to call the lactic acid bath too soon in a distance race, I just tie up and can't finish strong.

    What I am trying to do now is to figure out exactly where the line is (and the line shifts over the course of a race), swim as close as possible to this line without crossing it, and at the end, when I know I can cross the line and still finish the race, only then do I give it my all.

    Final note:
    Strategic Application
    to Other Events


    This past weekend, there was the last regular season AMYMSA meet before our championships. This meet, held at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, was again supposed to count for USMS purposes. The first event was the 500, and given that I did my season's best time in this event at the end of the 1650, I was hoping to match last year's best mid-season time of 5:33.

    I used the same basic strategy of the 1650, but because the distance is so much shorter, I didn't coddle myself quite so much at the beginning, I did, however, remind myself to keep things smooth and under control.

    Here are my splits:

    AGE GROUP: 55-59
    1 JIM THORNTON 59 M SEWY 5:28.81

    30.82
    33.36
    33.53
    33.63
    33.39
    33.58
    33.07
    32.88
    33.41
    31.14

    Later, I did a pathetic 50 freestyle, thrashing impotently like a maniac. My time here, 25.69, was so dispiriting that I figured I would never be able to do a decent 100 again and should concentrate from now on only on 200s and longer.

    The last event of the 3 and a half hour mudhole meet was the 100, and Bill told me he thought I should scratch because my time would likely be demoralizing. I didn't want to do this because the Albatross SCM meet is coming up soon, and I signed up for a bunch of events and wanted to gauge how my current conditioning would allow me to perform in multiple freestyle races in close proximity.

    Bill said that he thought I would be lucky to swim in the 56s, and that I should brace myself for doing a 57 in the 100.

    So I decided to just swim the 100, not worry about my time, and try the "out easy" strategy here, too.

    Here's how I typically judge the best possible time you can do for a 100:

    take your 50 time (25.69) and add 1 second to it (26.69)to determine how fast you should take out your first 50 in the 100. Then take this time (26.69) and add 1.5 seconds to it to get the time you can do on the second 50, which doesn't include a dive (28.19).

    Thus my fastest theoretical 100 would be 26.69 plus 28.19 = 54.88.

    Here are my actual splits from the 100 on Sunday:

    AGE GROUP: 55-59
    1 JIM THORNTON 59 M SEWY 55.11

    27.00
    28.11


    What makes this even more unusual from my perspective is that I misjudged the flip turn at the 50 mark, and had one of those foot-only push offs that gives you virtually no momentum off the wall. If I had had a decent push off, it's possible I could have had my first negative split 100 ever!

    The strategy, it would appear, even works on 100s!

    I will have to try it out on the 50 next!

    Note to self: No matter how much it itches, do not forget to shave!

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  20. Of Immortality and TAMFAM

    by , February 24th, 2012 at 02:26 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    We will grieve not, rather find
    Strength in what remains behind;
    In the primal sympathy
    Which having been must ever be;
    In the soothing thoughts that spring
    Out of human suffering;
    In the faith that looks through death,
    In years that bring the philosophic mind.


    When Wordworth wrote his famous Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood, I assumed that he, having reached the years that bring the philosophic mind, would have looked something like this:



    It turns out that he was actually 37 at the time of penning the Intimations poesy, only a few years older than this earlier picture of him:



    I bring this up because I find myself a tweenager these days, one foot in the last days of what I have long considered the cut-off for middle age, i.e., ones 50s; and one foot in, thanks to FINA, the beginning of what I have just as long considered the beginning of old age, i.e., ones 60s.

    Regardless of whether I am 59, as the calendar says, or 60, as FINA is allowing me to be, I am chagrined to report that the attainment of "the philosophic mind" continues to elude me.

    This is particularly true when it comes to swimming, a sport measured in increments of one hundredths of a second, where the sinking into decrepitude is pitiless and inexorable.

    Here is what I actually look like these days in a recently taken cell phone picture with my death robes on:



    Here, however, is how I would describe myself to a police artist were I, by some weird magic, to become a victim of my criminal self:



    (I am the one too weak too stand; if there is anything good to come from this self-image, it's that the police artist has chosen not to show my own sagging parts, a decency he opted not to bestow upon my female attendant on the right.)

    In an effort to try to find some pittance of the philosophic mind before it is too late, before, that is, my long-time companion, Alzheimer's Jr., morphs into its own more pernicious senior self, let me set down herein a few random ruminations on what has provoked my sudden sense of growing old...



    1. Let us face it, I am growing old.
    2. For some reason that I can't quite fathom, I am starting to fatten up. Last summer, it was relatively easy to stay sub-180 after swimming practice and a steam bath, a time when dehydration is maximal. In fact, I think I flirted on occasion with the mid 170s then! But this winter, with only a few minor dietary changes, I am lucky to end practice weighing out at a portly dehydrated 183! These dietary changes include, but are not limited to, a decision to use Half n Half on my breakfast cereal; get 80 percent of my daily calories at night while watching TV in bed; and closing down our restaurant, which has changed the hours each day I spend standing from somewhat substantial to practically non-existent. Again, I do not know why I am suddenly getting fat, and I am not sure that weight is a suitable topic anyhow for a "philosophic mind." Enough about this.
    3. After more or less accepting the illegalizing of the yesteryear's cheater suits, I suddenly find myself missing them. The reason, I suspect, is that the normal year-by-year swimming time erosions, which in the past have proceeded at a psychologically manageable pace, have accelerated, again, for reasons I am not sure I grasp, fathood and old age notwithstanding. Thus one takes an unpleasant enough process to begin with--slowing down--and adds a quantum leaping agent to the mix--the removal of the body suit for hairy old men like me--and the result is a sense of plummeting that may or may not be justified, all things taken into account, but nonetheless is proving troubling for this particular geriatric tweenager.
    4. I will say that many extremely kind fellow travelers, from Jim Clemmons to Rich Abrahams to Ande Rasmussen (who is actually much too young still to be called a fellow traveler in any sense of geriatric comradeship; ditto for Rich and Jim, who preserve a youthful spirit that lesser men like me lack) have offered no shortage of advice and counsel.
    5. On Sunday, I will be swimming the 1650. Perhaps, if I do not perform too horrifically, this will remove temporarily any further imminent need of cultivating a philosophic mind. Realistically, however, I suspect this will bring me face to face with the Reaper's halitosis, which I imagine smells like daffodils and rotten meat.
    6. Back soon to resume my pursuit, be this a denial of death or an acceptance of its inevitability. The one thing I am determined to do, however, is not die of my own bad strategy--i.e., going out too fast in the 1650 and suffering like a strung up hog incapable of finishing the race he started.

    TAMFAM
    On an entirely different note, I invite my readers to try out a new fitness metric I blundered upon last night. I was in bed, eating Cookie Dough Ice Cream and watching The Office, resting up, as it were, for today's pursuit of a philosophic mind, when I decided to use my Azumio phone app to measure my quasi-rested heart rate. It was 42, decent enough for the night time.

    It then occurred to me to check out my BMI, or body mass index, which you can do yourself right here:

    http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/

    Based on last night's weight, mine ended up being 24.7.

    I decided next to divide my BMI by my Resting Heart Rate, coming up with a 58.8 percent reading.

    What, I asked myself, if I could lose 5 lb. and lower my RHH down to, say, 38?

    Improvements on both indices would increase my percent reading to
    63.1 percent. It was at this point I had a eureka moment: had I inadvertently blundered upon a new ABSOLUTELY MEANINGLESS FITNESS APPROXIMATION METRIC? I decided to appendage my name to it, and acronym-ize the whole mouthful.

    And with this was TAMFAM born!

    How soon can we conspire to sneak the concept into the exercise physiological literature, cited by tenure-seeking post docs the world over?

    I ask that my readers help me to popularize the concept by simply:

    1. Recording your resting heart rate tomorrow morning before you get out of bed or do anything strenuous, wink, nudge, wink
    2. Calculate your BMI by clicking on this link and entering your height and weight where indicated: http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/
    3. Finally, use a calculator to divide your BMI (numerator) by your resting heart rate (denomimator) and leave your resulting TAMFAM in the comments section of this vlog, along with as much discourse as you would like to include speculating what TAMFAM might mean and why, indeed, it might not be so AM after all. (No need to leave ridicule and naysaying; I freely acknowledge that, as of this point in time, my new fitness metric is, indeed, ABSOLUTELY MEANINGLESS.)

    I shall repost again sometime after the 1650 is over. If the subject is more on TAMFAM, you shall know that it has gone better, or at least as well, as could be expected.

    If, on the other hand, I am back to a search for my "philosophic mind," perhaps quoting freely from the oeuvre of Kierkegaard along with select passages from Sartre's
    Nausea, well then, my dear friends, ye shall know that Nature has taken its predictable course, and that the Second Law of Thermodynamics remains operable still, my own pitiable example impotent to shake it from its foundations.



    Until his time in the 1650 proves him sadly delusional, our aging Jim continues to force himself to hope against hope for the coming of Spring.




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