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  1. 3000-yard swims

    by , April 12th, 2014 at 06:00 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    In the interest of just getting in some low-intensity cardio to help my base I decided to do something I haven't done in a while: a couple of 3000-yard straight swims in the last couple of days.

    Yesterday I did 6 x thru 400 free + 100 back. Today I did 3 x thru 800 free + 200 Back. Both swims were right around 54 minutes (a little faster than that today). I also hit the weights again today after a 2.5k row on the machine (11+ minutes). Felt a lot better today than I did after drylands on Thursday.

    THE MOVE:

    So, as I mentioned about a month ago, I went back out on the academic job market this year... things at my home institution looking really bad (no raises, again; more benefits cuts; enrollment dropping; more cuts to the institution; increased workload; imminent bankruptcy--we've been running off our reserves since the crash; now they're looking at vacating buildings and shrinking the library space?--yikes!). In January and February I interviewed with Baylor University (in my native Texas) and was selected to head their division of Spanish and Portuguese, starting this coming fall semester. The position comes with tenure (so I don't have to go through that again) and is in a very vibrant department... it will be a little strange being in a place that's actually well funded and supports language and culture study, after all the years of struggle at a small state university.

    Needless to say, I'm pretty excited about this opportunity, but uprooting the family after fourteen years in the Chicago-Milwaukee area is tough. They are resigned to the move, but not happy about it. Sigh.

    Our real estate agent is coming over on Tuesday for a walk through to see exactly how much value our house has lost in the seven years since we moved into it (we got in high, right before the crash--Murphy's law!). Now we're only about 3 months out from our move and there is so much to do... argh! Guess I'll continue to chronicle the madness here.

    TOTALS YTD:
    Swimming: 94+ miles
    Rowing: 39 K
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  2. Back on the blog... 100-200 PRs

    by , April 11th, 2014 at 12:11 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    Wow; it's been a while since I've had a chance to blog, so I haven't even been able to report on the Wisconsin state meet. As I mentioned in the run up to that meet (March 29-30), I was having some real shoulder discomfort in all the strokes but freestyle, so I decided to take it easy the week before and focus on the freestyle events: 100, 200, and 1650.

    My last 100 in a meet was in January and I ended up doing a 1:11; a week before the meet (after I had already sent in my seed time, of course, based on my earlier meet time) I swam a 1:08. At state I swam 1:07.04 and took the heat by .06 against our Kenosha YMCA team-mate Jen. She came back with a 1:06 at the IL state meet last weekend, which I couldn't do because I was in Tuscon, and made sure to let me know about it.

    I hadn't done a 200 free in a meet since last spring and was quite a bit slower then I guess (with a 2:45), but since I hadn't swum a 200 in meet context and my training has been so erratic this winter-spring I really had no idea how I was going to do... I think I put a seed time of 2:44 down. When I saw the other swimmers seeded around me in the mid- to upper-2:30s I decided just to go out and try to win the heat... as it turns out I faded pretty badly toward the end, and probably finished third or fourth in the heat, but my time was a PR: 2:35.86. My first time breaking the 2:40 mark. And it didn't feel too painful.

    The 1650 was really just to test myself and see what kind of pace I could hold, since I really didn't have time to prepare for this one. I swam 18 secs slower than my best time of 25:04 at last year's state meet for a 25:22... I took a look at my splits and they were not too far off of last year, but definitely fading in the middle third. I was averaging about :01 slower per 100. So my current pace is about 1:32. I really want it to be 1:25, so I've got some work to do.

    Last week I had a ball in Tuscon for a conference. The society ended up with a great deal at a swanky resort... but their "lap" pool was only about 20 yards long. Tremendous desert/mountain views though. Check this out:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    This week I start back into the training more earnestly. Will try to be more consistent and do the weights/x-training too for a little more injury prevention. Today for example I swam 2400 yards then got out and did 2K row on the machine and the following:

    2x thru...
    lunges w/ 20 dumbells
    bench presses w/ dbs
    squats w/ dbs
    military presses w/ dbs
    dumbell rows
    incline presses w / dumbells
    lat pull-downs

    The weights always make me feel so out of shape and the soreness of the first couple of weeks is awful (and not helping me in the pool), but I'll stick with it and be stronger for it I guess.

    Tomorrow I'll have to write more about the impending move... that's been taking up a lot of mental and emotional energy of late.


    TOTALS YTD:
    Swimming: 90+ miles
    Rowing: 36.5 K
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  3. 30:00 swim...

    by , March 25th, 2014 at 05:37 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    A steady 1800 today on 1:40/100 pace; followed by some 25s on :30 at a quicker pace. 2000 SCY total.

    I didn't want to do a hard swim, just get my body used to swimming for 25:00+ straight in anticipation of the 1650 this weekend. The 1800 in 30:00 was a nice round number, and mentally kept me from slowing to a slog, while also keeping me from building up too much lactic acid.

    Thought I would post some photos a friend from Milwaukee sent a few days ago. His daughter-in-law was at the last meet in Whitefish Bay by coincidence, so he decided to get my start and finish for the 400 IM:

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  4. finding the 1650 pace...

    by , March 24th, 2014 at 04:21 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    The core
    was sore
    today
    after all the SDKs
    yesterday...

    Nonetheless, I put in a little bit of pace work, to see if I could find something I might be able to hold comfortably for 1650. Here's what I did:

    --375 EZ free warm-up on 7:00
    --4 x 50 on 1:00 (:43-:45)
    --4 x 25 on :30 (:19)
    1:00 rest
    --10 x 100 fr on 2:00 (1:25-1:30*)
    --4 x 50 fr on 1:00 (:40-:43)
    --4 x 25 fr on :30 (:17-:19)
    1:00 rest
    125 EZ free/bk cool-down

    2100 SCY/42:00

    *These clustered mostly around 1:27-1:28, though there were a couple in the 1:25-1:26 range and a couple in the 1:29-1:30 range (which might be closer to my 1650 pace; last year's pace was 1:31).
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  5. 100 Free PR

    by , March 24th, 2014 at 02:43 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    So the last few weeks have been very inconsistent; not because of illness, work and travel as happened earlier this winter, but because I tried to come back too quickly and messed up my left shoulder. I didn't have the base, but I was going for the same intensity I had last year in the run up to the state meet.

    The shoulder started hurting in the pull phase of breast stroke and I kept tweaking it during back as well. Finally it started giving out on me during fly. So I have a hiatus on all the strokes except freestyle (and a very slow backstroke) for a while. If I breathe to my left I don't have any issues with it... I've had issues with this shoulder before, it's like there's inflammation or some kind of impingement there when I build up too quickly and don't give my muscles a chance to adapt to added stress, and then I'll tweak it if I'm not being really careful and it becomes something more than just soreness or discomfort.

    For today's 80 x 25 on :45 workout--the last one before state--instead of doing fly, back, and breast, I did kick with fins: SDKs, back dolphins, back kick, and then when everyone else was swimming the 20 x 25 breast set, I just alternated front and back dolphins. My legs and core will be pretty sore tomorrow... but in a good way.

    I went ahead and did the 20 x 25 on :45 freestyle as full stroke... and they were pretty fast (for me--:14-:16). After the recovery swim, Jen and Scotty did a 100 IM for time off the blocks, to see where they were; I swam my time trial as 100 freestyle and PR'd, breaking 1:10 for the first time (1:08 is my new unofficial PB for SCY 100 free)... technique and speed work are paying off.

    I'm still going to state, but will not swim my favorites--200 IM, back and fly; 400 IM--focusing instead on freestyle, which I can still do without hurting myself: 100, 200, 1650.

    I'm not really in shape for the 1650 because I haven't had time to build a decent base or work on my pacing. I'm hoping that the gains I've made in technique over the last year will help me not be so slow. I did an EZ 1650 in the pool on Saturday (all I had time for because I got to the pool just 30 minutes before closing time); finished in 27 minutes. I put down 26 as my seed time, though I would secretly love to be around 24:45. Last year I was just over 25, so we'll see where I am.
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  6. 80 x 25 Sunday

    by , March 9th, 2014 at 05:12 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    First time I've done this workout in a while, so I felt like I was working the rust out. But I needed the shorter reps and longer rest to feel myself swimming faster... otherwise it's easy to swim myself into a rut. Also, it was good to swim against Scotty again... schedules just hadn't worked out over the last couple of weeks.

    Here's how it went:

    Warm-up (500):
    400 EZ (100 fr, bk, fr, br)
    100 IM

    MS (2400):
    20 x 25 fly on :45 (:22-:23)
    100 recovery + master's minute
    20 x 25 bk on :45 (:20-:22)
    100 recovery + master's minute
    20 x 25 br on :45 (:24-:26)
    100 recovery + master's minute
    20 x 25 fr on :45 (:15-:17)
    100 recovery

    --The 20 x 25 sets take 15 minutes to complete, so we started a new set every 20 minutes to allow for a little recovery.

    Cool-Down (600):
    400 IM on 8:00 (6:51)
    200 EZ free

    3500 SCY/1h45m

    With the exception of freestyle, my times seemed a bit slow... maybe a second on fly, a couple of seconds on back, compared to where I was a month and a half ago on this workout. Freestyle doesn't seem to have suffered as much, but I've been paying a lot closer attention to my stroke counts than I was before, even if I haven't been putting in as many yards. Today I had a lot of reps in :16 with 16 strokes, which seems pretty balanced to me.
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  7. Distance day

    by , March 8th, 2014 at 04:44 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    WU (1000):

    400 EZ fr on 7:00
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00 (desc. 1:47-1:37)
    4 x 50 fr on 1:00 (:37-:40)
    1:00 rest

    MS (2000)

    --200 BK on 4:00 (3:24)
    --8 x 100 fr on 1:45 (1:29-1:30)
    Masters' minute
    --200 Fly on 4:00 (3:21)
    --8 x 100 fr on 1:45 (started at 1:33 after the 200 fly, then mostly 1:31-1:32, until the last couple of reps in 1:28-1:29)

    CD (200):

    200 EZ BK

    TOTAL: 3200 SCY/64 minutes

    Tomorrow: the weekly 80 x 25 sprint fest!
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  8. Freestyle workout... allure of the 1650

    by , March 7th, 2014 at 10:02 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    I haven't done a strictly freestyle workout in a long time, and I only had a short time before I needed to get ready for work this morning, so I did a warm-up, hammered out a quick set of 100s and then a quick cool-down:

    2000 SCY/40 minutes

    Warm-up:
    400 EZ on 8:00 (100 free, 100 bk, 100 bk pull, 100 free)
    4 x 100 fr on 2:00 (desc 1:28 to 1:21)
    4 x 50 fr on 1:00 (:38-:40)
    4 x 25 fr on :30 (:18-:19)
    1:00 rest

    Main set:
    6 x 100 fr on 1:40 (1:25, 1:27, 1:26, 1:27, 1:26, 1:26)

    Cool-down:
    300 EZ (100 bk pull, 100 bk, 100 fr)

    I'm a long way way from being able to do the 20 x 100 on 1:40 set that I was doing last year before the 1650 at state, but my pace is also about 3-4 secs faster than it was then too. If I can keep adding 100s to the set, I could be at my goal pace for this set and the 1650 (1:25/100) in about 5 weeks... the problem is, of course, that our state meet is three weeks from this weekend.

    I don't know... if I add two reps to the set and do the set twice/week, that puts me at 1600 in race pace work after 2.5 weeks; five more workouts... hmm. Maybe I'll do the set MWF next week and see how I feel when I'm swimming 12 x 100 on 1:40 next Friday before I decide to scratch the 1650 altogether this season. I'm swimming my fly, bk, IM workouts on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, so maybe it will work.

    Am I crazy?
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  9. OK, I'm ridiculously slow!

    by , March 6th, 2014 at 10:08 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Today I did something like a repeat of Tuesday's workout with broken 200s (4 x 50 on 1:00 for fly, back and breast)... only I was slower! I was supposed to be holding 200 pace... so apparently 200 pace has gotten really, really slow. I even took yesterday off (not really on purpose, but I had to make a choice at the end of the day to go to the Y or go to Ash Wednesday service... and if there's anything that's more atrophied than my lungs right now it's probably my soul... ha, ha).

    Anyway, here's what I did today... reversing the order of fly and back sets from Tuesday:

    WU (1200--1:00 rest after ea 400-yard segment):
    400 EZ
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00 (desc. 1:47 to 1:41)
    16 x 25 on :30, 400 IMO

    MS (1200):
    4 x 50 back on 1:00 (:49, :49, :50, :52)
    50 recovery--start next set on the next "up"
    4 x 50 back on 1:00 (:48, :49, :50, :52)
    50 recovery
    4 x 50 fly on 1:00 (:48, :50, :50, :52)
    50 recovery
    4 x 50 fly on 1:00 (close to same times as the first set of fly)
    50 recovery
    4 x 50 BR/FR on 1:00 (working on the back half of the 4IM)

    CD (400):
    200 IM on 4:00
    200 back EZ

    2800 SCY/65 mins

    Updated March 6th, 2014 at 11:42 PM by mcnair

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  10. Prepping for state meet...

    by , March 4th, 2014 at 04:27 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Encouraged by my times on Sunday, all improvements over last SCY season in spite of my sporadic training, I decided that I probably could do a decent 200 and 400 IM at state, and that 200 back and 200 fly--being on different days--are also feasible. These are the events that enjoy training for the most, so I might as well go ahead and make them my goal events. I'll decide whether or not I want to do the 1650 (last event on the last day) at the end of this week, after I have a chance to do some long freestyle sets... see where my fitness is.

    The results from Whitefish Bay are already in the USMS database. I'm pretty pleased with my splits in the 4 and 2 IMs. My fly and free legs are almost even (1:29 fly and 1:26 free in the 400 IM; 40+ fly and 40+ free in the 2IM)... the free should be a lot faster, but that's where my lack of conditioning is making itself felt. There and with the backstroke leg as well... there's no reason, with all the backstroke work I did last fall, that I shouldn't be swimming around 1:30/100 pace, even after the fly leg... but again, I think it's just lack of conditioning. Back and Breast are "recovery" legs in the IMs.

    Took a break (that I didn't need) yesterday because I couldn't find time to get to the Y. We had our annual appointment with the accountant for taxes right after work, and then after dinner my wife and I sat down with the boys to talk about the contract that I'm probably going to be signing and sending off in the next couple of days. We're still "negotiating" with Anthony, who is finishing his senior year this semester and headed off to college next year. He doesn't want us to move... he wants to be able to come back "home." I understand. I didn't expect this to be as traumatic for him, since he won't be around for most of the year anyway, but I get it... he didn't expect that saying goodbye to his friends for college would be saying goodbye forever. Our youngest is going into high school next year and will miss a couple of good friends he has from elementary and junior high, but he's pretty much starting over next year anyway and so he's taking it in stride.

    Today I decided to get my swim in over lunch and not risk missing another day by waiting until the late evening to get it in. Here's what I did:

    400 EZ
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00 (desc. from 1:47 to 1:37)
    16 x 25 on :30 in 400 IM order
    100 recovery
    1:00 rest
    4 x 50 fly on 1:00 (:44, :46, :46, :47)
    50 recovery
    1:00 rest
    4 x 50 fly on 1:00 (:46, :46, :48, :48)
    50 recovery
    1:00 rest
    4 x 50 back on 1:00 (:47, :48, :49, :49+)
    50 recovery
    1:00 rest
    4 x 50 back on 1:00 (:48, :49, :49, :50)
    50 recovery
    1:00 rest
    4 x 50 breast on 1:00 (:54, :57, :58, :58)
    1:00 rest
    100 recovery

    2600 in about an hour... tomorrow need to do some freestyle sets.
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  11. Meet results... PRs in 400 IM, 200 IM

    by , March 2nd, 2014 at 04:33 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    A goodly contingent from Kenosha YMCA made the trip up to Whitefish Bay this morning for a meet. Scotty, Scott, Ryan and I were planning to do the 200 medley relay; and Jen surprised us by showing up to her first meet since high school. Everyone swam well and we had a great time. The group is growing little by little and it's been loads of fun getting to know folks and their families, and to root each other on.

    It's been about two weeks since I've written here and a lot has happened in that time... unfortunately for my training not a lot in the pool for me. I've been set back by those illnesses and then schedules, meetings, conferences have all conspired to keep me out of the pool except sporadically in the last month... so I'm going to call it a taper!

    I am really pleased with my swims today. I started with the 400 IM, which I haven't done in an SCY meet since last season, so I had no idea what my time was going to be. I crushed my previous meet PR by 12 seconds, coming in at 6:37. I'm in much worse conditioning than I was when I swam it at the state meet last March, but obviously my technique has gotten a lot better... especially in fly and back.

    I toyed with doing the 200 fly, but noticed when I was registering that it would be right before the 200 medley relay; and since I was doing the backstroke leg I didn't think this would be a good idea... wouldn't even be able to get out of the pool and would be heading right into the backstroke blocks after totally expending myself on 200 fly. I saved my energy for the back leg of the relay and broke 40 secs (at 39.xx I was pretty close to my 50 back time from the Evanston meet). Scotty followed with a 34.xx breast leg, Scott swam 27.7 fly and got us within striking distance. Ryan then brought us home with the victory and a scorching freestyle leg. I had apologized in advance for making them all swim from behind! But of course nobody minded, we were just happy to have a team on the blocks and it was just a bonus that we won the only heat of that relay!

    Next up for me was the 200 IM, and I had put a 3:20 seed time down, seriously not knowing what to expect or if I would even have the energy (my endurance has fallen off a lot), but again all the work on technique came through for me. Mike from Libertyville, who I did some of the pirate lake swimming with last summer, asked me what I was thinking with the seed time, and I said... "yeah, I'm just trying to be conservative because I haven't done the 2IM since last season in a meet setting." I felt pretty good about my fly leg (I think I counted 4-5 strokes to the first wall) and my back felt smoother than it had since Evanston, by the time I hit the breaststroke leg, though, my legs were screaming for mercy. I pushed as hard as I could on the freestyle leg and turned to see 3:07, my fastest SCY 200 IM by 6 seconds. Can't wait to see the splits on that one.

    I finished out the meet with 200 breast a couple of events later. My goal was just to hold form for the full 200, not dq. I swam 3:35 and felt pretty relaxed the whole time. It's interesting how my legs never feel as fatigued during a 200 yard race of any type as they do in the breast leg of the 2 and 4 IMs. I expected my legs to be killing me throughout this 200 breast, but they really never did.

    Anyway, as a team we probably had 20-22 individual splashes on top of the relay, so we were busy cheering for each other the whole meet, which kept things hopping. Meet ran smoothly too.

    Can't say how much I'm going to miss the WMAC when we move this summer... oh, yeah, forgot to mention I was offered the job I interviewed for a couple of weeks ago. It's a great community here, and I am sad to have to leave it, my swim partners have become really good friends over the last couple of years... among the best I've made in Wisconsin in my 14 years here... but the new job is an incredible opportunity too. A lot of mixed feelings. I'll write more on the details over the next couple of weeks.
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  12. 3000 this evening

    by , February 17th, 2014 at 09:41 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Trudged through the snow and into the Y on the way home from work. Man, this has been a long winter! But because of the heavy snow right around rush hour I think most folks were scared off and the normally bustling pool was completely empty... completely!

    Did 3000...

    Warm-up:
    400 EZ on 7:30 (6:50, focused on long strokes... 12-14 per length in the first 200)
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00 (1:44-1:49)
    1:00 rest
    4 x 50 fly on 1:00 (:47, :48, :49, :50)
    1:00 rest

    Main set:
    4 x 100 free on 2:00 (desc. 1:33-1:30)
    4 x 100 free on 1:45 (ascend 1:30-1:36)
    4 x 100 back on 2:15 (1:51-1:55... this was very slow, yuck!)

    Cool-down:
    200 EZ free
    200 breast
    200 back
    200 EZ free

    ...all in 60 mins.

    I am still not feeling very strong despite feeling like the energy bounced back a little yesterday. It's amazing how much fitness I've lost over these last three weeks of illness. I haven't done times this slow in a long time, very frustrating!
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  13. Way behind...

    by , February 16th, 2014 at 05:25 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    After all the hiccups in my routine over the last three weeks and an out-of-town job interview that kept me out of the pool for another three days at the end of this week, GTD informs me that I had better pick up the pace! 20 miles behind my goal pace now! Ouch. Yeah, it's been a bumpy ride this winter for my swimming.

    The nagging cough is still... still... still... hack... there. But aside from that, and a lack of sleep lately, my energy is back up to its normal levels now. I got in today just to loosen up and then will begin my build-up in earnest tomorrow evening... with much modified goals for the season, of course. I will focus on backstroke and freestyle distance for the rest of the season. I'm going to keep doing fly and breaststroke in the workouts, but no longer plan to swim the 200 fly or breast at any of the remaining meets. I'll probably do the 200 IM at the next meet (3/2?) and 400 IM at state (end of March) for fun, if I feel good. Otherwise, I'm really just going to focus my workouts on 100-200 back and 1650 free.

    Here's what I did today just to try to gt my groove back after three days out of the pool:

    2400 SCY/50 mins...

    started with 2000-yard straight swim (really slow, focused on long, smooth strokes... took about 38:00) , done as so:

    100 fr EZ
    100 bk EZ
    200 fr
    200 bk
    300 fr
    300 bk
    400 fr
    400 bk

    1-2 min rest, then:

    6 x 50 fly on 1:10 (avg. :50, started at :51, finished around :48-:49)
    master's minute
    100 EZ fr cool-down
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  14. back in the pool...

    by , February 11th, 2014 at 06:44 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Got back in today after another 4-day hiatus. The legs felt really weak, especially on breast. My lungs were just not there either on the longer freestyle set, so I'm going to have to build back up slowly. Here's what I did:

    400 EZ mixed stroke warm-up (200 free, 100 bk, 100 br)
    8 x 50 on 1:00 in 4IMO (:47, :48, :51, :51, :56, :58, :45, :43 = 6:34... not great)
    1:00 rest
    4 x 50 on 1:00 in 2IMO (:47, :51, :58, :45? = 3:21... yuck!)
    1:00 rest
    4 x 150 freestyle on 3:00 (2:18, 2:18, 2:18, 2:16)*
    1:00 rest
    3 x 100 fr on 2:00 (asc 1:33-1:35)
    100 EZ back

    2000 SCY/45 minutes

    *This freestyle set I was just trying to see if I could fall into a consistent pace per 50 and stroke count per length. I did manage to be pretty consistent at :45-:46 per 50... stroke count started at 14-15 and increased to 16-17 per length. This is probably my current 1650 pace, it didn't feel that strenuous, but it was not the :42-:43/50 pace that I want to be holding for the full 1650. :40+ rest was what I needed today, but it's probably far too much for 1650 training, so that will come down and the # of reps will go up over the next few weeks. Hope to be strong enough to hold that longer stroke and lower stroke count at speed going forward.

    Updated February 11th, 2014 at 06:52 PM by mcnair

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  15. Perfect storm...

    by , February 9th, 2014 at 03:17 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Just as I was beginning to recover somewhat from the flu I caught a nasty stomach bug that knocked me flat on my back for about 24 hours. Friday Morning I had packed my bag and was looking forward to an afternoon swim at the Y on my way home from work. The swim bag never made it out of the car. I left work early Friday afternoon and went straight to bed, then bathroom, then bed, then bathroom, then bed, then... well, you get the idea. My stomach felt a little better by Saturday morning, but I could barely stand I was so weak. Spent most of the day going to the kitchen, trying to find something bland enough for my stomach to handle, and then crawling back upstairs to the bedroom to sleep it off. Rinse, repeat.

    Am out and about today... feel fairly normal, but I'm not swimming today and am spending the afternoon getting caught up on all the stuff I needed to get done Friday afternoon and yesterday. Sigh. This puts another big dent in my training. It just hasn't been my season so far!
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  16. Recovering slowly... counting strokes

    by , February 6th, 2014 at 07:18 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    I spent several days out with the flu last week and it's still taking me a while to get my strength back. I missed five whole days of swimming in a row... the first time that has happened in over three years. As I got back into the pool last weekend I made a conscious decision just to work on form for a while, knowing I would get frustrated by not swimming the times I was swimming when I left off training the week before. I focused on stroke count, rather than time. This has been a good thing, slowing down and doing a lot of drill... something I typically don't like to do, but know I should if my swimming is going to get to the next level.

    So I've spent this week working through all the TI drills for freestyle (and adapting some of them for backstroke). The balance thing and lengthening of stroke is starting to pay off (at least in terms of my stroke count). During a set of 20 x 25 free on :45 last Sunday, I was bringing them in right at :19-:20 with a stroke count of 12-13... pretty relaxed. My backstroke set was 9-10 underwater dolphins and 10-11 strokes to the wall in a slow :23-:24. I was doing 5-6 strokes on the fly set (probably :23-:24). So even though I was :02-:04 slower per rep i didn't feel so bad about it because I was really extending my stroke.

    My hope is that as my strength returns and I begin increasing the stroke rate again that my stroke length will have improved and I'll be swimming more efficiently. Last night Scotty and I did a pyramid workout. My strength was just not there, especially after fly, but, again, I didn't feel too bad about the effort because I could focus on stroke count. During the fly pyramid (25-50-75-100-100-75-50-25, all on :45/25 interval), I was able to bring my first length in at 5-6 full strokes and then hold 7 strokes after that. So the two 100s had total stroke counts of 27 (in 1:41) and 28 (in 1:39).

    I do feel like I'm running out of time to prepare for state (end of March) and I just don't have the yardage base that I have had the last couple of years by this time. I hope the work on efficiency can help compensate for some of that, but there's no getting around the fact that I need to be putting in the yards at pace if I'm going to reach my goals in the 400 IM, 200 back, and 1650 free. I don't feel ready to tackle 100s at pace for 1650 or 50s at 200 pace just yet, but I decided to do some 50s at 1650 pace... keeping track of my stroke counts. Tuesday I did 20 x 50 on 1:00; Today I did 30 x 50 on 1:00. Didn't feel too bad. Last year's pace was 1:31/100 for the 1650; this year I want to be around 1:25, so :42-:43 was the theme for my 50 repeats. The nice thing about doing 50s instead of 100s is that the form doesn't start to fall apart as badly. My stroke counts for the 50s were around 29-31 mostly (13-14 the first length, 15-17 on the second length). I'm guessing I should expect an average 16 strokes/length at pace... is that too many, too few? I don't know... I guess I need to see how the stroke holds up as I move to interval 100s.
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  17. 50s Face-Off Meet...

    by , January 26th, 2014 at 10:40 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Scotty and I made the trek down to Evanston, Illinois bright and early this morning for our "50s Face-off." Normally about a 45-minute drive, it was closer to an hour on mostly unplowed, snowy roads. At least the blowing snow held off until this evening, so travel conditions weren't too bad.

    Great venue for a meet (Swim-Swam rated it #8 in its "top-ten must visit sites for a swim meet"). There's a picture of it at the bottom of the Evanston Master's home page:

    http://www.evanstonmasters.com

    Scotty won the face off... darn it! I almost swam him to a draw, but on our final event, swimming right next to each other, I mis-timed my back finish and lost just enough momentum that he slid in and out touched me... if I had taken one more stroke I would have had it! Here were the times:

    50 Breast = :44.94 (seed :47)
    50 Fly = :38.08 (seed :40--first time breaking the 40-second barrier!)
    50 Free = :29.70 (seed :30.95--first time breaking the 30-second barrier!)*
    50 Back = :39.84 (seed :38)

    *I beat Scotty by .14 in the freestyle, which had him sweating because he didn't think he would take me in the backstroke... I usually beat him by a second or two in a 50, but like I said I goofed the finish and apparently didn't have any room for error... if only I had warmed up a little better before that event, or if only I had taken that extra stroke, or if only if I'd had more yardage in this winter so far and hadn't been fading as badly toward the end of my meets lately, or if only I'd had a few swigs of gatorade before the final heat... so many "if only-s"! Now I have to live with the shame... forever, Scotty assures me, because he will never swim a backstroke event again in his entire life.

    We did have a blast though, lots of good swimming. And... despite the fact that Scotty and I were the only two men to show up from WMAC (Wisconsin Masters Aquatic Club), we still scored enough points between the two of us to rank 11th out of 22 teams. Cue banana:
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  18. 50s at 200 pace: back and breast

    by , January 23rd, 2014 at 04:48 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Another 3000-yarder: Last night I did some more 50s at goal 200 pace. This time for back and breast. I managed to be around :45-:47 for the backstroke (as nearly as I could tell from where we were in the pool relative to the pace clock), which is a a couple of seconds faster than last week... but, of course, I hadn't tired myself out with a fly set right before it. I think I might follow this pattern next week too and up the reps to 14 per stroke. Here's what I did:

    WU (800)
    400 EZ
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00
    Master's minute

    MS (1400):
    12 x 50 BK on 1:10
    100 recovery
    12 x 50 BR on 1:10
    100 recovery

    CD (800)
    400 IM EZ (7:10)
    400 EZ

    Today Scotty and I got in over lunch and did the 80 x 25 workout one last time before tapering for Sunday morning's meet. My fly felt a lot better today... I was bringing some of the 25s in at :22 with 3-4 dolphins and 5-6 strokes, some of them came in :19-:20 with 3-4 dolphins and 7-8 strokes. The workout was 3500 total:

    WU:
    400 EZ free
    6 x 100 drill and/or stroke

    MS:
    20 x 25 fly on :45
    100 recover
    20 x 25 BK on :45
    100 recovery
    20 x 25 BR
    100 recovery
    20 x 25 fr on :30
    100 recovery

    CD: 100
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  19. 50s: fly and free on 200 (?) pace

    by , January 21st, 2014 at 05:29 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Last week I tried to do this workout mid-week (12x 50 on 1:10 for each stroke), but after the fly I was pretty much worthless and my times were awful. So this week's modification is that I'm spreading the workout over two days... fly and free sets today, bk and br tomorrow. Here's how I did:

    3000 SCY:

    WU (1000):
    400 fr, build on 7:00 (6:33)
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00 (low- to mid-1:40s)
    4 x 50 fr on 1:10 (hard, but in control, desc. :40-:38)

    MS (1400):
    12 x 50 fly on 1:10 (:45-:47; held mostly :46 in first half)*
    100 recovery
    12 x 50 fr on 1:00 (:37-:39)
    100 recovery

    CD (600)
    6 x 100 (drill, br, fr, bk, fr, br)

    *Last week I had a lot of :48s, even a :49 at the end. This week I never went slower than :47, probably half of the reps came in at :46. That puts my 200 fly, if i'm able to hold that pace, at 3:04-3:08, and 200 free at 2:28-2:36. I think I'm going to have to add more reps to the set and shorten the interval slightly, however, if I'm really going to get there.

    TOTALS YTD:
    Swimming: 30+ miles
    Rowing: 30.5 K
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  20. Me no likey sprint...

    by , January 20th, 2014 at 10:14 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Well, we're gearing up for next weekend's "all 50s" meet. Scotty and I are going to Evanston, IL for their masters meet (I need to sign up here in the next day or so).

    This last week has been a little tough for me, missed a couple of days. One was a planned rest day (last Tuesday--after 13 days straight in the pool). Another missed day was just a case of poor planning... I ran out of time and then at the end of the day decided to go to the neighborhood pub with my wife instead of to the YMCA. I figured, what the heck... long week, we had an hour and a half to kill while we waited for our youngest to get out of basketball practice, and I could make up the yardage on Saturday. Then Saturday rolled around and b/c I hadn't gone in on Friday I didn't see the notice that the YMCA pool would be closed for most of the day for an age-group meet. Dang. "OK, no problem... I can still get in a good 1.5-2 hours before they close on Saturday afternoon, and still have time to get my son to his 6PM b-ball game." As I headed out the door my wife asked if I would be back in time to get him to his 5:15 game in Racine... 5:15? I thought it was 6... oh man. By the time I helped the lifeguards clean up from the meet a little and could get into the pool I only had about 15 minutes to actually swim before I needed to hit the showers and head back out into the snow-slowed traffic. 800 yards, feeling really creaky.

    So I was headed into yesterday's 80 x 25 on :45 on a pretty low yardage week. At the end of the main sets we time-trialed some 50s to get a better idea about where our seed times should be. My 50 fly was about :39, the back, :37-:38, breast was around :45 and free was :31. Scotty is going to kill me in breast and fly. I just don't have any speed with the short axis stuff. I'll take him by about a second in the back, and our freestyle is going to be really close... so the most I can hope for in the 50s face-off is a draw... and, no, please don't add up the cumulative time over the four events!

    Today I did an interesting set with 75s. Here was the workout:

    Warm-up (1000):
    400 EZ (100 fr, 100 pull, 100 bk pull, 100 bk) on 9:00--this felt bad
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00--these were slow, really slow
    4 x 50 pull/fr on 1:00--yuck.
    1:00 rest--pondering whether I should even continue at this point...

    Main Set (2200):
    6 x 75 fly on 2:00 (1:10-1:12--goal 200 pace)
    100 recovery
    6 x 75 bk on 2:00 (1:13-1:14--goal 500 pace? these were terrible!)
    100 recovery
    6 x 75 br on 2:00 (1:23-1:25--actually faster than expected)
    100 recovery
    6 x 75 fr on 1:40 (1:00-1:02--probably a reflection of my 200 pace right now)
    100 recovery

    Cool-down (300):
    6 x 50 fr/pull on :55

    3500 SCY/70-75 minutes

    TOTALS YTD:
    Swimming: 28+ miles
    Rowing: 30.5 K
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