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Alex's swim journal

It's a journey: musings on art, literature, life... and occasional notes on training.

  1. 4K Saturday

    by , March 30th, 2013 at 03:36 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Today's workout was a big lactic acid build-up. My lats and arms were toast by the end of the last set:

    WARM-UP:
    400 EZ swim (build to threshold pace) on 7:00
    4 x 100 fr on 2:00 (1:24-1:26)
    200 IM on 4:00 (3:30)

    MAIN:
    8 x 100 fr on 1:40 (1:30-1:31)
    200 IM on 5:00 (3:40)
    4 x 200 fr on 3:20 (3:08-3:12)
    200 IM on 5:00 (3:40)
    4 x 200 fr on 3:20 (3:11-3:15)
    200 IM in 3:34
    Masters minute

    COOL-DOWN:
    400 EZ swim

    4400 SCY/<90 minutes
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  2. Good Friday...

    by , March 29th, 2013 at 04:58 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    "I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint:
    my heart is like wax, it is melted in the midst of my bowels.
    My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws"
    --Psalm 22: 14-15.

    I am beginning to understand my humanity at its most lived, at its most deeply felt, is to be found in the midst of suffering... or, perhaps, it is at such moments that I feel like I can touch something beyond my material humanity... maybe this keeps me driving myself, even when I'm hanging onto the wall gasping for breath after every rep... I could stop at any moment, end the suffering, but I hurl myself into another rep when the pace-clock tells me it must be so. Why? What am I paying for? Why do I feel like I HAVE to endure? I want to be a better swimmer of course, but there are days when there has to be something more than just that... this pouring out, using myself up, melting myself down... I think we all sense that need to find the depths of the abyss, in order to rise again. Today I beat the human out to inhabit my inner worm; but the worm will weave its cocoon and emerge with wings. So this is my Good Friday meditation, I don't know that it would have even occurred to me had I not poured myself out in today's workout.

    I did the weights again today (same as Wednesday, but did 2 sets of each exercise), this time before my swim. The swim was tough as a result:

    WARM-UP:
    1200 (alternated free and pull 200s; build from EZ to moderate)

    MAIN:
    4 x 100 fly on 3:00 (1:48-1:56)
    100 IM (1:45) on 3:00
    4 x 100 bk on 2:15 (1:47-1:50)
    100 IM (1:45) on 2:15
    4 x 100 br on 2:30 (1:48-1:52)
    100 IM (1:46) on 2:30
    4 x 100 fr on 2:00 (1:19-1:23)
    100 IM (1:47)

    COOL-DOWN:
    200 EZ fr (~3:30)
    200 Pull (~3:30)
    4 x 50 fr (catch-up; slide-n-glide drills) on 1:00

    3800 SCY/80 minutes

    My slower times today, despite the perceived difficulty, were a humble reminder of how far I have to go.

    Yesterday was an easy day, though the kick work has left my legs pretty sore... essentially 3 tough days in a row on the legs w/ weights and swimming. Here's what I did yesterday in the short time I had (2000 SCY/40 minutes):

    400 EZ swim, 7:00
    200 spear drill w/ fins
    4 x 50 spear drill w/ fins, harder on 1:00
    4 x 50 pull on 1:00
    5 x 100 on 2:00 (1:27-1:31)
    4 x 25 front dolphins on :45
    4 x 25 back dolphins and flutter on :45
    200 breast kick w/ board
    100 EZ swim


    The 700 or so of pull and free work in the middle was to reinforce proper hip rotation and focus on kick timing (which I'm now obsessing about, so we'll see where that leads).
    ---
    Spring is the sweeter after a long winter. Today we are reminded that triumph requires suffering; and what little suffering we endure is so small in comparison to the suffering of others who have gone before us, gracing us with their sacrifices. Blessings on this solemn day! Peace.
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  3. Brought to you by the number 4...

    by , March 27th, 2013 at 10:29 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    I did 4000 yards today in 80 minutes (4 x 20:00); so the theme number today was "4" and some of its multiples. It included 400 in fly, 400 in back, and 400 in breast work.

    WARM-UP(1000):
    400 EZ swim on 7:30
    4 x 100 IM on 2:15 (1:40-1:45)
    4 x 50 fr on 1:00 (:38-:39)

    MAIN (2000):
    4 x 200 fr (+50 recovery) on 5:00 (2:54-2:59)
    4 x 200 IM (+50 recovery) on 5:00 (3:41-3:45)

    COOL-DOWN (1000):
    4 x 50 fr on 1:00 (:39-:40)
    4 x 100 IM on 2:15 (1:45-1:49)
    400 EZ swim (7:00)

    The cool-down was the warm-up in reverse, which gave me a nice sense of symmetry and closure. The 100 IMs were really only moderate pace efforts, so when you throw in the hard 50s at the end of warm-up and beginning of cool-down it amounted to about 2000 yards of pretty hard swimming. The main sets with the longer rest/recovery amount to what I hope is a good VO2max workout.

    Also did some weights and core work today right after the swim (so I didn't have to get warmed up again). Since I haven't done any of the extra drylands in about a month I decided just one set of everything, 10 reps, very light weight:

    CORE:
    Bird Dog
    Front Plank
    Side Plank x 2
    Flutter Kick on Back
    Y-exercise
    Superman (alternating opposite sides)

    WEIGHTS (*w/ 15-lb dumbbells; w/ 8-lb dumbbells):
    Lunges*
    Squats*
    Sumo Squats*
    Shoulder Press*
    Upright Row*
    Incline Press*
    Bent-over Row*
    Bench Press*
    Lat Pull-down (set on 6)
    Chest Fly**
    Reverse Fly**
    Full Can**


    I don't take any rests between exercises, just go from one to the other, so it didn't take but about 15-20 minutes. Next time I'll do 2 sets of each ex. and then 3, before I move the weights up again, but the weights are really light (I was doing 1 x 20 of chest presses with 30-lb dumbbells last month); but I don't feel like dealing with the soreness right now.
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  4. 1650 official splits

    by , March 27th, 2013 at 10:34 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    I'm going to paste here my official splits from Sunday's meet; I swam in heat 2, lane 2:

    McNair, Alex M42 WMAC [seed=25:20.00] 25:04.98

    37.46--1:20.35(42.89)--2:06.21(45.86)--2:52.66(46.45)
    3:39.36(46.70)--4:24.92(45.56)--5:11.52(46.60)--5:57.52(46.00)
    6:43.10(45.58)--7:29.10(46.00)--8:14.51(45.41)--9:00.09(45.58)
    9:45.55(45.46)--10:31.05(45.50)--11:17.85(46.80)--12:03.23(45.38)
    12:49.90(46.67)--13:35.88(45.98)--14:21.85(45.97)--15:07.62(45.77)
    15:53.82(46.20)--16:40.35(46.53)--17:27.26(46.91)--18:13.72(46.46)
    18:59.92(46.20)--19:46.03(46.11)--20:32.74(46.71)--21:19.21(46.47)
    22:05.37(46.16)--22:51.87(46.50)--23:36.86(44.99)--24:21.16(44.30)
    25:04.98(43.82)

    Looks like I was holding steady at a mid-:45 to mid-:46 per 50 pace and even had enough left in the tank to bring my final 150 in sub :45/50 pace. This is a vast improvement over last fall where I would have fought hard to hold :48/50 in anything over 400-500 yards... I had plenty of endurance at :52.5/50, but anything faster than that was a real strain.

    TECHNIQUE WORK: Looking at some video I had my oldest son take of me last summer when I did my 5k postal, I noticed I had much less hip-rotation than I probably should have had (the swimming looked a little flat), so I've been working on that a little more over the last few months. But one thing I noticed in watching the freestyle portion of the 4IM that my youngest videoed on Sunday... now I've got decent rotation but my hips and shoulders seem to be slightly out of synch... like there's a wiggle in the stroke, part of this is probably trying to kick too hard... I was breathing an awful lot in that first length of free too, so I'm sure that my timing was off as I was catching my breath... the final 50 of the 4IM was :41.79 (instead of :44.91, my first 50 free) and looked a lot smoother. Nonetheless, I want to be swimming that smoothly or more smoothly all the time, so I've got to work on it.

    Yesterday, during my warm-up, I did the spear drill with fins to try to work on body position (I think some core strengthening is going to help here too), followed by 200 w/ pull-buoy to work on the hip rock, and then finally 4 x 50 w/o any equipment trying to get my kick timing and hip-shoulder rotation synched. SO MANY PIECES to this puzzle.... ARGH! I guess I'm going to have to incorporate a lot more drill work to get all these pieces to come together.
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  5. Recovery week...

    by , March 26th, 2013 at 11:20 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    The meet results are in from this weekend, so I can take a look at my splits and do a little analysis. My youngest son Aaron, AKA the Lap Counter, also took video of my 400 IM and 100 Back events, so I had some things to look at... maybe too many things to look at! At some point I'll select some of the better quality segments and post short vids on the forums for the butterfly and backstroke lanes to get some feedback. The freestyle looks like it needs a lot of work too, but it's hard to say if what I was seeing (especially on that first freestyle length of the 4IM) was the result of fatigue, trying to catch my breath, or not... the second length, what I can see of it in the video, looked a little smoother. The breast stroke is just really slow and I can tell that I'm still dealing with flexibility issues in my feet, ankles and hips, which is really limiting my kick. My favorite part of the 400 IM footage that Aaron shot is hearing him in the background after the turn at about the 150 mark saying "Aw, come on... it's not over yet!"

    So, here were my splits in the 400 IM:
    Cumulative (Subtractive)
    43.16 (43.16)
    1:41.29 (58.13)
    2:32.80 (51.51)
    3:23.04 (50.24)
    4:25.58 (1:02.54)
    5:22.51 (56.93)
    6:07.42 (44.91)
    6:49.21 (41.79)

    My fly really needs help, but my back and free times were pretty consistent; given what I saw, maybe some technique changes will help me to drop more time in back and free too.

    I'll have to write about my 1650 splits at some other point. For now I just wanted to record my last couple of days of recovery swimming. Monday I did 3000 SCY/64 minutes:

    250 EZ free
    250 br
    250 bk
    5 x 50 fly on 1:20

    1000 on 19:00 (17:10)
    300 back
    300 breast

    400 EZ fr


    Today I did 3100 SCY in about 58 minutes:

    400 EZ swim
    200 Spear drill w/ fins
    200 pull
    4 x 50 free

    3 x thru:
    -500 at threshold (8:05-8:10)
    -100 recovery swim (1:50-1:55)

    6 x 50 free/pull

    Gotta go, but I'll have time to write more tomorrow.
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  6. WI SCY--State Meet

    by , March 24th, 2013 at 08:41 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Three events, three personal bests!

    First event of the day today was the 400 IM and I went 6:49.xx (I'll have to check the official times when they're posted), a PR by at least 10 seconds. We actually had enough for two heats today, but I still picked up an age-group gold! My friend Scott form the Kenosha Y said anyone who finishes the 400 IM deserves a medal... he had a good day himself, going 59.xx in the 100 fly and I think 54 in the 100 free. I felt good about my performance because I was able to relax on the fly (I'm getting smoother if not faster) and push the back and free hard. Can't wait to see the splits. I didn't feel great on the breast, pull-outs were pretty short and shallow, but I think that's a function of the fatigue more than the progress I've been making on breast in the last month.

    Next I did the 100 Back, good start, just tried to relax but still came in at 1:25.xx, a PR by 8 seconds. I also won the heat and took first place in age group. Scott said I split :41-:44 (:44 was my fastest 50 Back time only two months ago!). Scotty, (different Scott than the other Kenosha Y Scott mentioned above), my semi-regular training partner, did his 50 breast right after the 100 back and his seed time was enough to get him into the fastest heat... he's dropped about 2 secs off his 50 breast in the last 6 weeks and probably came in 4th-5th overall today in that event.

    Last event was the 1650 and Scotty and I ended up in the second heat (lots of rest before the start) and right next to each other in lane assignments); he improved a lot over his 1500 SCM time from last fall too... probably lapped me a couple of times to top our age group. I was second in age-group with a 25:05.xx. That's an improvement of more than 1:45 over my 1500 SCM time and was right where I wanted to be. I had hoped to break 25:00, but put down a seed time of 25:20 knowing I was going to be happy with anything in the 25:xx-range. So that goal pace of 1:30/100--24:45--is still hanging out there for me... I'll have to keep working on it, but I'm super happy to have made the improvements I have made over the last 3 months.

    Meet was a real blast, even if I only got to go for the second day. Other highlights: Scott had a :30 50 back yesterday and a 26.?? 50 fly; Scotty went 1:21 in his 100 breast and 31.xx in his 50 fly--that was a huge time drop for him (2 secs+). Our friend, Carl, from Madison (who swims at the Kenosha Y on the weekends when he's in town) managed to pick off another 200 state record in his 60-64 age group; the 200 IM, after swimming a state-record 200 back a couple of weeks ago at the Baraboo meet (which I couldn't make). Carl was one of only two other swimmers who swam the 400 IM with me at Whitefish Bay at the beginning of March... he smoked me by a minute! That's OK, I told him, I've got 20 years to catch up. I feel really fortunate to be swimming in such a wonderful and supportive atmosphere!

    Now... I'm just really sore, and need... some... *yawn*
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  7. Taper weirdness...

    by , March 22nd, 2013 at 07:40 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Stopped in at the YMCA in Downtown Omaha today. Only ten blocks from the hotel, it was very convenient. I'm not sure if it's because I didn't get a chance to swim yesterday because of the travel or if it just how you're supposed to feel in a taper, but the swim felt odd today.

    On the one hand I felt smooth and fast, but on the other hand I felt tight and not at all as rested and fresh as I normally would feel after a 2000-yard EZ day, followed by a day of complete rest (I hardly ever have complete rest days in the last few months). Maybe it's just decompressing after 8 hours in the car yesterday... no sé.

    Here's what I did:

    500 EZ swim warm-up
    100 back
    2 x 50 fly
    50 back
    150 br
    6 x 100 on 2:00 (all at 1:30--goal pace, 1650)
    6 x 50 on 1:00 (25 hard/25 cruise)
    200 EZ (fr and bk)

    First fly, breast and back I've done since Tuesday, so I figured I'd have a little more snap, but wasn't feeling it. I got in and was quickly swimming circles around the other lap swimmers, but my times weren't as fast as I would have thought for as "fast" as I felt like I was going.

    Hope that's how the final days of a taper are supposed to feel.

    Another day of travel tomorrow; I'm planning to leave early enough to get back to Kenosha and the Y in time for a quick decompression swim, maybe practice starts, and then Sunday afternoon I swim the 4IM, 100 back, and 1650 at state meet in Milwaukee.
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  8. 2000...

    by , March 21st, 2013 at 12:46 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    Today I only had about 35 minutes to swim (things have been very rushed as I prepare for a conference in Omaha... about a 7-hour drive and I'm leaving tomorrow morning).

    I did 2000 continuous in 32 minutes. The first couple of hundred were fairly EZ warm-up, then as I started to loosen up and feel better I brought the pace down closer to my 1650 goal pace. I never really felt uncomfortable, like I was pushing it. I looked at the clock when I hit the wall at 1650: around 26 minutes; only 40 secs slower than my seed time and about a minute slower than my goal. That's pretty good for an EZ recovery day swim.

    The remaining 350 I backed off the pace and just cruised to cool down.

    I got out with a few minutes to spare and a nice warm feeling all over. Recharged!

    Hopefully I can get in a pool tomorrow evening at some point in Omaha; I'm always stiff after long drives.
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  9. 800s day... what the...?

    by , March 20th, 2013 at 12:11 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    My warm-up today was an 800 in reverse IM order, just EZ swimming... except the fly which is never EZ. felt pretty good after that 200 fly, though, so I decided to go straight into BK, BR, FR 200s as if I were swimming the 800 IM in its regular order. That was a nice 1400-yard warm-up at which point I guess I decided 800s was a good theme. Here's what I did:

    WARM-UP:
    200 free

    200 br
    200 bk
    200 fly
    200 bk
    200 br
    200 fr
    (1400)
    2:00 rest

    MAIN:
    16 x 50 in 800 IM order:

    -4 x 50 fly on 1:30 (:49-:53)
    -4 x 50 bk on 1:15 (:46-:49)
    -4 x 50 br on 1:20 (:53-:49)
    -4 x 50 fr on 1:00 (:37-:38)

    Cool-down

    800 EZ free (swum as 2 x 400 on 8:00)

    3000 SCY/66 minutes

    I have no idea why the number 800 (and multiples of 2, 4, 8) stood out for me today, or if this is what I should be doing for a taper, but it felt OK... nothing too terribly hard. My BR 50s really surprised me, they are coming in 3-6 seconds faster than they were a week ago, which means I might be able to shave a few seconds if I push that leg in the 400 IM on Sunday. I didn't push the BK today at all, but the 50s felt pretty good... strong and fairly smooth. The free was pretty fast, way faster than my 1650 pace, but I'd love for :37-:38 to be my 200 pace at some point. Which reminds me I need to do some pace work tomorrow for the 1650 to lock in that goal pace of 1:30... get the feel for that again with some 50s and 100s.
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  10. Taper begins...

    by , March 18th, 2013 at 06:58 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    ...And it's a good thing because I only had time for a 45-minute workout today anyway. Here's what I did over the lunch hour:

    1500 fr moderate on 26:00 (< 25:30)*
    5 x 100 IM on 2:30 (desc. from 1:46 to 1:37)
    masters minute
    2 x 100 free EZ

    2200 SCY in just under 45:00.

    *This was my warm-up and a little bit of aerobic conditioning... I think I lost track, so it may actually have been 1550, but I went with 1500 on GTD. Toward the end of this swim I was really starting to warm-up and feel a little looser/stronger, but I really didn't expect to be as fast after the weekend's hard work. This pace was really comfortable too; so I'm anxious to see how I do in the 1650 when I expect to be uncomfortable.

    Tomorrow I think I'll focus on 100s and 50s at pace if I'm feeling good.
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  11. Why do I do this to myself?

    by , March 17th, 2013 at 08:12 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Today was supposed to be an easier day, a little lighter on the yardage and intensity after yesterday's stroke and sprint ladders. I told myself I'd see how I felt at 2000 after doing 1200 warm-up and then 800 in kick or drill on fly, bk, br. I felt like I could use some more kick work when I got to 2000, so I took it to 2600 and then did some more freestyle work for a cool-down to make it an even 3000. I was leaving when Scotty, who had bonked pretty hard in the middle of the backstroke ladder yesterday and didn't complete the workout, said he was going to do 400 IM off the blocks to make up for what he missed yesterday... hmmm, I thought, tempting! I couldn't resist. I ended up with 3800 on the day. Here's the whole workout:

    1200 warm-up: fr/pull alt. by 200; on 24:00*
    200 fly kick with fins
    200 bk kick w/ fins
    200 br w/ board
    200 br
    200 bk kick w/ fins
    4 x 50 dolphins w/ fins
    200 br (100 kick w/ board; 100 full-stroke)
    4 x 50 free on 1:00
    200 EZ (100 pull/100 fr)
    ---
    400 IM off the blocks (7:15)**
    200 IM off the blocks (3:19)***
    200 cool-down (not nearly enough!)

    *Normally I would finish this 1200 warm-up in a little over 20:00, today it was 22:00 and felt stiff.
    **A lot slower than yesterday, but I'm also a lot stiffer and more tired today than I was yesterday.
    ***Why?! Because I could. My fly was horrible, but I darn near caught Scotty on the backstroke leg... had nothing for the breast, though, so I couldn't get close to the PR I set 14 days ago... and why was I thinking about PRs the day after a hard workout, at the end of what was supposed to be a recovery swim practice? It's some pavlovian response to competition I guess.

    I really needed about 400-500 of recovery swimming after the IMs to cool down, but also had to get some work done this afternoon and I hadn't expected to put in the extra 20 minutes after I'd already "finished" my original workout. I have a feeling today's workout is going to hurt tomorrow... so taper will begin!

    I'm going to sign-up for the State meet... we can do it on-line, so I had a couple of extra days. I'm just going to do the 400 IM (1st event on Sunday), 100 back, and 1650 (last event Sunday); I can only do the Sunday events, so it limits my choices. I like the endurance stuff so the 400 IM and 1650 seem like natural choices and my back stroke has improved a lot this winter... I'm going to be relaxed, but would really like to see if I can PR since the Madison meet was beginning of February... where I last did a 100 back in meet context. I originally planned to sign up for the 100 fly too, but I fear that's too much hard fly on a day when I'm also trying to PR in back and distance free.
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  12. 400s day

    by , March 16th, 2013 at 05:59 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Yesterday I swam an EZ 2100; just a little to loosen up after the 4K workout Thursday. Today I did 3400 SCY... starting the taper for State meet next weekend. The theme today was 400. Everything broke into nice 400-yard units with the exception of the warm-up:

    WARM-UP:
    600 EZ swim and various drills

    MAIN:
    400 fly ladder*
    400 bk ladder
    400 br ladder
    400 fr ladder
    400 IM off blocks--7:05

    COOL-DOWN:
    400 EZ swim

    *The total yardage on each ladder was 400: 25-50-75-100-75-50-25. On :45/25y interval just like last Saturday's workout. The Frees were on :30/25-y interval.

    Updated March 16th, 2013 at 09:11 PM by mcnair

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  13. 1650 pacing...

    by , March 14th, 2013 at 06:37 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    I'm coming out of today's workout with a lot of confidence in the improvements I've made to my distance pace... despite the fact that I haven't done a lot of distance this winter and I haven't been working on pacing for freestyle, because I've been learning the other strokes. Here's what I did today:

    Warm-up (24 minutes):
    200 EZ free
    200 pull
    200 BK w/ fins
    200 FR w/ fins
    200 Fly w/ fins
    200 pull

    Main (33:20):
    20 x 100 on 1:40 (1:27-1:31)*

    Drill work, cool-down (~30:00):
    200 BR kick w/ board
    200 BR full stroke**
    200 Fly drills (150 w/ fins; 2:00 rest; 50 w/o fins, from push = :46)
    200 BK--EZ, 3:46
    200 Pull
    200 FR, EZ

    *I could barely feel the lactic acid building toward the end of this set; for the most part it was VERY comfortable... mostly 1:29s in the first half, 1:30-1:31 in the second half, my last two reps were 1:28 and 1:27. So I had gas in the tank. Is this (1:29-1:31) my new pace for the 1650? That's getting me close to 25:00! I'm really not sure what seed time to put down now. I thought about using my 1500m time from early December, but I've put in a lot of training since then and 26:53 seems really slow now (I wasn't very pleased with it at the time either).

    **It was pretty quiet this afternoon at the Y, so the lifeguard was coaching me on the breast stroke kick after every 50, giving me some things to work on and drill for the next 50; same with the full-stroke breast work, where she had me focusing on the front end of the stroke. She also gave me a couple of adjustments for my fly... my 50 without fins was faster than any of my 50s last night. Awesome to have the feedback!
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  14. 50s day...

    by , March 13th, 2013 at 11:16 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    After the hard 100s yesterday I knew I was going to be tired and sore (especially from the fly work), but I wanted to do a little more work on the 400 IM before I work on pacing for 1650 tomorrow. The mains sets today were a little like broken 400 IMs.

    WARM-UP:
    1200 (alt. free and pull by 200s) in 20:30

    MAIN:
    3 x thru:
    -2 x 50 fly on 1:00
    -2 x 50 back on 1:00
    -2 x 50 br on 1:00
    -2 x 50 fr on 1:00
    2:00 rest

    COOL-DOWN:
    200 pull
    200 bk
    200 fr--all EZ

    200 br kick w/ board
    200 br

    200 pull
    200 fr--EZ

    3800 SCY/75 minutes.

    It was pretty crazy at the Y today with lessons taking up most of the lanes for the first half of my workout and a large aqua zumba class in the open swim area. With people coming in and out of the lane in my first two rounds of the main set it was impossible to stay on the interval... so I just gave myself :10 rest interval after finishing a rep. On the last round I had the lane completely to myself and made the intervals (barely on the breast). Then I did an extended cool-down, punctuated by some breast work--which I desperately still need. The 200 br kick w/ board hurt... I'm going to feel it tomorrow.
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  15. Hard 100s day...

    by , March 12th, 2013 at 10:29 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Decided to work on the 100-yard segments of the 400IM, which is coming up at the state meet in a couple of weeks. I thought this would also be a good workout to help me prep the other events I'm considering doing... I'll register online after tomorrow's practice, seeing how I feel. The state meet here is over two days, but unfortunately I can only make the second day, so that limits my options in terms of the events I can enter. Non-relay possibilities in order of events for Sunday, March 24: 400 IM, 200 br, 50 fr, 100 fly, 100 back, 50 br, 200 IM, 100 fr, 1650 fr. I've already done most of these events in a meet this winter at some point... except the 100 fly and the 1650; I'm definitely going to do the 1650. And I like the idea of swimming a hard 4IM at the start of the day, maybe see if I can drop some serious time from that event.

    I've decided that the 200s (br and IM) are out of the question for state... the breast is too soon after the 4IM and the 2IM is too close to the 1650... and I remember how sore I was after doing the 400 and all the 200s on one day after the last meet! So, doing the 100 fly would be great right before the 10-minute break at the half way point of the day... another event to fix a meet time for in the check-off challenge. And then I'd like to do the 100 back, right after the break, to see how much I've improved in that event since I swam it at the Madison meet in February... then plenty of rest before the 1650.

    OK, so here was the workout I did today, which I thought would help me with that event line-up (4IM, 100 fly, 100 back, 1650):

    Warm-up:
    1200 in 20:15
    -Alternated fr and pull by 200s
    -Swam: 200 fr EZ, 200 pull moderate, 200 fr at approx. 1650 pace, 200 pull EZ to moderate build, 200 fr at approx. 1650 pace, 200 pull recovery

    MAIN:
    5 x 100 fly on 3:00, off blocks (1:45-1:52)
    5 x 100 back on 2:30, w/ back start (1:39-1:45)
    5 x 100 breast on 2:30, from push (1:52-1:56)
    masters minute
    5 x 100 free on 2:30, from push (1:19-1:21)

    2:00 rest
    400 EZ swim (mostly fr, skate, some bk)

    3600 SCY

    Those 100s free at the end of the workout... after 1500 of hard fly, back, and breast... I wanted them to be fast (hence the generous interval) but I also wanted to swim them hard even in the face of fatigue... like at the end of a 400 IM or a 1650. I was happy to see mostly 1:19-1:20 on that set; if I'm going to take time off the 400 IM, I'm going to have to swim around 1:45 in fly and still have enough energy to go 1:40 or so in back... assuming I swim a 2:00 breast leg, that means I'm going to have to go better than 1:25 on that last 100 free to break 7:00. I'm hoping that if my fly is 1:45 I can go mid 1:30s in back and mid 1:50s in breast, which means a 1:20-1:25 free will crush my 7:00 PR. Hope this workout will help mitigate the EFAF (excessive fatigue after fly) factor. Part of me was also secretly hoping that this workout might also help me crank out a few 100s in the mid 1:20s late in that 1650, where I'm also hoping to put in a personal-best effort. We'll see; at the very least, I know what a tired 1:19 feels like (as opposed to the "fresh" feeling I normally have to have to swim 1:19).
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  16. A journey of a thousand miles...

    by , March 11th, 2013 at 10:51 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    ...begins with a single stroke. Back in January 2011, after two weeks of ice on the knee and frustration without my accustomed cardio, after seeing the doctor again and being told no running with IT Band Syndrome, rest and elevate, I got into the pool at the Y and swam a little more than half a mile. Two days later I did the same thing after fifteen minutes on the elliptical. Three days after that I swam a mile, 1750. By February 1st it had occurred to me I should check the clock to see how long that mile (now a 3x/week thing) was taking me in the pool. I recorded 42 minutes in my running log for the mile swim that day. Within a couple of months the "running" log became a swimming log and I was intent on improving that mile time. I applied the same methodical, uh, method to my swimming that I had taken with my running over the years. By the end of March I was regularly swimming that mile in 36 minutes, then 35 in April, 34 in May; intervals started, 2400-yard workouts, 3000 yards, 4K, 5K. By the end of summer I was swimming in the lake, recording sub-30-minutes in pool 1750s, joining USMS, registering for the Madison Open Water Swim, using the FLOG.

    So, here I am, not even 26 months after that first stroke back in the pool... and a tired back stroke took me past the 1000-mile threshold today, 282.5 yards into the 1000 IM swim I planned as a celebration of sorts for passing this milestone. Scotty was there, other regular swimmers, the lifeguard Jen, all familiar with my journey... I let them know what I was going to do. They came over to fist bump after I finished the 1000 IM (in 18:30-18:45?, I was actually paying more attention to my splits, but forgot to fix that final time into my memory... I guess I was so euphoric for just having finished it). Pretty cool feeling.

    That 1000 IM was something pretty remarkable for me too: my first continuous 250 fly, only the second time I've swum 200 fly or more continuously. I think I'm close to a breakthrough in fly... I actually got into a rhythm after 100 (first 100 in 1:46-1:47) w/ a pace of about :59/50 on the last 150. Slow but steady. The first 100 or so of back was some serious recovery; the whole back leg probably averaged :58/50. I lost a couple of seconds on the breast stroke, but was really focused on being smooth and keeping my kick legal. My 250 free at the end was right around 4:00, I think; I remember checking the pace clock a couple of times and thinking this was my 5K pace.

    After a masters minute I did 500 recovery swim (mostly free, but mixed in a few lengths of back). At 1900 I decided to do a 100 IM to get myself to 2000. I checked the clock, just a few minutes left before I really had to get out and head off to work. An EZ 200 free cool-down and I was off to the showers. 2200 SCY in 45 minutes (just a couple of minutes longer than it used to take me to do 1750-free straight through when I first started this journey 26 months ago). I got back to the office in time to grade and record the last few essay exams for my 3:30 to 5P class.

    Some of you might know this about me, but in addition to my Humanities teaching, I've been teaching at least one advanced Spanish literature class per semester for a few years now. This spring I'm teaching a semester-long course on Cervantes' novel Don Quijote. A novel of a thousand pages begins with a single line... "There's a place in France where the...." no, no, "There's a place in Spain..." no, that isn't it... ah, yes, "En un lugar de la Mancha, de cuyo hombre no quiero acordarme..." [In a certain place in La Mancha, whose name I don't want to remember...].

    ROCINANTE'S REVENGE:

    So, I love the imagination of authors; I can live vicariously through their characters... I can sympathize with their trials and tribulations. Homer can encapsulate an entire life in a few lines, often just as the blood and life are draining out of his otherwise anonymous characters on the battlefields of Troy. Dante keeps me looking to the skies, or teaches me to see the heavens in human eyes, and God as a familiar human face; Whitman keeps me wondering at that catalogue of humanity surging around me, along with the dirt under my feet, the tall grass blowing in the breeze; Borges and Calvino, in Whitman's wake, show us that their stories are our stories... we are everyman, and we have read this story before! Cervantes... ah, Cervantes. The imagination of your would-be knight is not so insane, you seem to be telling us in your novel, it's just insane to try to put it into practice on a daily basis... And yet, if we don't try to live our dreams every once in a while... well, that would be the real insanity.

    Yes, I know... my swimming journey is nothing if not quixotic. But I've chosen to embrace the dream and live it with whatever I've been given. Don Quijote, when he decides he will no longer be the middle-aged country gentleman, the role he has spent a lifetime growing into, but that he will be the hero of his own chivalric romance, transforms the things around him. His gangly old farm-horse (a rocín in Spanish) is now a worthy charger, a war-horse equal to Alexander's Bucephalus or El Cid's Babieca, at least this is how he imagines him: Rocinante. So this is what I've done to my life... transformed my gangly old runner's body into a gangly old runner's body trying desperately to be a swimmer. The journey has been nothing if not humbling. But I guess you can expect to get knocked off your rocker now and again if you're tilting at windmills.

    The thing is... ever so often I squint through my goggles, and just for a moment, the windmills really ARE giants, and I AM the hero, and I turn down the lane and charge into another set like it's the most natural thing in the world... somebody must, the fate of civilization is at stake, the giants and evil enchanters can't be permitted to take it all!

    And, yes, I've already taken those first few strokes toward the next thousand.
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  17. 1000 Miles... almost.

    by , March 10th, 2013 at 04:44 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    I'm "big-time" sore and stiff today from yesterday's sprint bonanza. Maybe if I did it more often I wouldn't be so sore, but I really don't like the shorter stuff as much as I like the longer stuff. It took me a while to warm up and I didn't feel like pushing it, so I cut it short after 2000: 2100 SCY/40-45 minutes.

    200 EZ fr
    200 pull
    200 moderate fr
    200 pull
    200 threshold pace fr
    200 pull
    200 dolphins w/ fins (100 fly/100 bk)
    200 breast kick w/ board
    200 breast
    200 back
    100 EZ fr

    I tried just doing everything slowly and focusing on technique; that helped loosen things up a bit.

    I am approaching a HUGE milestone... in fact, if I had felt better today I would have crossed it without even being aware. I noticed my GTD mileage today after I entered my 2100 yards, which now stands at 110.24 for the year. And I remembered telling myself earlier this winter that I would probably cross the 1000-mile mark for swimming sometime after I had 100 for the year...

    That's 1000 miles of swimming since I started keeping track in January 2011, when I got back into the pool and retired as a serious runner (not that I was ever that serious!). In 2011, as I went from recreational swimmer to training for open water, I went from a total of maybe 4 miles in January to averaging 40 miles a month by August. I finished 2011 with 342.65 miles. I swam 546.72 miles in 2012, which means that when I hit 110.63 miles this year I will be at 1000... I'm only 0.39 miles away--about 682.5 yards!!!

    I think tomorrow I'm going to celebrate the occasion by swimming a quick warm-up; maybe 400 yards and then doing my first 1000 IM; I'll be through the 250 fly (just about ready to die probably) and 32.5 yards into the backstroke leg when I pass the big 1000.
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  18. Sprint ladder

    by , March 10th, 2013 at 12:16 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    So, as I feared... a sprint ladder; lots of rest, no excuse to not push hard on every rep. At the end of the workout Scotty added the 25s off the block in IM order. I was already sore before I left the pool... but at least the soreness was symmetrical (i.e., both shoulders and lats on both sides).

    Here's how it went down:

    450 warm-up
    400 fly (25-50-75-100-75-50-25)*
    400 back (25-50-75-100-75-50-25)*
    400 breast (25-50-75-100-75-50-25)*
    400 free (25-50-75-100-75-50-25)*
    4 x 50 off the blocks (25 AFAP followed by 25 EZ recovery; IMO)
    Cool-Down:
    4 x 25 underwater
    150 EZ

    *We did these ladders on :45 interval per 25 yards (so we went on 1:30 after the 50; 2:15 after the 75, etc.). And took about 3:00 rest between strokes. We kept them pretty fast... my first 25 fly was in :18 and I was at :48 at the 50-yard mark of my 75, for example... this is about meet speed for me. Also, I was happy on the back to see that i hadn't lost any speed, despite not doing any hard backstroke in a week... if anything I was fast with the fresher muscles; my first 25 was in 17-18, even as I slowed down to cruise into the wall and check the clock.

    Scotty was about a body-length in front of me on the fly and back on these; I was about half to a body-length in front of him on back; we were neck and neck on the free. Tough, but a fun workout. 2800 SCY/85 minutes.
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  19. EZ day...

    by , March 8th, 2013 at 11:11 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Today I took it easy, though I wasn't as sore as I thought I would be after yesterday's workout. That's a good thing. The left shoulder really takes a long time to warm up though and I can feel that uncomfortable tug across the deltoid when I'm trying to stretch out my stroke. I started paying attention to my hip rotation a little more (get the stretch/stroke length from the hip rotation, rather than over-reaching with the hand entry) and that seemed to help. Also I noticed that when I was doing my faster swimming it appeared not to be as much of an issue... again, it could be b/c it warmed up, it could be b/c when I swim more slowly the shoulder is in catch too long. I seem to have much better luck when I increase the stroke rate a little and aim for hand entry closer to the ear or forehead.

    Here's what I did:

    200 EZ swim
    200 pull
    200 fr moderate pace
    200 back
    200 breast kick w/ board
    10 x 100 fr on 1:45 (1:30-1:36)
    200 breast kick w/ board
    200 back
    200 EZ free

    2600/55 minutes

    That set of 100s on 1:45 felt like the most comfortable thing; short rest but manageable pace w/o falling into a slow slog... since I was only doing 100 at a time I really focused on technique the whole time, trying to smooth things out.

    Scotty is in charge of our workout tomorrow... usually I do a distance day on Saturday, but I need a basic speed workout and I need to get some fly work in, so he said he'd come up with something a la his old high school workouts for sprint. He said "don't expect a lot of yardage, but you won't want it"; he hinted at a fly ladder (25, 50, 75, 100, 75, 50, 25) and some other things. Glad I had a more comfortable day today!
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  20. VO2max workout

    by , March 7th, 2013 at 11:46 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    So, yesterday I did an LT workout and felt pretty comfortable. Today, I didn't have any residual soreness and the tender left shoulder was even feeling better than yesterday. I'm off Advil, but still icing a couple of times at night and once in the morning if I have time. So, if my old 1500 pace is now my LT pace, then what would my VO2max pace be? I figured that would be my new 1500 pace, maybe not as fast as my 500 pace, but approaching it.

    I'm guessing all of this based on pace and distance conversions from running. If a 15K to 1/2 marathon pace is the threshold in running, then that corresponds to about the 5K pace (about 1:43/100y last summer, but I'm guessing closer to 1:40 now... my "old" 1500 pace). If the VO2max pace is what you can sustain in a 3-5K run, then that would be more or less the 1000-1500 pace in the water. So, if the technique holds together in the water (and that's a HUGE IF), then the other distance, pace, and rest times from my running workouts should be adaptable. The goal in an LT workout is to be at the threshold pace for 30-40 minutes (long intervals and short rests), while the goal of the VO2max workout is to maintain the faster pace for a shorter time (2-6 mins per rep) with longer rests... active rests in running, so I would try this in swimming too.

    The workout I chose for VO2max was a set of 150s at my 500 pace, which should mean about 2:15-2:20 of hard swimming, followed by an EZ 50 and about :10 rest on the wall before the next repeat. I don't think this rest was long enough, so some of my repeats came in over 2:20 and it felt more difficult, less comfortable than I would have liked... I was getting about 65-70 seconds of active recovery/rest between 150s and the minimum should have been 70. Maybe I should have had an EZ day after the LT workout? The LT workout felt EZ though. Anyway, here's what I did:

    WARM-UP:
    400 EZ on 8:30 (7:00)
    4 x 100 on 2:00 (1-3 fr in 1:28; 4, was IM in 1:40)
    4 x 50 kick in 200 IM order (w/fins)

    MAIN SET:
    12 x 200 on 3:30*

    COOL-DOWN:
    6 x 50 kick w/fins (fly, bk, br; 400 IM order)
    200 EZ free
    100 IM EZ

    4000 SCY/80 mins

    *I wrote the workout this way, though what I actually did was 150 hard/50 recovery which brought me in consistently at 3:20, so I could easily leave for the next rep every 3:30... but, again, I don't think this was enough of a rest for a VO2max workout... It was uncomfortable, especially toward the end... fatigue and tightness were really setting in around the 6th rep. The other thing frustrating about this workout was that the pacing felt uneven... to the extent that I got a chance to peek at the clock at all it seemed like my 100s were coming in around 1:30-:32 (:45-:46 per 50 pace), which means my last 50s were coming in mostly in :49... that's too big a drop-off.

    So, to sum up, I did a total of 1800 at VO2max pace (or pushing the limits of that pace)... about 27-28 minutes total at VO2max, which is kind of like swimming a really hard mile for me. So, I guess it's OK. Maybe VO2max workouts are not supposed to be terribly comfortable anyway. I'm hoping this helps increase the oxygen uptake.
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