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Alex's swim journal

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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:

    600 EZ swim and various drills

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

    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

  3. 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!
  4. 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.

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

    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

    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.
  5. 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):

    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

    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).
  6. 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...].


    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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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)
    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.
  9. 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!
  10. 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:

    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)

    12 x 200 on 3:30*

    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.
  11. Reverse taper, Wisconsin-style: pain and snow-blowing

    by , March 6th, 2013 at 11:12 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    After tenderizing myself in the lactic acid marinade on Sunday I woke up with a lot of soreness behind my left shoulder and in my lats on that side... I was guessing DOMS b/c I hadn't felt that much soreness on Sunday night, but then again I really only had the pain there on my left side. Why wouldn't I be sore on the other side? Maybe this is a little tendinitis from all the backstroke flaring up after the 200 Back and IM PRs.

    I'm thinking this might also be some strength imbalances that are working themselves out. Anyway, Monday I got in despite feeling very tight, even uncomfortable, on the left side. I thought a little EZ swimming might help loosen things up. Thinking I might do 1500-2000, I only did 1100. I only did 50 back and it hurt. Continue Advil, Ice and compression routine.

    Yesterday we had another snow day. Winter storm Saturn. Saturn: the Roman version of the Greek god Kronos, who according to Hesiod--our earliest source, c. 700 BC--was born of Sky and Earth (Ouranos and Gaia). Kronos is perhaps an allegory for the passage of time (we take the English words chronicle, chronology, etc. from the Greek Kronos). He eventually supplants his father (chopping off his manly member with a jagged, flint sickle... where's the smilie for that?), as every son becomes a father and then a grandfather, obeying the inexorable march of generations.

    Time. Turns out that's probably what I needed anyway for the shoulder. Bring on the snow, Saturn/Kronos, I'm cranking' up the snowblower and will let Mother Nature take care of the rest. I cleared about 5" off the driveway last night with the blower (nursing the shoulder like a baby the whole time), warmer temps and a little rain should take care of the rest of it later this week. And I skipped my swim yesterday, hanging out with my wife and kids at the house. More ice, more compression, more Advil.

    Today, I did 3000 SCY/55 minutes; all freestyle. Felt a lot better, almost normal... tomorrow I'll re-introduce the strokes with kick sets, maybe some full-stroke breast and fly on Friday and then bring back the backstroke EZ this weekend. Today the focus was on threshold, since my focus for state meet is going to be 1650 (maybe the 400 IM... since that is still long enough to be primarily aerobic for me!). Here's what I did:

    400 EZ on 7:30 (6:50)
    4 x 100 free on 1:50 (1:26-1:27)
    4 x 50 on 1:00 (:40-:42)

    Main set:
    3 x thru
    500 at LT pace (1:35-1:39/100)*
    100 (these were 1:55 recovery swims after ea 500)

    200 EZ free

    *These 500s were 8:04, 8:03, 8:13 and felt pretty good, comfortable. I hope this means that my LT pace is actually getting faster, we'll see how I feel tomorrow. I'm switching over to active recovery too, which I like better... I like to keep it moving. I figure this will help with a long continuous swim like the 1650 and with OW, which I have to start thinking about now. So if my LT pace is still 1:35-1:40/100 then I spent a little more than 24 minutes at that pace today. We'll see how I feel tomorrow. Sometime next week I probably need to do a test set to figure it out, but my SCM 1500 time from three months ago converts to about a 1:38/100 pace. I feel like I'm in a lot better shape than that now thanks to all the anaerobic work and cross-training with the other strokes. I might try a VO2max workout tomorrow with 1:30/100 as my VO2max pace (a 1:31/100 brings me in for a 25-minute 1650; that would be a substantial improvement, but I don't feel like it's out of reach).
  12. Milestone, Meet results, new PRs

    by , March 3rd, 2013 at 04:25 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Passed that 100-mile mark for the year with my meet warm-up today. Shoulder felt good after the icing yesterday and with slight adjustments on the backstroke breakout. Got my counts down for back and got used to the new ceiling. My SDKs really helped out a lot today (on both fly and back) and it feels like they're getting stronger. Did a couple of starts at the end of the warm-up period and felt good about that too. So, then it was bring it on... pain-fest 2013! Here were my results with (seed times in parenthesis):

    400 IM (7:00)--7:04 [1st in age group; 3rd overall]
    200 Back (3:30)--3:16, PR by :06! [1st in age]
    200 Free (2:50)--2:45 [1st in age]
    200 IM (3:20)--3:13, PR, :02 faster than my fastest practice time [1st in age]
    200 Breast (3:40)--3:37, close to PR, but DQ'd

    I was pretty tired by the time I got to that 200 breast, my pull-outs were too shallow and my left foot was breaking the surface on the first full stroke after walls at 75, 100, 125, etc. so the referee called me on a scissor kick. Scotty got video of it... the kick is uneven, with the left leg wanting to whip around faster than the right, but still a lot better now than I was on my 50 breast at the last meet. I'll need to slow it down in my kick drills to even it out. I actually wasn't too disappointed with this DQ, it's something I've been working on and which is getting better... I joked about using this event as my cool-down, but my time was still 6-8 seconds faster than anything I've been able to manage in practice on 200 breast lately.

    400 IM: I missed a PR by a good :05 on this, but I had told myself going in that I just wanted to swim hard but relaxed, good form and finish legal. The 200 Back was the one I knew I might have a good shot at swimming a decent PR in if I didn't overdo it on the 400 IM... even with this relaxed attitude, though, I was nervous as heck about doing my first 400 IM in a meet setting (I was thinking "just get through the 100 fly, just get through the 100 fly"); So, apparently I'm the only one in my age group doing these middle-distance events at this point in the season, so a legal finish in all 5 events would automatically mean "blue ribbon"! Darn, I should have paid more attention to the kick on that 200 breast, it would have been a clean sweep! How often does a slow guy like me get to show off a bunch of "first places"? Oh, and bonus, there were only three people swimming the 400 IM--third place overall?! Yes, feel my bronze glow. I was surprised, usually there are at least 4 or 5 swimmers in that event.

    I was very pleased with both my 200 back and my 200 IM... slowly those are creeping into the low 3:00-range, and I would love to get them under 3:00 as I continue to learn the ends and outs of these strokes and work on building speed and endurance in each. Half-way through my 200 free, third middle distance event in about 20 minutes, I was thinking "I'm retiring after this meet... I never have to swim in a meet again"; then I found some hidden reserve in the last 25-50 yards and came close to my practice PR of 2:44. Go figure. Nice rest before the 200 IM, probably 20-30 minutes.

    Facilities at Whitefish Bay HS were very nice. Even though I had lane 1 in my heat of the 200 back, for example, there was a nice warm-up area off to my left, so, no lane had the "wall" to deal with. The blocks were beautiful; the bleachers, spacious; showers, nice. And the meet was very well run. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
  13. 99.99 miles...

    by , March 2nd, 2013 at 08:09 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    I got in to loosen up after taking yesterday completely off. Did 1500, included some starts... now I feel rested and ready to go for tomorrow's serious pain-a-thon.

    I ended February (swam 27 of the 28 days) with over 40 miles and had 99.13 for the year as of today. So I was surprised to see GTD tell me I was just soooo close to breaking the 100 with today's 1500; close, but no cigar. 99.99! Unbelievable... all I have to do is fall in the pool for my warm-up tomorrow and I'll be at 100 miles for the year. Or... I could be dramatic and save the 100-mile mark for the start of my 400 IM... off the blocks, cold... what a warm-up that would be!

    Not going to do that.

    Well, I'm icing the left shoulder and hitting the Advil pretty hard the last couple of days. I've found the source of the soreness in my technique too (well, that is the technique in the pool when I'm not aggravating it with snow-shoveling and other shoulder-killers). It doesn't hurt during any of my normal stroke phases, but if my streamline is not tight enough coming out of the flip turn I've found it aggravates that shoulder more than any other area... AND, probably more importantly given how much backstroke I've been doing lately, it hurts the most when I'm going from streamline back dolphins into my first full stroke cycle on that breakout. I always pull first with my right arm, but because my left arm is still in streamline I've gotten into the habit of starting the pull with my left arm before my body has rotated fully to the left... just enough torque at the wrong angle... this doesn't happen on a normal stroke where the rotation starts occurring before before the left pinky is even in.

    Anyway, I think that's where the soreness is coming from principally, so I'll have to be super conscious of that and remember either to pull with the left first on the breakout or roll to the left before bringing the left hand out of streamline.

    Event order tomorrow (for me): 4IM, 2BK, 2FR, 2IM, 2BR. Take that, EKW, I'll finish my check-off before you! Oh wait, there's that 200 fly still... curse you, fly!
  14. 1500... trying to get psyched

    by , February 28th, 2013 at 10:52 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    I didn't feel like doing much today; I feel like the last couple of months of really hard work is starting to take its toll as February closes (I'm at 99 miles of swimming as of end of workout today). I decided to try and trust my training to date, instead of trying to swim another hard workout, making me even more tired going into the weekend. Only 1500 SCY:

    25 EZ
    400 IM off the blocks, but relaxed (7:21)
    25 recovery
    575 EZ freestyle
    200 IM of the blocks; fast--3:15 (a PR, but felt good, not "too" hard)
    50 Back (w/ back start): < :45 (felt good about both start and turn on this one)
    50 recovery
    50 Fly off the blocks (:48)
    25 EZ
    100 fr cool-down

    Felt good about swimming fast and not swimming a ton of yards, or swimming to exhaustion. I'm hoping a few easy days will help me get that mojo back. I'm trying to think of Sunday's meet as a great opportunity to time-trial myself in the middle-d events I've signed up for. I'm not that competitive (except with myself), but I want to leave it all in the pool.
  15. Snow shoveling and EZ day in pool...

    by , February 27th, 2013 at 06:33 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    The wet, slushy stuff! Not fun to shovel, so I broke down and cranked up the snowblower to get through this storm. The shoulder is still a bit more tender than I want it to feel (shoveling does not help), so I gave myself an EZ day. 2000 in about 45 minutes:

    1000 EZ free warm-up (I was very stiff)
    Masters minute(s)
    500 Back on 10:00 (9:10; endurance on bk getting much better)
    10 x 50 free on 1:00 (mostly :39-:40s; slowed down in the last couple to cool-down)

    No short axis stuff today. I want to see how I swim 100-yard segments of my up-coming events tomorrow in all the strokes, but I felt like I needed a break from fly and breast to come back a little stronger. If all goes well tomorrow will be a fast day, but not necessarily that hard. Am considering even resting completely on Friday and then getting in to loosen up, practice starts again on Saturday. Meet is Sunday. Any suggestions on this schedule for the last few of days before the meet?
  16. 50s day; fly still drains me...

    by , February 26th, 2013 at 05:05 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Managed to squeak into the YMCA before winter storm "R" hit (what is it? Ronaldo? Rahab? Rhubarb?)... The last I saw it was supposed to roll in around 3PM, but came in at 1PM instead, dumping snow and blowing hard during my lunchtime swim. Everything is shutting down now; campus events cancelled for the rest of the afternoon and evening. We were supposed to get only 6 inches, but with lake effect snow here on the WI-IL border we might see more and the wind is blowing it so that visibility is terrible. I think I heard Wichita, KS was expecting 6-8" and ended up with 17". My kids would love the snow day, but I'm really hoping I don't have to clear off a foot and a half from the driveway.

    My swim was 3000 SCY/65 minutes. Swum thusly:

    1000 swim in 1:40/100 pace (alt. free and pull by 200)
    2:30 rest
    5 x 50 fly on 1:10 (:48-:52; last one in :56)
    1:20 rest
    200 IM on 4:00 (3:35)
    5 x 50 Back on 1:10 (:48-:50)
    1:20 rest
    200 IM on 4:00 (3:30)
    5 x 50 Breast on 1:10 (:52-:53)
    1:20 rest
    200 IM on 4:00 (3:29)
    5 x 50 free on 1:00 (1st one in :40; the rest :37-:39)
    200 IM on 4:00 (3:22)
    200 recovery swim (100 pull/100 free)

    My endurance on fly is just not there yet... not sure what I can do about it since my normal way of building up endurance is just to do the thing for ever increasing amounts of time and distance. It's frustrating being able to swim 10K freestyle and not being able to do a set of 5 x 50 fly, followed by a 200 IM, without falling apart. Tons better than I was a month and a half ago, but it's coming so slowly!
  17. Dress rehearsal...

    by , February 25th, 2013 at 11:59 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    I'm still pretty tired even though yesterday's swim was EZ; though all the kick work was pretty tiring after a hard week on the legs... and I could have not done the 50 sprint at the end. Saturday afternoon's 6000-yard workout seems like ages ago, but it was only 48 hours... I was struggling with what to do today. I didn't want to take it too EZ, because I'm going to taper at the end of the week, but don't want to overdo it and not be able to get in any decent workouts at all this week. I decided after my 1000 warm-up just to do all of my events for this coming weekend... somewhat relaxed, but hard time trials off the blocks (that sounds oxymoronic, I know... I guess it's more accurate to say I was pushing, but holding back enough to feel well in control the whole time). Knowing that the rests between some of the events were not going to be very long at all, I didn't rest too long today: 1:30-3:00 between "events." We'll call this practice "meet" the "meat" of my workout.

    This was also a good chance for me to practice going off the blocks, something I never do except the day before a meet. I had very clean entries today, no goggle problems,etc. I'm feeling better about the block starts now because I don't have to think/worry about it so much... just get up there and do it (wish I could say the same about my fly after 50-75 yards!).

    400 swim on 7:30 (6:50)
    4 x 100 on 1:50 (1:30-1:32)
    4 x 50 on 1:00 (:39-:41)

    25 EZ
    400 IM off the blocks... 7:05
    25 EZ recovery
    2:00 rest
    200 Back in 3:27
    25 EZ recovery
    1:30 rest
    200 Free off the blocks (relaxed; 2:53)
    2:30 rest
    200 IM off the blocks (3:24?)
    1:30 rest
    200 Breast off the blocks (3:42-3:44)
    25 recovery swim

    700 yards EZ free

    3000 yards/70 minutes

    Notes: Swam all events in meet order for this coming Sunday. Basically I did my whole meet in under 30 minutes; and I think the lack of recovery on the last three events really started to take its toll on the times... even though I was really just shooting for 85-95% effort (the 200 free was way too EZ an effort, I should have been panting a lot harder after that!). A good dress rehearsal for the meet coming up on Sunday, well, minus the swim cap and meet-day jammers... I was within 3-5 secs of all my seed times (3 under for 2BK, 5 over for 4IM), but I've got a better idea about where I can push myself and in which events.

    And, honestly, I never felt "fresh" today... just tired and tight even toward the end of my warm-up. It could be that I needed more recovery after Saturday, or it could be that I didn't get to the Y until almost 8P today, and was already too tired from the day. Don't know. Scotty and I are meeting for 25s tomorrow... see if a little sprint work will get me firing on all cylinders again before Wednesday's hard day; the last really hard one before the real thing this weekend.
  18. 200 Back PR

    by , February 24th, 2013 at 06:14 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Forgot to mention in yesterday's blog entry, which I scribbled off pretty quickly to head out with the family for a couple of hours of errands and eating (I pigged out pretty good after the 6000-yard workout!), that among the other things I accomplished yesterday I swam a PR in the 200 back: 3:23-3:24. My previous best in practice was 3:29, and the seed time I put down for the next meet is 3:30. I've never done the 200 Back in a meet, so I'm anxious to see how that comes out... now that I'm focusing on the other strokes a little more this year, I'm besting my PRs in practice pretty regularly, so they are sometimes outpacing the seed times I have to send in a week and a half in advance. The biggest worry for me is the fact that the 200 back comes only two events after the 400 IM. My PR in 400 IM is 6:59, set a few weeks ago and I haven't tried swimming an "all-out" 4IM in a while... that's one of those events I feel like I'm "just barely surviving" anyway... swimming "all out" just means I push hard in the final 100 free, while most of the time in practice that 100 free ends up being like a recovery swim; but as my strokes get a little better I'd like to see the times come down.

    Here are my events and seed times for Whitefish Bay Masters meet next Sunday:
    400 IM--7:00
    200 Back--3:30
    200 Free--2:50
    200 IM--3:20
    200 Breast--3:40

    I feel pretty confident about these seed times, I've already mentioned where I am in 200 back and 400 IM in practice; the 200 free is overly conservative--I've hit low 2:40s at the end of a set of 200s recently and my 200 split in my 500 meet swim was 2:53--but I'm going to "relax" on this swim, since it is only two events after the 200 back, and I still want to have something for the 200 IM. 3:21 seems to be my default time for a hard 200 IM in a normal practice and I hit 3:21 the first time I did 200 IM in a meet two weeks ago (even as disastrous as that swim was: banging walls, mis-timed turns, bouncing off the bottom, etc.), so I fell pretty confident about the possibility of PB-ing that and breaking into the mid- to upper-3:10s if everything goes smoothly. I swam one of my reps yesterday within 3-4 secs (3:43-3:44) of my 200 breast seed time (3:40). That is not a focus event for me--it will be the final event of the meet for me and I'm going to be fairly relaxed about it--but going off the blocks and hopefully having some other folks around me with similar seed times should push me to 3:40 in that. In any event, after next weekend I'll have some good baseline data to work from when submitting seed times for these events in future meets.

    Today I did a really quick 2050-yard workout; mostly either relaxed swimming, drill, or kick (legs loosening up, but still pretty spent from last week's work)... an EZ day on the shoulders. That left shoulder was a little stiff going in but loosened up nicely and felt great at the end of the workout, even after a 50 sprint off the blocks.

    200 free EZ
    200 pull
    100 in fr kick drills
    200 pull
    200 free
    100 dolphins front and back
    200 breast kick w/ board
    50 back kick
    200 breast kick w/ boards
    50 streamline 3-2-1 breast kick
    100 back dolphins
    4 x 100 alt. free and pull
    masters minute
    50 fast free off the blocks: 31-32 secs (w/in 1 sec of my PR)

  19. 6000 yards...

    by , February 23rd, 2013 at 05:57 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    My legs were still pretty wasted today from yesterday's kick sets, especially the breast, and the shoulder was still stiff, though the ibuprofen I took about an hour before I began finally started to kick in toward the end of the first set. Nevertheless, I thought it would be wise to drop the last set... don't want to push it over the limit and not be able to make the meet... this workout was already coming at the end of a pretty tough couple of weeks. Here's what I ended up doing:

    6 x 200 alt free/pull, only enough rest to grab the buoy or put it back on the deck

    Main Sets:
    200 IM on 4:00 (3:30s?... this did not feel comfy)
    12 x 100 on 2:15ish (3 x thru 400 IM order... this sucked, I was way too tired to do fly and breast!)
    200 IM on 4:00 (mid 3:30s)
    6 x 200 alt. free and back on 4:00 (frees 2:52-2:59, bk 3:23-3:30)
    Masters minute
    200 IM on 4:00 (mid 3:30s)
    6 x 200 alt breast and free on 4:00 (breast in 3:44-3:55; frees 3:05-3:15)
    Masters minute
    200 IM on 4:00 (3:40ish)

    8 x 50 alt free and pull on 1:00

    6000 SCY/2 hrs, 15 mins
  20. 3000 more...

    by , February 22nd, 2013 at 10:13 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Not such a great day today; my muscles were still torched from yesterday's IM ladder and conditioning session in the weight room. My left shoulder especially is a bit tender, always the same spot (where I suspect I had a sprain a couple of years ago in a pick-up B-ball game with my boys) and when the yardage cranks up--especially with strokes other than freestyle--I have to keep an eye on it. So much of today's yardage was in kick sets to give the shoulders a break:

    1200 swim (alt. free and pull by 200) in 20:15.
    3 x thru:
    -100 dolphins/fly kick w/ fins
    -100 back kick w/ fins
    -200 breast kick w/ board
    600 cool-down (200 ea: back, breast, free)

    I noticed in my cool-down that my lats and shoulders were pretty stiff, especially during backstroke... probably all the fly and back I did yesterday.

    Tomorrow is my hard, distance day... hoping that the "light" day with only 3000 today will mean I'm recovered enough to get through a special torment session I've planned for myself... 7000 not including cool-down: 5 sets of 6 x 200 or 12 x 100, each followed by a 200 IM. The sets of 100s will be 3 x thru the 400 IM order; the 200 sets will alternate free w/ either breast or back for the most part. We'll see how I feel...
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