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  1. Taper day...

    by , January 12th, 2013 at 05:11 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    I know, I know, a single EZ day does not a taper make. I had considered not going in at all today and just counting on my warm-up tomorrow to work out any kinks. I woke up this morning really tight, and thought it might be worth it just to go in for a few hundred yards and try to loosen up. Also gave me a chance to take the new speedo jammers out for a test drive. Did 825 yards; mostly Free and Back, practiced some back starts.

    I spent some time in steam and sauna (drank about 80 oz of water) to try to sweat out whatever toxins I couldn't work out in the pool. I feel a lot looser now. Time to rest. Have to get an early start tomorrow morning; the meet's about an hour and a half away. Meet starts at 9AM with warm-up at 8AM.
  2. EZ 3000, prepping Sunday's meet...

    by , January 12th, 2013 at 01:27 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    I wanted to get in a workout today that was not too short (I'm missing my distance day because of the meet this weekend), but was somewhat relaxing. Here's what I did:

    10 x 100 on 1:45 (1;35-1:38; mostly 1:36)
    100 bk
    5 x 200 on 3:30 (3:11-3:16; mostly 3:14)
    100 bk
    8 x 100 on 2:00 alternating IM (2 reps) and Br (2 reps) with EZ Fr.

    3000 SCY in about 60 mins.

    This felt a lot harder after yesterday's workout, and the works work on stroke and IM along with fast free. I probably should have gone lighter today and then light again tomorrow, but I still feel weird not putting in tons of yardage. One thing I will say is that I really am sore in places I didn't know I was using in swimming, because of all the work on back, breast, and even fly... I feel like I've done more yardage than I actually have.

    Starting next week I'm going to add some dry land conditioning (I just picked up the Salo/Riewald book over the holidays). Right now I only do about 3 short sessions of yoga per week outside of the pool. I'm looking forward to doing some strengthening of the core and exercises that will help keep the injuries at bay.

    This weekend I plan to have fun with the meet; trying all new events. My goals are pretty simple right now:

    1. 50 back--enjoy the view from below as I back dolphin off from the start; nail the turn.
    2. 100 free--don't flop off the forward start; hip rotation rhythm, relaxed hands, EVF, break 1:20.
    3. 100 IM--Survive the fly; don't DQ!
    4. 500 free--Negative split after the first 100 (I think this will encourage me to relax earlier)
    5. 100 Breast--maximize the pull-outs; don't DQ; match my best practice time.

    Got some new jammers today, I know the added compression can't hurt; and I'll be using my newish vanquisher 2.0 goggles at the meet. I even practiced swimming my main sets with cap this week, so that wouldn't feel so different and I could make sure that my cap and goggles were interacting properly with my head... want to make sure everyone's getting along for Sunday.
  3. 100s day

    by , January 10th, 2013 at 08:51 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Today, the lunch-time (or just post-lunch) crowd was pretty light, so no need to share a lane. I did 3600 SCY in just under 80 minutes. I wanted to get in 4000, but decided on a 600-yard cool-down instead of 1000. Here's what I did:

    400 swim on 7:30 (6:45 fr)
    4 x 100 fr on 1:50 (1:28-1:31)
    4 x 50 kick IM order
    2 mins rest

    10 x 100 fr/pull on 1:45 (1:22-1:30*)
    1-2 mins. rest
    10 x 100 IM/Stroke on 2:15**
    1:00 rest

    8 x 50 on 1:00
    200 EZ fr (3:17)

    *On this set of 10 x 100 I alternated free and pull w/ buoy; the free 100s came in like clockwork at 1:24, with the exception of the second (1:28) and the last (1:22); the pull 100s came in 1:28-1:30 (no paddles) and felt like recovery swims. I focused the last eight reps or so on my hip rotation and/or keeping a higher tempo.

    **After the best set of 100s fr I'd had in a long time (perhaps ever, given the interval), I thought the stroke and IM 100s were going to be tough; in fact, after doing 100 IM on 2:15 I felt like cutting it short, but I gutted it out, I kept telling myself... "one more 100 then that's it" and eventually I was saying, "hardly any fly left, what's the big deal? Just do it!" Here's how I split up those 100s, working on 100IM, and 100-yard segments of 200 and 400 IM: 100 IM, 100 fly/bk, 100 br/fr, 100 fly***, 100 fly/bk, 100 bk, 100 bk/br, 100 br, 100 br/fr, 100 IM. I held my 2:15 interval easily enough, usually with a good 15-25 seconds rest. Fortunately, I had written this set down on my wrist so I could keep tabs of where I was between 100s otherwise I would have been thoroughly confused.

    ***I'm still not strong enough on fly to do 100 straight, so on that rep I came into the 50, took 5-7 secs rest, and then finished. I'm figuring out what to do with my hips to make the kick more effective on fly (consciously bringing my hips up when the shoulders go down, rather than just hoping everything will follow from my chest and shoulders)... that's encouraging. Once I was through that 100 fly, I felt like I might be able to get through the set ok (maybe a little worried about the breast sections); all in all I'm happy with the set, even with reduced rests (2:15 interval instead of 2:30) I was still swimming most of my segments within a couple of seconds of my seed times for this weekend's IM, BK, and BR events, which means my endurance on the strokes is getting better.
  4. Broken 1650 (1/9)

    by , January 10th, 2013 at 02:37 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Couldn't get to the YMCA until 6PM yesterday and then circumstances conspired against me... lessons in almost all the lanes, water aerobics on the open swim side of the pool... it was crowded. I managed to get my own lane though for much of the workout, including a broken 1650:

    400 swim (by 100s did fr, bk, br, fr)--on 8:00
    4 x 100 fr on 2:00 (1:28-1:31)
    4 x 50 (:40-:41)

    Broken 1650 (:10 rest between swims):
    500, 400, 300, 200, 100, 50, 100 = 27:05 (swim time = 26:05)

    200 IM (3:32)
    300 IM (?)

    300 swim (by 100s did bk, br, fr)
    4 x 50 on 1:00 fr

    3650 SCY in about 70 minutes.

    Notes: The 1650 time is down 18 seconds from the broken 1650 I did two months ago (27:23--26:23); the first 500 was in 7:50, my fastest (that I know of) 500 yet... going back through my notes I find that a year ago I did a 7:55 TT for the 500; so there is some improvement there (however slight), both in terms of speed and endurance. I should be able to break my seed time (7:45) with a start from the blocks and the prospect of not having to turn around and swim 400 hard after only :10 rest.

    I had originally intended to finish climbing the ladder back up with IMs after finishing the broken 1650 (i.e., 200IM, 300IM, 400IM, 500IM), as relaxed as possible, just trying to survive it. But after I finished the last 100 free of the 1650 and was getting ready to do the 200IM one of the lifeguards said I'd have to move over to make room for another class coming in at 7PM--I had time to do the 200IM with the lane to myself, but had to move over and share the lone lane reserved for lap swimming for the remainder of the workout. The 300 IM was dicey, I was trying not to run off lane-mates during my 75 fly (I hit the lane lines a lot, did a lot of gliding and was generally out of sync); 75 back, breast and free were ok. I decided at that point that I would drop the 100 fly off of the 400IM and just do a 300 swim IM order and close out the workout with a cool-down rather than fight the crowds.

    Getting ready to do the lunch-time swim now; will blog about that later (I'm thinking lots of 100s and 50s today for some reason). Meet this Sunday, don't want to overdo it this late in the week, but if I get in a hard workout today I can do recovery swims and drill tomorrow and Saturday.
  5. Recovery day...

    by , January 8th, 2013 at 09:08 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    I realized when I was about half-way through today that I really should have taken the whole day off. I was so worn out from the stroke work and the cumulative effect of the last 7 days. I intended to do about 2000-2500. I did 1700. Last Tuesday was the January 1st: no swim. Ditto, the previous Tuesday. As it turns out those are the only two days I've had out of the pool in a month now. I focused just on form today, even when I was pushing it a little the times were horrible.

    Here's how it broke down:

    400 fr EZ on 8:00 (this came in around 6:50)
    4 x 100 pull w/ buoy and paddles on 2:00 (1:34-1:37)
    4 x 50 fr on 1:00 (:44-:46 ugh!)
    14 x 50 relaxed*

    *I started off doing 150-worth of kick with short fins in streamline (50 each: dolphin, back dolphin, back), then I did 150 w/o the fins and w/ the board (3 x 50 breast kick), then I did 3 x 50 br, 3 x 50 bk, and 2 x 50 free (the fr were around :40; maybe I was finally warming up?). Lots of interruptions during this set, as everyone I hadn't seen in over a week showed up (I've been there, where were they?) and they wanted to chat. OK, I didn't mind the chatting either.

    Tomorrow I'm anxious to see if I can't swim a little faster.
  6. Stroke work is killing me... softly?

    by , January 7th, 2013 at 07:18 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Apologies to Roberta Flack. I also could have titled this post "The experiment continues." After my first exclusively freestyle workout in a while (the 20 x 200 on 3:30 Saturday) I went back to the Y on Sunday expecting really just to get in a warm-up and cool-down, maybe some turn and start work in between. During my 1000 warm-up I did 400 fr in 6:40 and then 4 x 100 on 2:00--my 100s felt hard but relaxed and I was bringing them in at 1:24-1:25... in a warm-up! Last week (or maybe the week before, the holidays have me all goofed up) it was 1:26-1:27, but certainly not the day after a distance workout. What's going on here? I have some theories ... maybe you have some of your own, feel free to share, here goes:

    1. My freestyle yardage is down, but I'm not doing anything slower than BASE (1:40), a lot at the threshold 1:32-1:36, and often throwing in sets with faster work. So it's quality, rather than quantity. By comparison, the first 7 days of 2012 I swam a total of 18,400 yards, 16,850 of which was freestyle (almost 92%). In the same time period in 2013 I have 20,750 yards but only 13,400 freestyle (64.6%): the total freestyle amount is down, the percentage is down, but the quality for the most part is much better; no garbage, maybe this is what is driving me off the plateau finally.

    2. Incorporating more drills and stroke work for IM is benefiting my freestyle as well. This theory seems to contradict the concept of specificity, so I better qualify this... I'm sure there is a point of diminishing returns, but introducing the other strokes into my workouts is helping my range of motion, balance, core, and stability of muscles that work differently in freestyle... while still providing the same aerobic effects, if not enhanced aerobic effects, since I have to work that system so much harder in training new muscles, movements--while simultaneously providing extra recovery and injury prevention for my freestyle.

    Those are the working hypotheses; unfortunately when I began this journey into the land of middle-d and IM a couple of weeks ago I didn't have the foresight to add controls to my personal experiment; so it may very well be that 1 and 2 are working together in mysterious ways that I don't fully get (isn't that part of the fun?).

    Oh, but this is a love-hate relationship (enter Ms. Flack ). I love mixing in the stroke work; it's very challenging, but...

    My fly, my back, and my breast strokes are HORRIBLE! I would say they "suck," but I want to keep my G-rating. There are slight, ever so slight improvements. For example, my back is now slightly less sucky than my breaststroke. This is very strange, since I probably did 4% of my overall yardage last year as breast... whereas back accounted for like .0008% (not an exaggeration, by the way) of my total 2012 yardage; and fly, even less. So basically, I've been working on fly and back for about 3 weeks and already they are both faster than my dang breaststroke. Ugh.

    Today's workout exemplifies this love-hate thing (3850 SCY/90 minutes):

    Warm-up (1000/20:00):
    400 swim (100 fr, 100 bk, 100 br, 100 fr)
    4 x 100 on 2:00 (1:28-1:32)
    200 IM, relaxed (3:30)

    Main sets:
    5 x 100 IM on 2:30 (1:36-1:40)
    5 x 50 bk on 1:30 (:54-:55)
    5 x 100 br on 2:30 (mostly around 1:48)
    5 x 100 fr on 2:00 (1:30-1:32*)
    3:00 rest
    500 free in 8:12*

    Cool Down:
    12 x 50 on 1:30 (used IM order: 1-3 fly, 4-6 bk, 7-9 br, 10-12 fr)

    *My freestyle at the end of this workout was tanking big time , the stroke work had me so exhausted...even with a 2:30 interval (or 1:30 on 50 back set). That kind of interval in a freestyle workout would have me snoring after 10 reps, I'd probably be so cold I would tear something anyway, but with the new (for me) strokes I was looking at the clock and saying "Really?! I've got to go already?"

    I was disappointed in the times throughout; I wasn't trying to swim AFAP, but thought that 85-90% effort might bring better results; I think I might be worn out from yesterday's 2000 in which I didn't in fact do a good enough cool-down and, feeling good from my warm-up, decided to race Scotty in some 50s back and breast, ending with a 100 IM (1:32)... love/hate.

    IM; Killing me softly!
  7. 20 x 200 free

    by , January 6th, 2013 at 02:22 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Yesterday I didn't have much time and I wanted to get a little extra sleep, so I had to do an abbreviated version of my workout. Remembering that this is a step-back week for distance, I was not too concerned about having to cut it short. Last week I did a total of 60 x 100 on 1:45 over the course of a 7200-yard workout, maintaining my threshold pace the whole time. This week I decided to do 200s on 3:30, seeing if I could keep the pace I had on my 100s.

    The workout was 20 x 200 on 3:30; 4000 SCY in 70 minutes. Pretty straightforward. I actually managed to negative split a lot of the 200s in the mid to latter half of the workout... I was coming in mostly in 3:14-3:17. My last 200 was in 3:21, so I thought it was a perfect time to stop. I didn't want any of my reps coming in over a 1:40/100 pace (my BASE). The only thing I regret is not having time for a cool-down (or a warm-up for that matter... unless you count my first 4-5 reps, which were in my threshold, but felt tight).

    Today will be an easy day. Maybe just 1000 warm-up, practice starts, and 600 cool-down.
  8. Fatigue... question on IM turns.

    by , January 4th, 2013 at 07:49 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Today, I was pretty tired and for the second day in a row had to settle for a late-afternoon swim (yesterday's was an evening swim), which are usually not as productive for me. I did 3000 SCY in just under 63 minutes:

    400 fr (in about 6:40)
    4 x 100 on 1:45
    4 x 50 kick w/ board, IM order; no fins*

    Main Sets:
    10 x 100 on 1:45 (alt. pull w/ buoy and fr--no paddles today; these were averaging mid 1:30s, my threshold pace)
    8 x 100 on 2:30**

    200 fr, EZ (sub 3:20)

    *My kick w/o fins (zoomers usually) is TERRIBLE! It just didn't feel propulsive at all, or minimally propulsive on back and breast... on fr and fly it just felt like I wasn't generating any momentum (the board might have had something to do with that--io non so!).
    **These 100s were meant to work on the IM strokes in the IM order: 100 fly, 100 fly/bk (50 each), 100 bk, 100 bk/br, 100 br, 100 br/fr, 100 fr, 100 IM. I actually had to pause after 50 fly and go on 1:00 for the last half of the fly 100; I figured out that I needed to glide more before beginning my pull--this helped me get into a better body position for the pull and recovery... I wasn't dying at the end of 50 fly like I was even last night. The back and breast 100s were all in my seed-time ranges, the 100 fr was in 1:24, and the 100 IM, very tired but fairly relaxed, was at 1:40.

    Anybody have any tips for the butterfly to back turn in IM? Or maybe you know a forum thread where this is discussed... I'm having trouble re-entering after hitting the wall with both hands... do you have to re-enter on your back or can you do the turn just like fly, breast turns (i.e. on the side) as long as your first stroke of the pull out is on the back? I'd like not to DQ in my first meet IM next week.
  9. 200 IM time dropping

    by , January 4th, 2013 at 12:29 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    I've been working on fly for less than two weeks now and my time is already coming down in the 200 IM... of course it couldn't have gotten much slower! Here was my workout today, supposed to be a little easier:

    Warm-up (1000)
    200 free (3:20)
    100 back (2:15)
    100 br (1:45)
    4 x 100 fr on 2:00 (desc. 1:40-1:29)
    4 x 50 kick w/ fins on 1:00 (alt fr w/ board and back w/o)

    Main Sets (2000):
    10 x 100 on 1:50 (alt. pull w/ buoy/paddles and fr w/o: hi 1:30s on the pull, lo 1:30s on the free)
    100 dolphin kick drills w/ fins
    2 x 50 fly w/ fins
    100 3 fr + 4 bk drill
    100 bk on 2:30 (2:00)
    100 3-2-1 Br kick drill on 2:30 (1:50)
    100 br on 2:30 (1:45)
    200 fr on 4:00 (3:18)
    200 IM on 4:00 (sub 3:30)*

    Cool-down (200):
    200 fr (3:20)

    Total: 3200 SCY/70 minutes

    *This is a big improvement over the 3:40 effort I put in last week toward the end of a similar workout... I wasn't nearly as tired after the first 50 fly, my back held up pretty well and I had enough left in the tank to swim the 50 free decently after losing time on the breast leg. The practice on the "other" strokes is helping!

    GTD update: I'm .03 miles behind my goal pace (gasp!)--will have to make it up with this weekend's long swim.

    WI masters SCY meet in Oconomowoc: I mentioned mailing in my registration form yesterday. I'm going to do five events, only two of which are pure freestyle (100 and 500; they don't have anything longer than 500 until the state meet in March when they have the 1650). The other events are 50 back, 100 breast, and 100 IM. I listed seed times that I know I've been able to make in practice (:50, 1:45, and 1:35) with a few seconds cushion on the conservative side to account for catastrophic start or turn mishaps...this probably sounds silly, I know. If things go well in the back, breast, and IM I may reverse the events for the following meet (100 back, 50 breast) and move up to the 200 IM. My check-off challenge might be half-way done by the end of February! Though I did notice in looking at the events scoring sheet that the 800 IM is back on the list (!?!). If I can get through a 200 fly, then it might not be unreasonable. But for now, man, that 50 fly still feels tough. Fly is going to have to get a lot better for me!

    Updated January 4th, 2013 at 07:23 PM by mcnair

  10. First swim of 2013... new goals!

    by , January 3rd, 2013 at 12:35 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    The YMCA opened back up again for the first time in 2013 today. My workout was as follows:

    Warm-up (1000):
    400 swim (100 back, 100 br, 200 fr)
    4 x 100 on 2:00 (desc. 1:33-1:27), fr
    4 x 50 on 1:00 (desc. :41-:39), fr

    Main sets (3050):
    5 x 200 fr, no rest (150 hard/50 recovery)--total time 16:20
    5 x 100 fr, no rest (75 hard/25 recovery)--total time 8:15
    25 dolphin kick
    5 x 200 on 4:30 (75 back/125 br)
    25 dolphin kick
    5 x 100 IM on 3:00 (all in 1:37-1:39)

    Cool-down (650):
    200 back
    200 br
    250 fr

    4700 SCY, 2 hours*

    *I actually swam through the first 3000-3500 in about 60-70 minutes, even with short rests (in the :45-1:15 range) between the 200 and 100 sets. I stopped to talk to Scotty right before the IM set (he got there when I was in the middle of my back/br set), and we gabbed about what events we might try for the next meet--a big long break, but I didn't have any trouble convincing him to do the IM set with me. I originally planned to do it on 2:30, but he suggested 3:00 and I was glad he did. I had already done 3500 and after 10:00 had managed to tighten up, I was thankful for the added rest. He and the life guard watched my breast, back, and fly and gave me some pointers, especially on the kick (br, fly), arm recovery (br), and pull (back), which were helpful... it's one thing to watch other people do it and try to imitate them, it's another thing to have someone watch you and tell you when you're doing something wrong or inefficiently. I'm hoping that lots of little changes add up to big improvements... we'll see.

    Anyway, I was glad I got a good 3500 hard in to exhaust myself before the epic gabbing, punctuated by short/fast swimming began. Scotty is definitely a sprinter and wants me to focus more on my speed, less on my endurance. I know I need to get speedier to see my distance times come down too, but it's tough to relinquish that long swim, long set, short rest mentality.

    That brings me to my goals for 2013:

    1. Maintain the same mileage (GTD: 550-mile goal).
    2. Increase the amount of yardage in drills, back, breast, fly.
    3. Decrease the percentage of my swimming that is freestyle.*
    4. Complete the check-off challenge.
    5. Swim the postal 5K and 10K.
    6. Improve my 1500/1650 times.
    7. 400 IM (?)
    8. Swim at least two open water events this summer.

    *But increase the quality; in 2012, probably 90% of my yardage was freestyle.

    Sent in my registration for the SCY meet on 1/13 in Oconomowoc, WI. Tomorrow I'll try to remember to blog about what events I've chosen and my seed times.
  11. 2012 In Review

    by , January 1st, 2013 at 05:21 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    2012: Despite all signs to the contrary (Record hot spring in WI, Super-storm Sandy, Notre Dame making the BCS national championship game?!), the four horsemen of the apocalypse did not make an appearance at the end of the 13th Mayan Baktun to terminate the universe as we know it. 2013 is here, and a whole new set of goals, but before looking too far ahead into this, as yet unknown, but hopefully "lucky" 13th year of the 21st century, I would like to mark the the new year by taking one last look back at the old.

    2012 was my first "full" year as a swimmer, as opposed to a runner cross-training in the pool. I ended 2011, having become a swimmer only 6-8 months before, with 335 miles and then set my 2012 goal for 420 miles, hoping to average 2000 yards a day. By April I was so far ahead of my goal pace I decided to make the goal 500 miles. Would there be a new swim suit in the mail come year end? Here's how I did by month:

    Month--Total Distance
    Jan--45.11 miles (=79,400 yards, =72,603 meters)
    Feb--46.42 miles (=81,700 yards, =74,706 meters)
    Mar--45.63 miles (=80,300 yards, =73,426 meters)
    Apr--55.51 miles (=97,700 yards, =89,337 meters)
    May--62.61 miles (=110,200 yards, =100,767 meters)
    Jun--51.89 miles (=91,324 yards, =83,507 meters)
    Jul--56.76 miles (=99,895 yards, =91,344 meters)
    Aug--27.47 miles (=48,355 yards, =44,216 meters)
    Sep--27.51 miles (=48,425 yards, =44,280 meters)
    Oct--31.31 miles (=55,112 yards, =50,394 meters)
    Nov--42.60 miles (=74,983 yards, =68,565 meters)
    Dec--53.88 miles (=94,825 yards, =86,708 meters)
    Total 546.72 miles (=962,218 yards, =879,853 meters)

    Nearly 1,000,000 yards for the year (that certainly would have brought about a world ending cataclysm--phew!). Lots of little goals along the way...
    1. breaking two miles in my first 1-hour postal swim;
    2. my first 50+ mile month;
    3. my first 60+ mile month;
    4. doing a 12K continuous pool swim in my buildup for open water events;
    5. my first USMS Open Water 5K;
    6. my first USMS 5K postal swim;
    7. mastering the flip turn;
    8. first time starting off the blocks;
    9. my first meet EVER;
    10. my first attempts at fly and IM in practice.

    Some goals eluded me:
    1. swim all the postals--just couldn't work out the logistics for the 10K, and I was running out of gas at the end of the summer anyway!
    2. swim my first 10K or 10K+ open water competition--I had one or two opportunities in the area, but there were conflicts on the weekends toward the end of the summer as we prepared to see our oldest off to college for the first time.

    Some interesting discoveries and fun moments along the way:
    1. Speedo Endurance: after burning through swim suits at the rate of roughly one every two months for about a year, I found that Speedo Endurance really does hold up where other fabrics don't. Been using the same two suits (alternating blue and black) since May; that's a lot of miles!
    2. I like working on the "other" strokes... and not just using them as recovery lengths in long distance freestyle interval workouts.
    3. Swimming is like running, in that it keeps me working on my aerobic and my endurance, but it's also like golf--because technique is so important (and often frustrating!); I can always be refining, and focus is extremely important for maintaining good form. (Bonus: swimming is cheaper than golf!)
    4. Anthony, my second son, swam his first mile swim this summer--becoming the third in the family to complete the BSA mile swim.
    5. Anthony and Aaron (my youngest) have both taken to swimming and have set goals for swimming the mile (or swimming it faster) this coming summer. I now have company in the pool from time to time!
    6. I finished the year in GTD just outside the top 10 at #11 in my age group; I thought top 20 would be out of reach until I realized half way through the summer, that there really aren't that many people crazy enough to put in 40-50 miles per month, month in and month out. Go endurance junkies!

    So what will 2013 bring? I'll blog my specific goals for the coming year tomorrow; but I just entered my GTD goal for 2013 a few minutes ago: 550 miles.
  12. New Year's Eve swim...

    by , December 31st, 2012 at 02:50 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    One last swim for the year. Here's what I did (3300 SCY/65 minutes):

    400 free on 8:00 (7:00)
    4 x 100 on 2:00 (1:28-1:30)
    4 x 50 on 1:00 (:39-:40)

    10 x 100 on 1:50 (alt. pull/free: 1:30-1:35/1:25-1:27)
    4 x thru 200 free + 50 back (200s were in 3:05-3:15)

    100 breast on 2:30 (1:50)
    100 IM on 2:30 (1:38)
    100 EZ free

    Yesterday was an easy day after the 7200-yard effort on Saturday, I did 2400... 400 warm-up free, 400 in back stroke drill and practice, 400 in breast stroke drill and practice, 400 pull and free w/ fins, 400 in butterfly practice (200 Dolphin kick drills, 8 x 25 fly), 400 cool-down (75 back, 75 br, 50 kick, 200 free). The dolphin kick is getting easier, but DOMS is definitely becoming more frequent as I approach another calendar year!

    I checked my 14-day totals, counting back from today (12/31) and find that, even with Christmas day off, I managed to get in 51,300 yards... that's over 2000 more than what I did for my two-week WI Water Warrior fitness challenge last year!

    I've finished the year with 546+ miles, which might put me in the top-10 for the 40-44 age group on GTD... we'll see. I'll blog my "2012: Year in Review" tomorrow--since it's a day off anyway.

    Happy New Years everyone!
  13. 7200 SCY

    by , December 30th, 2012 at 12:01 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    I was wondering how my distance freestyle day was going to go, since I've spent the last couple of days working pretty hard on the other strokes. I felt sore and run-down going in, but I stuck to my plan...

    5 x thru
    12 x 100 on 1:45
    200 breast on 4:00

    Cool-down: 200 back

    Each 1400-yard "set" lasted exactly 25 minutes and I finished the cool-down with 200 back in less than 5:00 so the whole swim, more than 4 miles, only took 2 hours and 10 minutes. My first time through the 100s didn't feel so great, some in 1:40, some in 1:30, I was all over the place... but at some point toward the end of the second set I relaxed and started zeroing in on a pace 1:35-1:37 per 100, which left me 7-10 seconds rest after each rep. The third and fifth sets felt the best... even when I was dog tired and my lats were screaming in the middle of my fourth set, questioning why I was still swimming, my 100s were coming in at 1:35-1:37.

    All in all I'm very happy with this. Instead of doing 6000 yards of free continuously in ever slowing pace (starting at 1:40 and falling off to 1:45 like last week, and this week it probably would have fallen off a lot more, given how sore I felt), I was able to hold an average of 1:36 for 60 x 100 on a 1:45 pace. Same distance and about the same total time in the pool, but a lot more quality swimming than I normally get on a distance day. I like it.

    This afternoon we (the family) went into Chicago and enjoyed the holiday lights on Michigan Ave, some exhibits at the Chicago Cultural Center, and then Millennium Park. We thought about ice skating, but that is not my thing and standing in a line for an hour just to get in with temps in the mid-20s didn't seem like the thing to do at the end of a long day, so we packed it up and headed back across the border. Fun family time nonetheless. And, bonus (!), we got home in time to see the fourth quarter of the Alamo Bowl on TV--Texas, our alma mater, in a come from behind win, 31-27, against Oregon State! Hook 'em, Horns!

  14. My first 200 IM

    by , December 28th, 2012 at 10:38 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Today, I really didn't know what to focus on. Honestly, I felt a little sore after yesterday's 4000... even with the longer rests, the pace was a lot faster than I usually do on my own and using all four strokes is working muscles I didn't know I had. I have a distance day tomorrow (goal: 7200), so I didn't want to overdo it with intervals or go too long, but I wanted to do some quality work and also keep my momentum on learning the different strokes. Here's what I finally did:

    100 fr EZ (1:40)
    200 br (3:50)
    200 alt. bk/fr (about 3:40)
    500 kick w/ board and fins (about 350 dolphin)

    10 x 100 alt. pull w/ paddles (mostly 1:50) and free (mostly 1:35)
    6 x 100*
    200 IM

    200 EZ fr

    *reps 1-2 were hard 50 bk then 50 br; reps 3-4 were 100 IM; rep 5, 100 bk; rep 6, 100 br. All these 100s were between 1:37 and 1:50. My IM 100s were the fastest, so my fly must not be too terrible, though having a 25 fr at the end doesn't hurt any.

    At that point in the workout, I decided it was going to be a 3000-yard day, and if I could survive a 50 fly, then a 200 IM was not out of the question. A 200 EZ fr would be my cool-down. I barely survived that 50 fly, but I did survive it... last couple of strokes barely clearing the waterline with my arms. That was tough, but I noticed :45 on the pace clock when I hit the wall at 50. I finished the 200 in 3:39, which means I lost a lot of ground on the back half of the back 50 and a lot more time on the breast... not able to make up much with my 50 fr at that point--I was spent. On the other hand, 3:39 was an ambitious time for my 200 freestyle when I first started swimming seriously in summer 2011.

    My biggest difficulty with fly right now is the fact that I can't seem to get the dolphin kick down... something I'm anxious to work on; but I definitely think I'll try a 100 IM at our next SCY meet in January, just for fun.

    Tomorrow, I'm considering doing something different, instead of my usual continuous swim or 5-6 x 1200 on 21:00, whatever. Rather than swim 6,000 yards of freestyle continually at a slower pace, I thought about doing 5 sets of 12 x 100 on 1:45, where I swim every fourth rep hard, but then have three more relaxed, but still faster, 100s. I think I should be able to hold the interval for the whole workout (60 x 100, essentially) and I'll do 200 breast or back between sets. With a 1:45 interval each set of 12 will last 21:00. I think that's the plan for now.
  15. My first 100 IM

    by , December 28th, 2012 at 12:42 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    So, I've done 7,200 SCY in the last two days. The day after Christmas was not impressive. I felt awkward in the water, things just didn't feel right after only 1-day break, the first day out of the water in two weeks. Maybe it wasn't as bad as I'm making it out to be, maybe I just needed another "rest" day. I don't know. I only did 3200:

    100 fr
    200 br
    200 bk
    500 drills
    1000 in 1:40 pace (16:40)
    5 minute rest
    10 x 50 (25 sprint/25 recovery) on 1:00
    5 x 100 on 2:00*
    200 fr cool-down (3:15)
    *3 fr 1:27-28; 1 br in 1:42, 1 bk (2:12).

    Today's workout was much better. 4000 in about 90 minutes, a lot of good quality speed work. Here's what I did:

    Warm-up (1000):
    400 swim
    4 x 100 on 1:45 (1:27-1:35)
    4 x 50 on 1:00 (:38-:40)

    Main Sets (2800)
    10 x 100 alt. pull w/ paddles and free
    5 x 200 fr on 4:00 (all in the 2:50s; 2:53-2:57)
    4 x 200 on 5:00 (first 2: 150 br/50bk, then next alt bk/br by 50s--all 3:30 range; fourth was fr in 3:15)

    Cool-down (200):
    2 x 100 IM on 3:00 (1:29, 1:32)

    Yes, that is two IM swims in the cool-down (which, btw, doesn't make for a relaxed cool-down). Scotty joined me after my pull/free 100 set and we were swimming in the same lane, so we were pushing each other pretty well on the 200s. We got separate lanes for the stroke work. Scotty mentioned that I was making up ground lost on the breast with my back, he thought maybe because of my kick. It's all relative, I didn't feel as good about my breast stroke today, felt like I was missing a piece somewhere, so the back probably seemed better in comparison.

    So, the IMs... Scotty said he needed to do at least a couple hundred worth in IM order and I said, well, I just need a couple hundred more before I call it a day. Why don't we break it into 2 x 100 IM. I figured I could survive 25 fly at least. I asked him to take a look at a few strokes worth of my fly and see if I was doing anything too terribly wrong... Using some of James' advice and what I've remembered seeing from video, I gave it a shot... and Scotty said, "whoa, where did that come from? You're a ringer!" He told me to try a wider hand entry and away we went on my first 100 IM swim ever. We were pretty close on the 25 fly, I pulled even on the 25 back , he pulled away on the 25 breast , and then I cruised in with whatever I could manage on the last 25 free: 1:28. I was pretty pleased with that time. We went again on 3:00 and I managed a 1:32. In addition to a lot more work on fly and breast, I need to work on the turn for backstroke . But it was fun. No complaints.

    Bonus family time in the pool: so, my middle son Anthony is taking a week break from his Cross-Country/Track training and wanted to do some cross-training in the pool. Before I got in and started I took a look at his freestyle stroke and it is right about where I was a couple of years ago, so I gave him a few pointers and let him get on his way. He swam the whole time I was doing my 4000-yard workout. He would stop and rest (very briefly) every 50-100 yards, but probably got in 2500 yards. I'm proud of him for sticking with it.

    Maybe tomorrow is going to be 100s day, getting ready for another distance day (those seem to come around really fast!)... Saturday might be a 7200-yard continuous swim; I've stocked up on gatorade!
  16. Christmas Eve swim...

    by , December 24th, 2012 at 08:55 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    We're having a White Christmas here in Kenosha, WI. Flurries accompanied me in and out of the Y today; won't add much to the snow already on the ground, but it definitely feels a lot like Christmas.

    Today I wrapped up my 14th straight day in the pool. I was really tired and probably should've just taken the day off , but tomorrow the pool's closed, so I wanted to squeeze in in few more yards before the stuffing begins. I only did 2000 today:

    1000 free in 17:00
    200 br/bk
    2 x 50 fr on 1:00 (:40-:41)
    4 x 100 fr on 2:00 (1:27-1:28)
    300 free cool-down

    Yesterday, even though I had done a 6000-yard swim the day before, I managed to get in 4000:

    20 x 50 alt. kick w/ fins/free w/o (20:00)
    10 x 100 alt. pull w/ paddles/free (20:00)
    20 x 50 alt. back/free (20:00)
    8 x 100 br (16:00)
    200 fr (4:00)

    In my 14 consecutive days of swimming I logged 47,600 yards (I'm over 40 miles again already for the month). This will be my Wisconsin Water Warriors fitness challenge figure for 2012. I hoped to break last year's 48,000 (logged in the first two weeks of November), but I had too many days with only 2-2.5K swimming this year. And now that I'm hitting my stride again, there are too many forced days off. August through October this year were "off-season" or recovery months for me (27-31 miles/month swum instead of 45-55), so my build up only really started in November.

    I re-registered for USMS for 2013 on 12/22 (as it turns out, the same day I re-registered last year too!). It's not too early to start planning 2013, I ran into Scotty today at the Y and we're both planning to do the first WI masters SCY meet in mid-January, so we'll send in registration in a few days. I'm considering even doing something other than freestyle *gasp*. Maybe a 100 breast or 50 back. Definitely, one of my goals for 2013 will be to compete in a couple of other events besides distance free. I'm going to see if I can bring my 100-200-yard times down a little this spring. And, of course, my big goals are to knock time off my 1500-1650 and take big chunks off of my 5-10K times.

    I'm also going to learn Fly in 2013... there, I said it... so now I have to do it. Hope my fellow bloggers will hold me to that one. 2012 was all about building an aerobic base and endurance, and learning the flip-turn. 2013 will be about technique, gaining speed, learning (or improving) the other strokes. Who knows, maybe there's an IM in my future?
  17. 1200s on 22:00 for 12/22...

    by , December 22nd, 2012 at 06:08 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Today was a distance day and I wanted to get in about 6000 at a low aerobic pace, so I thought why not go with another numerologically significant workout for 12/22/2012. I decided on 1200s. This was the plan:

    5 x 1200 (1000 fr + 200 br) on 22:00.

    As it turns out, I came in on my first three 1200s around 20:30 or 20:40 and felt good, so I went on 21:00 instead of 22. After the fourth "rep," which came in at 20:47, I decided to start the last 1200 on 21:20 and finished it in about 21:10.

    My total time for the whole 6000 was 1:45:30. Considering the fact that 1000 of it was breaststroke, I'm pretty excited about this workout. I'm way ahead of where I was last spring when I was doing my build up to 10K and could only manage to hold a 20:00/1K (1100 SCY) pace for 5-6K... w/ my freestyle pace at 1:45-1:55 per 100; now that freestyle pace is at 1:40 falling off to 1:45 per 100 toward the end!

    I'm definitely ready for a nap
  18. Mayan Aquapocalypse: 12/21/2012

    by , December 22nd, 2012 at 01:25 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    Apologies to Slow for stealing/adapting his term Aquapocalypse for the end of the Mayan calendar. The theme today for my workout was lots of 12s, 20s, and even some 21s. I needed a short one, so I got to the Y a little after noon and decided to wait until 12:21 PM (why not?) to start my 12/21/2012 workout. Here's what I did:

    20 x 50 on 1:20 free/kick*
    12 x 25 on :21** free
    12 x 100 on 2:00 (1:24-1:27) free
    100 breast
    100 back

    *This interval, 1:20, seemed ridiculously long, but had to get that "12" in there somehow... and I was glad later in the workout that I hadn't done a more aggressive interval. The freestyle 50s came in at :38-40 and the kick (I had plenty of time to change into fins and grab the board) came in at :48-:50. What can I say? It was supposed to be an easy day.
    **couldn't hold :21 for more than 4 in a row, so I split into 3 sets of 4 x 25 on :21 (starting new set on every 3:00), basically this ended up as 3 broken 100s which each finished in 1:23; my 25s were between :17 and :20.

    My set of 12 x 100 on 2:00 was great (for me), started off swimming 1:27s and then 1:24s, finished with 1:25-1:26s. I knew I was going to be able to sustain those Mayan Aquapocalypse appropriate 1:20s about half way through the set and was pretty psyched. Since I've been doing my 100 sets on an interval of 1:45 recently, the extra 15 seconds seemed like a nice long rest. My cool-down 200, breast and back, was the only time I did those strokes... still sore from yesterday's hard breast and back day My 100 back came in at a leisurely 2:22--perfect for a day full of 2s.

    The Mayan rain god Xoc passed through yesterday to usher in Draco, so there was a lot of ice. We lost power for a couple of hours last night in the run up to 12:00 AM 12/21/2012... the power came back on shortly after midnight: Apocalypse averted!

    The total today was 2700 yards, which is actually a nice multiple of 3s and 9s, which reminds me I haven't blogged about Dante in a while... right now I'm working my way through the middle cantos of Paradiso again, so I'll have to blog about that later.
  19. Draco's wetness... my stroke progress

    by , December 20th, 2012 at 10:35 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    So, they're naming winter storms now too... when did they start doing that? "Draco" is passing through SE WI as we speak. We were on the rainy side of the snow/ice line (and we got a lot of rain!), so I won't have to shovel as much tomorrow morning. It didn't start snowing here until about 5PM; we'll be lucky to get 2" of snow, but the folks north of Milwaukee and over in the Madison area got pounded w/ a foot of snow.

    Yesterday I managed to get in another 5000-yard workout, took me 98 minutes and had some threshold work for about 2000-3000 yards in the middle.

    1000 warm-up (21:00):
    -100 fr
    -200 br
    -200 bk
    -500 in drills w/ fins

    2 x 1200 on 21:00*

    11 x 100 on 2:00 (22:00)
    -alternated 100 fr w/ 100 pull w/ paddles/buoy

    500 cool-down (11:00):
    -200 br
    -100 bk
    -50 fr
    -100 bk
    -50 fr

    *The two 1200-yard segments were continuous swims but were essentially 4 x 200 w/ 50 recovery (all free) followed by a 200 breast (at a somewhat challenging pace). Last year at this time a 1200-yard segment like that would have taken me 22 minutes rather than 21. My 200s in the first set averaged 3:07.5 and 3:14.5 in the last set.

    Today, I had a breakthrough on my backstroke after watching some video tutorial and it really paid off (I had the wrong impression about what the pull underwater was supposed to look like; I was doing straight arm perpendicular to my body--windmill style!)... I immediately dropped :10 per 50 off my backstroke time. Now I don't hate it anymore!

    Here's what I did today, basically giving myself a rest from free-style (I had done more than 10,000 in free in the last three days) to work on breast, back, and drills:

    100 fr
    50 kick w/ board and fins
    200 br
    50 kick w/ board and fins
    200 bk
    50 kick w/ board and fins
    300 drills w/ fins
    50 kick w/ board and fins

    Main sets (2000 yards):
    -10 x 100 [alternated 100 pull w/ buoy + paddles and 100 free]

    -5 x thru (150 breast + 50 back)**

    **first 3 on 5:00, came in at 3:30 (or faster); last 2x thru were continuous and EZ for cool-down.

    I was shocked by my mixed 200 times in the last set. My friend Scotty showed up and got to where he had 1000 left and didn't know how to break it up, so I suggested the 150br+50bk x 5, which he thought was a good idea. I told him my breast times were coming down and so he gave me some tips on the pull-out from the wall and away we went. I was actually able to stay with him through the breast portion; he would pull away in the back, but it was a good workout (first time I've been able to get my heart-rate going that fast on a stroke other than freestyle). I was averaging :50/50 on breast. I think a couple of my 100 breast splits were in the 1:35 range, which would have seemed unfathomable 1 month ago. I joked with Scotty that only about 18-20 months ago I couldn't have made that many 200s in 3:25-3:30 freestyle, much less breast and back.

    It's always fun to look back at my old training journals... my last running journal became a swim journal in spring of 2011. That May I managed to bring my mile time down from 34:15 to 33:56. The week before I did my 33:56 mile time trial (5/21/2011), I had decided to start incorporating interval training--I did 12 x 200 free on 4:00 and here is what I wrote: "first 5 were 3:40-3:50 then it was difficult to hold 4:00 after a while."

    Sometimes I feel like my progress is soooo sloooow; but I have to remind myself I've come a long way in a relatively short time... 1.5 years. Makes me feel pretty good about where I am now.
  20. Spoiler alert: world does not end...

    by , December 18th, 2012 at 05:06 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    ...with blog entry #150!

    A couple of big milestones today... I couldn't wait for the end of the Mayan calendar cycle for my big entry #150 extravaganza. Apart from the 150th installment of this swim journal I also wanted to report swimming over the 520-mile marker (y.t.d.) today, with a solo 3000 SCY workout that has me really jacked:

    100 fr (1:33)
    200 br (3:40)
    200 bk
    rest 2:00

    1000 fr in 16:09
    rest 2:00
    200 br (3:42)
    rest 1:00
    1000 fr in 16:45
    rest 1:00+

    200 bk
    100 fr

    Just focused on the hip drive and coordinating that with the hand entry for as much of the 2 x 1000 free that I could. That first 1000 felt tough, but I finished right around the same time I was at the 900M mark in the 1500 for the 12/9 SCM meet. A good hard effort... but not completely exhausting, it felt more like a 1:40/100 pace, but was actually closer to 1:36-1:37. The next 1000 was a semi-relaxed effort; 2 weeks ago this would have meant a 17:30; today, well under 17 again. Also, just paying attention to technique a little more is really helping those "easy" breaststroke lengths; I've been at 2:00/100 pace in breast for so long, it's neat to see that start to come down too.

    I wasn't sure what kind of day I was going to have in the pool after the 5000-yard workout yesterday... I'm pretty pleased with this.

    One last thing to celebrate, sort of... as I was swimming in the pool at the Y, it started snowing! first time this season... and it's a lot of fun to be able to look out the windows (we have a beautiful 4-year old facility with lots of natural light from those big scenic windows) and feel like I'm swimming in a snow storm... without feeling the least bit cold! Of course, all I do this time of year is try to warm up and pray for sun: no break in the clouds forecast until at least Friday and I really haven't seen the sun since last Thursday--better start taking the vitamin D.
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