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  1. Mayan Aquapocalypse: 12/21/2012

    by , December 22nd, 2012 at 12:25 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.
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  2. Draco's wetness... my stroke progress

    by , December 20th, 2012 at 09:35 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:

    Warm-up:
    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.
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  3. Spoiler alert: world does not end...

    by , December 18th, 2012 at 04:06 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:

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

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

    Cool-Down
    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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  4. Approaching Blog Entry milestone...

    by , December 17th, 2012 at 05:13 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Blog entry #149 (t-72 hours to Mayan Apocalypse):

    My next blog entry will mark my 150th since I began blogging almost a year ago. I'm thinking of having it correspond with 12-21-12... round numbers like to hang out with each other.

    Speaking of nice round numbers, I did a 5000 SCY work out today, similar to the one I did last week:

    Warm-up 1000 (20 minutes):
    100 fr
    200 br (3:40)
    200 bk
    100 bk kick
    400 drills w/ fins

    1:00 rest

    Pull/Free set (1000 in 18:00)
    --100s pull w/ buoy and paddles (1:50s)
    --100s free (1:30-1:40)
    2:00 rest

    20 x 100 on 1:45 (1:27-1:37; mostly 1:32)
    2:00 rest

    400 fr on 7:00 (6:30)
    200 br
    200 bk
    200 EZ fr

    97 minutes total time (not exactly a round number). The 400 I did for time after I hit the 4000-yard mark was just a test, to see if I could hold my 1:36-1:40 pace and form without falling apart after 4000 yards. It felt pretty good. Also the 100s were all over the map, but there were a lot of 1:28-1:32s, which is good for me and an improvement on last week. I did have a few slower 100s in the last half of the set... another swimmer joined me in the lane and he was pretty good so it pushed me to come in under 1:30 when we started together, but then my next 100 would come in at 1:35!

    This weekend I didn't do any really hard workouts. I only had time for a couple of short swims (2000 on Saturday and 2200 on Sunday), but I was swimming my 1000s under 17:00, 16:30 on Sunday in fact. I decided that I needed to focus on some aspects of my technique; hip roll and rhythm being primary. I think I've fallen into the habit of a shoulder-driven stroke, but realized that my turn over wasn't going to get any faster just trying to muscle through with the arms and shoulders... they have to relax more and my hip needs to drive the stroke. I tried focusing on the rocking movement and relaxing the upper body as much as possible. This helped me to swim that 1:40/100 pace with much less fatigue than I normally feel... indeed, my 1:40 pace felt more like my 1:45 pace. So this is a positive development that I'm trying to transfer over to my interval training (w/ mixed results as my inconsistent times in the 100s show). A 4-5 second drop in my all-day pace is a big deal, though, if that's what is really happening here.

    Finally moving off the plateau!? Just in time for the end of the world? Stay tuned for the 150th installment of... Alex's swim journal!
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  5. 1500M splits, thoughts on improvement...

    by , December 14th, 2012 at 04:24 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    So the competition is infectious... it's only been a few days since the SCM meet that Scotty and I did, but already I'm hearing buzz about the Kenosha Y lifeguards putting together a relay and checking out USMS. Scotty and I have been talking it up (separately it turns out, I haven't seen him since the meet because our schedules don't coincide this week). I'm hoping we can eventually get a masters team together to swim regular workouts.

    My splits on the 1500 looked fairly even... slow, but even, about 3:30-3:40 per 200M. It felt like an even effort:

    00:45--01:37--02:32--03:24
    04:17--05:10--06:04--07:00
    07:55--08:50--09:44--10:38
    11:32--12:26--13:21--14:15
    15:10--16:04--16:58--17:52
    18:47--19:42--20:37--21:32
    22:27--23:21--24:15--25:08
    26:02--26:53

    I was inspired by older competitors at the meet; men and women in their 50s swimming the 1500 in 19:00-22:00. I thought to myself that in 10-15 years I could be doing that too... what do I need to do to get there? Well, first of all I have to swim faster more often probably, and do my interval workouts more consistently, progressively speed up the reps (or decrease the intervals). I'm not sure what a realistic goal for the short term is, though. Long term, I want to bring that Metric/Davis Mile time down another 6:00-8:00. But what should my paces look like now? Can I expect to bring the times down 1:00, 2:00, or more over the next year? My 1750 time has been stalled at around 28:00 for more than a year--though during that time I managed to increase my swimming endurance a lot. My problem, I think, is that I was content with just ramping up the distance and not concerned with improving my speed over that distance... at least not enough to be real consistent about my interval training.

    Yesterday I did the following 5000 SCY:

    - 1000 mixed stroke warm-up and drills w/ fins (20:00)
    - 1000 free in 18:00, alternated:
    --100s w/ pull-buoy and paddles (around 1:50)
    --100s free (1:30-1:40)
    2:00 rest
    - 20 x 100 on 1:45 (mostly 1:32-1:34)
    - 1000 mixed stroke cool down (in addition to free I probably did 400 breast and 250 back)
    [97 minutes total time]

    Today I did 3000 SCY in just under an hour

    Warm-up (700):
    100 EZ fr
    200 br
    200 bk
    100 EZ fr
    2 x 50 fr up-tempo

    2:00 rest

    Main set (2000/33:30):
    5 x thru:
    150 hard + 50 EZ free*
    1:00 rest
    10 x thru:
    75 hard + 50 EZ free*

    *no rest, the EZ free portion was my recovery; the 200s in the first 1000 were right around 3:12, the 100s in the second 1000 were between 1:33 and 1:40.

    Cool-down:
    100 br
    100 bk
    100 fr

    I've tried incorporating some of the tips from the new USMS web article on breaststroke (btw, I think the website's new look is pretty cool) and my times are dropping in that stroke! ... 3:50 for 200 in my warm-up instead of 4:00-4:10. If I could learn fly I might even consider doing the check-off challenge next year.
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  6. back in the groove...

    by , December 12th, 2012 at 03:33 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    I took Monday off of swimming because the schedule was pretty crowded and I figured I'd have more time on Tuesday to get in a good workout. It didn't bother me much at the time--missing Monday, I mean--I had not missed a day of swimming in almost two weeks, but yesterday I didn't have as much time as I thought (it's finals week after all and the grading has been piling up) and what I did swim felt very sluggish: 2K at glacial pace.

    Today, I also ran out of time and had to abbreviate my swim, only 2500 in 47 minutes, but I felt better about the quality of the swimming. Here's what I did:

    500 mixed stroke warm-up (fr,br,bk,br,fr)
    10 x 50 on 1:00 (25s hard, cruise after the turn; :41-:44)
    100 breast (2:00, followed by :45 rest)
    1000 in 16:17*
    300 fr cool-down in 5:00

    *4 x thru: 200 hard/50 EZ (200s in 3:03, 3:03, 3:08, 3:07)
    [revision, 12/18: re-reading this now and thinking about a similar workout for tomorrow, but notice this is only 2400 SCY in 44:00, I think I'm missing an extra 100 bk in the cool-down... that usually adds another 2.5 minutes to the workout]

    In addition to the hard 200s, a lactate threshold workout, I was happy to get in a little sprint work with the hard 25s. I paused at the wall to peek at the pace clock at 25 yards for my last two reps in that set and noticed :17. That's just absolutely smoking' for this slow twitch guy. But I think I'm so slow-mo that I really should be doing more of this kind of stuff to improve my pace for those longer distances I like to swim. At the very least it made the faster 200s seem more in control.

    Later on, maybe tonight if I get a chance, I'll have to write about some of the things I learned from the SCM meet last weekend. I checked my splits for the 1500M and looked at some video Scotty's daughter took of my 200... and there are definitely some things I'd like to do to improve!

    Last night I was distracted by TCM's screening of "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly"... what a classic! I'm going to have to get that soundtrack.

    "Blondie" (Eastwood's character) to Tuco (Eli Wallach): "There a two kinds of people in the world... those with loaded guns, and those who dig."

    Updated December 18th, 2012 at 03:36 PM by mcnair

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  7. WI masters SCM meet

    by , December 9th, 2012 at 10:53 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    Wow... I'm stiff today. Yesterday we had the only SCM meet of the season for Wisconsin Masters... and it was my first meet ever; a lot of fun. Folks were super supportive and I was shocked at the strong turnout. Even with the strong attendance, though, there were few enough people in my age group that I had a chance to place in each of the events I entered; this is nice considering I'm a late-comer to swimming and my times still look pretty slow! I was pretty happy with my personal results; all freestyle events:

    100M = 3rd 40-44M (1:24.30)
    200M = 2nd " " (3:03.98)
    1500M = 2nd " " (26:53.29)

    I didn't know if I would get into the 1500 until Thursday this week (they had a limit of 12), so I signed up for some of the shorter events just to give it a try. I was happy I did, because I was able to get those starts and pre-race jitters under control by the time I finally got to my goal event. And I'm happy also to know, more or less, what my SCM times look like for the 100 and 200. Initially I was a little disappointed based on my SCY practice times, until someone pointed out there should be about a 10% difference... makes sense. That would put me in the mid to upper 1:10s for 100 SCY and upper 2:40s for 200 SCY, which is where I thought I might be.

    I really didn't know where I was going to be for that 1500, but based on my broken 1650 a few weeks ago (about 26:30) I was going to be happy with anything between 26 and 27 minutes. I felt pretty relaxed the whole time and was able to push it in the last couple hundred. Now I have a time set at that distance, so I can start working to improve!

    My friend Scotty swam the 200 and 1500 free also; he placed 1st in the 1500 for our age group. Since we're in the same age group we probably shouldn't be swimming too many of the same events together b/c we limit our chances at placing, but it was good to be swimming next to him in an event like the 200, where I really had no idea what to expect... helped reduce the anxiety level.

    Actually, I did expect the lactic acid burn in the 200M (it's comparable to the 800M run in track) and probably shouldn't have tried to do it and the 1500 on the same day, but I signed up for it not knowing I was going to get into the 1500. I swam the first 100 of the 200 in 1:25 and then just tried to relax and bring it in hard for the last half... then I made sure to get a long cool down in after that. It would be a couple of hours before the 1500, so I was able to take in the rest of the meet at that point, which was a lot of fun.

    I'll have to stop now, but I could go on and on. Two years ago I couldn't have imagined myself lining up on the blocks getting ready to sprint a 100 in a swim meet... now I wonder why I haven't been doing it all along!
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  8. 500 miles!

    by , December 4th, 2012 at 09:24 PM (Alex's swim journal)

    This was the message that greeted me on the screen after I entered my yardage for today:

    "Congratulations! You have achieved your goal for Go The Distance 2012
    My goal pace: 464.38 miles required as of today to reach my goal by the end of the event
    My actual current pace: 500.39 miles as of today"


    And I got to claim my prize... I ordered the Nike jammer--haven't used a jammer in a while, since I converted to Speedo Endurance last spring. I figure the compression on the legs will be nice for the winter short course meets I'm planning to do.

    Yesterday I had a 3000-yard workout, late in the day in a crowded pool (lots of lessons and water aerobics classes going on). This is what I did:

    300 fr/br/bk
    30 x 50 on :58 (:40-:43?)
    200 br/bk
    5 x 100 on 2:00 (1:32-1:34)
    100 br
    400 EZ fr (7:00)

    Today I did 3600, like so:

    1000 warm-up/drills
    Main Sets:
    10 x 100 on 1:45 (evens: pull)
    200 br/bk
    20 x 50 on 1:00 (hard 25, followed by cruise 25*)
    Cool-dwn:
    200 br/bk
    200 fr in 3:30

    *My times on these 50s were in the :42-:43 range, but the first 25s were at about :18 (as far as I could tell).

    I'm focusing on speed and technique this week, and not overdoing it before the meet Saturday. The 1500 is already closed (they limit to 12 swimmers), so I signed up for the other freestyle events... can't hurt to establish a baseline in the shorter events, and it's giving me excuse to go easy on the lactate threshold stuff and focus on speed. I'm planning to have fun no matter what.
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  9. PRs, 50 and 100 SCY... GTD update

    by , December 2nd, 2012 at 11:31 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    So, I'm much more of an endurance junkie, but I also know that I have to mix in sprint work every now and again to be able to hold faster times for longer distances. Friday I had intended to do an easy 2-3,000 yards. I did a bunch of drills and some easy freestyle, then my friend Scotty showed up. He was doing some interval 200s and was starting to struggle, so I decided to pace him a bit. I did the last 100 with him (that's about how far I can keep up with him when he's doing his fast 200s. We finished right about the same time and he said "whoa, you're flying... what's up?" I didn't really think anything of it, but he said our split for that 100 was about 1:20. That's really fast for me. On his next 200 I told him I would swim the first 100 and the last 50 with him. I came in at 1:18, a new PR for me. Anyway, I managed to help motivate him through the rest of his set and get some unexpected speed work in; it was fun. I finished the day with 3000 yards.

    Saturday, I swam a slow 5000... my distance day. I probably came in at 90 minutes.

    Today, feeling a little stiff from the last few days, I went in to swim some EZ freestyle just to loosen up. I met Scotty again and since we're doing the WI Masters SCM meet next Saturday he agreed to help me with my starts. Now that I have the flip turns down it is time to add the final piece so that I don't embarrass myself too badly at my first meet. I've never gone off the blocks before at the pool (and I haven't started from any blocks whatsoever since my high school track days--25 years ago this spring!). Scotty was really good about giving me pointers, so now I'm not as intimidated by going off the blocks. I decided I wanted to know what the difference in time might be between going off the blocks and a push start, so we timed a 50 free. I came off the blocks OK, nothing spectacular (but no belly flop either) and nailed the flip turn at the other end... other than that I just tried to relax and keep my turn over high. I hit the wall and Scotty said :31. That's five seconds faster than my fastest 50 free (that I can remember), so I was pretty stoked about that. I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do in the meet with a racing start off the blocks.

    GTD: I'm at more than 496 miles for the year now. Still in the top 20 for age group and closing in on the 500-mile goal!
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  10. Post Turkey, poop in the pool

    by , November 30th, 2012 at 10:28 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    Getting back into the normal routine this week after a refreshing break (not from swimming, but from my usual venue and workouts). Monday I decided to focus on just swimming smoothly, with a little bit of up-tempo pace work at shorter distances, so here's what I did:

    100 fr
    100 br
    100 bk
    500 fr on 9:00
    10 x 50 on :55 (mostly :44-:45)
    100 br
    500 fr on 9:00
    10 x 50 on :55 (Mostly: 45-:46)
    100 br
    500 fr on 9:00
    10 x 50 on :55 (mostly :47)
    100 br
    100 bk
    100 fr

    3800 SCY in 70 minutes.

    Tuesday's workout consisted of about 2000 in drills, kick, and pull before I did a 1000 continuous swim in which I had 4 hard 200s each followed by a recovery 50--all freestyle. My 200s were between 3:10 and 3:15, which is in my 1500/1650 pace range... yes, I know, pretty slow; but I've been on something of a plateau this year.

    Wednesday was a total bust because I waited until after work to try to get to the Y (lately I've been stopping on my way in or during the lunch hour). I made it to the Y about 6:45P, but by the time I got changed and spent twenty minutes in the steam and sauna rooms (I've been drinking tons of water and trying to sweat out the toxins to avoid the cold I felt coming on at the beginning of the week... it seems to have worked) the pool was CLOSED DOWN... 1 hour, 45 minutes earlier than normal! Some kid took a dump in the pool.... grrrr! Darn you, pooping kid!

    Yesterday's workout is one I've gone back to several times this fall and I felt like I was swimming it a little stronger: 4000 SCY in 80 minutes, 3000 of which was hard swimming (faster than LT pace).

    500 warm-up (mix of fr, br, and bk)--10 minutes
    20 x 50 on 1:00 (mostly :39-:41)
    no rest
    10 x 100 on 2:00 (mostly 1:29-1:30)
    no rest
    5 x 200 on 4:00 (3:10, 3:09, 3:08, 3:10, 3:11)
    500 cool-down (mix of fr, br, and bk)--10 minutes

    My goal here was to be swimming faster than 1500 pace, but stay relaxed; the last 100 of those 200s at the end of the workout was tough though; falling off from :45-:46/50y pace to :49-:50/50.

    EZ day today... we'll see what I manage to get in. Tomorrow I'll do a distance day.
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  11. Swimming it off...

    by , November 25th, 2012 at 07:18 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    After the nearly week-long food binge I stepped on the scale at the Kenosha Y this afternoon (we flew into O'Hare this morning and pulled into town just after noon)... And I somehow lost two pounds this week!

    I did one last swim, 3K continuous, at Deep Eddy yesterday morning. Air temps in the 50s, water 70, sunny and bright... felt wonderful. The last outdoor swim for a while for me. I decided to go to the Y this afternoon (after the Bears game) to decompress. The long flight left me feeling tight; I thought about skipping today, but thought better of it. By the time I got in the water I had exactly 44 minutes before they closed the pool. So I just did a lot of drill work: 2400 yards total.

    Warm-up:
    100 free
    100 breast
    100 back
    100 free w/ fins
    100 kick w/ fins/board

    Drills (w/ fins):
    100 spear
    100 shark tail
    100 sail
    100 corkscrew
    100 back kick
    200 side kick series
    100 kick w/ board

    5 x through:
    100 pull
    100 free (hard)

    Cool-down:
    100 br

    The scale, post-swim, was very generous to me. I think I did a lot more walking in Austin on top of my swimming regimen... maybe that helped reduce the "bottom" line. But I'm encouraged.
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  12. Thanksgiving swims...

    by , November 23rd, 2012 at 04:21 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Back in Austin with the extended family for a few days and able to swim outside again for the last time until late next spring probably, barring another unforeseen trip south. I took advantage of the spring-fed waters of Deep Eddy pool again. Two miles on Wednesday and another two today. water temp at around 70 and air temps between 65 (today) and 75 (Wednesday). It couldn't be a more perfect break from the indoor pool at the Kenosha Y.

    Here are a couple of pics of the pool from Eiler's Park next door:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I just passed the 480-mile mark for the year and my weekly mileage is creeping back up as I get ready for another long-distance build-up; not too early to start mentally prepping for next summer's open water season.
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  13. Body Position Drills

    by , November 16th, 2012 at 03:23 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    I was looking back through the Open Water work-out thread by Anne Cleveland this week and found the body position drills, which I thought could help me out. I needed a mostly "drill" day after the hard interval day yesterday. Here's what I did:

    WARM-UP (500 yards):
    100 fr
    100 br
    100 bk
    100 pull
    100 kick w/ fins

    DRILLS W/ FINS (1100 yards):
    100 spear
    100 (50 pull/50 kick)
    100 sharkfin
    100 pull/kick
    100 sail
    100 pull/kick
    100 corkscrew
    100 pull/kick
    100 back kick
    100 pull/kick
    100 fr swim

    COOL-DOWN (600 yards):
    100 fr
    100 pull
    100 fr
    100 br
    100 bk
    100 fr

    I'm still using zoomer style fins for most of my drills since my ex-runner's legs still haven't developed a strong kick yet. Hopefully the fins will help move that along at the same time that they help me keep momentum in my drills.
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  14. 4500 interval workout

    by , November 16th, 2012 at 12:02 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    Last night I only had 40 minutes before the Y closed, so I did little more than an extended warm-up--1750 in 35 minutes broken up like so:

    100 fr
    100 br
    100 bk
    500 EZ fr
    10 x 50 on 1:00 (~:45)
    100 bk
    100 br
    250 EZ fr

    Today I had about an hour and a half, so I did the following:

    Warm-up:
    100 fr
    100 br
    100 bk

    MAIN Sets:
    10 x 100 on 2:00 (1:32-1:36)
    10 x 100 on 1:45 (1:34-1:36)
    10 x 100 on 2:00 (1:31-1:38)
    10 x 50 on 1:00 (:44-:46)

    Cool-down:
    100 br
    100 bk
    500 EZ fr (probably 1:45-1:50/100 pace).

    This was much more grueling than I expected... I really have lost endurance from last summer when I could do a workout with 5 sets of 10 x 100 on intervals from 2:00 to 1:40. Today I only had 3500 of not so hard swimming with generous intervals and still felt like crud by the end. The EZ 500 in the cool-down was encouraging though.
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  15. Broken 1650

    by , November 13th, 2012 at 05:55 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Today I decided, after a rest day, to test myself to find out where I might be for my target event in December... and SCM 1500. Here's how the work-out went:

    WARM-UP (1650 total):
    300 (fr/br/bk)
    500 EZ (8:14)
    10 x 50 on 1:00 (:41-:43)
    100 br
    100 bk
    150 EZ free

    MAIN SET (1650 total*):
    500 fr
    400 fr
    300 fr
    200 fr
    100 fr
    50 fr
    100 fr
    *mile pace (1:36/100), :10 rest after each step of the ladder (total time = 27:24; swim time = 26:24)

    COOL-DWN:
    100 br
    100 bk
    150 EZ fr
    50 br

    I'm pretty pleased with this result... I know it's slow, but my fastest mile (1750 SCY) ever was a 27:40 time trial I think (I'll have to check); so I haven't lost that much fitness since this summer (though it feels like I've lost a lot sometimes). I think I'll use 27:20 as my seed-time for the meet because I honestly don't know how swimming SCM vs. SCY is going to affect my time. This will set an interesting benchmark for me. A year and a half ago I spent several months just trying to get my 1750 down below 30:00 and I dropped 5 minutes off of my mile; but I've struggled since then to take any time off at all. I don't think I've lost ground, but I'd love to break 25 minutes in the 1650 (and eventually the 1750). Just need to be consistent about my regimen to see that kind of improvement.
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  16. Weekend "swims"

    by , November 11th, 2012 at 06:51 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    My "swimming" (so-called because it takes place in the water and represents an intention on my part to emulate that activity, which others do so proficiently... and not because what I was doing looked very much like swimming), my so-called "swimming" was really pathetic Saturday and Sunday. I ran out of time both days and ended up in the pool in the last hour before closing time at the YMCA, which always makes me feel rushed. I thought I would just do a time-trial 3000 instead of the postal, since that's about all I had time for on Saturday. I didn't warm-up and realized about 200-yards in that my legs were going to be a lot more sore from that kick-drill work-out than I wanted. Then, my breathing was off, my flip-turns awkward, eventually I started cramping... so I scratched on the time trial and just did 2500, calling it a day with 15 minutes to closing time.

    Today I only had 45 minutes, so I did the following:
    300 warm-up (fr/br/bk)
    500 fr EZ swim
    100 br
    100 bk
    10 x 50 on :55 (:41-:45)
    300 cool-dwn (fr/br/bk)

    1800 total in 35 minutes

    I just wasn't feelin' it this weekend. Hope I have a little more time next weekend and that my swims are normal this week.
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  17. Kick day...

    by , November 9th, 2012 at 04:28 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    I'm just not a fan of kick drills, but after 5000 yards yesterday I felt like I needed to spend a day just doing drills and maybe stretching out with some easy freestyle... so I did 1000 in kick drills (900 w/ the fins). Here it is:

    300 wm-up (fr/br/bk)

    100 kick w/ board
    w/ fins:
    100 side kick drill (12 + 1)
    100 (50 pull/50 kick board)
    100 side kick drill (12 + 1)
    100 (50 pull/50 kick board)
    100 side kick drill (6 + 1)
    100 (50 pull/50 kick board)
    100 side kick drill (6 +3)
    100 (50 pull/50 kick board)
    200 side kick drills (12, 6, 6 + 3, bk)
    100 swim w/ fins

    500 swim, fr (8:34)

    300 cool-dwn (br/bk/fr)

    I was in the water for 47 minutes, 2300 yards total. I didn't pay attention to the clock (except for that 500 free toward the end). So I was able to keep it relaxed.

    Maybe there's a 3000 postal in me for tomorrow after all... we'll see how the legs feel when I wake up tomorrow.
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  18. 5000-yard workout

    by , November 8th, 2012 at 05:02 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    I missed my workout yesterday... for a good cause (more on that below); so today I felt like I had to make up ground. I started off sluggish, but picked up a little steam. I finished the workout with 5000 total yards in just under 1:45.00, the longest workout I've done since this summer. Here's what I did:

    WARM-UP:
    300 (100 each fr/br/bk)
    500 free on 9:00
    100 br
    100 bk

    SET #1:
    10 x 50 on 1:00 (mostly :43-:44)
    10 x 100 on 2:00 (middle 4-6 at 1:25-1:27)

    300 (br/bk/fr) + 2 minutes rest

    SET #2:
    5 x 200 on 4:00 (all in 3:07-3:09)
    5 x 100 on 2:00 (1:31-1:36)

    COOL-DOWN:
    200 (br/bk)
    500 easy free (counting strokes, stretching it out)

    The two sets, 1500 each, add up to 3000 yards of really hard swimming for me. That's a confidence builder!

    So, the reason I missed yesterday's workout was because of a super busy day ending with the happy occasion of Anthony's (he's my middle son) Cross Country team banquet and award ceremony. I'm happy to see the next generation of kids embrace the endurance sports, so this is always a neat event. And this year Anthony received the "Most Improved" award for the boys team.... He worked really hard for that and I am super proud of him!

    Click image for larger version. 

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    What a great smile (thanks to the orthodontist for that one!)... oh, and don't tell Anthony I put his picture up; I don't want to embarrass him unduly.
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  19. (in)Decision 2012

    by , November 6th, 2012 at 06:17 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Today I elected to do a longish workout (4400 yards total), trying to figure out where my pace is... here was my workout:

    500 free wm-up on 10:00
    10 x 50 on 1:00 (these were all :39-:40)
    200 breast (4:10)

    MAIN Set [2000 in 36:00]:
    1 x 400 on 7:00 (6:22)
    2 x 300 on 5:30 (4:55, 4:55)
    3 x 200 on 3:40 (3:15-3:20)
    4 x 100 on 1:45 (1:35-1:38)

    Lactate clearance set:
    200 breast (4:00)
    100 back (too slow to count!)
    500 free (1:45-1:50/100 pace)

    Cool-down:
    100 breast
    100 back
    200 free

    The 50s at the end of the warm-up were fast, but not all-out... I was nailing my flip turns, so that felt good, but mostly I was just trying to swim fast enough so that my :48-:50 pace per 50 would feel easy on my main set. It worked. I felt pretty loose during the 400 (in which I averaged just under a :48 pace), though it was indeed challenging... especially knowing I was going to turn around and do a couple of 300s, trying to hold the same pace. In all, 2000 yards of hard swimming in 36 minutes left me feeling pretty fatigued, but in a good way.

    Since I didn't get one of my postals in last weekend, I have to think really hard about whether or not I want to go for the 3000 or the 6000, realistically I'm not going to be able to do both before the November 15 deadline. Maybe I'll do the 6000 this Saturday (have the kids take turns recording my laps)... and then, since the 3000 doesn't take as long I might convince one of my family members to count laps for me next Tuesday or Wednesday night before the deadline. I'm not really in shape right now for a 6000... hence my hesitation. And Turning around and doing a 3000 hard just a few days after a hard 6000 is not going to result in good times (not that I'm breaking any records anyway, I'm only racing myself!).

    I think I'll see how the rest of the week's workouts feel and make my decision on Friday.
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  20. Progress report...

    by , November 1st, 2012 at 05:39 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    The last couple of weeks have been pretty good for my swimming. I passed the 450-mile mark for the year. My weekend long swim is back up to 5000 yards... I'm looking at doing the 3000 and 6000 postals on successive weekends here at the beginning of November. The flip-turns have gotten a lot better, though still a bit inconsistent. Also, I'm cautiously re-introducing interval training into the routine as my body seems to have adapted to the additional (or just different) stresses of the flip-turn. This is what I did today:

    500 warm-up
    10 x 50 on 1:00 (:43-:45)
    100 breast
    10 x 100 on 2:00 (1:33-1:36)
    100 breast
    5 x 200 on 4:00 (3:20)
    100 breast
    500 cool-down

    [3800 total in 74 minutes]

    This is similar to a 4K workout I did last Thursday; my times last Thursday were faster, especially on the 200s and I added another 1000 in intervals after the 200 set (5 x 100 on 2:00 and 10 x 50 on 1:00). The intervening weekend was hectic as my 92-year old Grandpa passed away and I drove to Austin for the funeral (about 2400-miles roundtrip; 40 hours in the car). But I couldn't miss it, and it was so great to see all the family and reminisce a little about the long life of that wonderful man... he's an inspiration to me.

    While in Austin I did a couple of stress-melting swims at Deep Eddy, about 4K total. The water was perfect (70 degrees) and the air temps weren't bad (50s), though they were cool enough to keep a lot of folks away. Not nearly as crowded as it was this summer... here's a picture of the pool I took in August:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Didn't have to circle swim on Sunday or Monday mornings (or even share a lane), unlike in the summer. It was perfect fall weather, though, a true blessing to be swimming through spring water on a sunny, crisp Autumn day in Austin.

    My thoughts are with the folks cleaning up from that terrible storm on the East coast. Hope you're all back to normal soon!
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