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Alex's swim journal

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

  1. 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:

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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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

    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)

    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.
  4. 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)

    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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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:

    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)

    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!

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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.
  8. (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)

    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.
  9. 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:
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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!
  10. Interruptions...

    by , October 16th, 2012 at 06:16 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Haven't been able to get in as much yardage as I'd like in the last few days. Something always seems to stand in the way. Only managed 2000 on Saturday and another 2K on Sunday. Today I had to cut my workout short because they had a HS swim meet coming in at 4 and wanted to have the pool cleared out at 3:30. Here's what I managed to get in anyway:

    3300 SCY in 62-64 minutes

    --1100 warm-up:
    [100 EZ free
    5 x 100 drill w/ fins alternating w/
    5 x 100 pull]
    --2000 main set:
    [1 x 400 on 7:30
    2 x 300 on 5:30
    3 x 200 on 3:30
    4 x 100 on 1:45]
    --200 cool-down (breast)

    I'm a little bit wary of my suddenly "trick" shoulder. Still can't really figure out what I did to it this weekend. It seems to be a lot better today and it doesn't bother my freestyle stroke at all unless I'm really pushing the pace.

    I've let go of the filp-turn for now in case that's what might be causing extra stress on the neck and shoulder. I think I need to incorporate some dry land resistance and flexibility training regardless.... I just never seem to find the time.
  11. 3500 more; feeling better

    by , October 12th, 2012 at 06:27 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    I got in today feeling a lot better. I hadn't done the steam room or sauna in months, but the last couple of days I've spent some time in there before and after swims to try and warm up, maybe sweat out some of the yuckies. I opted for a long warm-up today... here's the whole workout:

    --1000 warm-up [Alternated 100s between drill (w/ fins) and pull].
    --100 breast
    --1K on 20:00 [this was 1000 free (17:40) and 100 breast (2:00)].
    --1K on 20:00 [another 1000 free (18:00) + 100 breast; on the freestyle I did the 3rd, 6th and 9th 100s at a little bit faster pace (1:40 instead of 1:45-1:50) and incorporated flip-turns, some of which were better than others]
    100 back-kick holding streamline (2:20)

    I also mixed in sprint 25s (four of them) after each 1K and at the end of the work out; these were in :18-19

    3500 in ?? [probably 65-70 minutes]

    I'm still not real happy with the flip-turns b/c every once in a while I have a real stinker (at one point today I missed the wall altogether... whiff!), and I'm not convinced that I'm gaining much if any time on the ones I do stick pretty well. Open turns maybe slower, but at least they're consistent. I'll keep at it, and may even work on the dolphin kick (my goal on turns is usually to keep my legs as streamlined as possible so as not to create any drag... the idea that they might actually be a source of propulsion is a little foreign still at this stage!).

    Scotty wants to get in a 6 x 500 on 10:00 workout tomorrow. It will be a good opportunity to maybe time trail myself on the 500. I think we're going to have to get that in a little earlier than we have been swimming on Saturdays this fall... tomorrow is family day at the Y: water zumba in the lap pool at noon and then family open swim after than!
  12. Back in the water

    by , October 12th, 2012 at 03:08 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    So, my aches on Monday were the start of a nasty bug. Never ran a fever but have felt pretty weak since Monday.

    I got back in the water today after missing 3 days. I only did 1850, but I did mix in 3-4 hard 100s... I hit one in 1:23, which is a lot faster than I've been doing in a long while.

    Illness sometimes has bonus effect of suppressing appetite... two pounds lighter on the scale today.
  13. 6000-yard weekend

    by , October 8th, 2012 at 10:05 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    I managed to get in 6000 yards this weekend... only 2500 on Saturday (continuing to work on flip turns). My neck has gotten really sore over the last few days of trying to keep up the yardage while introducing flip-turns, so Sunday I decided to go back to open turns just to give those muscles in my neck a break. I did 3500 in 63 minutes, mostly freestyle, but I did some breast and back as well.

    Today I just feel achy all over; hope I'm not coming down with something... I think I'll take the day off unless I start feeling a lot better this afternoon.
  14. Hate flip-turns...

    by , October 5th, 2012 at 06:30 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Still don't have the hang of the flip-turns, but I did I lot of them today (I swam 3500 mostly freestyle, continuously).

    My timing is way off and I'm having a hard time keeping track of my pace. I feel like my streamline off the wall is falling apart or my distance is off and so my push from the legs is often ineffective... it seems like I'd be better off just doing open turn, where I know I can get a good push and streamline every wall (plus peek at the pace clock). But I'll stick with it 'cuz I know it takes practice.
  15. Flipping out

    by , October 4th, 2012 at 05:05 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    I missed yesterday's swim b/c I was dealing with a backlog of paperwork and time got away from me. So today I almost forgot that I was supposed to begin working on flip-turns. Scotty was already in the water when I got there and seeing him reminded me... it's good to be held accountable! I had made a pledge to forgo any further open-turns once October rolled around--as comfortable as those open-turns have been for me over the last couple of years. It was time to make good.

    Here's what I did:

    5 minutes practicing flip-turns floating into the wall.
    600 warm-up with flip-turns
    10 x 50 on 1:00 (:43-:45)
    10 x 100 on 2:00 (1:34-1:36)
    10 x 50 on 1:00 (:44-:46)
    100 breast
    [2200 total in 50 minutes]

    So, every once in a while I would just nail the turn and feel pretty good. Every once in a while I would flop and sputter; often I felt like an errant bottle rocket, squirting all over the lane. One thing I have to figure out is my breathing going into the wall. Because my open turn has accustomed me to getting a quick breath at the wall, I would neglect to breathe then come out of the turn with my lungs bursting (or so it seemed) looking for that breath.

    I liked doing the 50s, though they were slow, because I only had the one flip. The 100s were challenging because I had to maintain that concentration for 3 turns. I'm hoping it gets better. I guess it's like anything, it will take a lot more practice.
  16. It's been a while...

    by , October 2nd, 2012 at 03:21 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Wow, it's been a while since I've had a moment's breath to blog; I have been swimming fairly regularly, but cutting way back on the yardage after pushing myself to the brink of overtraining at the beginning of August. After several straight months of 50-60 miles swimming, I dropped back to 25-30 in August and September. Disappointed I didn't get to do a 10K postal this year, but that's OK. There's always next year.

    Scotty and I are planning to go to the WI State SCM meet in December; so now I'm easing back into the harder training. Here's what I did today:

    1100 on 20:00 (19:30)
    1100 on 19:00 (18:30)*
    1100 on 20:00 (20:00)
    200 cool-down
    [3500 in 63 minutes]

    *4 x 200 (3:01; 3:07; 3:09; 3:14), 50 active rest after ea 200; then 100 breast.

    I'll try to work in some 100s and some 50s this week too. Also, I promised Scotty I'd start flip-turns in October... guess I'll practice that tomorrow.
  17. Barton Springs...

    by , August 21st, 2012 at 12:01 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Did a mile this morning at Barton Springs... air temps in the 70s, water in the springs... always 68. Felt like I was exercising and icing my sore muscles at the same time. Here are some pics:

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    I love that you can see part of the Austin skyline from this vantage, too. Not a very busy morning...

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    the waters were very clear and I was enjoying the view of the Spring's topography and aquatic life... tons of fish today; and they seem completely unconcerned about the humans lumbering about in the surface.
  18. Recovery...

    by , August 20th, 2012 at 10:42 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    It's been a while since I've had the breathing space to write an entry; my guess is I was pretty overtrained at the beginning of August... trying to keep up with a challenging training regimen and burning the candle at both ends with work finally caught up to me and, well, things fell apart. I did some reading on the internet about overtraining and I had 80% of the classic symptoms. So I took three days off of exercise and concentrated on getting through the end of summer school.

    Friday, 8/10/12, I got home from work around 6:30 PM... exhausted, splitting headache (which I'd been carrying around for hours), and staring down a four hour drive to what I described at the time as the arctic circle. My wife had planned one last family camping trip before sending our oldest off to college. The last family vacation? Very sad. We were meeting four other families at a camp ground just a few miles from the WI-MI (upper peninsula) border... on Saturday's agenda: whitewater rafting. The drive up on Friday was not fun. I joked that we would be driving so far north that the four-lane highway would eventually shrink to two, then to a dirt road and become an episode of Ice Road Truckers before we got to where we were going... and that's pretty much what happened. After setting up tents at midnight we finally settled in, temps were cool (mid 50s), but pleasant for sleeping. I woke up pretty refreshed. and we ate a hearty camp breakfast and headed to the outfitters for rafting. That was a pretty cool experience, when I get a hold of some of the photos I'll post them here. We started on the WI side of the Menominee river and ended on the MI side. Lots of category 2 rapids and one brief section of cat 4 with a really nasty rock waiting for us at the bottom of the waterfall.

    When we got back to the campground, this was the sight that was awaiting me:
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    I couldn't believe it. The water was a nice balmy 70 degrees... I waded right in and swam out to deep water, then turned parallel with the shoreline and swam for a few minutes. I probably didn't do more than 500 yards, but it felt good to swim.

    Since then I've been easing back into it. Last week I did a few 2000-yard workouts (one in the St. Louis, South City YMCA... 84 degrees!) and drove my son down to Texas State. We're staying with family in Austin, so this gives me the opportunity to visit some of my favorite Austin haunts. I've already put in 6+ miles of swimming in Deep Eddy the last 4 days. Tomorrow I'm going to try to go to Barton Springs bright and early.
  19. Overtraining... or over thinking

    by , August 6th, 2012 at 11:19 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    The last few days have been something of a bummer. After a couple of decent, hard workouts toward the middle of last week I ended up missing two days--not in a row, but I've been pretty good about swimming 6 days per week at least for most of the summer. Summer school is winding down and so I've been pretty busy at work... burning the candle at both ends never helps. I was looking forward to going back to Silver Lake, for the long-awaited OW swim there, but there was a call on my machine when I got home: the postponed race has been cancelled outright due to high bacteria levels. Darn.

    So Saturday I went to the Y to time trial myself in the mile; something I haven't done since the end of May. I didn't really know what to expect. 28:10 was the answer, 20-30 seconds slower than my time a couple of months ago. Then I swam a second mile in 30:00 (whereas in May I turned around after a 27:4? and swam another mile in 29:00). Sunday I got to the lake, late in the afternoon, and despite the beautiful glass-like surface and cooler water temps I just didn't have it in me to swim more than a mile. Today I went back after work and wanted to swim two miles, but only did about 3000 before they were blowing the whistle at closing time. I had given myself a good 70 minutes before closing time, so I should have finished the 2 miles in enough time. I slowed to chat a couple of times with fellow swimmers, but really? Am I slowing down that much?

    One thing I've done recently is to go back and look at some video on and a DVD I checked out from the library on TI drills... I had felt like I was swimming onto a plateau and was looking for some technique to work on to get myself to the next level. Watching the olympic swimmers has really helped too, though I was confused to see the 1500-m world record broken without much in the way of bilateral breathing... the stroke looked smooth but asymmetrical somehow. So now I'm armed with all of this info and all of these images and I'm trying to find a rhythm in the lake and it's just not happening; very frustrating. There was a 30-meter stretch at one point where I thought I had found the magic elixir of smooth stroke (look out world record!) and then I turned... never again to find that "sweet spot." I think I know what golfers feel like in their frustrated search for the perfect round.

    And to top it all off, I'm sitting at home tonight and my left shoulder is stiffening up, despite the fact that I've swum less in the last 6 days than I have in any 6-day period for the last three or four months. Am I overtraining or over thinking?
  20. Infernal 100s

    by , July 31st, 2012 at 06:16 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Today's workout was not about speed, just survival. I felt slow after several days of pretty hard swimming, so I thought I would do an "easy" workout...straight forward, not too challenging physically or mentally. 50 x 100, which ended up kicking my butt. I decreased or increased the interval in step-like fashion after every set of ten, expecting my 100 times to get faster.

    10 x 100 on 2:00 (mostly around 1:40)
    10 x 100 on 1:45 (mostly around 1:37-1:40)
    10 x 100 on 1:40 (1:34-1:41)
    10 x 100 on 1:45 (1:39-1:44)
    10 x 100 on 2:00 (mostly 1:40)

    5000 yards in about 1:35.00

    I think 1:36-1:40 is my aerobic pace; 1:31-1:34 is closer to my threshold pace, and 1:27-1:30 is probably my vO2-Max pace... that's my best guess right now; so this was definitely a pure aerobic set, though I intended to have some threshold work and even a few reps at my VO2-Max pace too. It just wasn't happening today, so I guess my body is a little worn out. I think I'm going to try this workout next week too, to see if I can't improve the times... eventually even drop the intervals further.

    I usually like working in the aerobic range, but this workout just seemed unrelenting in a way that repeat 1000s don't even seem to be. I guess it took me by surprise, given how easy it looked on paper.

    I finished July with more than 360 miles YTD. Since I started swimming again in January 2011 (17 months), I've logged just a bit more than 700 miles in the water.