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Alex's swim journal

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

  1. 9000-yard swim today...

    by , March 19th, 2012 at 12:26 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    The plan was to do 8K (8800 SCY) today... my swim last Sunday (my step-back week) was 6K and the week before I had done 8000. I got to thinking about it, though, and decided I should shoot for 9000--a nice round number. I remembered that 8K was not quite 5 miles (it's like 4.95) and I wanted to shoot for a milestone I hadn't hit yet: 5 miles, that's a long swim!

    I broke the swim into 1K segments again (1000 free, 100 breast) and swam continuously except for brief bathroom breaks at 3300 and 6600 (these were about 1.5 minutes a piece). Stopped briefly to say goodbye to another swimmer at around 8000 (don't want folks to think I'm too rude just because I never stop long enough to chat).

    I mixed the gatorade pretty strong today, knowing that hydration wouldn't be as much of an issue as the lack of carbs to burn in the later stages. I finished off the last of my 20-ounce bottle at 8800 exactly. I was fueling with a swig every twenty minutes (or every kilometer, which is about the distance I do in twenty minutes on these long swims). I swam another 200 free-style to round out my 5-miler!

    After shower I refueled with another 20 ounces of gatorade (regular strength) and made the slow walk out to the car. I'm pretty tired now... time for a nap!

    Total time: 2 hours, 51 minutes.

    Updated March 19th, 2012 at 09:22 PM by mcnair (number dyslexia)

  2. St. Patrick's Day 2-milers...

    by , March 18th, 2012 at 01:30 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    I walked two miles and swam two miles today... what glorious weather (sunny and seventies)! I only wish we had an LCM pool outside right now. The SCY box at the YMCA today--even though we have these beautiful windows that let the sunlight in--seemed confining with so much good weather outside.

    The two-mile swim was continuous and fairly relaxed. I'm gearing up for a long swim tomorrow and I did some faster work yesterday, so today had to get me in the mindset without wearing me out too much. I broke up the swim mentally into 20-minute/1K segments (1000 free, 100 breast... as usual for me); finished 3K in about 59 minutes and then swam an easy 200 to complete the two miles.

    I'm hoping to do 8K tomorrow morning, so tonight I celebrated St. Patrick's Day by carbo-loading with Mexican food!
  3. Early summer in WI!

    by , March 16th, 2012 at 07:41 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    3200 SCY today (after a terrific afternoon walk... temps are supposed to reach 70s for the next five days... unseasonably warm, but maybe the lakes will be swimmable sooner).

    10 x 100 on 2:00 for a warm-up (mostly coming in at 1:32-1:34)
    1 minute rest
    20 x 100 on 1:45 (first 12 or so were 1:29 or faster)
    100 breast
    100 EZ free for cool-down.

    Finished the whole workout in exactly one hour. It took a while to warm-up and work the kinks out. Yesterday I took advantage of the good weather and played some basketball in the driveway with my youngest, but that kind of exercise, after not having done it in a few weeks, always seems to make me really sore and throw things off kilter the following day. I probably need to start a yoga class or something.
  4. GTD update; 3500 more...

    by , March 14th, 2012 at 11:56 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Today I took a peek at GTD rankings and found myself back in the top 20 (number 19) for my age group. This in spite of all the days I've missed in the last couple of weeks. Cool.

    Today's two-miler, which put me over 110 miles on the year, included an 1100-yard warm-up working mostly on kick; after that and a minute-long break I swam the rest continuously.

    Warm-up (1100):
    100 EZ Free
    100 Free w/ fins
    400 Kick set w/ fins; 4 x 100 (alt. 50 board w/ 50 kick 12, Kick 6, Kick 6+3, back kick)
    100 Free w/ fins
    100 Free
    200 Pull
    100 Breast

    Main (2200):
    1000 Free (10 x 50 fast/50 EZ)
    100 Breast
    1000 Free (5 x 100 EZ/100 fast)
    100 Breast

    Cool-down (200):
    100 Kick series (25 ea.= side-kick 12, 6, 6+3, back)
    100 EZ Free

    Warm weather in March is extremely encouraging--our thermometer reads 69 at 9:53PM! We usually don't get weather like this until April, sometimes May.
  5. Motion and reflection

    by , March 13th, 2012 at 07:06 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    "Whoever you are! motion and reflection are especially for you,
    The divine ship sails the divine sea for you.

    Whoever you are! you are he or she for whom the earth is solid and liquid,
    You are he or she for whom the sun and moon hang in the sky,
    For none more than you are the present and the past,
    For none more than you is immortality."
    --Walt Whitman, from "A Song of the Rolling Earth"

    Spring Break: Two days of motion and reflection... recharging with the offerings of poetry and essay; swimming.

    Monday evening was a pretty relaxed 2-mile swim (3500 SCY):
    3K (3 x 1000 moderate + 100 breast) with an EZ 200-yard cool-down. = 63 minutes.

    This afternoon's swim was a harder 3000 yards:
    20 x 50 (the first 5-6 in :45, then all around :40-:42)
    3 x 300 on 5:00
    100 breast
    3 x 300 on 5:00
    100 breast

    I wasn't all that impressed with my times on the 300s; I was making the intervals, but felt tired.
  6. Eating my way through New Orleans...

    by , March 11th, 2012 at 11:02 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    It seems like forever since I posted here on Wednesday night, right before leaving for the Big Easy. I never actually got to swim down there; I was having too much fun enjoying the weather and touring around when I wasn't in conference sessions.

    I'm pretty sure I would gain weight if I lived there, and here's why...

    Breakfast (actually closer to lunch) on Thursday at Cafe du Monde:
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    Dinner that night was the old stand-by, red beans and rice w/ sausage:
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    After another breakfast of beignets and cafe au lait, I observed a Lenten Friday with catfish po-boy and seafood gumbo:
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    Yesterday's lunch was a drippy muffaletta:
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    I'm glad I had the cole-slaw instead of the fries on the side because the green olives in the sandwich (which are wonderful btw) are pretty salty, but the coolness of the slaw balanced it out perfectly.

    On all of these pictures I only remembered to take out my cell-phone camera after I'd tasted that first bite or so (the food magazines never show the dishes with big chunks missing!). I would be sitting there thinking "Man, this tastes so awesome I should take a picture of it!"

    Oh yeah, and iced tea tastes better in N'awlins.

    I didn't have the heart to step on the scale first thing this afternoon when I finally got back to the Kenosha YMCA; I waited until after a 6K swim (2 hours and 3 mins), sauna, and steam, then with shame in my heart stepped up to face the music (and it wasn't the great street jazz of the Big Easy!): 174.5 ... phew! OK, not so bad... that's "within the margin of error." I normally like to be in the 170-171 range after a long swim, but I've seen a lot of 173-174s the last month or so.

    All in all, a nice break. Now back to the "regimen."

    One last photo for now; it's nice to see that it's spring somewhere in early March... some nice blooms on Jackson Square:
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    Updated March 11th, 2012 at 11:56 PM by mcnair

  7. 100-mile mark...

    by , March 7th, 2012 at 09:27 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Yesterday's two miles in the pool put me at 99.49 miles for the year. So today I punched it over the 100 mile mark with a 3000-yard swim.

    Fairly relaxed, since yesterday featured a lot of speed + threshold swimming. Here's how it broke down today:

    Warm-up (w/ fins):
    100 free
    400 kick (alternated every 50 board w/ side kick series)
    100 pull (w/o fins)
    100 EZ free (no fins)

    Main (2300 continuous):
    1000 free in 17:30
    100 breast in 2:00
    1200 free (alt. 100 glide w/ 100 moderate) in 21:20

    Tomorrow, I may be swimming in New Orleans! Headed down to the Big Easy for a conference Thursday thru Saturday. Any French Quarter swimming connections out there?
  8. As if on cue...

    by , March 6th, 2012 at 11:13 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    As if on cue... after several days of cold and gloomy weather; a couple of sunny days and warmer weather. High of 60 tomorrow?!?!

    Missed my swim yesterday, but managed to get in 3500 SCY today on the way home from work.

    400 free wm-up
    20 x 50 on 1:00 (first 3-4 in :36-:37; probably averaged :40)
    3 x 300 on 5:00 (4:34, 4:40, 4:45)
    100 breast
    3 x 300 on 5:00 (4:45, 4:46, 4:48)
    100 breast
    100 free cool down.

    A couple of notes:

    :36/50! I don't know if I've ever seen that number before! Maybe the rest day paid off after all. I felt almost like I was skimming the top of the water on those fast 50s. But I couldn't keep that pace with only a 20-23 second rest, so I settled into a :40-:42/50 zone, which felt comfortable.

    The 300s were interesting, just trying to see how long I could maintain my threshold pace and they ended up being somewhere about halfway between the threshold pace and my BASE. I'm sure that's helpful somehow.

    I love the long continuous distances, but I liked this workout for mixing in different paces and forcing myself to swim faster/harder. Maybe I'll even start doing flip turns at some point, and work on getting my mile time down again.
  9. Tired 2500

    by , March 4th, 2012 at 11:33 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Still recovering I think from yesterday's 8000, I only managed to get in 2500 today. It was difficult going; the body felt fine, but psychologically I was not there.

    It snows in Kenosha on March 5th.

    I need a nap...
    Or maybe a week on a sunny patch
    Of green grass near a spring fed pool.
    78 degrees? Sounds great,
    I'm already there
    In my dreams.
  10. 8000 yards... wardrobe malfunction

    by , March 3rd, 2012 at 06:17 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    After a couple of days off (I was feeling pretty run down on Thursday and thought I might be coming down with a cold) I got back in at the Y today for an 8000-yard long swim. It should have only taken me about 2 hours, 20-25 minutes, but it ended up being over two and a half hours.

    I really don't like to wear swim caps, but I'm trying to get used to it, so I put on my GTD 50-mile cap from last year. The seal on my goggles doesn't work properly, though, whenever I'm wearing a cap for some reason. I kept having to slow to empty water out of them and re-mash them back into my face. I'm thinking it might be that the goggles are just getting a little old (the seal is pretty discolored from the chlorine exposure), but over the last month at about 2K I'll take my cap off (because I'm tired of emptying my goggles every 150 yards) and then won't have any more issues. Maybe the goggle straps are moving around just slightly on the slicker surface of the cap? Very annoying.

    Also very annoying is the realization at about 3500 yards that you had too much coffee this morning. Even more annoying is the feeling that your bladder is going to explode at 4k; I actually had to stop, run to the bathroom, relieve myself (didn't know I could be that hydrated after 4K of swimming!), and so I probably lost 2-3 minutes there. So much for building rhythm on a continuous swim!

    I didn't have any gatorade today at the house, so I took an energy bar and water bottle to the deck with me. As a result I probably lost another couple of minutes chewing (and fiddling with the wrapper) at the 5, 6, and 7-K marks.

    Just happy to get this one behind me!
  11. Pacing...

    by , February 29th, 2012 at 09:31 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Today's workout was about pacing; I tried to see if I could keep a single pace consistently: :45/50y. A lot of times when I go out in an interval set, my splits are super uneven. Today I was pretty disciplined about keeping the pace even. Here's the workout (4000 SCY):

    500 EZ free
    20 x 100 on 1:45 (all came in 1:29-1:30; even 50 splits)
    20 x 50 on 1:00 (came in at :44-:45 on all of them)
    200 breast
    200 kick drills (no board, no fins)
    100 EZ free

    So, 3000 yards at exactly a :45/50 pace. No wild swings between :38 and :50. It felt good to be consistent. I was also happy to see that I could hold that pace on the 100s even though I decreased my interval from 2:00 to 1:45. I could have written it as :15 RI, because that's precisely what my rest was after each 100 and then after each 50.
  12. 2100-yard recovery swim

    by , February 29th, 2012 at 12:19 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    Ended the day at number 18 for my age group in GTD; back in the top 20 after a few higher yardage days of late. Tomorrow I might be slipping back out of the top 20; I needed a recovery day and so only swam 2100 today in 40:00.

    I felt like I could have done another 1000-1500 yards, but didn't want to push it too much. I have the tendency to push myself to the breaking point and then, well, breaking. I'm trying to get better about these things as I get older, so I don't have to spend so much time nursing injuries.

    I am encouraged by the progress I've made, though. My slow recovery swims are longer and faster than any of my swims this time last spring, when I was only swimming a mile three times a week. Well, I've actually become a swimmer since then... rather than just a runner, who swims occasionally for cross training.
  13. Lactate threshold Monday...

    by , February 28th, 2012 at 12:48 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    What does today's swim have to do with the Venus de Milo?

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    Somewhat ambitious workout for me today: 4600 SCY/92 minutes; lots of speed and threshold work; only about a kilometer of this 4K+ workout was easy swimming... the rest was between :38 and :46 per 50 pace (:45 is my lactate threshold pace, I think).

    500 free EZ (8:45)

    Main sets:
    20 x 50 on 1:00 (first 5-6 in :40-:41, the rest in :38-:39)
    4 x 200 on 4:00 (2:56, 2:58, 3:00, 3:00)
    200 breast
    4 x 200 on 4:00 (3:00, 3:03, 3:04, 3:01)
    200 breast
    2 x 200 on 4:00 (3:07, 3:04)
    100 breast
    5 x 100 on 1:45 (all in 1:30-1:33)

    100 free EZ

    I was really disliking the 200s toward the end... my arms, shoulders, and lats felt like they were made of stone on the last couple. I think I found Venus's missing arms! I originally planned to do 12 200s in total, but switched to 100s halfway through the last set b/c the lactate was really starting to build.
  14. Recovery swim... "body electric"

    by , February 26th, 2012 at 10:32 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Went to the Y today just to get in a recovery swim... to loosen up a little. Ended up doing 3000 (SCY) in all.

    "The swimmer naked in the swimming-bath, seen as he swims through
    The transparent green-shine, or lies with his face up and rolls
    Silently to and from the heave of the water"
    --Walt Whitman from "I Sing the Body Electric"

    No, I wasn't naked and the Y's pool, gratefully, did not have a "green shine"; but I love that line "Silently to and from the heave of the water."

    After the first 1500 I was actually feeling really good (considering the 7000 I did yesterday), but I kept it at a really EZ pace the whole time. A long sauna, steam, and shower had me feeling like I'd purged myself of all toxins by the time I left... it's difficult to describe the feeling I had as I walked back out to the parking lot on this sunny and mild (by our standards) afternoon. Warm all over, pleasantly fatigued, clean! Whitman's "body electric"?

    "...The thin red jellies within you or within me, the bones and the marrow in the bones,
    The exquisite realization of health;
    O I say these are not the parts and poems of the body only, but of the soul,
    O I say now these are the soul!"

    Can't wait to see what the week brings!
  15. 7000 yards and a drink malfunction...

    by , February 25th, 2012 at 08:25 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Today I wanted to do my first 7K continuous swim; distance has been building nicely since mid-January and after getting really comfortable with the 6K distance and taking a step-back week, I though 7K would be just right.

    For the long swims I always take a water bottle with a replacement drink; usually Gatorade. I know from my running days how important hydration is after you get out past the hour mark and the electrolytes and simple carbs in Gatorade really help keep the glycogen stores from running out in that second hour of swimming. I don't like the bonk!

    So I planned, like I usually do, to take a swig at every kilometer: a few ounces every 20 minutes for me seems just right and leaves me enough to chug at the end of the swim to begin recovery. I left the bottle on the deck, slipped into the water, quickly found my all-day pace, and was just getting into a rhythm when...

    The lifeguard stopped me, apologizing profusely, and began to explain why my water bottle was open, half-consumed, and surrounded by what looked like a Gatorade explosion... huh?

    Apparently, as she retells it, there is a patron with a mental disability who can't control himself when he sees bottled drinks or coffee mugs ("your lucky it wasn't coffee," says the other lifeguard, "he makes a B-line and never lets anyone pull him away from that stuff"). I knew who they were talking about and thought it was kind of sad. As apologetic as they were about it, I said it was no big deal, totally fine. I'm so glad that this disabled gentleman's family cares enough about him to bring him to the Y and let him enjoy swimming. Every time I see them I think, "wow, that's dedication."

    Obviously, it was an inconvenience and w/o replacement drink I ran out of gas at about 6K instead of 7K, managed to squeeze in another few hundred yards to make it an even 7000. But I was reminded the whole time I was swimming of how blessed I am. I'll hit that 7K next week!
  16. Snow + 4000 yards

    by , February 24th, 2012 at 08:54 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Winter returns to Southeast Wisconsin today; here are some pics from our street.
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    These cell-phone shots from my car don't do justice to the actual sight itself, which was really a winter wonderland... a thick, wet, sticky snow covered everything when we awoke this morning.

    Here was the workout at the Y; I did the 3 x 300 set as a test to figure out my threshold pace. And I realized that I really like doing 300s; very challenging!

    Warm-up (600 SCY):
    100 Free, EZ
    50 kick board*
    50 side kick (12)
    50 kick board
    50 side kick (6)
    50 kick board
    50 side kick (6+3)
    50 kick board
    50 back kick, no board*
    100 free w/ fins
    [*all kick drills in the warm-up were with short fins]

    Main sets (3000):

    20 x 50 on 1:00 (:40-:43)
    2-minutes rest
    3 x 300 on 5:30 (4:30; 4:33; 4:37)
    1:30 rest
    1000 free (moderate pace = 1:42/100y)
    100 breast

    200 free (EZ)
    200 kick (50 Board, side 12, side 6, back; all w/ fins)

    Total = 4000 SCY
  17. Ash Wednesday 3K

    by , February 23rd, 2012 at 01:02 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    My penance for today...

    3K (3300 SCY/ 58:30) thusly:

    3 x through
    1000 Free
    100 Breast

    On the first 1000 free I alternated 100 EZ w/ 100 moderate. On the second I did 2 x 500 (100 EZ followed by 400 moderate). On the third I did 1000 straight at a moderate pace (1:41-1:43 per 100).

    I had very little time today, so it was rushed, not the kind of thing I liked to be. But it encouraged me to push a little harder than I might otherwise have done. I'm happy with the result.

    The swim was more or less continuous; I did stop once between 2-3,000 briefly to say hi to a swimmer in the next lane, who I hadn't seen in a few days. But I finished in time to rush off to a meeting. Come to think of it, the swim was less of a penance than a reward after all!
  18. Yesterday's milestone...

    by , February 21st, 2012 at 10:08 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    I guess it didn't occur to me until much later, but yesterday was a milestone of sorts: 50 blog entries!

    A NOTE on the HEDONISTIC EXCESSES of MARDI GRAS: Today's swim was mostly easy stuff--gearing up for a bigger day tomorrow--but with a new twist. I used fins for the first time on my kick sets. [*gasp* the horror!] The bucket next to the board/bouy bin pool-side had some short fins and I've been hearing from various corners that drilling with the fins might help build some swim-specific muscles. I don't know, we'll see how I feel tomorrow, but I thought it felt too easy. A worthy excess in honor of Mardi Gras? It was interesting, though, to feel what a truly propulsive kick might feel like!

    450 of the warm-up was with fins and the kick lengths went by much more quickly than they do without; my cool-down without the fins hammered this point home for me! Here's the workout (3200 SCY; a little more than an hour):

    Warm-up (800 yards):
    100 free EZ
    50 Side kick drill (12+1) w/ fins
    50 kick w/ board and fins
    50 side-kick drill (6+1) w/ fins
    50 kick w/ board and fins
    50 side-kick drill (6+3) w/ fins
    50 kick w/ board and fins
    50 back kick w/ fins
    100 free w/ fins
    100 pull
    150 free

    Main Set (2K continuous swim = 2200 SCY):
    2 x through
    1000 free (alternating EZ gliding 100s w/ moderate 100s)
    100 breast

    200 in kick drills, no fins (12, 6, 6+3, board)
  19. Question on Best Pace Interval...

    by , February 20th, 2012 at 09:20 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Back up to about 15 miles ahead of my GTD goal pace after today's swim. Two mile's worth; here it is:

    20 x 50 on 1:00 (first 5-7 serve as warm-up).
    10 x 100 on 1:40
    500 recovery swim (alt. 100 EZ glide/100 moderate)
    2 x 500 (400 moderate/100 EZ)--this was a continuous 1000 broken into two 500-yard segments.
    =3500 SCY/76 minutes

    I cut down on my rest during the sets (a 1:40 interval instead of 2:00 on the 100s, for example), but rested a little more between sets. I probably waited 2.5 minutes between the wm-up and the 100s (I wanted to start the 100s on a nice round number--10:00 in this case--to help my keep track). Then a little later on I stopped to chat with some of the other swimmers.

    My times were OK I probably had 10 of my last 12-13 50s in the :38-:39 range, even a couple of :37s! The 100s started off at 1:24 and then stayed around 1:30 for a long time before dropping to 1:33-1:34 on the last 2-3 reps. So I was definitely able to hold what I thought would be an overly ambitious interval of 1:40. When I'm swimming on 2:00 I can come in at 1:30 all day long (I've done sets of 15-30 reps on that interval over the last year).

    So does that mean that 1:40 should be my BPI? My mile pace is actually just a little faster than that. It seems slow, but then again b/c of my overdeveloped slow-twitch fibers there just isn't that much of a difference between my "sprint" speed (1:20-124) and my all-day pace (1:40-1:50--depending on the day!). Does this seem right?
  20. Back in the pool!

    by , February 19th, 2012 at 06:51 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    After missing four days straight (the first time I've missed that many days in a row since last spring!), I finally managed to get back into the pool today. It was very crowded, but every Sunday afternoon is, which is why I normally try to go Sunday mornings to do my long swim. I also needed a little catch-up sleep; so I had a leisurely Sunday morning, to say the least.

    I did 3600, pretty easy; could've done more, but I decided I would save it for a big workout tomorrow and try to get in consistently every day this week. After two weeks in a row with 6K long swims on the weekend I think my body needed a "step-back" week anyway (which is what we used to call it in marathon training).

    Work has been a little overwhelming the last few weeks and I was really missing the pool on Wednesday-Saturday; but with deadlines looming I spent most of my days and nights hunched over the computer... only able to get my swimming fix vicariously through the USMS blogs and forums for a few minutes here and a few minutes there.

    By Saturday, though, the lack of sleep, the long hours alternating between writing, teaching, meetings, and grading were starting to take their toll; it's like my brain was slowing down... processing speed impeded by running to many applications at once! And I hadn't gotten my accustomed exercise. I really started to notice it toward the end of an otherwise very nice conference on Saturday afternoon in Dekalb, IL. Enjoyed my time there enough, learned a lot, but the two-hour drive back was a torment. I had to stop every 45 minutes or so just to stay awake.

    Feeling much better today after a couple of miles in the pool and a full-night's sleep!