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  1. 9K

    by , March 25th, 2012 at 03:29 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Wow, I'm exhausted. Finished my 9K continuous swim in 3 hours, 3 minutes, 25 seconds.

    My first 5-6K was right at about 1:45/100 pace; but that last hour or so was really killer. Slowed a lot. My last three kilometers averaged about 21 minutes each and my lats felt like they were turning to stone.

    Mentally I broke it up into 1K segments as I usually do (it's much easier to think about just finishing the next kilometer--or next 100--than to think, ok, only 5K to go!), but my first 6K were especially crisp, the 1000s coming right in at 17:30, followed by a relaxed 100 (usually about 1:50). At 5K I jumped out to go to the bathroom, little more than a minute break. The 1:45/100 pace started to fall apart right after 6k; I also switched over to breast stroke for my easy 100s between 1000s in that last 3k... trying to give my body short breaks from freestyle.

    If my backstroke weren't so pitiful I might try that stroke for my breaks. As it is, I did my final 25 yards one-armed elementary backstroke while nursing the final drops out of my gatorade bottle.

    Time... [yawn] for a... [yawn] na... [yawn] ah... [yawn] p.

    Updated March 25th, 2012 at 06:16 PM by mcnair

  2. A couple more swims...

    by , March 25th, 2012 at 10:31 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    Haven't blogged yet about my Friday and Saturday swims.

    Yesterday I did two miles (3500 SCY) continuously; with the exception of 100 breast at the end of each 1000, the whole swim was on my BASE+5 pace and took 62 minutes. I'd like to be able to maintain that for 3 hours today.

    Friday's swim was pretty simple:
    30 x 100 on 2:00.

    I wanted to see if I really could keep that BASE-10 pace going forever with a longer rest. The first ten or so reps were around 1:30-1:33 as I was warming up. Then my next ten were in the 1:22-1:28 range, with about half of them in the 1:22-1:24 range (another swimmer, Haydn, joined me for 4-5 of these and that encouraged me to pick up the pace). The last ten were 1:28-1:34, mostly in the 1:31-32 range as I relaxed and tried to cool down.

    Alright, big swim this morning... I'm trying to hit 9K, will leave for the Y in a few.
  3. Quickie...

    by , March 22nd, 2012 at 08:28 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Only time for a quick swim today. I had less than a half hour, so I just swam what I could... ended up with 1500 straight free in 25:20 before hitting the showers.

    At least I didn't miss a day completely!

    Celebrating my wife's birthday today... She's spent more than half of her life now putting up with me; God bless her!
  4. 4500 SCY, pushing the lactate threshold

    by , March 21st, 2012 at 10:10 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    4500 SCY today:

    500 free warm-up (8:30)
    20 x 50 on 1:00 (first 6 in :40-:42, next 10 in :38-:39, last 4 backed off the throttle to :42)
    1:00 rest
    3 x 300 on 5:00 (4:34, 4:42, 4:38*)
    100 breast recovery
    3 x 300 on 5:00 (4:40, 4:52; 5:00)
    100 breast recovery
    1000 Free at BASE + 5 (1:45/100) pace.

    *I actually did this last 300 of the first set after an extra minute rest--I was talking (btwn deep breaths) with a swimmer in the next lane, who volunteered to swim this last 300 with me.

    The last 1000 felt surprisingly good, but the 300s were painful; obviously BASE+5 feels a lot better than BASE-5 or BASE-10 for anything over a couple hundred yards... at least today.

    Total time: 1:23:30.
  5. 3K yesterday... Whitman's ghost.

    by , March 20th, 2012 at 11:00 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    So, I did a nice 3K continuous swim yesterday in 59 minutes. Felt surprisingly good, even after the 9000 yards the day before.

    Today I got to the end of the day and had a choice... rest or head back out to the YMCA and get in a hurried workout before closing time. I was hovering between the laptop (on a card table that serves as my desk in the bedroom) and the 15-year old, 13" portable TV on the dresser around which a stack of books has taken up residence (they don't all fit on the card table). Anything good on TV? No, not really.

    Then Walt Whitman's ghost appeared...

    Well, not really; just the old paperback of Leaves of Grass that had migrated up from the bookshelf in the den up to a place on the dresser, prepared (with Emerson, Homer, Virgil, and Dante) for conjuration on a moment's notice. Dog-eared pages called out to me... dare I ignore them? Dare I attend the voice of the dead poet? Allen Ginsberg asked where the poet Whitman was taking him that night as they walked from the supermarket. I'm taking uncle Walt back down to the den for a vacation on the bookshelf (probably won't be too long of a vacation, but you never know where the readings will lead).

    Whitman goes back to the bookshelf, I've missed my daily swim because I dove into a book and spoke with a ghost. He should haunt us all with his expansiveness. Now I don't need the book to feel him there (witness the end of "Song of Myself"):

    "I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,
    I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lazy jags.

    I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
    If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

    You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
    But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
    And filter and fibre your blood.

    Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
    Missing me one place search another,
    I stop somewhere waiting for you."

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  6. 9000-yard swim today...

    by , March 18th, 2012 at 11:26 PM (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 08:22 PM by mcnair (number dyslexia)

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

    by , March 18th, 2012 at 12:30 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!
  8. Early summer in WI!

    by , March 16th, 2012 at 06:41 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.
  9. GTD update; 3500 more...

    by , March 14th, 2012 at 10:56 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.
  10. Motion and reflection

    by , March 13th, 2012 at 06:06 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.
  11. Eating my way through New Orleans...

    by , March 11th, 2012 at 10:02 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 10:56 PM by mcnair

  12. 100-mile mark...

    by , March 7th, 2012 at 08:27 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?
  13. As if on cue...

    by , March 6th, 2012 at 10:13 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.
  14. Tired 2500

    by , March 4th, 2012 at 10:33 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.
  15. 8000 yards... wardrobe malfunction

    by , March 3rd, 2012 at 05:17 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!
  16. Pacing...

    by , February 29th, 2012 at 08:31 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.
  17. 2100-yard recovery swim

    by , February 28th, 2012 at 11:19 PM (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.
  18. Lactate threshold Monday...

    by , February 27th, 2012 at 11:48 PM (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.
  19. Recovery swim... "body electric"

    by , February 26th, 2012 at 09:32 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!
  20. 7000 yards and a drink malfunction...

    by , February 25th, 2012 at 07:25 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!