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  1. Way behind...

    by , February 16th, 2014 at 05:25 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    After all the hiccups in my routine over the last three weeks and an out-of-town job interview that kept me out of the pool for another three days at the end of this week, GTD informs me that I had better pick up the pace! 20 miles behind my goal pace now! Ouch. Yeah, it's been a bumpy ride this winter for my swimming.

    The nagging cough is still... still... still... hack... there. But aside from that, and a lack of sleep lately, my energy is back up to its normal levels now. I got in today just to loosen up and then will begin my build-up in earnest tomorrow evening... with much modified goals for the season, of course. I will focus on backstroke and freestyle distance for the rest of the season. I'm going to keep doing fly and breaststroke in the workouts, but no longer plan to swim the 200 fly or breast at any of the remaining meets. I'll probably do the 200 IM at the next meet (3/2?) and 400 IM at state (end of March) for fun, if I feel good. Otherwise, I'm really just going to focus my workouts on 100-200 back and 1650 free.

    Here's what I did today just to try to gt my groove back after three days out of the pool:

    2400 SCY/50 mins...

    started with 2000-yard straight swim (really slow, focused on long, smooth strokes... took about 38:00) , done as so:

    100 fr EZ
    100 bk EZ
    200 fr
    200 bk
    300 fr
    300 bk
    400 fr
    400 bk

    1-2 min rest, then:

    6 x 50 fly on 1:10 (avg. :50, started at :51, finished around :48-:49)
    master's minute
    100 EZ fr cool-down
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  2. back in the pool...

    by , February 11th, 2014 at 06:44 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Got back in today after another 4-day hiatus. The legs felt really weak, especially on breast. My lungs were just not there either on the longer freestyle set, so I'm going to have to build back up slowly. Here's what I did:

    400 EZ mixed stroke warm-up (200 free, 100 bk, 100 br)
    8 x 50 on 1:00 in 4IMO (:47, :48, :51, :51, :56, :58, :45, :43 = 6:34... not great)
    1:00 rest
    4 x 50 on 1:00 in 2IMO (:47, :51, :58, :45? = 3:21... yuck!)
    1:00 rest
    4 x 150 freestyle on 3:00 (2:18, 2:18, 2:18, 2:16)*
    1:00 rest
    3 x 100 fr on 2:00 (asc 1:33-1:35)
    100 EZ back

    2000 SCY/45 minutes

    *This freestyle set I was just trying to see if I could fall into a consistent pace per 50 and stroke count per length. I did manage to be pretty consistent at :45-:46 per 50... stroke count started at 14-15 and increased to 16-17 per length. This is probably my current 1650 pace, it didn't feel that strenuous, but it was not the :42-:43/50 pace that I want to be holding for the full 1650. :40+ rest was what I needed today, but it's probably far too much for 1650 training, so that will come down and the # of reps will go up over the next few weeks. Hope to be strong enough to hold that longer stroke and lower stroke count at speed going forward.

    Updated February 11th, 2014 at 06:52 PM by mcnair

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  3. Perfect storm...

    by , February 9th, 2014 at 03:17 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Just as I was beginning to recover somewhat from the flu I caught a nasty stomach bug that knocked me flat on my back for about 24 hours. Friday Morning I had packed my bag and was looking forward to an afternoon swim at the Y on my way home from work. The swim bag never made it out of the car. I left work early Friday afternoon and went straight to bed, then bathroom, then bed, then bathroom, then bed, then... well, you get the idea. My stomach felt a little better by Saturday morning, but I could barely stand I was so weak. Spent most of the day going to the kitchen, trying to find something bland enough for my stomach to handle, and then crawling back upstairs to the bedroom to sleep it off. Rinse, repeat.

    Am out and about today... feel fairly normal, but I'm not swimming today and am spending the afternoon getting caught up on all the stuff I needed to get done Friday afternoon and yesterday. Sigh. This puts another big dent in my training. It just hasn't been my season so far!
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  4. Recovering slowly... counting strokes

    by , February 6th, 2014 at 07:18 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    I spent several days out with the flu last week and it's still taking me a while to get my strength back. I missed five whole days of swimming in a row... the first time that has happened in over three years. As I got back into the pool last weekend I made a conscious decision just to work on form for a while, knowing I would get frustrated by not swimming the times I was swimming when I left off training the week before. I focused on stroke count, rather than time. This has been a good thing, slowing down and doing a lot of drill... something I typically don't like to do, but know I should if my swimming is going to get to the next level.

    So I've spent this week working through all the TI drills for freestyle (and adapting some of them for backstroke). The balance thing and lengthening of stroke is starting to pay off (at least in terms of my stroke count). During a set of 20 x 25 free on :45 last Sunday, I was bringing them in right at :19-:20 with a stroke count of 12-13... pretty relaxed. My backstroke set was 9-10 underwater dolphins and 10-11 strokes to the wall in a slow :23-:24. I was doing 5-6 strokes on the fly set (probably :23-:24). So even though I was :02-:04 slower per rep i didn't feel so bad about it because I was really extending my stroke.

    My hope is that as my strength returns and I begin increasing the stroke rate again that my stroke length will have improved and I'll be swimming more efficiently. Last night Scotty and I did a pyramid workout. My strength was just not there, especially after fly, but, again, I didn't feel too bad about the effort because I could focus on stroke count. During the fly pyramid (25-50-75-100-100-75-50-25, all on :45/25 interval), I was able to bring my first length in at 5-6 full strokes and then hold 7 strokes after that. So the two 100s had total stroke counts of 27 (in 1:41) and 28 (in 1:39).

    I do feel like I'm running out of time to prepare for state (end of March) and I just don't have the yardage base that I have had the last couple of years by this time. I hope the work on efficiency can help compensate for some of that, but there's no getting around the fact that I need to be putting in the yards at pace if I'm going to reach my goals in the 400 IM, 200 back, and 1650 free. I don't feel ready to tackle 100s at pace for 1650 or 50s at 200 pace just yet, but I decided to do some 50s at 1650 pace... keeping track of my stroke counts. Tuesday I did 20 x 50 on 1:00; Today I did 30 x 50 on 1:00. Didn't feel too bad. Last year's pace was 1:31/100 for the 1650; this year I want to be around 1:25, so :42-:43 was the theme for my 50 repeats. The nice thing about doing 50s instead of 100s is that the form doesn't start to fall apart as badly. My stroke counts for the 50s were around 29-31 mostly (13-14 the first length, 15-17 on the second length). I'm guessing I should expect an average 16 strokes/length at pace... is that too many, too few? I don't know... I guess I need to see how the stroke holds up as I move to interval 100s.
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  5. 50s Face-Off Meet...

    by , January 26th, 2014 at 10:40 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Scotty and I made the trek down to Evanston, Illinois bright and early this morning for our "50s Face-off." Normally about a 45-minute drive, it was closer to an hour on mostly unplowed, snowy roads. At least the blowing snow held off until this evening, so travel conditions weren't too bad.

    Great venue for a meet (Swim-Swam rated it #8 in its "top-ten must visit sites for a swim meet"). There's a picture of it at the bottom of the Evanston Master's home page:

    http://www.evanstonmasters.com

    Scotty won the face off... darn it! I almost swam him to a draw, but on our final event, swimming right next to each other, I mis-timed my back finish and lost just enough momentum that he slid in and out touched me... if I had taken one more stroke I would have had it! Here were the times:

    50 Breast = :44.94 (seed :47)
    50 Fly = :38.08 (seed :40--first time breaking the 40-second barrier!)
    50 Free = :29.70 (seed :30.95--first time breaking the 30-second barrier!)*
    50 Back = :39.84 (seed :38)

    *I beat Scotty by .14 in the freestyle, which had him sweating because he didn't think he would take me in the backstroke... I usually beat him by a second or two in a 50, but like I said I goofed the finish and apparently didn't have any room for error... if only I had warmed up a little better before that event, or if only I had taken that extra stroke, or if only if I'd had more yardage in this winter so far and hadn't been fading as badly toward the end of my meets lately, or if only I'd had a few swigs of gatorade before the final heat... so many "if only-s"! Now I have to live with the shame... forever, Scotty assures me, because he will never swim a backstroke event again in his entire life.

    We did have a blast though, lots of good swimming. And... despite the fact that Scotty and I were the only two men to show up from WMAC (Wisconsin Masters Aquatic Club), we still scored enough points between the two of us to rank 11th out of 22 teams. Cue banana:
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  6. 50s at 200 pace: back and breast

    by , January 23rd, 2014 at 04:48 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Another 3000-yarder: Last night I did some more 50s at goal 200 pace. This time for back and breast. I managed to be around :45-:47 for the backstroke (as nearly as I could tell from where we were in the pool relative to the pace clock), which is a a couple of seconds faster than last week... but, of course, I hadn't tired myself out with a fly set right before it. I think I might follow this pattern next week too and up the reps to 14 per stroke. Here's what I did:

    WU (800)
    400 EZ
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00
    Master's minute

    MS (1400):
    12 x 50 BK on 1:10
    100 recovery
    12 x 50 BR on 1:10
    100 recovery

    CD (800)
    400 IM EZ (7:10)
    400 EZ

    Today Scotty and I got in over lunch and did the 80 x 25 workout one last time before tapering for Sunday morning's meet. My fly felt a lot better today... I was bringing some of the 25s in at :22 with 3-4 dolphins and 5-6 strokes, some of them came in :19-:20 with 3-4 dolphins and 7-8 strokes. The workout was 3500 total:

    WU:
    400 EZ free
    6 x 100 drill and/or stroke

    MS:
    20 x 25 fly on :45
    100 recover
    20 x 25 BK on :45
    100 recovery
    20 x 25 BR
    100 recovery
    20 x 25 fr on :30
    100 recovery

    CD: 100
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  7. 50s: fly and free on 200 (?) pace

    by , January 21st, 2014 at 05:29 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Last week I tried to do this workout mid-week (12x 50 on 1:10 for each stroke), but after the fly I was pretty much worthless and my times were awful. So this week's modification is that I'm spreading the workout over two days... fly and free sets today, bk and br tomorrow. Here's how I did:

    3000 SCY:

    WU (1000):
    400 fr, build on 7:00 (6:33)
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00 (low- to mid-1:40s)
    4 x 50 fr on 1:10 (hard, but in control, desc. :40-:38)

    MS (1400):
    12 x 50 fly on 1:10 (:45-:47; held mostly :46 in first half)*
    100 recovery
    12 x 50 fr on 1:00 (:37-:39)
    100 recovery

    CD (600)
    6 x 100 (drill, br, fr, bk, fr, br)

    *Last week I had a lot of :48s, even a :49 at the end. This week I never went slower than :47, probably half of the reps came in at :46. That puts my 200 fly, if i'm able to hold that pace, at 3:04-3:08, and 200 free at 2:28-2:36. I think I'm going to have to add more reps to the set and shorten the interval slightly, however, if I'm really going to get there.

    TOTALS YTD:
    Swimming: 30+ miles
    Rowing: 30.5 K
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  8. Me no likey sprint...

    by , January 20th, 2014 at 10:14 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Well, we're gearing up for next weekend's "all 50s" meet. Scotty and I are going to Evanston, IL for their masters meet (I need to sign up here in the next day or so).

    This last week has been a little tough for me, missed a couple of days. One was a planned rest day (last Tuesday--after 13 days straight in the pool). Another missed day was just a case of poor planning... I ran out of time and then at the end of the day decided to go to the neighborhood pub with my wife instead of to the YMCA. I figured, what the heck... long week, we had an hour and a half to kill while we waited for our youngest to get out of basketball practice, and I could make up the yardage on Saturday. Then Saturday rolled around and b/c I hadn't gone in on Friday I didn't see the notice that the YMCA pool would be closed for most of the day for an age-group meet. Dang. "OK, no problem... I can still get in a good 1.5-2 hours before they close on Saturday afternoon, and still have time to get my son to his 6PM b-ball game." As I headed out the door my wife asked if I would be back in time to get him to his 5:15 game in Racine... 5:15? I thought it was 6... oh man. By the time I helped the lifeguards clean up from the meet a little and could get into the pool I only had about 15 minutes to actually swim before I needed to hit the showers and head back out into the snow-slowed traffic. 800 yards, feeling really creaky.

    So I was headed into yesterday's 80 x 25 on :45 on a pretty low yardage week. At the end of the main sets we time-trialed some 50s to get a better idea about where our seed times should be. My 50 fly was about :39, the back, :37-:38, breast was around :45 and free was :31. Scotty is going to kill me in breast and fly. I just don't have any speed with the short axis stuff. I'll take him by about a second in the back, and our freestyle is going to be really close... so the most I can hope for in the 50s face-off is a draw... and, no, please don't add up the cumulative time over the four events!

    Today I did an interesting set with 75s. Here was the workout:

    Warm-up (1000):
    400 EZ (100 fr, 100 pull, 100 bk pull, 100 bk) on 9:00--this felt bad
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00--these were slow, really slow
    4 x 50 pull/fr on 1:00--yuck.
    1:00 rest--pondering whether I should even continue at this point...

    Main Set (2200):
    6 x 75 fly on 2:00 (1:10-1:12--goal 200 pace)
    100 recovery
    6 x 75 bk on 2:00 (1:13-1:14--goal 500 pace? these were terrible!)
    100 recovery
    6 x 75 br on 2:00 (1:23-1:25--actually faster than expected)
    100 recovery
    6 x 75 fr on 1:40 (1:00-1:02--probably a reflection of my 200 pace right now)
    100 recovery

    Cool-down (300):
    6 x 50 fr/pull on :55

    3500 SCY/70-75 minutes

    TOTALS YTD:
    Swimming: 28+ miles
    Rowing: 30.5 K
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  9. 4500 yards

    by , January 12th, 2014 at 09:52 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    We did the 80 x 25 workout today and I added some IM work afterward (moderate pace).

    Here's how it went down:

    WU (500):
    400 EZ on 7:00
    100 IM on 2:00

    MS1 (2500):
    20 x 25 BK on :45 (these were :19-:20 range)
    100 recovery
    20 x 25 FR on :45 (these were :15-:16, maybe a :14 in there)
    100 recovery
    **
    2 x 50 fr off the blocks (hard, the first one we didn't get a time on b/c of a stopwatch issue; the second one I brought in at 31.13, but didn't have much in the tank... so I'm guessing that first one was faster; darn you, stopwatch!)
    **
    20 x 25 FLY on :45 (was holding :20-:21 on these for the most part)
    100 recovery
    20 x 25 BR on :45 (working hard to hold :25)
    100 recovery

    MS2 (1500):
    1 x 400 IM on 8:00 (6:50)
    100 recovery
    2 x 200 IM on 4:00 (3:25s)
    100 recovery
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00 (these were slow and relaxed, trying to cool down)
    100 recovery/cool-down
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  10. Lackluster

    by , January 11th, 2014 at 05:21 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Yesterday I got in for a throw down challenge workout that Scotty texted me, but just didn't have the energy at the end of the day... I was swimming slower than I have swum in a couple of years; just not recovering as quickly from the hard workouts this week. Here was the set:

    6 x 500 on 10:00
    swum as...
    500 EZ warm-up
    500 back
    500 free
    500 breast
    500 free
    500 fly*

    *I was so worn out by this time that I decided to break up the fly into 5 x 100 on 2:00. Ran into Scotty today and he said when he did the workout (the one he proposed!) he felt too tired so left out fly altogether... I win. (Though his 500 times were a lot better on the rest). My EZ free warm-up actually felt quite hard even though it was slower than my usual warm-up pace. My third freestyle 500 was basically just a slow recovery swim. I was sore and ached all over.

    Today I did 20 minutes (4K) on the rowing machine and 20 minutes of stretching on the mat to try to loosen up... even the rowing feels hard now. I got into the pool and did 1700 in drill after that. Not very impressive. hopefully i'll be a little better recovered for tomorrow's 80 x 25 on :45 workout with the gang.

    YTD totals:
    Swimming = 16.75 miles
    Rowing = 23K

    Updated January 12th, 2014 at 01:05 PM by mcnair

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  11. Long day, but short swim...

    by , January 9th, 2014 at 11:32 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    I was pretty beat today by the time I got into the pool. Only did 2000 yards and a lot of it was drill. Not even my 18-minute, 4000-meter row and long stretch before hand could loosen me up enough to be very productive today. The hard 50s yesterday finally took it all out of me.

    YTD totals:
    Swimming = 14 miles
    Rowing = 19 K
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  12. Another 4000 yards...

    by , January 9th, 2014 at 07:31 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    Couldn't get in until late last night (around 7PM), but managed to slog through a 50s workout (200 pace). Had to move the interval back to 1:10 (from 1:00) on fly, bk, and br to maintain some semblance of form.

    WU (800):
    400 EZ on 8:00 (fr, pull, bk pull, bk by 100s)
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00 (1:40-1:45… this felt very stiff, especially on fly)

    MS (2400):
    4 x 50 fly on 1:00 (:46, :49, :50, :51+?)
    100 recovery
    4 x 50 fly on 1:10 (:46, then held :47s)
    100 recovery
    4 x 50 bk on 1:10 (:44-46)
    100 recovery
    4 x 50 bk on 1:10 (:47s)
    100 recovery
    4 x 50 br on 1:10 (:53-:56)
    100 recovery
    4 x 50 br on 1:10 (:54-:57)
    100 recovery
    4 x 50 fr on 1:00 (:37-:39)
    100 recovery
    4 x 50 fr on 1:00 (:38-:39)
    100 recovery

    CD (800)
    200 IM on 4:00 (w/ pull buoy… 3:42, I think)
    2 x 100 IM on 2:00 (mid 1:40s)
    400 EZ (pull, bk pull, bk, fr by 100s)

    No rowing or stretching today, too little time and probably too sore anyway.

    YTD totals:
    Swimming = 12.5+ miles
    Rowing = 15K
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  13. 200s just under threshold pace

    by , January 7th, 2014 at 07:37 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Today I did another 4000m row (18:15) as a warm-up to 20 minutes of deep stretching... felt great. I'm still really tight, but I know I just have to stick with it.

    In the pool I did 4000 SCY in 80 minutes. Here's what I did:

    WU (1000)
    400 EZ fr on 7:00
    4 x 100 IM on 1:50 (1:38-1:43)
    4 x 50 fr on :50 (:41-:43)
    1:00 rest

    MS (2750):
    4 x 200 bk (ea. 200 followed by 50 fr recovery) on 5:00 (3:26, 3:25, 3:33, 3:50)
    4 x 200 fr (ea. 200 followed by 50 bk recovery) on 4:30-5:00 (3:03, 3:01, 3:03, 3:09)
    4 x 50 fly on 1:00 (these were slow, low :50s), then 50 fr recovery
    2 x 200 br on 5:00 (50 bk recovery after each)

    CD (250):
    5 x 50 fr on 1:00 (focused on long, smooth strokes)

    This is a far cry from where I was even just a month and a half a go, where I could hold 3:20 and better on a set of 200 BK, going every 4:30 even with a recovery length. The freestyle is about the same, but either I've let the backstroke go over the last few weeks, or all my tinkering with the stroke has resulted in some net losses instead of gains. I'll see where I am on this set in a few weeks.

    YTD TOTALS:
    Rowing = 15 K
    Swimming = 10.5+ miles
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  14. Bitter cold; warm body

    by , January 6th, 2014 at 11:45 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    With temps hovering in the double-digit negatives and wind chills between -30 and -40 the schools have closed down today and tomorrow in Kenosha. The YMCA was warm, however, and so I treated myself to a nice long recovery workout. Started out with a low to moderate intensity row... 4000m in about 18:45. Then some flexibility and stability work on the mat... about 25-30 minutes. I felt super relaxed and warm at this point, even after the meet yesterday, almost no soreness whatsoever.

    I headed to the pool for a 3K workout (3300 SCY/66 mins). Again, just trying to stay relaxed, maybe work the cardio a bit. I felt pretty good. Here's what I did:

    WU (1000):
    400 EZ fr on 7:00
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00 (1:43, 1:41, 1:40, 1:39)
    4 x 50 fr on 1:00 (:43, :41, :39, :39)

    MS (1600):
    6 x 100 fr on 1:40 (1:21+, 1:23, 1:23, 1:25, 1:26, 1:27)
    1:00 rest
    6 x 100 bk on 2:00 (1:41, 1:41, 1:41, 1:42, 1:45, 1:47)
    8 x 50 recovery on 1:00 (fr, bk, fr, bk, fr, br, fr, br)

    CD (700):
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00 (1:43, ascending to 1:53)
    300 EZ (fr, bk, fr by 100s, working on reducing stroke count)

    I'd like to keep doing this workout as a recovery, maybe even increase slowly the number of reps I get in on the main set. Freestyle is actually pretty fast right now, but that backstroke is a little slower than I want... still, I was trying to stay aerobic and not go anaerobic or let the lactic acid build.

    Swimming YTD = 8+ miles*
    Rowing YTD = 11 K

    I'm still 0.65 miles behind my goal pace, but at least GTD is showing a little green on the progress bar now!
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  15. 100s meet

    by , January 5th, 2014 at 09:29 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    So... my all 100s meet was this morning... and the results are in. I'm way out of shape. And I don't like sprints. But at least I didn't have to do any 200s or long distance; a good thing, because I really am not in the kind of condition I was in at the end of the summer. The low volume workouts have taken their toll. I didn't taper at all for this meet (why taper when I'm still trying to up the daily yardage), so I shouldn't have expected too much, but I'm still a little disappointed that my fly and back times weren't faster.

    Here's how it went down:

    100 free = 1:11.5 (0:03.5 faster than my seed of 1:15)
    100 fly = 1:32 (also my seed time)
    100 IM = 1:28 (seed time was 1:29)
    100 back = 1:31 (seed time was 1:25... :06 off!)
    100 breast = 1:48 (seed time 1:50)

    So now I know where I am and where I need to go. The practice yardage has to go up so I can perform well on more than a couple of events per meet. And I'm going to do a lot of that yardage at aerobic pace working on technique to keep building the base, but I also see a lot of interval 200s, 100s and 50s in my near future. Backstroke and fly yardage have to go up if I'm going to bring my 200 times down.

    I think I was in my best shape a few months back when I was doing long sets of 50s at 200 pace. And 100s-200s at an aerobic pace with short intervals. Will have to go back to that.
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  16. EZ day

    by , January 3rd, 2014 at 04:34 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Today I did 3200 SCY in about 63 mins. Not trying to push it, just trying to loosen up.

    WU (1000):
    400 EZ (alt. free and pull 100s) on 7:30
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00 (desc. 1:46, 1:43, 1:40, 1:38)
    :30 r
    4 x 50 fly on 1:00 (:47, :48, :49, :50)
    1:00r

    MS (2000 straight):
    1 x 100 fr
    1 x 100 bk
    1 x 200 fr
    1 x 200 bk
    1 x 300 fr
    1 x 300 bk
    1 x 400 fr
    1 x 400 bk

    CD (200):
    100 fr
    100 br

    Also did another 3500m in rowing, but was a little slower today because working out on the cardio floor leaves you open to conversation with folks passing by… my focus wasn't as strong for a few hundred meters and it took me an extra minute or two (16:00 total). My 20-25-minute stretch afterward felt great.

    Swimming YTD = 4+ miles
    Rowing YTD = 7K
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  17. First swim of 2014; seed times for first meet

    by , January 2nd, 2014 at 07:58 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Today I did my first swim of the year and thought I would have a little bit more left in the tank, but ended up slogging through... yuck. Even though the Y was closed yesterday, the interval snow shoveling we've been doing to dig out of the New Year blizzard meant that I really didn't get a full day of rest. At least that's the excuse Scotty and I are using. I'll get to the workout in a moment, but I wanted to post my entry for the first meet of our SCY season--this Sunday in Oconomowoc at the Pabst Farms YMCA. I did this meet last year--my first SCY meet--and it was a lot of fun, so I've been looking forward to it. Here are my events:

    Event
    Number
    Gender Distance Stroke Time Date
    3 Male 100 SCY Free 1:15.00 01/05/2014
    6 Male 100 SCY Fly 1:32.00 01/05/2014
    8 Male 100 SCY IM 1:29.00 01/05/2014
    15 Male 100 SCY Back 1:25.91 01/05/2014
    16 Male 100 SCY Breast 1:50.00 01/05/2014

    I decided on 100s; Scotty is not going to be at this meet, so he wants the next one to be our "sprint" meet--I'll probably do all the 50s and the 200 IM for that one... we're looking at the end of January. I'm not a big fan of the shorter distance 50s and 100s, but since I HAVE to do a meet with all 50s in a few weeks, I thought I might as well get all the 100s out of the way now and be well on my way to completing the check-off challenge for 2014. Also, I don't have recent 100 times for a lot of these events in SCY, so I'm interested to see exactly where I am. The 1:15 seed time is what I swam last year at this same meet and that's the last official 100 free I have a time for. 1:32 fly seems about right, that's what I'm hitting on a good day from push in practice now, so it's a conservative time. My SCY times from last spring were way slower than that, so I didn't use any of those splits in determining my seed time for 100 fly. 100 IM and Back seeds are my fastest times from last spring. I'm hoping to be able to at least match them here at the start of the season, we'll see! My last 100 breast in an SCY meet was 1:37, but I've been having so much trouble with that stroke and it comes at the end of the meet... I'll see what I have left to give it, but my focus is going to be on just trying to maintain a legal stroke.

    BACKSTROKE OVERHAUL: My focus since the last meet (SCM champs in December), in addition to just trying to lay a base for the season, has been to work on backstroke technique. And I've been all kinds of sore in places that don't normally feel sore as a result. I'm anxious to see what my 100 back time is with my new stroke. After a year of steady progress, I'm a little bit worried that I've been tinkering too much and that the times might suffer as a result. The change I've made is this: instead of sweeping my hand/arm straight through upon entry (engaging mostly the lats and shoulders for a strong pull), I'm now dropping my elbow on entry and whipping the bent arm into a quick pushing motion. I know this is much more efficient and it's less stress on the neck and some portions of the shoulder, but I'm not sure if it's actually faster... I feel like I get a much better hold on the water and generate more force from my lats when I use the straight arm. My regular training partners at the Y are assuring me that more power is going to come from the push and follow through generated by dropping the elbow first. This weekend's 100 will be a big test of that theory. Everyone says my backstroke looks great now, but my practice times seem a little slower than they were late fall, so we'll see!

    Todays main set was a repeat of one that I completely rocked out at the end of November... I decided to do it again to gauge my fitness in comparison to 6 weeks ago. OK, so it's the beginning of the season and not every workout is going to be great... this is how I'm consoling myself.

    WU (1000):
    400 EZ (free, pull, bk pull, bk by 100s) on 8:00
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00 (1:42, 1:37, 1:37, 1:37)
    4 x 50 alt pull/fr on 1:00 (:43, :40, :43, :39)

    MS (2000)
    8 x 50 on 1:00--400 IMO
    100 recovery
    4 x 100 on 2:00--400 IMO
    100 recovery
    4 x 100 on 2:00--400 IMO
    100 recovery
    8 x 50 on 1:00--400 IMO
    100 recovery

    CD (1000)
    100 breast kick w/ board
    100 pull
    100 fr
    100 breast kick w/ board
    100 br
    100 bk pull
    400 bk

    4000 SCY/~90 minutes

    The 100s fly were in 1:36-1:39; 100s back 1:41-44, 100s breast in 1:57-1:58, 100s free were around 1:32-35... yuck! Compared to the times I was swimming on November 21st in this workout, this does not look good. At that point I was swimming back and free in the high 1:20s and fly in the low 1:30s. Maybe I was just having a bad day. It's a good thing I'm not swimming the 400IM on Sunday!

    Also did:
    3500-meter/15:00 row on the cardio floor*
    20 minutes stretching

    *In the last few weeks I have been trying to incorporate more core work (rowing machine is awesome.... thanks for the tip, Swimmer mag!) and a lot more stretching/yoga to counteract the tightnesses that have developed over the last couple of years of swimming. The stretching has been invigorating and I'm really enjoying the rowing too... it's great for glutes, quads, and all the stabilizers in the trunk as well as lats and shoulders. The first day I got on the machine to try it out I did 1500m in about 8.5 minutes, then upped it to 2000m in around 9-10 minutes the next couple of times, then I did 2500 in 12:00, 3000 in 13:00 the last couple of times I've rowed. Today I was watching my pace and was averaging under 2:10/500m for the first 12:00 or so and used the last three minutes as a cool-down and easily brought in the 3.5K row under 15:00.

    I'll try to use the Blog to keep a running tally of how much rowing I do...

    Rowing YTD: 3.5K

    Updated January 2nd, 2014 at 08:03 PM by mcnair

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  18. 2013 in review

    by , January 1st, 2014 at 04:35 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    529...

    The number of miles I completed this year, still top 20 in age group for GTD, but a little less than I did last year (546). The drop off in the fall put me 20+ miles behind my goal of 550 for the year, but there will always be 2014 to crack the 550 mark!

    One thing I can truly delight in as I look back over 2013 is that my swimming was much more diverse. In 2012, probably 90% of my yards were freestyle. Since December of 2012, my first ever swim meet, I have become a complete convert to swimming all the strokes efficiently and testing myself in all the pool events. Which means I COMPLETED the CHECK-OFF challenge, swimming almost all the events in meets this year (I logged more than 30 meet results this year). I did the 800 IM and 200 fly (only events I didn't swim in a meet) several times in practices/time-trials and plan to make the 200 fly one of my focus events this spring.

    NEW FAVORITES: while I still love the long-distance freestyle events, especially open water, I have to say that I have really grown to love the 200s and 400s... 200 back and fly, 200 and 400 IM. These events are super challenging... and as I'm headed to the blocks for the start my mind goes to horrible places and curses me for signing up my body to do them. But something kicks in at the gun... despite all the pain, the feeling of completing these events, especially with a personal best, is truly addicting. My 200 back time in SCM this December was faster than my best SCY time last spring, and I'm poised to break the 3:00-mark. My 200 fly has been hovering around 3:20 and I'd love to make a run at 3:00 in that event this year. My first 400 IM SCY in a meet was over 7:00, now I'm looking to break 6:30 this spring.

    DISTANCE: with all the focus on learning fly and improving back this last year, my freestyle hasn't suffered much. I saw my best improvements last spring and this summer. I dropped 12 minutes off my 2.4-mile OW time on the same course (Iron man, Madison) I had swum in 2011. The 1650 was a good event for me in SCY last spring and I'm hoping to see the pace get a little faster as I work toward state. I've even toyed with some longer distances in fly and back... did 500 fly early this fall, before my training slipped due to time constraints, and have been doing sets geared toward improving my mile time in the backstroke (4 x 200 on 4:00, 5 x 100 2:00, 5 x 50 on 1:00).

    BREASTSTROKE IS STILL EVIL! Despite big improvements in fly, back, and free, my breaststroke is still holding me back in the IMs. Lots of kick sets and stretching in the hip region has gotten me a little closer to a "normal" stroke. The front end of my breast stroke has improved a lot, but my turnover is still very slow. Scotty, my training partner, claims that I'm 90% there (having started off somewhere around 60%). The times just aren't coming down as quickly (if at all) as with the other strokes, so it's frustrating. I'll keep working on it!

    VEGANISM HAS STUCK: After almost six months my weight looks like it has finally stabilized in the mid-160s, about 12 lbs lighter than my monthly average over the last two years. I'm convinced that I'm finally eating and weighing what I should have been all along. Now I feel awful if I eat anything processed (even if it is technically vegan), but mostly am completely psyched about how great I feel the rest of the time! Feels good to be doing my part for the planet too!

    This is my first blog post in almost a month... one of the reasons it's so long. But with a new year and some new workouts to record, I'll have to use the blog to track my progress more in the coming months. This last week has seen some of my best swimming in a while. Today: a break from swimming. Tomorrow: the journey of a new year in the water begins.

    Happy New Year!
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  19. WI SCM state meet...

    by , December 8th, 2013 at 02:19 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Yesterday Scotty and I headed up to the State SCM meet in West Bend, WI. We have been planning our own face-off (his breast versus my back) for a while now, so anticipation was high... we knew our times were really close from practice, but we had no idea how our times were going to translate into SCM... and our previous meet times in SCY and LCM were already 6-10 months old. Scotty's wife and daughter even made a score board for us out of poster board... nice (see image below).

    We both did the 400 IM, event #2, not counting it in the cumulative time of the other three events, but just to make the meet more challenging. I put down a seed-time of 7:22 (I used the Swimming World conversion tool and an average of my most recent times in SCY)... and went 7:21. I was pretty happy about that, especially since it was only a few heats before my 200 Back swim and I was trying to stay as relaxed as possible, but not completely sand-bag it.

    As it turns out, doing a hard 4!M always warms me up. I did a 200 recovery in the warm-up lane and then got back in line for the 200 back. This time I was in the final heat, so I even had plenty of time to catch my breath... was even a little worried about being too cool. At the LCM meet in June I did the 400 IM (only heat) and 200 Back (first heat) and only had a few heats of 100 fly between them to recover... by comparison, today's rest seemed like an eternity.

    I put down a seed time of 3:29, based on my previous meet times, but knew this was extremely conservative. My 200 back has been something of a focus for me of late, toying with the low 3:00s. Even as I have been forced to curtail my swimming because of time constraints lately, I have not slacked on my backstroke endurance sets and a little bit of technique work. It paid off. I swam 3:14! (which when I went back and converted the time to SCY from SCM gives me a 2:55 estimate). I couldn't be more ecstatic about that performance. It had Scotty very worried.

    Another 200 recovery swim and a short wait for the 50. Scotty, in the meantime swam his 100 breast and brought it in at 1:30+. He was hoping for something closer to the mid 1:20s (his seed was 1:29). At this point I was pretty excited (and he was even more worried), because my first 100 split of the 200 was only a couple of seconds off of his 100 time. I thought I had an opportunity to pick up some more time on him and put this thing out of reach. Then I swam my 50. And despite swimming it pretty fast (I thought) my time at :43.5 was more than a second slower than my seed (:42). I really thought I would have been closer to :42, knowing Scotty was going to take back a couple of seconds on this event... as it turned out, he picked up 4 seconds on me because he came in a in 39.5.

    So; it would come down to the last two events. Could he swim the 200 breast close enough to my time that his dominance in the 50 could erase the time I put on him with my surprise PB performance in the 200? Or could I crush his 100 time and take back some of the time I lost on the 50?

    I swam the 100 first, and this has been one of my best meet events in the past... I've taken my age group in the 100 at two straight state meets and my 100 split for the 200 was faster than I had been swimming the 100 in either of those two meets. Things looked good. But, alas, I think my wait for the event was too long and my warm-up swim for it too short. I had decent starts and turns, swam as fast as I could... but finished in 1:33+. My seed time was 1:34, but I thought, as with the 200, that I would be able to crush it. But it was not to be, I lost another three seconds to Scotty. Perhaps I had spent all my backstroke energy on that 3:14 performance. So Scotty only needed to be within 7 seconds of my 200 time to take the face-off. He was within 2.5 seconds.

    Our wager was that the winner gets to choose the loser's events for the next meet. Scotty is breathing a sigh of relief that he doesn't have to do all the 200s! But now I have to do sprints!?! Ugh.

    Here's the scoreboard:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Anyway... it was a great time and even if I didn't swim the 50 and 100 as fast as I wanted to, I was really proud to have made so much improvement in the 200 back. I beat all my seed times, except the 50.
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  20. Short 4IM workout

    by , November 21st, 2013 at 05:40 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Last night I went to the master's workout at Carthage college and did 3200, mostly freestyle. It felt so much harder and my times were slow... mostly because I was still recovering from the 4000-yard, heavy backstroke, workout from Tuesday.

    Today I felt a little better on freestyle during a short (2550 SCY) workout focusing on pace for 4IM. Scotty and I got together at the YMCA for a quick luncth-time workout and here's what we did (my times in parenthesis):

    WU (500):
    200 fr/pull
    200 pull/bk
    100 br

    MS (2000):
    8 x 50 in 4IMO on 1:00 (:44, :48, :43, :43, :57, :58, :43, :40+ = 6:16?!)
    100 recovery
    4 x 100 in 4IMO on 2:00 (1:35, 1:31, 1:55, 1:28 = 6:29)
    100 recovery
    4 x 100 in 4IMO on 2:00 (1:37, 1:29, 1:58, 1:29 = 6:33)
    100 recovery
    8 x 50 in 4IMO on 1:00 (:45, :47, :45, :45, :58, 1:00, :45, :43 = 6:28)
    100 recovery

    CD: 50 and shower

    Recoveries were swam as freestyle with pull buoy. Obviously everything has gotten a little better, more consistent, with the exception of breast... argh! Curse you evilstroke!
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