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Alex's swim journal

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

  1. 200s just under threshold pace

    by , January 7th, 2014 at 08:37 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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  2. Bitter cold; warm body

    by , January 7th, 2014 at 12:45 AM (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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  3. 100s meet

    by , January 5th, 2014 at 10:29 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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  4. EZ day

    by , January 3rd, 2014 at 05:34 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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  5. First swim of 2014; seed times for first meet

    by , January 2nd, 2014 at 08:58 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 09:03 PM by mcnair

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  6. 2013 in review

    by , January 1st, 2014 at 05:35 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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  7. WI SCM state meet...

    by , December 8th, 2013 at 03:19 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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  8. Short 4IM workout

    by , November 21st, 2013 at 06:40 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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  9. Aerobic backstroke set

    by , November 20th, 2013 at 12:29 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    Did over 2000 in backstroke tonight; and am signing up as we speak for the SCM state meet in which I'll do 4IM, 50-100-200 BK. So I figured it would be good to put in a lot of back work, something I haven't focused on since Saturday. I also wanted to be in the moderate pace, but short rest, aerobic zone... I really didn't feel the lactic acid building up too badly, which surprised me and means my paces are getting better. Here's what I did:

    WU (1000):
    400 fr/pull (alt. by 200s)
    400 bk/pull (alt. by 200s)
    4 x 50 fly on 1:00 (:49s)
    1:00 rest

    MS1 (1000):
    4 x thru
    200 BK + 50 pull recovery on 4:30 (desc. the bk... 3:20, 3:18, 3:14, 3:11)
    straight into...

    MS2 (1000):
    5 x 100 BK on 2:00 (1:32-1:37), then straight into...
    5 x thru
    50 fr recovery + 50 BK on 2:00 (BK were :44-:46; mostly :44-:45)

    CD (1000):
    200 fr recovery
    100 BK pull, EZ
    4 x 50 fly on 1:00 (:48-:49)
    200 fr recovery
    200 six kick and switch drill, fr and bk
    100 EZ and out

    4000 SCY/82 mins
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  10. 4500 yards

    by , November 17th, 2013 at 09:51 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Scotty and I did the 80 x 25 on :45 workout again... I wasn't swimming as fast today because of yesterday's 4000, so was just happy to get through it and have a good bit of up-tempo swimming. We modified it going in, swimming a 200 recovery between strokes and then dropping the interval to :30 for the freestyle 25s, to get it done with.

    WU (1100):
    200 fr/pull
    200 bk/pull
    200 br
    100 fr
    100 bk
    4 x 50 bk/fr drill
    100 IM (1:37)

    MS (2700)
    20 x 25 fly on :45
    200 recovery
    20 x 25 bk on :45
    100 recovery (bathroom break)
    20 x 25 br on :45
    200 recovery
    20 x 25 fr on :30
    200 recovery

    400 IM off the blocks (6:38-:39)

    CD: 300 EZ swimming

    4500 SCY total.

    The 400 IM off the blocks was not as good as the one I did a couple of weeks ago, but I was pretty beat from going 4000+ two days in a row.

    Going to sign up for the meet sometime this week... need to do conversions form SCY to figure out what my SCM seed times should be.
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  11. Back on the blog...

    by , November 16th, 2013 at 09:16 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Wow, it's been a month since I've had a chance to blog any of my workouts. Things have been so busy that I've had barely enough time to get in the workouts, much less sit down to write about them. My goals have changed a lot since I last wrote... basically, just being realistic about what I can get done as I go through a particularly stressful and busy stretch with work and home.

    Work has been nuts; taking on the extra class this fall for adjunct pay is only making a slight dent in the income lost from budget cuts and the fact that one of my summer school classes didn't meet minimum enrollment and was cancelled (more time to swim in July and August, but tough to make bills in September). Haven't had to take on a part time job outside of school yet, but that may be coming here pretty soon. I'm also going back out on the academic job market for the first time in 14 years, see if I can land a job at a university that is not projected to be broke in the next two years. But making applications has been a huge drain on my time in the last month. Hope it comes to something.

    This is Anthony's last year at home and so we have been trying to enjoy him and help him with all the college application stuff... while catching as many of his activities. I think it's somewhat weird that he and I are both applying to colleges, though in different capacities, at the same time. He finished up a busy cross country season at the end of October and we are super proud of him. He finally earned his varsity letter and was even one of the captains of the team. The team banquet was last Thursday night and the coaches had such nice things to say about him. And if taking the ACT, a full load of advanced classes, running XC, and trying to finish up his college applications isn't enough... he also finished his eagle scout service project and is turning in the paperwork for that. He'll be our second eagle scout in the family, which is pretty cool, but getting the project done was crazy... and although Anthony got lots of volunteers to help him out, for his mother and me it was still like having an additional part-time job on the weekends for about 3-4 weeks there in September and October.

    The swimming has been sporadic. Where I averaged 6-7 swims a week for most of the year, the last month I have only gotten in 4-5 per week. GTD is not happy with me. I'm now 10 miles behind my goal pace. At 472 miles, though, I still feel pretty good about the year... and though I may not reach 550 (who knows? I could pull a comeback) I will certainly get to 500 for the second straight year. And the rest might be doing me good now anyway...

    A couple of Sundays ago I swam a 400 IM of the blocks at the end of a really hard workout (80 x 25, 20 of each stroke) with Scotty. I PR'd by 9 seconds with a 6:33. And my backstroke is getting a lot better... when I have gotten in, I've been focusing my workouts around improving technique and endurance for backstroke (with sets like 10 x 100 on 2:00) and I think its starting to pay off in my 200 times. Today's workout was a repeat of one I did last Sunday, but the backstroke 200s were 5-10 seconds faster:

    WU (1000):
    200 fr/pull
    200 bk/pull
    200 br
    4 x 50 fly on 1:00 (:48-:49)
    4 x 50 drill bk and fr
    1:00 rest

    MS (2000/35:00)
    4 x
    200 bk + 50 fr pull recovery on 4:30 (BKs = 3:18, 3:19, 3:19, 3:20)
    4 x
    200 fr + 50 bk pull recovery on 4:15 (FRs = 3:03, 3:03, 3:07, 3:06)

    CD (1000)
    4 x 50 drill, bk/fr
    4 x 50 fly on 1:00 (:49s)
    200 bk
    200 br
    200 fr pull

    I've been doing a lot of moderate paced, short interval, mid-distance stuff lately... mostly because that's my comfort zone... training at the 500-1500 paces. What I'm happy about is the fact that I'm doing these workouts now with backstroke; which means my endurance in that stroke is getting a lot better, even as my body gets a break from the really hard, fast 50 repeats I had been doing to improve my 200 times. I'm definitely in striking distance of 3:00 for 200 back (I time-trialed a 3:09 way back at the beginning of September and I feel much stronger now).

    I was going to do an SCM meet in Illinois the first weekend in November, but I also had a conference that weekend in Milwaukee, so I thought it would be best just to save my energy. Our plan is to head up to the SCM state meet for WI at the beginning of December. 1500 is already closed (they're only taking 12 swimmers I think), but that's OK, because Scotty and I have concocted a little competition to make things interesting. My back versus his breast; we'll each swim the 50, 100, and 200 for our respective strokes and add up the times (and they should be pretty close, we often swim head-to-head br v bk in practice to make things interesting. The 400 IM will be handicapped somehow b/c we're about :30 apart on that event... I'm thinking add only our improvement from 400 IM at the LCM state meet. So, I could still win if he beats me by :30, but I swim :10 faster than my previous time and he only swims :09 faster. We'll see, we're just trying to keep it fresh and keep pushing.
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  12. Set of 50s fly... improving.

    by , October 13th, 2013 at 06:33 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Missed yesterday and Friday with the craziness of my schedule, but got in today at noon to make up for lost time. As it turns out, these extra rest days are probably helping me. Here's what I did today:

    WU (800):
    500 EZ free, 8:20
    200 BK, 3:45
    100 IM, 1:34

    MS1 (800/1600):
    12 x 50 fly on 1:10 (:45-:49)--last time I swam this set I couldn't keep all the reps under :50.
    200 fly, EZ (stopped briefly at the 150 mark to catch my breath)

    MS2 (1400/3000):
    500 BK on 10:00
    500 BR on 10:00
    400 EZ fr recovery

    MS3 (1000):
    1 x 400 IM on 8:00 (7:09)
    2 x 200 IM on 4:00 (mid 3:30s)
    2 x 100 IM on 2:00 (slow!)

    CD (200):
    4 x 50 drill

    4200 total SCY (1000+ as fly!)

    Still ahead of my GTD goal pace (barely), but I probably shouldn't be missing so many days.
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  13. 500 fly?!

    by , October 10th, 2013 at 08:39 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    It's been a week since I've written here... way too busy. I actually missed swims on Thursday and Friday last week. Not the worst thing in the world as I probably need a rest anyway; it's the first time in more than three months that I've missed more than one day in a row. Saturday and Sunday were rushed workouts and I have been doing fewer yards even when I am able to get in since then. I figured I better record some of the key sets here before I forget completely. Here goes:

    Saturday: 2000, mostly easy swimming, some drill.

    Sunday: I'm calling this workout the "time warp" b/c half-way through the 4IM in the ladder set, some doofus reset the pace clock... then it was reset again a few minutes later; what was the purpose of this except to make me feel like I'd either lost :20 or gained :40?... where is Dr. Who when you need him? I have no idea what my pace was. Main set looked like this:

    4 x 50 fly on 1:00
    100 recovery
    8 x 50 on 1:00 (400 IMO)
    100 recovery
    1 x 400 IM on 8:00
    2 x 200 IM on 4:00
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00

    With warm-up and cool-down I did 3100 total.

    Monday: Master's practice at Carthage. Another 3100.

    WU (1000): 400 swim, 300 pull, 200 kick, 100 IM
    MS:
    5 x 100 on 1:45
    1 x 100 on 1:30
    4 x 100 on 1:45
    1 x 100 on 1:30
    3 x 100 on 1:45
    1 x 100 on 1:30
    2 x 100 on 1:45
    1 x 100 on 1:30
    100 EZ
    CD: 200

    Still working on the stroke (cross-over) and it probably looked worse today than most days because of the 80-lb bags of cement-mix I was slinging around on Sunday for Anthony's Eagle Scout service project. I was incredibly stiff and so I kept it mostly freestyle, a little bit of backstroke, and needed to take extra rests now and again.

    Tuesday: 2100 at the YMCA at 8:15 PM. This was quick because I was fighting the clock right before closing time. I was able to get my heart rate up and keep it up for the full 45 minutes though:

    400 EZ swim (100 fr, 100 bk, 100 fr, 100 br)
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00
    4 x 50 fr on :55
    4 x 50 fly on 1:00 (:48, :49, :49, :50)
    100 recovery
    4 x 50 fly on 1:00 (:49, :49, :50, :51)
    100 recovery
    4 x 100 IM on 1:55
    100 cool-down

    Yesterday: Master's practice again at Carthage. Lots of drill, 3200 total. Got to see video of my freestyle at the end of practice. Cross-over is not nearly as exaggerated as it was a week ago, but it's still there and I need to keep working on it. Meanwhile, I'm working the muscles in the shoulder differently so I'm having all kinds of new sorenesses. My freestyle isn't getting faster just yet, but it is straightening out, which I know will help me get faster in the long run. Back stroke feels a lot more fluid.

    TODAY: felt pretty crappy, but met Scotty for a workout anyway... I ended up doing 1000 in fly or fly drill in a 3000-yard workout, because it's been a while since I've focused exclusively on that stroke. I really want to swim the 200 fly in one of our November or December meets in the area. Unfortunately these are SCM meets and I train exclusively in SCY this time of year. So I thought, OK, lets do a 225 fly... just to get the feel for a little extra distance. Scotty was up for it; we were both reluctant though. I said, look, let's just relax and stroke it out... just get through it. I got to 225 and yelled "250"; I had started to get into a rhythm and felt good. At 250 I turned and decided to make it 300, then 350, when I got to 400 I thought it would be a shame not to go for 500. I stopped at 500 and still had a little left in the tank... unbelievable. My pace dropped off a lot after the first 150-200 (I swam the 500 in 9:30), but I felt pretty good otherwise. On the plus side Scotty and Jen, the lifeguard, said my arms looked great. On the negative, they mentioned I had a lot of flutters (only on the first kick), probably because I was paying too much attention to the front end of the stroke... darn it, it's always something! They gave me a 90%. So, it's 500 "sort-of" fly.
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  14. Wednesday night practice...

    by , October 3rd, 2013 at 02:08 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Stopped by Carthage College again last night after work (and hope I'm able to keep going Monday and Wednesday nights, if nothing else it helps to push me out of the office by 6:30PM). Anyway, here's what we did:

    WU (1000):
    400 swim (I did a lot of drill here)
    300 pull w/ buoy
    200 kick (I did a little on each stroke)
    100 IM (went low 1:40s, not that great)

    MS (1800):
    10 x 100 on 2:00
    --odds free, evens IM; I held 1:24-1:25 on the fr and 1:39-1:40 on the IMs.
    4 x 200 on 3:30
    --odds stroke, evens free; on these I was going on more like a 4-5:00 interval because Jackie would stop me between reps to coach me a bit. I did 200 back (about 3:25), my freestyle 200s were in 3:10-range (really slow, but I could feel the fatigue at this point and was also trying, somewhat unsuccessfully to keep that left arm form crossing over), my final stroke 200 was 100 fly/100 back (first half of the 4IM)... and I got lots of pointers on the fly afterward from Jeff and Jackie (Jackie said the back has actually improved a lot and looks good, but I think she might have described my fly as "gawd awful"... I was hoping for aweSOME not awFUL, but oh well, lot's to work on... they actually know I've only just learned fly this year, and were just giving me a hard time, which I need sometimes to motivate me).

    CD (200): Some fly drill and then 100 pull w/ buoy.
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  15. 3K workout at the Y

    by , October 2nd, 2013 at 02:44 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    Today I got in a quick swim at the YMCA on the way into work and did some drills to work on the cross-over issue; then a set of fly, even some breast and back work. Here's what I did:

    Warm-up (1000):
    100 six-kick and switch (50 fr/50 bk)
    3 x thru:
    --200 pull w/ buoy (focus on wider hand entry)
    --100 six-kick and switch drill (as above)

    MS (1000/2000):
    4 x 50 fly on 1:00 (:48, :50, :51, :53)
    100 back recovery
    4 x 50 fly on 1:00 (:50, :51, :51, :53)
    100 back recovery
    4 x 50 fly on 1:00 (:51, :52, :53, :54)
    100 pull recovery
    100 six-kick and switch

    MS2-CD (1300/3300):
    500 breast (around 10:30)
    100 six-kick and switch
    200 back (3:40)
    100 pull
    200 back (4:00)
    100 pull
    100 six-kick and switch

    These workouts are taking a little longer (this one was probably 75 minutes instead of the usual hour for 3K), because of all the drill involved, but I'm pretty sure this is going to help me bring my times down a lot more in the long run. Not happy about the fly times, but one thing I noticed already is that when I'm doing fly I tend to bring my hands in too close... this is not good in fly and the fact that I was doing it was probably also affecting my tendency to cross-over on free and back. It's as if my shoulders and arms are looking for streamline on every stroke (as in breast). Lot's to work on!
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  16. My first organized swim practice...

    by , October 1st, 2013 at 12:45 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    So, at the suggestion of one of my YMCA swim mates, Scott, I went over to Carthage College across town and joined an actual organized swim practice. They're trying to get a masters swim program started there for the first time in a few years if I understand it correctly. They have a beautiful swim facility, tons of lanes when set up as SCY.

    Jackie coached us tonight, took a look at my stroke during warm-up and diagnosed my left arm crossover pretty quickly, and said I had a tendency to cross over with the other arm a bit too. She had me do a bunch of body position drills front and back in the warm-up until straightening out my arms didn't seem so awkward. Even so I swam some of the sets as drill too... six kick and turn body position drill (front and back) and even the dreaded tarzan-drill; this is how desperate the situation has gotten apparently with persistent cross-over. In any event, by the end of the practice I was swimming back stroke without crossing over and coach said it looked great. Front crawl is going to take some time, just because I've got so many more yards in on that stroke and breaking the habit is going to be a little tougher.

    Anyway, here's what we did, well, what I did... the team had a 1000-yard warm-up and I only did 600 to focus on drill, so I did 3600 of the 4000-yard workout:

    WU (700):
    3 x 100 (fr/bk/fr)
    100 IM
    200 in additional drills

    MS1 (1700/2300):
    --4 x 50 stroke drill (did back six-kick and turn)
    --10 x 50 fr on :45 (held :40, but she had me going on 1:00 every third or fourth rep)
    --5 x 100 on 1:40 (the first couple she had me do as drill, then I held 1:27-1:30)
    --500 timed (came in 7:55, which is closer to this summer's 3-5K pace, but faster than 500s I was swimming this time last year)

    MS2 (600/2900):
    --4 x 50 fr on :45 (:39-:43)
    --2 x 100 fr on 1:40 (1:30ish)
    --1 x 200 (3:07... this did not feel good)

    MS3-CD (700/3600):
    --4 x 50 stroke drill (did 2 back and 2 tarzan)
    --2 x 100 stroke (did bk and came in a little under 1:45)
    --300 EZ
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  17. 4400 SCY

    by , September 29th, 2013 at 06:29 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Today's workout felt a lot better... I finally loosened up at some point during the fly set. Rather than try to do sets on all the strokes hard today, Scotty and I focused on our primary strokes/events (fly and bk for me, fly and br for him); so when I swam the back set we were neck and neck because he was swimming breast. It was a pretty brutal main set though, especially after the week I've had.

    Warm-up (1000):
    5 x thru
    --100 fr
    --50 bk
    --50 br

    MS1 (1200):
    --1 x 200 fly on 4:40 (3:29)
    --100 recovery
    --2 x 100 fly on 2:20 (1:40, 1:44--yuck)
    --100 recovery
    --4 x 50 fly on 1:10 (:46, :47, :47, :47--I was ecstatic about this pace)
    --100 recovery
    --8 x 25 fly on :35 (these were all around :25... not so great, but just trying to power through at this point)
    --100 recovery

    MS2 (1200):
    --1 x 200 bk on 4:40 (3:20)
    --100 pull recovery
    --2 x 100 bk on 2:20 (1:36-1:38)
    --100 pull recovery
    --4 x 50 on 1:10 (:46-:49)
    --100 pull recovery
    --8 x 25 on :35 (all around :25 again)
    --100 recovery

    Cool-Down (1000):
    master's minute
    --100 EZ
    --500 breast, slow but working on streamline, trying to get as much distance out of each stroke (this was more relaxing than I thought it would be).
    --100 pull
    --50 fly (relaxed, 6-7 strokes per length)
    --100 pull
    --50 fly (again, very relaxed)
    --100 pull

    TOTAL: 4400 SCY/~100-110 mins

    COMMENTARY:

    The point of the 200 fly and back was not to swim all out, but to try to maintain form while swimming moderately hard... be about :10 off best time, which is exactly where I ended up. The 100s would be about the same pace... though obviously less relaxed, because the body was really feeling it... nonetheless, the rest at the 100 mark made it easier to maintain form in this 200-yard segment. I was hoping to do the 50s in goal pace and that's what I did (to my surprise, holding :47s on fly)... at least on fly, the back was a little shaky, but I could feel the fatigue setting in at that point. The 25s felt a little slow, but again, I felt like I just needed to maintain form on these.

    The recoveries and the free in the cool-down were all pull w/ buoy to give my legs a bit of a break and to help me to focus on rotation and some other things on the front end of my freestyle. The 500 breast was really just to help me stretch it out a bit on that stroke, nothing hard because I'm not going to do a 200 breast anytime soon... focusing on 200 fly and back... but I still want to put in some time on form with breast to help my 400 IM.

    All in all, I did 750 in moderate to slow breast today, 900 in decent fly, 1050 in back.
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  18. Busy week, tired body...

    by , September 29th, 2013 at 12:59 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    Haven't had a chance to check in on the blog much this week. Most of my swims have been very short with a lot of drill. My body has just felt worn out this week. I did 2000 Wednesday evening around 8PM, 1200 on Friday morning early, and 2300 today. Today's swim was at the Elmhurst, Illinois YMCA, I had my swim kit in the car and decided to stop in after finishing up with a conference at the college. I figured I wouldn't get back to Kenosha in time to get over to the Y. It felt good to swim, but I was watching the pace clock and I was really slow.

    The big workout for me toward the end of the week was a 4500-yard stroke fest on Thursday. Scotty did this one with me, so we were able to push each other, but I was a lot more tired after this one than I was after Tuesday. Tuesday's hard 50s free BTW left my lats really sore. It took me a thousand yards into Thursday's workout before I could shake off even just a little of the stiffness. Here's what I did:

    WU (1000):
    400 EZ swim pull/free
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00
    4 x 50 fr on 1:00

    MS (3200):
    3 x 100 fly on 2:20 (1:39, 1:42, 1:44)
    100 recovery
    6 x 50 fly on 1:10 (all :49s)
    100 recovery
    3 x 100 bk on 2:20 (can't remember what these times were, maybe around 1:40... not very fast)
    100 recovery
    6 x 50 bk on 1:10 (:43, then :45s, last one in :46)
    100 recovery
    3 x 100 br on 2:20 (1:45-1:55?)
    100 recovery
    6 x 50 br on 1:10 (mid :50s)
    100 recovery
    3 x 100 free on 2:00 (1:25, 1:27, 1:28)
    100 recovery
    6 x 50 fr on 1:00 (low :40s)
    100 recovery

    CD (300): 100 pull, 100 fr, 100 bk

    TOTAL: 4500 SCY/110 minutes

    Looks like my weight has finally stabilized in the mid 160s after two and a half months of eating completely vegan. I've been taking a multi-vitamin, but I picked up a multi-vitamin today with a little extra B-6 and B-12, just in case there is any deficiency there. I know that the average person can get more than enough protein from the vegan diet, but am wondering if some of my fatigue isn't due to the fact that my protein requirement might be higher than the average person. I have been trying to time my protein for maximum recovery too... so I take a plant-based protein supplement after my really hard workouts. I'm eating more tofu and almost an avocado a day--along with the normal regimen of legumes, nuts, and high-protein whole grains--to try to keep the protein intake high. And this week I scaled back a lot on the strength training. I don't know. I might have to take a protein supplement every day, instead of just after the tough workouts. I'm also burning the candle at both ends at work. Hoping I'll bounce back some tomorrow morning.
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  19. 50s set improving...

    by , September 24th, 2013 at 05:45 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    I was supposed to do a recovery swim yesterday, but didn't leave the office until 8PM and thought I might be better off just adding a day of complete rest after the time trials on Sunday. So yesterday was a scratch and I felt like today needed to be extra difficult. I'm continuing the 50s sets la Rushall this week, but ramping up the number of reps slowly. Last week I did 10 x 50 on each stroke at 200 race-pace on Tuesday and Thursday, with some improvements already by Thursday's session. Today I decided to move up to 12 x 50 at 200 race-pace. Here's how the workout went:

    WU (950):
    400 EZ (alternated 100s fr/pull)
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00 (these felt really slow, but I was also trying to stretch out my stroke)
    3 x 50 on 1:00 (:40-:42)

    MS (3150):
    --12 x 50 fly on 1:10 (mostly :48s in the first half, :49s in the last half; one :50, so I skipped rep 11= 11 x 50 at race pace... last week I only made 9 on target!)
    --200 recovery (mixed bk and fr)
    --12 x 50 bk on 1:10 (started out with :45s, mostly :46-:47, one :48 in the last half, but I never saw :49, so I made all 12)
    --200 recovery
    --12 x 50 br on 1:10 (the first three were right at :50, then I gradually dropped back to a :55 pace... I was hurting toward the end of the set and dropped back to :56 in my last two reps, but went ahead and did them... my turnover has gotten quicker, but my stroke length hasn't gotten any better, so only slight improvements in time for all the extra effort.. my stroke count when I was hitting :53 was 15 per length, when I dropped back to 11-13 I was hitting :55... I still HATE br!
    --200 recovery
    --12 x 50 fr on 1:00 (:36-:38, there may have been a :39 or two in there, but I started and ended at :36, so my avg. was right at :37-:38 pace... 2:28-2:32 for a 200 fr, which is my goal at this point. I'm especially happy with this set given how late it came in the workout! Big improvement over last Tuesday)
    --200 recovery

    CD (400):
    8 x 50 in 400 IMO on 1:00

    TOTAL: 4500 SCY

    Scotty and I were talking afterward and I really think that adding two reps to the set for each stroke every week, it will only be abut a month before we're doing the workout as 20 x 50 on 1:10... at which point, we'll start bringing the rest interval down; maybe to 1:05 for the strokes and :55 for free.
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  20. 200s Time Trial

    by , September 22nd, 2013 at 04:08 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    After a hard week and a couple of recovery days, Scotty and I figured it was a good time to time-trial some 200s to get a benchmark. Friday I was still pretty stiff from the Thursday set of 50s and the strength training in the weightroom so I only did 2000 in drills. Saturday I went in to get another recovery workout in... didn't want to swim too hard, so I could save it for today's time trials, but I did want to get in a little bit of up-tempo work. Here's what I did:

    400 EZ swim
    4 x 100 IM
    4 x 50 fr fr
    8 x 50 on 1:00 in 4IMO (:45, :48, :50, :50, :53, :53, :46, :44)
    200 recovery
    8 x 50 on 1:00 in 4IMO (:46, :48, :47, :47, :53, :54, :45, :43)
    200 recovery

    I wasn't too disappointed with this effort, wasn't pushing 100%...felt more like I was at 85%. The 400 IMs were both under 6:30 when you add up the times... so it was good pace work for me; a bit of a confidence builder going in to today. After two days without doing any weights, I hoped to be recharged enough to put in some good times. Here's what I did today:

    400 EZ swim (alternated 100s, fr and pull)
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00 (not blazing at all swam thee in mid 1:40s; last one in 1:39-40)
    4 x 50 fr on 1:00 (:37-:43)
    Master's minute

    200 FLY (off the blocks, 3:22)
    200 recovery
    200 BACK (off the blocks, 3:08)
    200 recovery
    200 IM (off the blocks, 3:13)
    200 recovery

    200 pull
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00
    200 pull

    I was a little disappointed in the 200 fly (I swam 3:21 from push at the beginning of August), but given that this was done without any sort of taper and after some hard drylands over the last few weeks, I'm not entirely displeased. I tried to relax as much as possible, I felt a little slow, but at least now I know what my target pace in practice should be now.

    I was much happier with the 200 bk... I started losing steam in the last couple of lengths, but my average pace of :47 was right where I thought it would be... hoped it would be, honestly. I can work to improve that over the next few weeks too.

    For the final time trial I did 200 IM while Scotty did 200 breast. His breast was on fire today and I couldn't keep up. Still, I matched my 200 IM personal best from last spring.

    Now that I have a benchmark, we'll see if I can keep up the pace work in practice and retest again in about three weeks.

    Got into the weight room afterward, but only had twenty minutes, so I did one set of everything instead of three... probably needed a "step-down" session anyway.
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