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Alex's swim journal

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

  1. 10 x 200 IM

    by , September 16th, 2013 at 08:43 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    After two days of drill and recovery swimming (Friday and Saturday) in which I only logged 4500 total yards; I was anxious to get in something a little harder on Sunday, but not too hard.... my body doesn't feel ready yet. Scotty and I chose a set we had done last Spring: 10 x 200 IM on 5:00. I forgot to check what times I was swimming these in the last time we did it, so I had no idea what to expect or if there would be any improvement evident. As it turns out, I was bringing in the 200 IMs in 3:25-3:30 in April, so my performance yesterday was an improvement (though it didn't feel like it at the time).

    I swam the first four reps in about 3:18-3:19, then I was in the 3:22-3:24 range, and I ended the set with a 3:26. I feel pretty good about this, falling into the range I did these 4+ months ago only on the last rep. Fly and Back have gotten stronger; free and breast, maddeningly, are about the same.

    I think my body is starting to adapt to the drylands routine, so hopefully I'll be able to get my daily yardage back up again (to where it was last spring). Sunday's workout, with warm-up and coll-down, was 3500. I like to be putting in 4K+ on the weekends when I have a little more time. Today is a recovery day.
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  2. Working on 200 pace with 50s; 400 IM with 25s

    by , September 12th, 2013 at 08:46 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Yesterday I was pretty sore and stiff form the drylands and 3K workout on Tuesday, so I just got in to try to loosen up a bit. I did a lot of drill, don't think I swam anything continuous for more than 50 yards and was out before the lunchtime crowd even had time to change. 1500 yards.

    Today had to be a little more challenging, but until my body adjusts to the new drylands routine, I'm trying to keep the reps short (avoid the form falling apart in anything over 50) and focussed on 200 pace. Here's what I did:

    WU (1000):
    400 ez swim (fr and back; some catch-up drill) on 8:00
    4 x 100 IM on 2:15 (descended 1:42, 1:40, 1:39, 1:38)
    4 x 50 fr on 1:00 (:39-:42)*

    *I was watching form here, had Scotty watching from underwater... he confirmed the left arm was crossing over and that it did look like the core wasn't nailed down and working in unison from hips to shoulder; so I have to pay extra attention to my head position breathing to the right and the hip/shoulder rotation... in rotating to that side I tend not to rotate my hips enough... this is probably also an issue with my legs/kick and some extra tightness that I've always had in that left leg.

    MS (1400):
    -16 x 50 on 1:00, 800 IMO (went :45, :48, :50, :51 for fly; :50, :49, :48, :47+ on back --surprised I had enough energy after the fly to descend these; basically :55-:56 on breast; then :45, :39, :40, :41 on fr)
    -Master's minute
    -200 IM, hard (came in 3:18... not bad considering how I've been feeling of late)
    -16 x 25 on :40, 400 IMO (went :20-:22 fly, :20-:22 back, :25s for br, last one in :26, and mostly :17 for fr)*

    *this would actually be dream pacing for the 4IM for me, bringing my fly in 1:28, back in 1:28, 1:40 for the breast and 1:08 for the free. We can always dream can't we?

    CD (600)
    3 x 100 fr on 2:00--mostly catch-up drill
    6 x 50 fr on :55

    3000 SCY in about 70 minutes?--we lost track of time, because they pulled us out of the pool during warm-up with a tornado sighting... so we spent about 20 minutes trying not to cool off in the "shelter" of the locker-room and sauna.

    I did some drylands afterward too:
    40-50 supine leg-lifts and flutter kicks
    45 seconds in prone plank position
    3 x 12 hanging leg-lifts
    3 x 12 squats
    3 x 12 push-ups
    3 x ~5 kipping chin-ups
    3 x 12 push-presses
    3 x 6 pull-ups
    2 x 12 seated rows
    2 x 12 lunges w/ dumbbells
    sun-salutation sequence x 2 to cool-down + another 5 minutes stretching.

    Updated September 16th, 2013 at 12:33 PM by mcnair

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  3. Fighting, not finding, flow...

    by , September 10th, 2013 at 08:17 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Continuing the theme of really lackluster performances in the last two weeks, I just have not been clicking! I spent some time reviewing older blog posts from July and August, when I peaked I think, and I am a little disappointed in the fact that I can't pull off now the workouts and times that seemed to come a lot easier only a month ago. A lot of that has to do with the busier schedule now... sleeping less, spending many hours more at the desk hunched over the computer or the papers, getting tighter and tighter. Things just seemed to be flowing better last month, a workout could be hard but relaxing.

    Today I tried to slow it down a little and just focus on form (got some free coaching from Jen, the lifeguard at the Y, during a really slow stretch just before the HS girls team started arriving for practice). A couple of folks last night asked if I was really tired because I looked like my stroke was crossing over a lot... darn! First of all, I don't like working out at 8PM, but it was the earliest I could get there with my work schedule... but, yeah, I felt awful... nothing in the tank. I probably shouldn't even have been swimming. Anyway, I asked Jen to take a look at my stroke for a few lengths and we made some slight adjustments... my hips and shoulders seem to be off in rotation... they should be rotating together, but it looks like the wiggle has worked itself back into the stroke, with the shoulders leading and the hips following (is this too much focus on short axis drills of late?). So I tried to nail that down for a couple of lengths. Jen mentioned the stroke looks really good, but in breathing to the right I tend to cross over more and/or initiate the wiggle. OK, I paid attention to that for a couple of lengths and found that when I breathe to the right I start my pull a little earlier, this doesn't happen in breathing to the left... this is an issue I thought I had taken care of ages ago... yikes... all this crap is starting to creep back into my stroke. Granted, I've been focusing a lot more on the other strokes of late, but still! I guess the "adult-onset" swimmer can't take anything for granted!

    Humbling. Frustrating. Emotionally draining. As if life isn't dishing out large enough portions of these things recently, now they are creeping back into the pool-sanctuary.

    Also, I really hate the first few weeks back into a drylands routine. Talk about humbling! I've been sore for a week and a half straight without rest, even though I've only had three drylands sessions in the gym. Back to square one again?! Darn.

    Last night I did 3000, but should have just stayed home... with the exception of about 500 in drill-work I don't think any of the rest helped me at all (except to crush my fragile swimming ego... where are my running shoes? Maybe I should be dusting them off?!).

    Today's 3000 felt a lot better... I spent some time at the beginning working on form, as I mentioned above, and then my 100 IMs felt a lot stronger; not great, but not ridiculous either. Here's what I did:

    WU (1000):
    300 EZ fr/bk swim stopping every length or every other length to focus on a new issue.
    4 x 25 SAPs on :45 (this seemed much faster today than Sunday or Monday)
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00 (1:40-1:44; 5-6 secs faster than last night when I was going on 2:15)
    4 x 50 in 2IMO on 1:00 (:48, :49, :56, :44--not great)

    MS (1600):
    16 x 25 in 4IMO on :30
    6 x 50 fr on :50 (started at :40, but mostly :43--yuck!)
    6 x 100 fr on 1:40 (1:26, then mostly 1:27, last two in 1:29-1:30)
    6 x 50 fr on :50 (:43s)
    --Took a minute rest between each segment; it really helped that the girls team had started a couple of lanes over during my set of 100s, because it seemed like I always had someone keeping me on pace, making me push it just a little, no matter when my interval had me leaving... of course they were just doing their warm-up; sigh. I noticed when they stopped after the warm-up to transition, my times slowed back to the 1:30/100 range.

    CD (400):
    400 half-fly (3 SAPs, two full strokes, 3 SAPs, finish each length ez fr).

    3000 SCY/70 minutes.

    Updated September 10th, 2013 at 08:28 PM by mcnair

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  4. Short Axis Pulse

    by , September 8th, 2013 at 05:55 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    I was cruising through the forums last night and was looking at the butterfly lane for tips and drills, since I hadn't been there for a while and found reference to the Short Axis Pulse (or SAP) drill along with half-fly. Here's the link if you're interested:

    http://www.h2oustonswims.org/article..._papillon.html

    This article is on half-fly for increasing endurance, which makes use of SAP and has a link to an article on that drill. So today I decided to incorporate it into the workout. I initially planned to do a lot of drill anyway, because the short sprints always leave me stiff and not feeling like doing anything tough the next day. For the SAP drill I would take about 3-5 pulses, do a breast stroke (arms only) for breath, then go right back into SAP, and repeat as many times as needed to get to the other side of the pool. This really helped me to engage the hips in a way that I hadn't ever before. I think I was generating most of my kick from the thighs (except in BK dolphins, where for some unexplained reason it seems more natural to work the hips and core--I remembered this b/c yesterday my underwaters on the back set really gave me an awesome core burn).

    I also lifted weights a little bit this afternoon AFTER the swim, while I was still warm (one of the problems I think I probably had earlier this week was that I jumped right into my lifting without any cardio before hand, so I was working out a cold body... then when I got into the pool afterward, instead of being warmed up I was just tired and stiff, which made for a miserable slog... not very productive... hindsight is 20/20, but how long am I going to be making these rookie mistakes?! I mean, I know better... I my brain just wasn't there... must have been somewhere else at the time!).

    I tried adding kipper pull-ups and push-presses from the X-fit repertoire to my normal routine... I still don't like weights. I'm sure as I stick with it and can do more sets and reps of each exercise it will seem like less of a pain and more of an enhancement to my swimming routine.

    Here's what I did in the pool beforehand:

    400 EZ swim (alternate 100 fr and 100 pull w/ buoy)
    4 x 25 SAPs on :45
    4 x 25 breast pull w/ buoy on :45
    4 x 25 breast kick w/ board on :45
    100 1-1-1 fly drill (4-5 SAPs, 1 full stroke fly, 1-arm fly stroke (r), 1-arm fly stroke (l), repeat)
    4 x 50 modified fly on 1:15 (4-5 SAPs 2-3 strokes fly, 2-3 SAPS [or 1-arm fly], etc. on first length; reduced the number of SAPs or 1-arm each length, until the final 50 was all full stroke--still feeling relaxed, engaging hips more)
    2 x 100 IM on 2:15
    200 IM
    400 EZ (alternated 100 fr and 100 bk)

    TOTAL: 1800 SCY/45 minutes
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  5. 80 x 25 workout

    by , September 7th, 2013 at 06:41 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    After a day of complete rest yesterday (not even a short recovery swim) I was itching to get back into the pool. I think I might have suffered a minor cold earlier this week and just not noticed it--resting heart rate was up 2-4 beats, and I noticed some crud in my sinuses--and maybe that was draggin me down a little bit. I needed a good tough workout, some speedwork to get my confidence back.

    Scotty and I met at the Kenosha YMCA this afternoon after my son's XC meet (more on that later), and after a quick warm-up we jumped into a workout that always seems to help me blow the cobwebs off: 20 x 25 on :45 for each stroke. Here's what we did:

    WU (600):
    400 EZ (alternated 100s fr and bk)
    2 x 100 IM on 2:00 (these were in 1:39-1:40, so I knew I was feeling better)

    MS (2500):
    --20 x 25 fly on :45 (these were mostly :21-:22 at the beginning and I did a pretty good job of holding :22-:23 even toward the end; a few months ago these would have been :24-:25)
    --100 IM for recovery
    --20 x 25 bk on :45 (these were mostly :19-:20, some :21s in there too; my abs were begging for mercy toward the end of this set, b/c I was really working the under waters to stay ahead of Scotty... bk is the only stroke I can consistently take him on!)
    --Master's minute
    --20 x 25 br on :45 (this is where Scotty just kills me, but I did a better job of staying up today, found a better rhythm in my stroke and actually pulled off a bunch of :23s in the last half)
    --Master's minute
    --20 x 25 fr on :45 (these were mostly :17, but I saw :15 or :16 a couple of times)
    --Master's minute
    --400 IM; I swam this in 6:53 (meh) and didn't feel that great, but it was the end of a hard workout. Scotty actually PR'd his swim, which is awesome given the set that we had just done. My splits were 1:39 for fly, 1:45 for bk, 1:59 for br (yuck), and 1:30 for fr (double yuck!). My bk needed to be better, but my br is still holding me back.

    CD (500): 100 fr, 100 bk, 100 fr, 100 bk, 100 fr all EZ focusing on long strokes, and body position.

    TOTAL: 3600 SCY

    I'm going to try some of those ankle stretches in the recent Swimmer magazine, I'm hoping that will help the breast stroke kick... maybe the dolphins. I'm also committing myself to get into a routine with Yoga, which I have only been doing sporadically over the last year. There I wrote it, so now I have to do it.

    Anthony (my middle son) ran well today in his cross country meet. I don't know how he feels about the race, he might have even been a little disappointed at running a few seconds slower than last week, but the course was more hilly and it was a lot warmer this week. Plus, I think he took off several minutes from his time at this same meet last year. Here he is coming into the finish today (on the far right):

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    And here he is after the race, which started at 11:15, so they really did have the heat to contend with:

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  6. Ugh.

    by , September 6th, 2013 at 01:12 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    My workout on Tuesday morning, the first one back at the Kenosha Y in a while, was long, but lackluster. I think I made a mistake in my warm-up. Here's what I did:

    WU (1100/20:00):
    400 EZ swim
    100 fr on 1:45
    150 fr on 2:45?
    200 fr on 3:30
    250 fr on 4:30

    MS1 (1400):
    24 x 50 in 4IMO on 1:00 (3 x thru 400 IM)
    200 recovery swim
    Master's minute

    MS2 (1000):
    8 x 100 in 4IMO on 2:00 (2 x thru 400 IM)
    200 recovery

    MS3 (600):
    400 IM on 8:00 (7:06)
    200 recovery

    4100/75-80 minutes

    My big mistake was not doing any stroke work in the warm-up; I usually do 4 x 100 IM on 2:00 or 2:15 before a lot of stroke work in the main sets. I didn't do it this time and I felt the difference (In my defense I was thinking that doing the equivalent of 6 x 400 IM was a lot of work on each stroke, so I didn't want to overdo it by adding stroke into the warm-up). The other mistake I made was not doing any faster 50s in the warm-up. Again, my rationale was that I had a long set of 50s ahead of me, so no need to overdo the 50s. That was a mistake too. My body has gotten used to swimming progressively shorter distances faster throughout the warm-up, but the change had me swimming progressively longer distances at roughly the same speed... my "just started my warm-up" speed. I think these two factors contributed to the difficulty I had finding a rhythm, or hitting the faster times I've been making on similar intervals and sets this summer. Maybe I'm finally just fizzling out at the end of a long summer and need a few days of recovery...

    So, of course, I decided to lift weights yesterday for the first time in more than 3 months... right before my recovery swim... which ended up being a recovery slog. I did 2200, lots of drill with pull buoy and short fins, but all I could really feel was how dead my legs were. Tonight I did 3000, nothing too difficult, but wow, was I surprised at how off I felt: speed nowhere near where it has been in the last couple of months. Here's what went down:

    WU (1000):
    400 EZ swim (alternated fr/pull by 100s) on 8:00
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00 (desc. 1:45-1:43+... yeah, not much descent!)
    4 x 50 on 1:00 (:38-:40)

    MS (1000):
    8 x 100 on 2:00 (fr, except every 4th was BK; fr was 1:28-1:30; bk 1:40-1:42)
    200 pull (alt. fr and bk by 100)

    CD (1000):
    4 x 50 fr (:40-:42)
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00 (1:45-1:47)
    400 EZ (alt. fr and bk by 50; first 200 w/ pull buoy)

    3000/61 minutes

    Again, I felt out of it and tired. Maybe I'll take a day off tomorrow and see if I can come back and manage something more convincing this weekend. Just feel like I've been swimming twice as hard, but going twice as slow.
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  7. Grays Lake swim

    by , September 2nd, 2013 at 11:55 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    So three of us met this morning on Jones Island Park and did the second pirate swim. This time diagonally across and down the length of Grays Lake in Lake county, IL. The route measures .531 miles on Geodistance, so a 1.062 mile round trip trek. Here's the screen shot of the route from geodistance.com:

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    We met again at 7AM; Dirk drove all the way in from about an hour west of Chicago area. Mike and I followed his navigation on the water, which was spot on. Mike used a medium size ISHOF swim buoy and Dirk let me try out his large-sized one. These things are great... nice visibility and I didn't even feel like it was there most of the time. I liked not having to wear a brightly colored cap on the swim as a result of being able to tow the buoy. In the middle of the lake I rolled over on my back to de-fog my goggles and the buoy was right there; I went vertical for a moment to see if it would hold my weight and it did quite nicely.

    Grays Lake was beautiful. Water was just about perfect in terms of temperature, and it was calm and still for us... swimming on a mirror practically. It was only really weedy for about 25-50 yards on the Jones Island side; the other side had a very mushy bottom, but not much in terms of weeds, so that was nice. Another nice feature of this lake was the lack of motorized boating. there were a few kayakers out and about, but that was it.

    Here's a picture of the park from across the road at the parking lot where we met:
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    Here's a view of the lake looking across from our starting point, notice the gorgeous weather we're having (where was that on Saturday AM when we were doing the 5K postal?! ):

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    It sounds like Mike and I both did doubles yesterday... since we managed to get an additional workout in after our morning swim... his team practiced Sunday evening and I went back out to Lake Andrea, met Scotty, and did about 1500 in the lap swim area (included about 350 in fly)... Scotty and I are looking forward to having the Kenosha YMCA open again on Tuesday. For now... a rest. It's been a great Labor Day weekend of swimming.

    Thanks also to Dirk for bringing me a copy of the split sheet from the 5K postal attempt. Looks like my first 1000, even as creaky as it felt, still came in at 18:19. The next 1000 was 18:13, then the 3rd K was 18:40 (guess I was subconsciously relaxing right before the final 2K push). I'm very pleased with this swim. Thanks to Dirk and his great lifeguards and timers... next year, fingers crossed, we'll make the full 5K.

    Next weekend: maybe another lake swim, we'll see. Mike is going to do a little reconnaissance for us. It's fun swimming with these guys!
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  8. Diamond Lake swim

    by , September 1st, 2013 at 12:21 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    The first in what might become many in this pirate swim series (we certainly won't run out of lakes in Lake county, IL or Kenosha county, WI any time soon)!

    Here was the scene from the parking lot where we started:

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    A nice little mist was starting to roll in as we finished. Mike and I had a good swim... nice comfortable pace, the water was nearly perfect. Not a lot of boat traffic, though we did see a waterskier as we were standing in the parking lot after the swim. I just plugged the route into Geodistance and it came up as a roundtrip of .733 miles, so about 3/4 of a mile. We could have taken a more southerly route but there were some fishermen in boats to the south and the inlet I thought we might want to aim for had more boat traffic than our stretch swimming out just north of the park. Here's a shot I took from the boat ramp right after arriving, you can see how inviting it is with the sun just rising behind me:

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    The route on Geodistance is marked out here in the satellite image...

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    It was good fun; a nice relaxing Sunday morning swim. Tomorrow maybe we'll hit Grays Lake since it is a holiday... 7AM was a great time to start. I texted Scotty (my usual training bud from Kenosha Y) to see if he wanted to do it and he said I was nuts (to which I responded "I am what I eat!"). I'll get him out into the open water one of these days!
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  9. 2013 5K postal attempt...

    by , August 31st, 2013 at 02:18 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Do they have a 3.1-mile postal swim?

    We had to stop early because of thunderstorms... darn, with only 1900 to go!

    After a sluggish start I was feeling really good too. I made the drive over to DeKalb, IL, the Hopkins Park Pool, set up for LCM. There were 5 of us swimming the 5k postal and it was a super nice group: Dirk, who organized it, and some of his teammates, Keith and another Alex, along with Debbie from Rockford, IL. What was nice about this group... aside from the congenial conversation while huddled together under a tarp in a torrential rainfall (in Texas we would have called it a "real gully-washer"), we were all pretty evenly paced, I don't think anyone was more than a half length behind anyone else when we were pulled out of the water. Last year I did the 5K solo, so it felt good to have company.

    I didn't warm up beforehand and determined to use the first 500-1000 as a slow building warm-up, but by the time I got to 1500 I felt like I was really cruising. I loosened up, stretched out my stroke and found a nice rhythm. When we were stopped I was at 3100 meters. My 3000-meter split was 55:12, which I just did some number cranking on and find that this is an average 18:24 per K pace... way faster than my 19:30+/k average last summer. Last summer my 100 pace was 1:57-1:58, this year 1:50.5. And again, I might have actually been swimming a little bit faster pace as I loosened up in the second and third kilometers (I'll find out when they e-mail me the splits). I'm pretty sure I was on pace for something like a 1 hour, 30-31 minute 5K, which would have crushed last year's 1:37:40. Here was my wrap-up after that 2012 5K:

    http://forums.usms.org/entry.php?238...Postal-results

    I've made a lot of progress in the 13 months between these two 5K postal attempts... just sorry we didn't get to finish it out this year. We had a good time nonetheless, and I really thought I wouldn't even have a chance at another attempt this season with lack of LCM pools available in the immediate area, so this was just a bonus swim for me! And I'm feeling so much more confident this year than last... a long way to go yet, but happy with the progress.
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  10. August in review...

    by , August 30th, 2013 at 02:44 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    I've just entered into the FLOG my penultimate swim of the month and my bio-data from this morning. I decided to look at my monthly totals, since it is the 30th, to see how it was looking going into tomorrow's postal 5K (what a way to end the month btw!) and do some comparisons with previous months this year.

    MILEAGE: I'm at 48.8 miles for August, which means the 5K postal will put me over 50 miles for the first time since January. I've been averaging 45 miles/month since January, mostly 47-48, but some 43-mile "recovery" months in there too.

    WEIGHT: Average weight this month: 169 lbs. Last month: 175.xx. Before that, I was almost invariably in the 177-178 range for the whole year. For the last couple of weeks my average weight has been closer to 167-168, which means that September's average promises to be even lower. Thing is, I'm not even trying to lose weight. After more than 6 weeks on a purely vegan diet, and avoiding processed, packaged foods wherever possible, I can eat till I'm full at every meal, snack healthfully, and still see the scale flashing numbers I haven't seen this consistently since my first couple of years in college. Bonus: fruits taste way sweeter; the higher calorie refined sugars are way too sweet for me now, so when I do put sugar in the vegan pancake recipe, or have more than 2-3 vegan chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, it tastes too sweet in the moment, and, more importantly, makes me feel rotten a little while later... so I read my body better, it's not numbed by sugar/high-fructose corn syrup addiction, i.e., in constant need of the next high.

    RESTING HEART RATE: average for August was 43.9. Every month before that was averaging 47-48. A difference of 3-4 beats might not seem significant on a daily basis, but for a month-long average I think this is an important indicator. I think it means that my heart is having to work less hard when I'm at rest and that I'm going to recover better as result. I hope it means that my arteries are regaining elasticity and that my blood cholesterol is on the decline.

    I've done 3600 yards over the last two days in the lake; 1800 each day. A little bit of recovery from the hard swimming earlier this week. Yesterday I did 500 fr, 500 bk and then a mix of all 4 strokes for the final 800. Today I did 200 fr relaxed followed by 100 bk and 100 br, and repeated that 2+1+1 pattern three more times; finished with an ez 200 fr. Lake water temp was perfect both days; and early mornings out there have been glorious!
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  11. No, it's all Patrick's fault...

    by , August 28th, 2013 at 10:15 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    He's blaming Jeffrey Archer for keeping him up at night with a page-turner. I have no such excuse for not being able to get to sleep last night, but after tossing and turning until at least midnight (the work stress is starting to creep in big time for the next few weeks), I made the mistake of logging back onto USMS to check blogs and scan the workout threads for some inspiration for today's swim. I noticed Patrick's HVT had a 20 x 100 in there this week and since I haven't done that one in several weeks I thought "sure, I'll work it into tomorrow's practice." I even managed to talk Scotty into it.

    It looks like Stewart's coach had the same idea, and he's already blogged his 20 x 100, so now I look like a copy-cat. That's not Stewart's fault... it must be Patrick's. Oh, and thanks for keeping me up after my bedtime too!

    Here's what we did:

    WU (800):
    400 EZ (fr, bk, fr, bk by 100s)
    4 x 100 IM on 2:09 (don't ask! probably brought these in in mid 1:40s)

    MS1 (2000):
    20 x 100 on 1:40 (1:24-1:27s, probably averaged 1:26)

    MS2 (400):
    8 x 50 on 1:00; 400 IM order (:45, :48, :49, :47, :58, :59?, :46, :44 = 6:37? Yuck!)

    CD(400): EZ swim (100 IM, 100 fr, 100 bk, 100 fr)

    TOTAL: 3600 SCY/70 minutes

    The Racine Y (Mount Pleasant branch) was pretty crazy today, we had to share a lane for the warm-up and I was trying to time my EZ IMs so as not to disrupt other swimmers too much. But then kids were darting in and out of the lanes for a while, even though two of the lanes at least were supposed to be reserved for lap swimming... kind of a mess. An extra lane opened up right before we started into the main set, so didn't have to share a lane for the set, but the arms and flailing legs under the lane lines, and the cannonballs landing three feet away were a tad distracting. It'll be good to get back to Kenosha Y after Labor Day.

    I felt pretty good about this 20 x 100--at least I'm not losing fitness--my times were just a second or so off from the last time I did the set, but this time I wasn't wearing a cap... which I feel counts for that extra second, so it's a wash. On the 4IM set, I was very surprised to see the second hand at the :45 mark when I looked up after my first 50 fly... it didn't feel that hard, :45/50 fly usually feels harder. Of course I couldn't follow it up with another :45/50 fly, and I was completely spent by the time I got to the breast reps. Oh well, still a ways to go.

    GTD update: I surpassed the 365-mile mark earlier this week. I'm almost at 370 (369.49 to be precise) and still about 5 miles ahead of my goal pace of 550 miles this year. August looks like it will be a 50-mile month!

    Updated August 28th, 2013 at 10:23 PM by mcnair

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  12. 99 degrees...

    by , August 27th, 2013 at 05:48 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    ...Can that be right? My thermometer at the house is reading 99. After a summer in which we hardly ever got out of the 70s, here we are with September just about on us and we're flirting with triple digits. It's been an interesting summer in Southeast Wisconsin.

    The lake water was still cool, though, which felt great... by cool, I mean probably mid 70s. I can tell when the water temps start creeping into the mid-80s, it doesn't feel comfortable for a hard swim, but today it was very comfortable for the whole workout. Here's what I did:

    WU: 400 EZ swim
    MS:
    24 x 100
    --swum as 50 hard/50 recovery
    --6 hard 50s on each stroke, recoveries were free
    --rests ranged from :05 to :15
    --nice hard current to swim straight into for the hard 50s
    CD: 200 EZ swim

    3000 Yards/60 minutes at Lake Andrea
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  13. Symmetry...

    by , August 27th, 2013 at 01:12 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    Pyramids provide that. I love the symmetry of certain workouts... though while I'm doing them I'm not so fond. There was a certain symmetry today also in the fact that my first really hard workout after Madison was a repeat of my last really hard workout before Madison. Taper and reverse taper are now complete. Ready to move into my endurance and base-building phase.

    We went to the Racine Y; the new branch out on hwy 20. Nice water park, though I wish they would have used more of the space for lap lanes. As it turns out there weren't hardly any other lap swimmers anyway, so we never had to share a lane. Scotty did a longer warm-up than usual and said he regretted it about half way through our main set. I only did an 800 for warm-up (usually do 1000-1200), but I took a couple of short recovery swims between pyramids. Scotty and I swam all the pyramids together. I'm not too far behind him on fly, though I felt like I was losing a little more ground to him than I have been in the last couple of months. I beat him on almost all the back reps, he wiped the floor with me on breast stroke, and then we were close on the frees, really close on a few reps. Here's what I did:

    WU (800): 400 EZ swim (fr and bk); 4 x 100 IM on 2:00 (1:40-1:45)
    master's minute

    MS (2200):
    500 Fly Pyramid*
    100 recovery
    500 BK pyramid*
    100 recovery
    500 BR pyramid*
    master's minute
    500 FR pyramid*

    CD (1000): 200 fr, 200 bk (both EZ); 4 x 100 IM on 2:00 (1:45-1:50); 4 x 50 fr on 1:00

    TOTAL: 4000 SCY/100 minutes

    *The ladders in these sets were 25-50-75-100-100-75-50-25 with the interval set at :45/25... My 100s fly were in the high 1:30s, I was trying to relax as much as possible the first 75 and try to push a little on the last 25. 100s bk were in 1:32 and felt relaxed. 100s br were about 1:50... I was swimming :50 in the 50s, but just couldn't hold form on the 100s. The 100s fr were both in 1:15... an improvement over the last two times we did this workout.
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  14. Recovery days in the lake...

    by , August 25th, 2013 at 04:13 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    My big 5000-yard workout on Friday left me pretty tired, though I have to say that 200 fly doesn't exhaust me as much as it used to now (maybe there's a 500-yard continuous fly in the near future?!). Friday's workout was also the last at the Kenosha YMCA until after the annual maintenance shutdown (Tuesday after Labor Day it re-opens). Scotty and I will head up to the YMCA in Racine County next week for a workout or two, but I'm going to take advantage of the last real week of summer to put in a lot of time in the lake.

    Next Saturday I'm planning to head down to DeKalb, IL, and swim the 5K postal with a group that's hosting at an LCM pool there... here's the announcement for anyone in the area who wants to join in:

    http://forums.usms.org/showthread.ph...527#post290527

    DeKalb is a little under 2 hours from here, so it will be another early morning, but it will be my last chance to get the 5K in... my usual timers have their weekend schedules filled now and there aren't that many LCM pools within easy driving distance... I suppose I could do it at the Pleasant Prairie rec-plex when they have their pool set up for long course on the weekends, but not being a member it will cost me and my timer a little more than I'd like to pay for another indoor swim.

    The lake was wonderful this weekend... water temp was baby-bear "just right" in the high 70s. Lots of sun, really beautiful for a swim. Saturday I did the following:

    400 EZ
    4 x thru
    --400 IM, :10-:20 r
    --400 recovery, :30-:45 r

    TOTAL: 3600 yards/75 minutes

    This was a nice challenge for a recovery swim. It was also a good opportunity to work on really stretching out my fly outside the SCY box. It's right at 50 yards between no wake buoys, and it was taking me about 15 strokes on the way out and 17-19?? on the way back. No wall at the other end, or even shallow area to get the advantage of a dive from standing, made turning around to finish the 100 fly really challenging. Plus there was a nice steady roll of small waves coming to shore from the breeze blowing in. All of this is what I consider good mental toughness training. I wasn't pushing the pace, just trying to be steady.

    Today's lake swim was a little later (yesterday I swam at 8AM), at about 11:30 or noon, so I kept it short so as not to burn myself to a crisp (temps are getting up to 90s today! I think for the first time all summer!). Water was very cool and inviting though. Here's what I did:

    400 EZ fr
    200 IM
    400 EZ fr
    4 x 100 (50 fly + 50 fr recovery)
    4 x 100 (50 bk + 50 fr recovery)
    200 EZ br

    TOTAL: 2000 yards/40-45 minutes
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  15. Finishing reverse taper... Time Trials

    by , August 23rd, 2013 at 06:14 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Tuesday I swam another 3000 at the lake; nearly a repeat of a workout I did a couple of weeks ago... still loosening up from the 2.4-miler last saturday, so I didn't push it and used longer rests:

    WU (500): fr, bk, fr, br, fr by 100s

    MS (2000):
    (1) 800 = 50 fly--150 fr--50 bk--150 ft--50 br--150 fr--50 fr hard--150 fr recovery
    1:00 rest
    (2) 600 = 50 fly--100 fr--50 bk--100 fr--50 br--100 fr--50 fr hard--100 fr recovery
    1:00 rest
    (3) 400 = 50 fly--50 fr--50 bk--50 fr--50 br--50 fr--50 fr hard--50 fr recovery
    1:00 rest
    (4) 200 IM
    Master's minute

    CD (500): repeat of WU.

    3000 yards in 65 minutes.


    Wednesday (8/21) I got together with Scotty and did even less yardage, but I wanted to time trial myself in the 50s to get a better idea of what my "sprint" speed is (most of my SCY 50 times were from last winter-spring, and I know I've improved a little since then). We only did 2000 but after 1000 in warm-up (which included a 200 IM from push that was within 2 seconds of my best 200 IM meet time off the blocks!) we took turns timing each other for 50s off the blocks... and had the lifeguard time us for a couple of head-to-head 50s. Here's how it went:

    50 Back x 2 (first one was in :38-:39; the second one was racing Scotty, I beat him by a second, but came in a little slower at :40)
    50 Fly x 2 (both in :40--one of these was head to head with Scotty, he was trying to pce me to under :40, but I couldn't hang... couldn't get the rhythm, I think b/c my body is locked into 400 IM and 200 fly pace, since I've been working on that so much. This is disappointing for me because my starts were pretty good, and I thought I would take more than :03-:04 seconds off my "hard" pace from push).
    50 Free = :30-:31 (Scotty and I raced this one, but since we were using the digital pace clock, which the lifeguard was watching for us, we didn't get a very accurate time, I beat Scotty by a hand... but I really wanted to crack that 30-second barrier. Don't get me wrong, I was perfectly happy to beat Scotty in free!).

    Scotty did a breast 50 instead of a second fly 50; I don't think he was all that happy with it. But coming off a couple of months of more middle to long distance training neither of us was crestfallen by the performance either. My 50 back was several seconds faster than my last 50 back SCY in a meet (:43 if I remember correctly, which is now only a couple of seconds away from my goal 200 pace). My 50 meter back at the long course meet was :41 two months ago, and my first 50 of a 100 SCY at the state meet in March was :41, so I really thought I'd be closer to :37. My 50 fly, while still not under :40 officially, was still 3 seconds faster than anything I've done in a meet.

    Today I did a fairly difficult 5000-yard workout; focus on endurance. I'm going to be doing the postal 5k in the next week or so, but I also wanted to get a fix on my 200 fly and back times, hence the set in the middle. Here's what I did:

    WU (1000):
    400 EZ free, build pace, on 7:00
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00 (low 1:40s)
    4 x 50 fr on 1:00 (desc. from :41 to :35)

    MS (3000):
    --1000 fr on 18:00 (15:37?)
    --5 x 200 on 4:00 (or 5:00), swum as follows:
    #1 = 200 fly on 5:00*
    #2 = 200 back on 4:00 (3:19)
    #3 = 200 breast on 5:00 (slow, think turtle w/ broken leg)
    #4-5 = 200 free on 4:00 (both in 2:52-2:53 range, split close to :42, :43, :44-:45, :43)
    --1000 on 18:00 (15:50s)

    CD (1000):
    4 x 50 fr on 1:00 (:43s)
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00 (1:45-1:50, wasn't purposely trying to ascend... I was falling off an energy cliff)
    400 EZ swim (alternated free and back)

    TOTAL: 5000 SCY/100 minutes

    *200 fly = 3:21 (My splits were :48, 1:38, 2:30, 3:21, which means by 50 I swam a fairly even pace--:48, :50, :52, :51. So my 50 fly might not have gone under :40 from the blocks, but my 200 fly from push is very close to evenly paced at :50/50. Speed has gotten slightly better, but endurance has gotten a LOT better over the last 8 months with fly! I felt pretty relaxed and wasn't too exhausted at the end of it.)

    My short term goal for 200 fly, and I really didn't know how feasible it was, was to get down to 3:20... long term I'd still like to get down below 3:00. Maybe a good short-term goal now is 3:12... a :48/50 pace.

    I'm headed into a base-building/endurance phase of my training now; the long OW swim last weekend and maybe sprinkling in the 5K postal and the 3000/6000-yard postal swims on the weekends over the next month and a half give me some fun things to train for... more on that later!
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  16. Reverse Taper... reverse carbo-loading?!

    by , August 20th, 2013 at 12:42 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    So coming off the 2.4-mile OW swim (and btw, the official time was 1:16:02, which placed me 58th out of 100 in the non-wetsuit category and would have placed me 77th out of 289 among wet-suited swimmers... I was 4th in age group among non-wetsuite swimmers, but my time would have placed me 8th out of 42 in the wetsuit category; which I feel pretty good about!), anyway... coming off the swim Saturday I decided to impose a reverse taper. I did 2000 in Lake Andrea yesterday. 3000 at the Y today. Here's what I did:

    8/18 Lake Swim:

    400 EZ swim
    4 x (50 fly + 50 fr recovery)
    4 x (50 bk + 50 fr recovery)
    4 x (50 br + 50 fr recovery)
    400 EZ swim

    TOTAL: 2000 y/40 mins

    8/19 YMCA swim:

    WU (1000):
    200 EZ fr on 3:30
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00 (mid 1:40s)
    8 x 50 in 400 IMO on 1:00 (:46, :47, :51, :51, :55, :55, :46, :43 = 6:36)
    1:00 rest

    MS (1000):
    10 x 100 fr on 1:45 (1:28-1:31; first 5 mostly 1:28-1:29, 6-10 mostly 1:30)
    :30 rest

    CD (1000):
    8 x 50 in 400 IMO on 1:00 (:47, :48, :50, :50, :54, :55, :45, :43 = 6:34)
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00 (mid 1:40s)
    200 EZ fr

    TOTAL: 3000 SCY, under 58 mins.

    I'll probably get back to the lake tomorrow morning before heading into work; the days have been a little warmer this week, so the water temps are climbing slightly again.

    FEED TROUGH NEWS:

    I forgot to mention that after the race on Saturday I stopped into Monty's Blue Plate Diner in Madison. I did a search on the internet for restaurants in Madison with Vegan options. I've all but stopped going to restaurants here in Kenosha, because there are not that many vegan options... vegetarian and vegan are not the same thing and you always have to wonder if that vegetarian dish has hidden dairy or eggs. These are things that never would have occurred to me before, but I'm constantly thinking about now. Saturday night after I got back, for example, the family wanted to go out... they chose Italian, which I used to love doing. But, where eating vegetarian in Italian restaurants was always pretty easy, going completely vegan basically limited me to two items on the menu... and even those made me wonder; just because it has garden fresh vegetables, doesn't mean it wasn't swimming in butter just a few seconds before plating. To avoid those possibilities I find it easier just to stay at home and make my own.

    My family is fairly sympathetic to my diet (My wife even apologized for asking for grated cheese on the salad Saturday night... "Oh, I guess I shouldn't have done that if you wanted some"; it was ok, I was having the minestrone soup anyway), though I think they might be annoyed with me at times. They know I'm doing it for my health, which is where I began five weeks ago (today marks 35 days I have been vegan), but I'm trying to explain that it's become something much more than that now... it's coming from a place of compassion and mindfulness that is so much more powerful than mere self-discipline.

    Anyway, this is why I really appreciate places that proudly offer true vegan options on their menu. Here's the sweet potato hash with tofu scrambler with rice toast that I had at Monty's on Saturday...

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The idea of tofu with spinach hadn't occurred to me before, but it was yummy and I'll try it again here at the house. The sweet potatoes had some yummy spices... think I detected curry.
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  17. 2.4-mile... MOWS 2013

    by , August 17th, 2013 at 04:15 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    YESTERDAY: Final preparations. Got into the Y at midday for a 1000 warm-up... very EZ, hoping to be completely recharged for the open water. I did need to do one last equipment check, too, because I decided to break into a new pair of goggles and use a crisp new jammer (the one I picked up for last season's meets and time trials was already starting to sag). I learned the hard way at last year's USMS 5K swim that an older pair of goggles might fog in unpredictable ways, so I've been saving a new pair I got in March for just this occasion... a pair of blue-tinted Keifer (I think the model is called Conqueror; similar to the Speedo Vanquishers I've been using). I normally like a clear goggle, but if the tint isn't too dark it would be nice in the sun. Trying it out indoors at the Y I found I was not distracted by the tint at all... a good choice! Bonus: I got this pair for free... it was my prize for winning my age group in the Winter Water Warriors fitness challenge sponsored by Wisconsin Masters. And the jammers were free, too... my 500-mile premium from last year's GTD. Mentally, this was just another reminder that I have been putting in the hard work; now it was time to relax and enjoy the experience... Wait! Not too relaxed... we'll see.

    The diet, ahem, life-style change, has been going swimmingly of late too. I carbo loaded toward the end of the week with whole-grain spaghetti and veggie tomato sauce on Thursday night. Last night I had Vegan tacos (used the last zucchini from last weekend's excursion to the farmer's market) and vegan whole-wheat pancakes with cinnamon and berries for desert. Yum. Went to bed and woke up feeling pretty good.

    PRE-RACE: This morning the alarm went off at 4:30. I got up and poured myself a cup of joe and put together my big bowl of grains and berries, almond milk... plenty of slow-burn complex carbs. I sliced an apple and took a banana and a little bit of peanut butter with me as a pre-race snack, just to make sure the batteries were completely charged. I pulled out of the driveway at 5:20 and headed into a pretty thick fog. Driving through Kenosha and Racine counties visibility was very low, the air was cool, but by the time I hit the bypass just south of Milwaukee it was already starting to thin. Sun was rising. Shortly after I turned onto the interstate headed west toward Madison the sun was glowing low on the horizon in my rearview mirror... everything in front of me was cast in a pink or golden glow. I love this time of morning.

    An hour later I was pulling into Madison. I parked at Monona Terrace parking garage and walked over to check in. Back to Monona Terrace to change and use the bathroom. As I headed back out, this was the sight that greeted me... beautiful morning on the far end of the rectangular course...
    Click image for larger version. 

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    I still had about thirty minutes, so I ate my apple slices and peanut butter. At 15 till I would eat the banana. It was still pretty chilly in that last hour before the race, so I decided to forgo the warm-up... I thought, honestly, it might make me more anxious and that the better course would be to remind myself to use the first couple of hundred meters as a warm-up, not get caught up in the fray, find a rhythm and then slowly build. This turned out to be a great strategy for me. Plus, I didn't have to exit the water after warm-up for the mandatory pre-race briefing and then hang around getting cold and stiff for 15 minutes before heading back into the water. Being in the non-wetsuit group (by far the minority at this race) I was happy with this choice... even some of the wetsuit crowd looked to be cooling off in that gap between warm-up and start. Here's the start area at the end of warm-up:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    THE RACE... and really I'm only racing myself... well this is what I tried to tell myself. Alex, version 2013, is in a lot better swim condition than Alex, v. 2011. But how much of a time drop would I see?

    We waded out and then swam to the start, lining up behind the buoy near the ski ramp in the picture. The non-wetsuit wave of the 2.4-mile went first, at 8:30. The wetsuit 2.4 was scheduled to go ten minutes later, and then the 1.2-mile swimmers ten minutes after that. The non-wetsuit wave was fun to chat with while we treaded water in anticipation of the start... I noticed a lot of us were jockeying for last place; nobody likes to get caught up in the scrum. No matter how we tried spreading ourselves out, though, it was crowded. That first 1/8th of a mile or so was all about finding a position and trying to get into a rhythm... but inevitably I would just get going, start feeling pretty good, and then swim up onto someone's legs. Positions seemed to sort themselves out by about the half-mile mark though, just in time for the first turn... I started seeing the same swimsuits over and over, so I knew I had settled into a group that was going at about my pace... this was reassuring... as I sighted the buoys ahead of me I could see a lot of yellow swim caps, and making the second turn (in which I somehow lost inside position and a little bit of momentum) I noticed a nice string of yellow caps still behind me... woohoo, I'm not bringing up the rear! I quickened my pace to catch up to the group that I had been swimming with in that first quarter of the race, even though I somehow fell off their pace at the second turn I worked to get back on track...

    The middle portion of the race was a lot more fun than the last time I swam MOWS, I worked to stay even with swimmers around me, if not pull ahead. Around the third turn (at about a mile) the elite swimmers in the wetsuit wave were starting to catch us. As we made the fourth turn at the half-way mark (1.2 miles) two things happened... (1) a nasty chop starting pushing into shore from the middle of the lake, which had everyone rocking and rolling for the next half mile; and (2) more wetsuits appeared. This round of wetsuits was moving at a pretty good pace, not as good as the trickle of wetsuits that had passed us about 200 meters before, but this larger group seemed to be staying together pretty well and so I tried to jump on the back end of the train and keep up. The waves were merciless though and scattered us a bit. As we approached the fifth turn there was quite a crowd jostling for position around the buoy... and out of nowhere, a blue and white swimsuit that I had been keeping pace with for the first 3/4 of a mile, and which I thought I had left behind, appeared again. I sped up. I knew he was behind me at turn six and then I started to pour it on again. I passed some wetsuits, even a couple more pink caps (the 1.2-milers), then I started pulling even with and slowly passing non-wetsuit swimmers who I'd never seen before... this is where my endurance and conditioning was really paying off I think. I felt good going into the last turn and headed to shore.

    The last time I swam MOWS I remember getting passed a lot, and hardly ever doing any passing myself. I still got passed, especially by the wetsuits, but from the time I really found a rhythm, about 2/3 of mile in, till the end I don't remember getting passed by many non-wetsuit swimmers... in fact, I was the one who seemed to be passing... I just felt so much stronger than in 2011. And, when I got back and checked my time, I was ecstatic: I beat my previous time on the same course by 12 minutes, finishing in 1 hour, 16 minutes!

    Here's a pic of the finish I took after drying off...
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    Whereas in 2011 I don't even know if I cracked the top ten in my age group, today I placed 4th... only one place short of medalling; and I'm not that far off, so maybe next year!

    Here's my self-satisfied self-portrait (notice the recent hair-cut!):
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    My lats were pretty stiff in the first few minutes after the race, but have started to loosen up... now I just feel pleasantly fatigued. Next up: Postal 5K toward the end of the week? We'll see how I feel tomorrow!
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  18. Taper continues; Salads rock...

    by , August 15th, 2013 at 03:21 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Today I only did 1500 yards or so in the lake... I was going to do 2000, but an extra recovery day is good now. Tomorrow I'm planning to go into the Y for a quick warm-up and that's it... I had originally planned to do 1000, my standard warm-up... instead I might just do 400-800 in drill work/EZ swimming and call it a day.

    Yesterday was my last "workout" before the 2.4-mile swim; and it was pretty relaxed, a real scaled down version of things I've been doing the last 6 months; where I would have been tempted to push the pace and get the times down I made a conscious effort to count strokes, back off the pace to focus on distance per stroke. Here's what I did:

    WU (1000)
    400 EZ swim on 7:00 (fr, pull, fr w/ short fins, pull by 100s)
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00 (mid 1:40s)
    4 x 50 fr on 1:00 (1st EZ, then desc. the last 3: :46, :42, :40, :38)
    1:00 rest

    MS (1000)
    10 x 100 fr on 1:50
    --first one was 1:28, last one was an ez 1:32, the rest were right at 1:30, so I was able to find a consistent pace; the interval (1:50) gave me what seemed like an eternity of rest between reps, since I've gotten so used to going off 1:40 of late.
    1:00 rest

    CD (1000)
    4 x 50 fr on 1:00 (ascend the first three, ez on the 4th: :36, :37, :38, :46)
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00 (these were actually slightly faster than the 100 IMs in wm-up, but felt relaxed)
    400 EZ swim (fr w/ short fins, pull, fr w/ short fins, fr by 100s)

    3000 SCY/58 minutes

    I'll have to remember this workout in my reverse taper and for recovery or maintenance phases of training... got the blood pumping but kept the focus on form... loosened me up, rather than tightening me up.

    JUST A QUICK NOTE ON FLY: Though I'm not focusing on fly this week, obviously, and just using it for variety and to keep my form on the stroke... taking the time to swim it more carefully and more purposefully has revealed a couple of things to me... (1) without being too conscious of the fact, the second kick has become second nature... this is something I used to struggle with last spring, but I noticed that I was doing it without thinking about it this week... that's cool; and (2) my DPS (distance per stroke) has gotten a lot better... granted, I was purposely trying to reduce my stroke count in the 100 IMs mentioned above, but even still, I went back to look at my fly from the 400 IM at state SCY meet in March and I was doing 9-10 strokes per length. Yesterday I was doing 3-4 underwater dolphins, then 6 full strokes per length from push. That's a huge difference.

    SALAD... YUMMY, YUMMY:

    I know I've mentioned my layering of salads recently; great way to get all those nutrients and eat a large volume of food without going overboard on the calories. I signed up for the MindBodyGreen daily e-newsletter a couple of weeks ago... they send links to articles with recipes and other wellness tips on their website. Anyway, one of the recent articles had a great explanation of the concept of layering salads and a couple of easy recipes... tried both of them last night (with leftovers for lunch today!) and really enjoyed them... I've never been a carrot fan, but I liked this one. I did cut back slightly on the oil; olive oil is obviously healthier than crisco, but I haven't even been using much EVOO lately in my effort to keep the processed oils to a minimum.

    Anyway, here's a link to the recipe:

    http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-10558...rot-salad.html
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  19. Where's the reset button?

    by , August 14th, 2013 at 12:27 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    I hate tapering... wouldn't it be great if we could just hit a reset button and *bam* all the glycogen stores are properly refilled, all the soreness and fatigue have been whisked away... that pace you worked so hard to get to feels automatic, even easy. Not happening. I guess I'll actually have to do a better job of resting over the next few days, not getting overzealous with my swim sessions.

    Sunday I did an easy 2000 in the lake, but may have pushed the pace just a tad, since I felt pretty good (odd considering I had two really tough workouts in a row on Friday and Saturday). Monday, I figured I could do 5000 at the Y... some pace work and just a little bit of IM in the warm-up and cool-down, so I don't lose any of the progress I've made on my strokes this summer. The workout ended up being a lot more difficult than I had intended... or I felt a lot more fatigued than I thought I would; bottom line is I really do need to back off the next couple of days to re-charge for Saturday's open water swim. Here's what I did yesterday:

    Warm-up (1000):
    400 EZ (fr, pull, fr, pull by 100s... these were really slow) on 8:00
    4 x 100 IM on 2:15 (descended these from 1:46 to around 1:40)
    4 x 50 fr on 1:00 (:40-:42... I was not pushing on these at all, just trying to keep the stroke long and strong)
    2:00 rest

    MS (3000):
    6 x 500 fr on 9:00
    --7:45-8:15; these were all over the place... not only between 500s, but I never felt like I got into a consistent rhythm/pace on any given 500... unlike in the 500s I did a week ago. I had hoped my pace would be between this spring's 1650 pace and Saturday's 3500 pace (i.e., between 1:30 and 1:36 per 100--7:30-8:00)... doesn't that seem reasonable for a 500? I couldn't hold it... not exactly a confidence builder. Maybe I was still recovering from last week.
    2:00 rest

    Cool-down (1000):
    8 x 50 in 400 IMO on 1:00 (:48, :48, :50, :50, :56, :56, :45, :43 = 6:36)
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00 (again mid-1:40s)
    4 x 50 fr/pull skate on 1:00

    Total: 5000 SCY/95-100 minutes

    BACK AT THE LAKE TODAY: the air was chilly (still in the 60s and breezy) when I got to the lake; and the sun was playing tag with the clouds. I braced myself for cold water and wondered if I would ever warm up on what I had planned would be only about 1K recovery swim. Thank goodness the breeze was coming into shore and pushing the warmer surface water into the lap swim area. I dove right in and was happier underwater than on the surface where I could feel the cooler air against my arms with every stroke. The surface, while warmer, was also a little choppy and provided a nice current to swim against in one direction. I alternated 200s fr with 100s back (x2) and br (x2) for a total of 1200 yards. We'll see how I feel tomorrow... I hate taking rest days.
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  20. 2-mile time trial

    by , August 10th, 2013 at 07:24 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    We (Scotty and I) tried to do this time trial in the lake today, but were shut out by a junior triathlon that had the beach closed to lap swimmers until 1PM. So, we made the 10-minute drive back over to the Y. At least this time trial would have the benefit of walls and flip turns, but we were sad to leave such a beautiful setting (water was perfectly calm; and there wasn't a cloud in the sky this morning) for the indoor confines of our usual workout venue.

    After a hard week and yesterday's 4K workout I wasn't planning to have an exceptional time, but I did want to simulate a long continuous swim a week before the MOWS... try to find a rhythm and comfortable/hard pace I could maintain for about an hour. I finished the 3500 SCY in 56:18; it felt good (for some perspective, my postal 1-hour in 2012 was 3530 yards, so that two-mile time has come down almost 4:00 in the last 18 months).

    My average pace was between 8:02 and 8:03 per 500... which looks pretty even, but I probably swam my first couple of 500s in the 7:56-7:58 range. The next two 500s were right at 8:00, there was a fall off in pace to around 8:10/500 between yards 2,000 and 3,000; and my final 500 was right at 8:00 again. I knew I could swim a hard, but still comfortable mile in 28:00, but wasn't really sure if I could come back and swim that next mile at the same pace... guess I got my answer: I was at about 27:50 something when I hit the 1-mile mark and felt like I was just hitting my stride (sorry to mix running metaphors into the swimming commentary... old habits die hard). My second mile wouldn't have been slower than 28:30. This pace, 1:36-1:37/100, was my 1650 pace only last fall, so I'm super psyched... good confidence builder going into the 2.4-mile open water swim next week. And maybe with a little tapering this week, I'll have more energy than I was feeling like I had toward the end of this week. Time will tell.
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