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Alex's swim journal

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

  1. improving long distance pace by training for middle-d?

    by , July 3rd, 2013 at 02:47 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    I wanted to record a couple of workouts here and mention some problems I'm trying to solve with my training now.

    First the workouts. Today's quick 2000 SCY in 42 minutes, after dinner, was a recovery workout. Pretty basic:

    400 EZ
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00
    1:00 rest
    8 x 50 on 1:00 (400 IMO)
    1:00 rest
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00
    400 EZ

    My splits on the broken 400 IM (the 50s on 1:00) were :46, :52, :53, :51, :58, :58, :45, :44--sub 7:00, but feeling very sluggish. I was really just trying to relax and not hurt myself... also had to dodge lane mates since it was a busy night at the Y; rain had everyone inside for the evening again. And I should emphasize that this was a recovery swim because...

    Yesterday I got in 3600 SCY:

    400 EZ
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00
    4 x 50 on 1:00 (:37-:40)

    4 x 200 BK on 4:30 (i.e. 4 x thru 4 x 50 in 200 goal pace)*
    200 recovery, fr
    4 x 200 FR on 4:00*
    2:00 rest, then
    200 hard fr (2:48)

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

    *This set idea came from the Backstroke Lane thread and Chris Stevenson's recent suggestion for improving 200 back times; I then applied the same concept to the freestyle set as well. These 200s are swum as 4 x 50 in my goal pace for the 200, I chose :45/50, because I'd like to break 3:00 in the 200 Back at some point (I had a 3:16 SCY at a meet early in the spring), then decrease the rest after each 50 in the 200... 12 seconds, 10 seconds, 8 seconds. So with the rests after each 50 my send-offs were:

    first 50 = :00
    second 50 = :57
    third 50 = 1:52
    fourth 50 = 2:45

    Each 200 would be complete around 3:30 if I held my :45/50 pace. I ended the set having swum mostly 3:33-3:34. The goal pace was real easy to maintain for the first couple of 50s; in fact, I had a hard time pacing it and not going out too fast (first 50 was usually around :41-:42). This made the last couple of 50s in each 200 challenging; I frequently missed the goal pace by 2-3 seconds on the 3rd and 4th legs. Pacing and endurance are the issues here. More about that in a minute.

    My Freestyle 200 goal I chose as a fairly arbitrary 2:32... a :38/50 pace. For the most part I stayed on this pace, my first 50 might be in :36-:37, but my last couple of 50s never fell more than a second or two off the pace (:39-:40). I used the following send-offs:

    first 50 = :00
    second 50 = :50
    third 50 = 1:38
    fourth 50 = 2:24

    Had I stayed on pace the whole way through I would have finished the 200s on 3:02, but I often started my fourth 50 on 2:25-2:26 to get the full :08 rest, and then was coming in around 3:04-3:05.

    My friend Scotty, who swam this one with me, called the workout "legit." He thinks a lot of the stuff I do is mere insanity ("What's the point of a 300 IM or 4 x 200 fly with 50 fr recovery swims between the 200s? That's just crazy!" he'll tell me), but he liked this workout.

    Problem/solution: so, going back over the last few months of training, it looks like I've done a lot to improve my endurance and technique on the strokes, a little bit of distance freestyle work (mostly sets of 100s on 1:40-1:50), and a little bit of sprint work to improve my top speed. As a result, I've become more confident with the strokes, my freestyle distance times continue to improve--if only slightly--and my 50-100 times have improved in all strokes. So what's the problem? Why can't I maintain a faster pace for those longer events in freestyle? Well, I think I've been neglecting those intermediate distances... I've been focusing on increasing my sprint speed 25-50 and also doing a lot of 1500 to 5k pace work, but aside from the 200-400 IMs I haven't been doing a lot of work to improve my 200-400 times in freestyle... is that what is holding my pace back in the longer events too? Shouldn't I be trying to improve my anaerobic threshold (the 200 times) if I want my LT pace to get faster for the longer, aerobic events? There's a big difference between swimming 200s at an aerobic pace (the 1500 to 5K range) to help with pacing for those longer events, and actually focusing on bringing those 200 times down.

    So the hypothesis I'm going to test out in the next month or so is this: if I shift more of my training consciously toward improving my 200 times (actually training FOR the 200s, rather than using sets of 200s to train for something else), the improvement in lactate threshold that this brings about should result in corresponding drops in my times for longer distances (perhaps dropping even faster than if I just focused on pace work for the distance events). We'll see.
  2. Caesar, Shakespeare, Machiavelli and 1500 LCM splits...

    by , July 1st, 2013 at 01:18 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    I forgot to mention that our state LCM meet results and splits were posted Friday; I now "officially" own my age group in the backstroke (50, 100, and 200); plus I've won my age group in 400 IM in two straight state meets--SCY and LCM. Times are slow, I'm painfully aware of this, but I showed up and swam: "veni, natavi, vici" as Julius Caesar would have put it. Although Shakespeare's version has Caesar as a much less proficient swimmer than Cassius, well at least as Cassius tells it... check out Cassius to Brutus in Act I, scene ii:

    I was born free as Caesar; so were you:
    We both have fed as well, and we can both
    Endure the winter's cold as well as he:
    For once, upon a raw and gusty day,
    The troubled Tiber chafing with her shores,
    Caesar said to me 'Darest thou, Cassius, now
    Leap in with me into this angry flood,
    And swim to yonder point?' Upon the word,
    Accoutred as I was, I plunged in
    And bade him follow; so indeed he did.
    The torrent roar'd, and we did buffet it
    With lusty sinews, throwing it aside
    And stemming it with hearts of controversy;
    But ere we could arrive the point proposed,
    Caesar cried 'Help me, Cassius, or I sink!'
    I, as Aeneas, our great ancestor,
    Did from the flames of Troy upon his shoulder
    The old Anchises bear, so from the waves of Tiber
    Did I the tired Caesar. And this man
    Is now become a god, and Cassius is
    A wretched creature and must bend his body,
    If Caesar carelessly but nod on him.

    Read the full play here

    And watch the classic movie version with a young Marlon Brando as Marc Antony; I showed it to my HUMA 102 students last summer hard on the heels of reading Machiavelli's Prince. Ah, the unbridled ambition and attendant scheming of the renaissance politicos... so well portrayed in Shakespeare's characters. "So, Brutus, if Caesar be in thy age group, swim lustily with thy sinews, knowing thou shalt conquer him in open water... but beware the Ides of March in short course, for he swimmeth a wicked medley at middle distances."

    We all take what we can get!

    Since my bud Scotty DQ'd the 400 IM (in a mental lapse he one handed the breast turn), I am technically the champion of our age group, LCM. And, in the spirit of the technicality-minded schemers of Shakespeare's plays I accept this triumph... and will try to avoid a re-match like the plague!

    Scotty did crush me in the 1500. And he was all to happy to remind me of this, emphasizing the slick look of my SILVER, when we picked up our 1500 medals. Machiavelli emphasized that a basic knowledge of human behavior and a nice dollop of foresight are essential for any prince to succeed; but how to attain such knowledge and foresight? Machiavelli's answer was in the study of history, since human behavior hasn't changed in thousands of years and history tends to repeat itself.

    So, here's to dredging up some ancient history in hopes of learning from it and, perhaps, looking ahead to what may be expected in futures near and far. Future will have to wait; past starts with analysis of the 1500 splits...

    Leg Cumulative Subtractive
    1 44.73 44.73
    2 1:38.00 53.27
    3 2:33.90 55.90
    4 3:27.72 53.82
    5 4:06.50 38.78
    6 5:14.96 1:08.46
    7 6:08.80 53.84
    8 7:02.92 54.12
    9 7:44.64 41.72
    10 8:50.45 1:05.81
    11 9:44.59 54.14
    12 10:37.64 53.05
    13 11:31.26 53.62
    14 12:25.52 54.26
    15 13:19.64 54.12
    16 14:14.21 54.57
    17 15:08.41 54.20
    18 16:02.51 54.10
    19 16:57.72 55.21
    20 17:50.30 52.58
    21 18:44.20 53.90
    22 19:37.49 53.29
    23 20:31.84 54.35
    24 21:25.59 53.75
    25 22:19.65 54.06
    26 23:13.13 53.48
    27 24:07.13 54.00
    28 24:59.62 52.49
    29 25:52.92 53.30
    30 26:43.66 50.74

    I was a little baffled by the strange splits at legs 5-6, 9 and 10. It then dawned on me that with touch pads at both ends of the pool for long course, my lap counter (the ever energetic Aaron, my 14-year old!) might have gone a little crazy with the lap-counter and bumped the timing pad on the way in. At the last meet we instructed him to give the lap-counter a wiggle if I was slowing from the pace a little too much, so he's an old pro now, except that I don't think he realized there was a timing pad down there this time. In any event, I feel like with those anomalies explained away it was a remarkably consistent effort... mostly in the :53-:54/50 pace range... the 100s holding pretty steadily around 1:47-49, closer to 1:45-47 in the last few hundred meters.

    So I have pacing down, but need to work on making that pace faster (as usual). I'll have to go back over my workouts for the last six months or so and see what I was doing to drop my freestyle pace so much between January and March (when I had my biggest drop in time) and compare with workouts from last summer... see what I can tweak; learning from the past!
  3. 7K-weekend; June in review...

    by , June 30th, 2013 at 08:05 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Well, I finished a 7000-yard weekend and a 47-mile month today with my 3000-yard recovery swim at the Y.

    As luck would have it, today was the first time in ages I felt like I had a good chance of getting into the lake... beautiful Sunday morning, blue skies, temps in the 60s, calm waters... such a contrast to the "scattered" thunder showers that have kept me indoors since my return from TX--I can be staring at sunny skies all day through the classroom or office windows, but some sort of weird cosmic irony has dictated that every time I grab my swim bag and get ready for the lake... clouds crowd in, thunder booms. Not today; the morning was glorious... but as I drove up the parking area was packed... age-groupers had their zone championships in OW today at my favorite venue... no, I wouldn't be able to get into the lake until early afternoon, after the last heats were done. I packed it back up and headed for the Y... foiled again. I'm beginning to think the OW gremlins are conspiring against me this year.

    Here were my weekend workouts, not the high mileage (either this weekend or this month) that I've been able to put in previous Junes, but probably more quality:

    SAT, 4000 SCY/80 minutes:

    WU: 400 EZ, 4 x 100 IM on 2:00, 4 x 50 on 1:00 (in 200 IMO)
    5 x 200 on 3:30 (3:03-3:10)
    5 x 100 on 1:45 (1:29-1:33)
    5 x 50 on :50 (:42-:46)
    250 recovery swim
    CD: 4 x 50 on 1:00 (200 IMO), 4 x 100 IM on 2:00, 400 EZ

    The main set was basically a mile of hard freestyle... with rests I finished the whole 1750 in 30:15, not that great, but my actual swim time was a lot faster--which is what I was going for. I was still feeling sore throughout this workout, from my hard stroke and drill work of earlier in the week.

    SUN, 3000 SCY/60 mins:

    WU: 400 EZ, 4 x 100 on 1:45 (1:32ish and feeling very sluggish!), 4 x 50 on 1:00 (focused on form, but was slow... :42-:43s), 2:00 break
    MS: 5 x 200 IM on 4:00 (3:29-3:34)
    CD: 4 x 50 fr on 1:00 (:40-:42), 4 x 100 IM on 2:00 (1:44-1:46), 400 EZ swim.

    The main set felt difficult, but I wasn't pushing to the limit... just really feeling the blahs right now. I did pay close attention to the splits (I was starting right in front of the pace clock so I got a great view at every 50 turn, fly was consistently in the :48-:49 range; back was a little more erratic (depending on the efficacy of the turn), in :49-:53, but was mostly around :50; the breast leg was stuck between 1:00 and 1:03 (yuck!), and so my free was usually a relaxed :45-:50.

    Looking back over the month I can be pleased at least that I had 27 swims and only missed 4 days (one of my 26 swim days I managed a double), in spite of all the travel... though I don't have the mileage I might normally have with that many days of swimming. Reduced yardage was more quality though. I did a lot of IMs in the 200-yard range, for example. And I'm ending the month ahead of my GTD goal pace (barely!)... #13 in age-group the last I checked. My FLOG is also telling me that my weight and RHR have been relatively stable despite my diet being less than normal; I think I'm sleeping a little better... summer school seems a little less hectic this year.
  4. 40-45 minute workouts

    by , June 29th, 2013 at 01:26 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    So I haven't had much time the last couple of days, which is OK because I'm still pretty sore from the 4K on Wednesday... I guess all the drills and stroke work, which I really hadn't done as much of in the last couple of weeks, was a real shock to my system. Thursday night I got in around 8 PM and was surprised at how stiff, sore I was. I did 2600 SCY:

    200 EZ fr
    200 pull w/ buoy
    200 kick w/ board and zoomers
    4 x 50 fr on :50
    200 EZ bk
    200 bk pull w/ buoy
    200 bk kick w zoomers (in streamline)
    4 x 50 bk on :60
    200 EZ br
    200 br kick w/ board
    200 1-arm fly
    8 x 25 SDKs on :40
    200 EZ fr

    Friday AM I woke up even more sore, mostly in the shoulders, so I decided on a real quick workout... just freestyle (I noticed the fly and breast work over the last few days was increasingly difficult, so those muscles need some recovery). I did 2200 SCY:

    4 x 50 on 1:00 swim golf (was at 12-14 strokes/length; :46-:47 per 50)
    400 EZ swim
    4 x 100 on 2:00
    4 x 100 on 1:50
    4 x 100 on 1:45
    2 x 100 on 1:40
    4 x 50 on 1:00 swim golf

    The 100s were all between 1:29 and 1:33, mostly in the 1:31-32 range. I felt really tight the whole time, even with the swim golf, which usually helps me to lengthen my stroke and relax... It's been a while since I've done any swimming golf, but usually I start off around 14 strokes/length and end up around 9-11 strokes/length after loosening up. Yesterday that never happened; I stayed at 12-14 SPL (25-27 per 50).
  5. Biding time in SCY...

    by , June 26th, 2013 at 07:39 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Thunderstorms have been timed perfectly with my windows of opportunity for swimming this week, so I'm still trapped in the SCY box. Yesterday I did a quick 45-minute workout, all I had time for, and got in 2400:

    2 x 600 (200 fr, 200 kick, 200 pull, 200 kick, 200 pull, 200 fr);
    6 x 100 on 1:40 (1:24, 1:27, 1:30, 1:29, 1:27, 1:25);
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00 (1:38-1:44);
    200 EZ cool-down.

    Today I had time to do a longer workout and I like the idea of doing lots of drill and stroke work on those days when I am in the pool for the rest of the summer and not working on OW--so I did Laurie Hug's second workout for the week on the Stroke-IM thread. I'm cutting and pasting here w/ slight adjustments.

    WU: 2 x (100 swim, 100 kick, 100 pull)

    3-4 rounds of:
    [3 x 25 drill R10s
    1 x 100 good technique and build speed R5s
    1 x 25 skate R10s]
    IMO by round (so for round 1 the 25s drill are all fly and the 100 is fly, for round 2 the 25s are back and the 100 is bk and for round 3 the 25s are br and the 100 is br. If a 4th round is done, it is all free)

    1 x 300 IM steady pace

    3-4 rounds of:
    [3 x 25 kick with fins R10s
    1 x 100 swim with fins R5s
    1 x 25 skate R10s]
    IMO by round (breast can be done with small fins like Finis positive drive fins or with no fins)

    1 x 300 IM swim with fins

    3-4 rounds of:
    [3 x 25 pull (buoy/band and small paddles optional) R10s
    1 x 100 build R5s
    1 x 25 skate R10s]
    IMO by round

    1 x 300 IM swim (with small paddles optional)

    CD: 500 (pull, bk pull, fr, br, fr)
    Total: 4400

    MY NOTES: good thing I had lots of time because this workout (the full 4400) took me 1:45. I am not that great at drills (really just like to swim), but I know I need to do them to develop more efficient strokes, so it was good to have this model before me... otherwise I'd probably just do a little drill in the warm-up and cool-down and that's it (and for me, pull and kick would count as drill too!). But this workout got me to do a lot more drill than I would normally do... it's just slower (even slower than I normally am).

    I did the full 3300 of the main set. My rests were all over the place, depending on how taxing the drill, but I kept to the 5-second rests after the 100s... my 25 recovery swims were less and less like skating and more and more like bath-tub wind-up toy as the workout wore on. Doing the 4th round (freestyle) of each main set was great at first--but I barely cracked 1:30 in my last set!

    I used zoomers as my fins for the kick round (and in the warm-up), but just used the board for br kick, no fins. On the 300 IM following the kick set, I used the zoomers and didn't take them off for breast... that slowed me down quite a bit for 75 yards. I'll have to look into the Finis PDFs. On the pull set I didn't use paddles, but did use buoy.

    All in all, a great workout... pretty challenging; and I know that if I were more proficient at drills it would be even more challenging.
  6. Post-meet...

    by , June 25th, 2013 at 01:25 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    Well, still haven't seen my splits for the events I did Sunday. Anthony got video of my 50 back, but I'm really interested to know what the breakdown was on my 200 back, 400 IM and 1500 events. Got a great night's sleep after the meet yesterday and felt pretty good when I made it into the Y today. I did 4400 SCY in 91 minutes:

    WU (1000):
    500 (100 ez fr, 100 pull, 100 bk pull, 100 bk, 100 pull)
    4 x 25 SDKs w/ short fins on :40
    4 x 25 bk SDKs w/ short fins on :30
    2 x 50 br kick w/ board on 1:15
    2 x 50 fr kick w/ board and fins on :50
    100 IM (1:37)

    MS (2000):
    3 x thru
    -300 fr on 6:00, 5:15, 5:30
    -200 fr on 3:50, 4:00, 3:30
    -100 fr on 1:50, 1:55, 2:00
    1:00 rest
    200 IM in 3:22 (:47, 1:37, 2:38, 3:22)

    [Got the freestyle set from Laurie Hug's Stroke and IM workout #1 for this week; she actually had 4 x thru, but I liked the idea of varying the rests...cycling through intervals of 2:00, 1:55, 1:50, 1:45 per 100; this really kept me busy doing the mental math; my pace per 100 was consistently 1:27-1:32]

    CD (1400):
    600 EZ (200 pull, 200 8-3-8 drill w/ fins, 200 fr)
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00 (1:38-1:42)
    400 Ez (200 pull, 200 fr)

    Felt like I needed a long cool-down today after all of the hard swimming yesterday... but I needed to put in some more yardage than I had done all of last week, trying to taper. My body likes the fatigue, it doesn't like several days in a row with less than 2000 yards... I get wound up tighter than... I don't know what, just doesn't feel right.

    Tomorrow I think I might go back to something boring like 10 x 100 fr on 1:40, 10 x 100 IM on 2:00... we'll see what I have time for. Thunderstorms are keeping me out of the lake these days... I'm itching to get into OW.
  7. LCM State meet...

    by , June 24th, 2013 at 12:17 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    My first Long Course meet ever!

    I'll have to write a more complete account tomorrow; right now I'm pretty tired and just want to go to bed. Also I want to take a look at my splits, which I haven't had a chance to do yet, to comment in more detail.

    400 IM = 8:10, my seed time was 7:45, but I wasn't last! I had no idea what to expect or what the long course would feel like... I felt pretty smooth on everything, just slow. Siren song? What I was hearing was more like a banshee wail.

    200 Back = 3:47; only about 5 minutes after my 400 IM... beat my seed time and came in a close second in the heat (was 4IM just a warm-up for the 200 back?).

    50 Back = :46 (seed time was :48).

    100 Back = 1:41 (seedtime 1:40).

    1500 Free = 26:43; just trying to stay smooth... nowhere near my 1650 time, but about :10 faster than my 1500 SCM; being that it's long course, I feel like that's a sign I haven't lost too much fitness since short course season.

    We had a good time... I swept the back stroke events in my age group! 4IM was fun with two of my Kenosha swim buds doing it with me, Carl and Scotty; there were only two other 4IMers at this meet apart from the Kenosha contingent, everyone else scratched... which means I got a top 5 spot (4th actually) overall in that gnarly event.
  8. Starting short taper...

    by , June 18th, 2013 at 11:24 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Did only 2000 SCY today; starting the taper for Sunday's meet.

    400 on 7:00 (200 fr/200 pull)
    4 x 100 fr on 1:45 (1:29-1:33)
    4 x 50 fr on :50
    4 x 200 on 3:20 (3:08-3:10)*
    200 EZ


    *these 200s were actually broken into hard 100 fr (which came in around 1:27-1:28) straight into 100 pull.

    Tomorrow will be another tick up in yardage, maybe 3000 or so, then back down to 2500, 1800, and 1000 for Thursday thru Saturday. That's going to have to be it for the taper... hope that lets me re-charge enough to come back strong for 2250 of hard swimming in the LCM meet.
  9. 400 IM TT (SCY); 50s day

    by , June 18th, 2013 at 01:26 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    After one last outdoor swim in Austin on Saturday (I did a little more than 2000 meters), my legs were pretty shot. I noticed it walking up three flights of stairs at my sister's condo Saturday night. I had done maybe 10 miles of swimming over the week, but a lot of walking and more vigorous hiking in the heat and on the hills than I'm used to (probably 3+ miles/day, whereas I normally get in about 2/day on considerably flatter terrain)... I think it was finally starting to take its toll. Yesterday, we got up early to fly back to Chicago ORD and were back in Kenosha by 12:30. After filling my gut with a father's day burger (we grilled out on the back deck; beautiful weather!), I met Scotty at the Y. We wanted to time trial a 400 IM, SCY, even though we're going to be doing LCM next week... just to see if our seed times were more or less in the ballpark after conversion from yards to meters.

    I was not feeling it... my legs were tired; I had a short warm-up; I was belching burger for most of it. I still swam a 7:07 off the blocks, which is not bad (my PR is 6:49), and I'm generally happy with anything under 7:10 in practice off the blocks. So my seed time of 7:45 is probably on target... it's not going to be a relaxing swim by any means, but with a little bit of a taper I should get a good benchmark for gauging future LCM/SCM 400 IM times. I turned around and did a hard 200 Back in about 3:30 with only about 3 minutes rest (my PR is 3:16), because I've got the 200 BK only two events after the 400 IM next Sunday. I also time-trialed a 50 and a 100 BK (:43 and 1:37 respectively). My legs were so sore at this point that I literally could not find anything faster than 2nd gear. An 800-yard freestyle swim finished out my 2000-yard day. My wife and I went for a nice walk in the evening, only a couple of miles, but I could really feel the fatigue in the legs.

    So, for this week I'm forgoing any cross-training... just pool or OW work. Today I did 3300 SCY. A 50s day; this was some serious pain/fatigue.

    WU: 400 EZ on 7:30, 4 x 100 IM on 1:10, 4 x 50 fr on 1:00
    --10 x 50 fly on 1:15 (:47-:52)
    --10 x 50 back on 1:15 (:49-:51)
    --10 x 50 breast on 1:15 (:53-:56)
    --10 x 50 free on 1:00 (:40-:46)*
    CD: 300 EZ

    *These free 50s were awful... the last 4-5 I decided would just be part of my cool-down at :45-:46, trying to get my HR down (It was at or above 145 for most of the sets, which is 82% or more of MHR when I do the normal age calculations, a rate I held for 47 minutes today--don't know if that's good, bad, or indifferent... guess I'll find out tomorrow).
  10. 250 miles...

    by , June 14th, 2013 at 09:59 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Today's swim put me over 250 miles for the year, still ahead (barely) of my 550-mile/year pace. The last few days have been pretty crazy as far as schedule goes, so I've just been squeezing the swims in when I can. I missed Tuesday altogether, I could have gotten a very short swim in at 5AM, but opted for a few extra zzzzs to help me make the drive to Dallas, then a two-hour tour of campus, then over to Fort Worth to meet up with my aunt and uncle for a little while, then back to Austin.

    Wednesday DOUBLE:

    Wednesday found me at Barton Springs at 5:30 AM, after only 4 hours of sleep; still dark (unlike in Wisconsin this time of year at that hour), water still cold, but I warmed up pretty quickly. It was really quite beautiful and quiet (maybe only half a dozen other swimmers); I rolled over for a few strokes on my back after the first 1/4 mile and could see the sky beginning to lighten... shades of dark blue-green interrupted by pink clouds... nice. I even did about 300 in total fly. After about 1/2 mile, I started at the 1/8-mile marker and kept up my fly all the way to the dam... about 200 yards or so, no walls, no turns, so that was a bit of a confidence booster for me, taking the fly out into the open. I paused briefly twice to avoid other swimmers, but other than that I managed to fly consistently the whole length of the spring. After a recovery swim back to the start, I did another half length of fly. I only did a mile total, then had to rush back to pick up my son and head over to College Station. Nice tour and info sessions, starting at 10 AM and ending at 2:30, it was about 3:00 before we left. As we got back into town, I realized I might have time to sneak in a second swim at Deep Eddy. At 6PM I did another 1800 M (600 Warm-up; 5 x 120 IM; 600 cool-down), so I was over 2 miles for the day.


    Anthony and I hit the cold spring water of Deep Eddy again on our way back in town from Texas State U's tour in San Marcos, before the evening's activities with family. Here's what I did:

    3600 M

    WU: 600 EZ
    MS: 10 x 120 fr :10-:20 RI
    2 x 240 IM
    1 x 120 IM
    10 x 60 fr :10 RI
    CD: 600 EZ


    Today I needed to get in a little more IM work... I was thinking about going over to Longhorn Aquatics for their noon workout, but Anthony had a couple of afternoon appointments on campus, so I opted for a morning swim again at Deep Eddy, but not early enough (as I found out) to join their masters practice--which I'm going to try to make one of these days. There were few enough lap swimmers around 9:30-10:30 AM that I had the lane to myself for about 1200 meters... amazing! Here's what I did:

    WU: 600 EZ
    MS: 5 x 240 IM on :20-:30 RI
    5 x 120 fr on :10-:15 RI
    10 x 60 fr on :10 RI
    CD: 600 EZ

    Another 3600-M day.

    Tomorrow I've got to sign up online for the WI state LCM championships (our only LCM meet). I think my line-up will be 400 IM, 200 BK, 50 BK, 100 BK, 1500. The 400 IM is event #1 and 200 BK is event #3, so I'm really just treating these as LCM time trials (I don't have any other LCM times to compare with, so really have no idea how it's going to turn out... just plan to swim hard and set a benchmark). Next week I won't be tapering so much as transitioning into open water training. I'm going to keep the IM work in my routine, though, as drill work and x-training for open water freestyle.
  11. Non-standard pool length

    by , June 10th, 2013 at 06:52 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    So I've been back at Deep Eddy in Austin for the last couple of days, visiting family and touring my middle son Anthony around colleges. Deep Eddy is the spring-fed pool that is 33 and 1/3 yards long... so figuring out laps/distances is always interesting. Basically, 20 lengths is 600 meters (actually, 666 yards... a seemingly diabolical number). Yesterday I just got in 1320 meters before thunder storms forced us out of the water. I needed a rest day anyway.

    Today I got in and did the following (counting in meters):

    600 Warm-up, fr
    4 x 240 IM (no pace clock, but my rest ranged 15-45 seconds)
    600 fr
    2 x 240 IM
    600 fr

    3240/70 minutes

    I was a little discouraged when I looked at the clock and noticed that nearly an hour had passed and I was still only at about 2640, until I remembered the conversion back to yards put me at almost 3000. Did about two miles total, so I felt better about the effort. The last 60 meters of fly today was a real bugger!

    Tomorrow we're off for day trip to visit UT-Dallas, then Tex AM on Wednesday (Anthony's interested in engineering and computer science--doesn't take after his old man... thank goodness!), so I'll probably be swimming at Barton Springs at 5:30 AM the next couple of days... 1/8-mile lengths and 68 degree water!
  12. Friday-Saturday workouts

    by , June 9th, 2013 at 12:53 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    Yesterday, did a sprint workout...

    WU: 500 fr (8:10)
    MS: 80 x 25 on :45*
    CD: 500 (100 fr, 200 IM, 200 reverse IM)

    3000 SCY/80 mins
    *Did 20 on each stroke; flys were mostly :21-:22, BK :19-:22, BR mostly :24, FR :15-:17, mostly :16. Was racing Scotty on these... he took all the Fly and Breast, I took all the BK, we split the Frees.

    Today, did another continuous swim: 3600 SCY/61+ mins.

    1200 on 21:00 (alt. fr and pull every 200)
    2 x thru
    1000 fr + 200 bk

    Was finishing the 1200 with free and bk in a little over 20 minutes.
  13. Continuous swimming...

    by , June 6th, 2013 at 10:42 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Having spent the last six months focusing on intervals, stroke development, IMs, I've done a lot less continuous swimming of the kind I used to do... 2, 3, 4000 straight or maybe 1000 free, 100 back, 1000 free, 100 breast, etc., never stopping between strokes... little to no rest. After the 200s yesterday I wanted to do something today in the less intense range of the aerobic spectrum, so I opted for one of those longer continuous swims... trying to maintain my stroke mechanics at a lower intensity, but for a lot longer stretch; I really do like this kind of training, though I know it's probably not going to bring my race times down any... I still crave the cardio and this satisfies the craving just fine.

    3600 SCY/61 minutes

    1200 on 20:00 (alt. fr and pull every 200)
    2 x 1100 on 19:00 (1000 fr + 100 IM)
    100 pull
    50 fly
    50 back

    A year and a half ago my postal 1-hour was 3530, for the longest time it felt like I was really pushing hard to make two miles an hour, swimming freestyle. Now I can make 3500 in an hour pretty comfortably even mixing in a couple of IMs, some pull work, and 2-3 rests of 30-45 seconds each.
  14. 200s Day

    by , June 5th, 2013 at 06:01 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    I decided to do a 200s day, the first one in a long time. I felt like I needed a good, hard workout after missing yesterday.

    400 EZ fr on 7:30 (6:45)
    4 x 100 on 1:50 (1:29-1:32)
    4 x 50 on 1:00 (:38-:41)

    5 x 200 fr on 4:00 (2:52-2:59)
    5 x 200 IM on 4:00 (3:30s to 3:50)
    2:00 break
    5 x 200 fr on 4:00 (3:05-3:15... these felt awful!)

    4 x 50 1-arm fly drill 1:10
    4 x 100 back on 2:15
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00

    5000 SCY in about 1h45m... I had a long masters minute between warm-up (19 minutes) and the rest of the workout (about 85 minutes), so I was in the pool for almost two hours.
  15. Feelin' the drag...

    by , June 3rd, 2013 at 06:20 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Felt tired again today, almost as if my strokes were stalling out. I started paying attention to body position again and narrowing my profile to get more distance out of each stroke. Started the workout feeling like I was really swimming against the current, so to speak: high drag. As I neared the end, however, the times started to come down without any added effort, so I felt like I found a sweet spot on free and breast especially. A bit of a confidence booster.

    Warm-up (1000):
    400 EZ on 8:00 (6:50)
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00 (1:50s)
    200 IM on 4:00 (3:45?)

    MS (2000):
    8 x 25 SDKs w/ short fins on :45
    8 x 25 BK SDKs/flutter kick w/ short fins on :30
    4 x 50 BR pull w/ buoy on 1:15
    4 x 50 1-arm fly drill on 1:10
    2 x 50 BR pull w/ buoy on 1:15
    2 x 50 BR on 1:15
    5 x 50 fr on 1:00 (:37-:39)
    5 x 100 fr on 2:00 (desc. 1:30-1:24)
    5 x 50 fr on 1:00 (asc. :41-:45)

    Cool-down (600):
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00 (1:56, 1:53, 1:51, 1:45)
    200 EZ pull, focus on shoulder/hip rotation

    Total = 3600 SCY in 80-85 minutes
  16. 5K Sunday

    by , June 2nd, 2013 at 07:49 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    After missing a couple of days in a row I felt sluggish and not at all comfortable today. Still managed to gut out 5k in the pool (5500 SCY).

    10 x 100 on 1:45 (alt. fr and pull)
    1:00 rest
    5 x 400 IM + 100 recovery swim on 10:00 (4 IMs in 7:19-7:30*)
    10 x 100 on 1:45 (alt fr and pull)
    200 IM on 4:00
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00
    400 EZ cool-down

    The first 4IM was actually my slowest, I was still warming up I guess... but both fly and breast timing felt off today. At least I got back in the pool and didn't have any nagging soreness (or outright pain).
  17. 3000 in sun-burn relief

    by , May 30th, 2013 at 11:11 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    I thought I had about a four-hour window yesterday between rain storms. I took the day off to get some landscaping done at the house... my wife is having some friends over for an end-of-year/graduation celebration on Saturday, but the weather didn't look that great for the rest of the week so I thought I would take advantage. Sure enough, the sun came out almost as soon as I stepped into the yard. And it was muggy from all the rain, so I was working up a sweat right away... I decided to go shirtless for a little while. Then I lost track of time. And, seriously, it's been cloudy and cold all spring long... sun burn was the last thing on my mind. My thought process was more like: Why am I digging up and replanting this whole bed again? Why does this lawn have to be so time consuming? Don't I have better things to do? We should sell the house and move to a condo...

    Three and a half hours later I was stiff, sore, dehydrated, and... burned to a crisp, mostly my back. I noticed as I got into the shower, thinking "oh, this one is going to hurt." after a few minutes it felt like I could scramble eggs on my back... was I glowing? ...I wondered. And, despite all the forecasts... no rain. I could have done all the work in the cool of the late afternoon/evening, rather than in the one 3-hour period all spring long when we've had temps in the 80s, with maximum UV exposure. Oh the irony... cruel irony.

    Didn't get my swim in until late last night, in the last hour before the Y closed. The water felt good on my burned back. The swimming didn't feel that great. I was still pretty tired and very stiff from the hoe and shovel action on top of yesterday's 5000. Here's what I did:

    3000 SCY/63 minutes:

    200 EZ fr
    200 pull
    4 x 100 on 1:45 (1:29-1:33)
    200 IM, EZ

    20 x 50 on 1:00-1:15
    -swam this as quick sets of four: 4 fr, 4 br pull, 4 br, 4 1-arm fly, 4 fr.

    200 IM on 4:00 (3:30ish)
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00 (all around 1:45)
    400 EZ fr
  18. IM ladder... now my breast sucks again.

    by , May 28th, 2013 at 06:21 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Well, after only about 175 yards of breast that felt really good on Sunday... for the first time ever... I was disappointed not to be able to get into the Y yesterday to follow up and try to recapture the feel. Alas, the Y was closed on Memorial Day--as it should be. No open water venues available (drizzly and highs around 50, yuck). So I bought my first new pair of running shoes in over two years and *gasp* I went for a two mile run... my hamstrings now feel like they want to snap; it took a while to loosen back up this morning in the pool.

    Today's workout was all about seeing if I could find that rhythm with my breast stroke again... it was there, fleetingly for a few moments in the warm-up, but in the context of an actual IM... well, let's just say I have a lot more work to do.

    Here was my torment fest for today, 5000 SCY:

    Warm-up (1400):
    200 EZ fr
    200 pull
    4 x 50 single arm fly (each length: 3-4 sdks/3r/3l/1-3 whole stroke)
    200 bk pull
    200 br kick w/ board
    200 br pull
    2 x 100 br

    IM Abyss with bounce (3000)*:
    800 IM
    600 IM
    400 IM
    200 IM
    4 x 100 IM
    200 IM
    400 IM

    Cool-down (600):
    200 pull
    200 fr
    4 x 50 EZ (1-arm fly, bk pull [focus on hip/shoulder rotation], fr, fr)

    *Rests between steps of this ladder varied from :15 to 1:30 (I gave myself a little more recovery after 800 and 600 IMs, rest after the 200s and 100s was closer to :15-:30). Times were slow, I was just trying to survive the set, though my first 400 IM was around 7:15, not bad considering the abuse I've been heaping on the body in the last week or so.
  19. Training for 400 IM LCM...

    by , May 27th, 2013 at 01:12 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    ... and is open water training even thinkable in WI right now? It's already Memorial Day weekend and none of the area lakes are even close to opening for swimmers... only two weekends ago they were postponing opening day of fishing in MN, because there was still too much ice cover on the lakes. I'm hoping that the water done here in southern WI is warming faster than the air temps; we've had highs in the 50s for a few days now, but at least it's sunny. Morning swims with air temps in the mid 40s to mid 50s won't be so bad if the water is in the 68-70 range, but I have the feeling my local lake might not get that warm for another few weeks. Would love to know where my fellow Southeast-Wisconsinites are doing their OW training right now; Lake Andrea doesn't look like it will open this week and I don't have a wet suit, so I'm not going to brave the 40-degree temps in Lake Michigan.

    So, I'm stuck at the Y in the SCY box for now... which means I'm getting a little worried about being ready for the LCM state meet on 6/23. I'm trying to compensate by adding distance and working on endurance for fly, back and breast. For two weeks now I've managed to get in (per week) at least three 4000-yard days, and three 2-3000 yard days; I'm still managing about 12 miles/week. Here are some of my favorites from the last couple of weeks from the 4000-yard range:

    OK, Tuesday 5/14 was 4000 in about 90 minutes; focus on 200s:
    6 x 200 alt fr w/ pull (buoy and paddles)
    4 x 200 fly on 5:00
    4 x 200 bk on 4:00
    4 x 200 br on 4:30
    400 EZ (4 x 100 fr/pull on 1:45)

    Two days later I did this one, 4000 SCY in 85 minutes, focus more on turnover, being quicker, but still 800 on each stroke, my endurance is getting better:
    400 EZ on 7:30
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00
    200 IM on 4:00
    1:00 rest
    10 x 50 fly on 1:05
    10 x 50 back on 1:00-1:05
    10 x 50 br on 1:05
    10 x 50 fr on 1:00
    200 IM on 4:00
    4 x 100 IM on 2:00
    400 EZ

    Two days after that one, Saturday 5/18, I did this monster endurance workout; Scotty thinks I'm crazy for doing 800 IMs... I think I'll be glad I did them when I'm doing 400 IM long course for the first time:

    400 EZ on 7:30
    4 x 800 IM on 16:00 (15:10, 15:05, 15:01, 15:20)
    400 EZ in 7:00
    --I finished this whole workout, 4000 SCY in only 78 minutes

    This week I also had three 4000+ days; Tuesday's was painful (4200)... 450 IMs? I'm trying to account for that extra 40 yards in the 400 meter version:

    6 x 200 on 3:30-3:20 (alt. fr/pull)
    6 x 450 IM on 9:00 (8:20-8:45)*
    CD: 300 EZ

    *reps 1-2 = 125 fly, 125 bk, 100 br, 100 fr; reps 3-4 = 100 fly, 125 bk, 125 br, 100 fr; reps 5-6 = 100 fly, 100 bk, 125 br, 125 fr

    Thursday was also an 85 minute, 4000-yarder with a lot of stroke work and drill... one-arm fly drills are really helping my flow on the full-stroke fly.

    Saturday, I came back for another 4400 and swam a decent 10 x 200 IM set... felt pretty strong the whole way through:

    WU (700):
    200 EZ fr
    100 bk
    100 br
    100 fr
    100 3r/3l fly
    100 fr

    MS (3200):
    10 x 200 IM on 5:00 (3:25-30)
    6 x 200 on 4:00 (alt. fr on 3:30 and bk on 4:00-4:30)

    CD (500):
    2 x 100 fr
    4 x 50 fly (1, 3 in :48-:49; 2, 4 3r/3l fly)
    100 EZ

    Today I had something of a break-through with breast... I finally found my caterpillar... after struggling with rhythm on breast and what seemed like a really slow turn-over, never seeing my times come down (busting a gut to swim 50 in under a minute), I swam a :49 50 br today after some pull drills... now I know why it's a short-axis stroke! I had been putting way too much energy and focus on my arms and shoulders, trying to get a stronger pull, when really it's all about the abdomen and back, timing with the kick and streamline. Today, for the first time, I felt like I was doing it right!
  20. 200 miles, playing tag with GTD...

    by , May 13th, 2013 at 11:40 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Yesterday's swim got me up to 199.90 miles on the year; ahead of my GTD goal-pace by only a mile. Since I started the week about 4-5 miles ahead of pace, this is not a good thing... the dreaded "you'll need to pick up the pace" was bound to reappear after its nearly four-month break. Sure enough, as the calendar clicked over, the exclamation-point-in-triangle warning symbol made its appearance. My 2000 yards in 39 minutes today was enough to stave off the GTD demons for another few hours... and put me over 200 miles for the year.

    The swimming has been spottier over the last few weeks, back to 5-6 times/week. Last week, with busy-busy being the order of the day at work and home I only managed to do 4 workouts. My times feel slow. So maybe I needed a little break anyway.

    I'm trying to get back on track this week with training for distance open water and middle distance IM. Of the four workouts I did between last Wednesday and Sunday, I felt pretty good about 3 of them, though I do feel like I've lost a bit of fitness, I'm trying to maintain and be efficient (get the workouts done faster).

    Maintenance Workout #1:
    3000 SCY/57 minutes
    WU: 400 fr on 7:00
    4 x 100 IM on 2:15
    200 IM on 4:00
    10 x 100 fr on 1:45
    200 IM on 4:00
    4 x 100 IM on 2:15
    CD: 400 fr < 7:00

    Maintenance Workout #2:
    3600 SCY/69 minutes
    6 x 200 alt. fr and pull < 21:00
    800 IM on 16:00
    600 IM on 12:00
    400 IM on 08:00
    200 IM on 4:00
    400 EZ CD

    Maintenance WRKout #3:
    4000 SCY/75 minutes
    Basically the same as #2 above, but added 4 x 100 IM on 2:00 before the cool down; so 600 of each stroke and an additional 1600 of fr and or pull. Fly feels a lot better, less tiring... back is slow, not as crisp as earlier this spring; same can be said of free-style... breast speed could be described as glacially slow, painfully slow... the stroke's evil-overlord laughter taunting me constantly... kick is so sad that hip replacement might be an option, just ditch the whole thing and start over. If going cyborg gets me breast stroke proficiency I'm prepared to assimilate, I hate that I can't conquer breast.
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