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Of Swimming Bondage

bondage:

  • dictionary.com: the state of being bound by or subjected to some external power or control

Though I swore at 22 I would hang my suit up forever, I am compelled to swim, to relish in the pain/pleasure continuum across workouts and meets, to be forever & happily enslaved by this odd sport.

In my 50s now, I've created this blog to keep me motivated, chart my progress and, possibly, offer some insight to others.

  1. Nats Day 4 - Blue Moon and the GEOAT

    by , May 1st, 2016 at 02:44 PM (Of Swimming Bondage)
    While I wasn't one of the people responsible for apparently draining all the kegs ordered for the Beer Garden at the meet on Saturday night, I did decide to chillax a little at our family dinner that evening and had a Blue Moon beer with dinner. Normally at Nationals, I never drink until the meet is over, but, after how dead I was concluding the 200 IM on Saturday, I figured one beer couldn't hurt my 400 IM this morning.

    I slept like a dog last night - out cold around 11:30pm and I awoke on my own at 6:45am. I did some light yoga, had a bowl of instant oatmeal and hit the Starbucks for a quad espresso before heading over to the GAC. Strangely, given how poor my IM performance was on Saturday, I was probably more excited and more calmly pumped for my 400 IM that I can recall ever being at a Nationals. Traditionally, it is the first event on Friday and, hence, my first event of the meet. As it's my favorite race, it is also the race that I normally place the most expectations on myself and so I'm usually anxious and jumpy before it.

    Today's mood was about as close to 180 degrees away from that as possible; I was just looking forward to a good race. I knew I wasn't going to keep up with Nicholas Granger in lane 5 and so determined to just put blinders on for that side of the pool. Fortunately, I was next to Dave Wharton in lane 7 and I figured, based upon the meet he was having, that the race for second would be with him. Knowing that I'm a stronger backstroker and he's a stronger breaststroker than me, I just aimed to stick as close to him on the fly as possible, tried to get as far ahead on the backstroke as I could, hoped I would not lose too much ground on the breaststroke and then steeled myself for a gut buster to the finish on the free. The race played out almost exactly as I expected. The one part of the race that surprised me was the back to breast turn. I had purposefully done an open turn instead of a rollover to try to get a big gulp of air before the breaststroke pullout (always the strongest part of that stroke for me), but I guess I had expended a bit too much energy on the backstroke as I pushed off and quickly realized that I needed to get to the surface for air. This is only the second time in my life I can remember NOT doing an underwater breaststroke pullout (the last was Omaha 2012), but it was the right decision.

    I somehow managed to hang on for second and was extremely pumped to see 4:20.28 on the scoreboard. While I've been faster at three Nationals before ...
    • 2012 - 4:15.17
    • 2008 - 4:17.04
    • 2003 - 4:20.07

    ... this was faster than the 4:21.19 from Santa Clara in 2014 and that was my only goal for this event for the meet.

    I know that everyone would agree that the 400 IM is the Greatest Event Of All Time so you can understand my special joy in wrapping up Nationals with a great swim in that wondrous event. As I've not done a lot of focused IM training this season, this time really left me pumped and feeling like I can get under my 4:15 best time next year!

    Off to get some good pit BBQ before the flight home and then a couple of days away from the pool!
  2. Nats Day 3 - humbled and still happy

    by , April 30th, 2016 at 09:32 PM (Of Swimming Bondage)
    This was a rough day - recorded the two worst times I've ever done at a Nationals in both the 500 free and the 200 IM - and, yet, still emerged from the GAC today happy and smiling.

    500 free

    • Best time jammers - 4:50.18 (Greensboro '12)
    • Last year in San Antonio - 4:55.30
    • Today - 4:57.60
    • Comments:
      • Going into the race, I had figured that going under last year's time was going to be a breeze. I wasn't confident that I could get down to the time from 4 years ago, but I figured something in the 4:52 to 4:54 range was eminently doable.
      • My race strategy was pretty simple - try to go out the first 350 and hang with whoever was in the lead while keeping 13SPL and a tight, two-beat kick. After that I intended to ramp up the stroke count to 15 for a 75, while still keeping a two-beat, and then intended to add the legs for the last 75.
      • I kind of did that for a bit, but struggled to keep the stroke count at 13 by about the 200. I was only at 14, but was definitely not feeling a lot of love and juice coming from my arms. When Steve Unruh started his move around the 300, I asked my body for the next gear ... and it wasn't there.
      • In the end, it wasn't so much that I died, but I just never had a faster gear - splits were 56.4, 59.9, 1:00.8, 1:00.5, 59.9


    200 IM

    • Best time jammers - 2:00.94 (Greensboro '12)
    • 2014 Santa Clara - 2:01.99
    • Today - 2:06.59
    • Comments:
      • Well, that sucked. Started slow, felt kind of beat from the get-go and never got going. Probably my worst ever swim at a Nationals ever, I'm pretty sure.


    ... but, whatever disappointment I felt from the IM dissipated later in the day as my father, older sister, daughter and I got ready for the mixed medley relay. Ahead of the race, we spent an inordinate, yet mildly hilarious time trying to get a mixture of family photos and then got down to the event. In the end, we weren't competitive (as we were in the 18+ age group), but we had fun. We wrapped the family fun with a very nice dinner out tonight.

    ... and I'm looking forward to the 400 IM tomorrow!

    Updated April 30th, 2016 at 09:41 PM by pwb

    Categories
    Masters Swim Meets / Events
  3. Nats Day 2 - Broke the best times streak, but still happy

    by , April 29th, 2016 at 04:57 PM (Of Swimming Bondage)
    I had gone 6 for 6 best times in my individual events when I swam in Greensboro in 2012 and had hoped to keep that streak going at least through today, but, unlike my 1000 yesterday where I went out fast, I couldn't muster the right front half speed on my 100 today to notch up a best time. Still, I was very happy with this light and fun day of racing.

    50 backstroke

    • Best time tech suit - 27.23 (Sept 2009)
    • Best time jammers - 27.93 (Jan 2012)
    • Today - 27.15
    • Comments:
      • I was bummed that the lines were too long in warmup for me to try out the backstroke starting devices and so I opted to not try something new in the race.
      • This was one of those races where I figured, if nothing else went right this weekend, I'd at least get one best time (jammers best) as I'd never swum this tapered and shaved.
      • While it felt like I did everything wrong - too deep on the start, too long underwater, jammed the turn, felt like I was spinning instead of swimming and took an extra stroke at the finish - the time result was great and much faster than I thought I'd do, knocking off an old tech suit swim (leggings, not bodysuit) from 2009.
      • Great way to start to the day.


    100 free
    • Best time tech suit - 48.12 (Mar 2009)
    • Best time jammers - 50.36 (Jan 2011)
    • Today - 50.71
    • Comments:
      • While this wasn't a best time, I was probably even happier with this than the 50 back. I've not been under 51.68 since I went that 50.36 back in 2011.
      • While it would've been nice to get under the jammers best, 2011 was a season when I was training to be a sprinter and I've been doing next to no speed work lately.
      • My splits - 24.97 / 25.74 - show two things: (a) my lack of sprint training and (b) my lack of gutsiness. If there was one part of this race that I was disappointed in, it is that I probably held back too much on the first 50.
      • Like the 1000 where I still think I have the ability to get under 10:00, I still think I've got one more sub-50 100 in me in the future.


    Now it's just some work this afternoon, a nice dinner tonight and then a helluva race tomorrow morning in the 500!
  4. Nats Day 1 - I'm no Katie Ledecky ...

    by , April 28th, 2016 at 02:06 PM (Of Swimming Bondage)
    ... and maybe I shouldn't have had that extra shot of espresso about 20 minutes ahead of my 1000 today, but the end result at least got me to my first level of 'swim nirvana' - a best time!

    I will say that my trip out yesterday, last night and this morning was the smoothest and least nerve-wracking that I can ever recall before a big meet. I was ultra calm, felt almost no worry about my race today, slept very well - especially given the timezone change, and was supremely confident in warmups. Yes, I did get a little nerves around heat 19 ( I was in heat 23), but nothing like I normally feel before my first race at a Nationals. I'm sure it helped that my memories of swimming here in 2012 are beyond positive - I went 6 for 6 best times then and really surprised myself on some of my swims. It also helped that I was very confident in my training leading up to this.

    I had a race plan going into the 1000 today that was very similar to what I've done the last two times I've raced it:
    • First 400 - try to get into a 13 SPL and feel smooth
    • Next 300 - as needed, bump up to 14 SPL
    • Next 200 - go to 15 SPL
    • Last 100 - whatever the hell I've got

    ... but I also decided that I was going to just go with whatever feel I had at the start of the race and try to get into a pretty fast stroke rate. The one thing I did not want to happen was to lock into too slow a stroke rate or to feel like I had too much left at the end of the race.

    Well, I clearly accomplished the last goal - I was pretty hurting by around the 650-750 - and had as close to zero in the tank at the touch as I wanted. I also generally held to the stroke rate and count plan, though I could feel my stroke getting sloppy around the same point that I started to get tired. My splits tell the story of the pain ...
    • 500s - 4:58.3 - 5:11.6
    • 200s - 1:56.2 - 2:00.8 - 2:03.4 - 2:05.0 - 2:04.5

    ... but I touched just under 10:10 at 10:09.92 for the overall win and a best time by 4 seconds

    The only bummer is that I was very close to my next level of swim nirvana - breaking our AZ State Record from the suit era, which was 10:09.09. When I touched the wall and saw how close I was to that, I was initially bummed that I didn't get it ... but I quickly got over that and am really pleased how the meet has started.

    Of course ... I still think I can go faster next year as I really want to achieve my next level of 1000 swim nirvana - sub 10!