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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. Damn, I love to race!

    by , November 20th, 2017 at 11:41 PM (Of Swimming Bondage)
    Euphoric. Blissed out. High on life.

    I couldn't sleep on Sunday night after two days and 8 events of racing at the Ron Johnson / Arizona State SCM Championships. I was absolutely wasted physically, my muscles sore, a physical sloth on the couch watching TV with my wife, but my interior world was ablaze with endorphins, just sheer joy at having been able to get up and race hard, over and over again throughout the weekend. No pain. All the gain to my soul.

    Damn, I love to race.

    Saturday

    I started with the 50 breast, my warmup race for the meet. I went too deep on the start, took too long to get up and then spun like a whisk, all legs and arms akimbo and out of control. Though I was nowhere near my 33.39 best from 2013, I was very pleased with the 35.65 on the scoreboard, a marked improvement over the 38.02 from less than two months ago.

    My freestyle has been feeling good in workouts lately and I was pretty sure I'd beat the 2:09.88 that I had entered in the 200 free. But, lined up in lane 2 of the second to last heat, what I wanted to do was beat Kurt Dickson's son in lane 1 and a 30-something woman in lane 3. We had a blast of a race, all three of us pretty much turning even throughout the race, with the lead changing here and there. I thought I had saved enough in my legs and my lungs to power through the last 25, but came up short to both of them, one of them at 2:08.10 and then other at 2:08.20. My 2:08.52 still made me smile.

    At this point in the program, there was a long break for relays. The sun was going down (the session's warmups had started at noon) and I was feeling pretty tired, happy, but toasty in the arms. The event I was really excited about, the 200 IM, was going off about 6:30pm, but the 100 breast was before. Going into the meet, I was 95% convinced that I would only be able and want to race 2, maybe 3 events per session. I didn't think I had it in me to race both events and had pretty much made my mind up to skip the breaststroke, until Barry Roth, a great guy from Tucson, using an argument of - "It's better to be in the water racing than sitting on the deck" - convinced me to swim. I had plenty of time between the races and so off I went. I made sure not to spin like I did in the 50 and was quite happy with the 1:16.94 that I went, only a little more than 2 seconds slower than my Masters best (1:14.39).

    Then, an amazing thing happened. Rather than tiring me out more, swimming the 100 breast acted like a jolt of energy, a second wind. When I got on the blocks for my 200 IM, I was feeling pumped, like it was the first race of the meet. I had been pretty ambitious in my entry time (2:20.89) considering that I had gone 2:30.61 about 7 weeks ago at the Jamina Winston meet in Mesa. The whole race felt pretty strong and I was elated with the 2:23.49 result.

    Sunday

    My appetizer event was the 100 IM. We have had a surge of 20- and 30-something guys start racing recently, so it's getting harder for us old guys to get into the fast heat in any of the 100s, but I was in a good heat with a few guys in my age group. Based upon my 200 IM being about 7 seconds off my Masters' best, I figured that I should / could be around 1:06.5 (best was 1:02.91). I was probably a bit too relaxed on the fly as I should've gotten further ahead of the guy next to me (who is a better sprint breaststroker) and I then didn't have enough juice on the freestyle leg to make up the lead he created on breast. I beat my expectation, though, at 1:06.30.

    I had almost three hours before the 400 IM during which I called my brother and read just about every word (save the inane marriage announcements) in the Sunday New York Times. I probably should've done a little more warming up before the actual race, but I didn't want to tucker myself out. I had been 5:20.24 at the meet at the end of September and had this pipe dream that I could dip under the 5 minute mark. Oh was this one painful! In a John Cougar Hurts So Good kind of a way. I got to the 50 of the fly and thought I was done. I don't ever remember breathing so hard throughout any backstroke in my life. I couldn't do a breaststroke pullout off the first wall and the remaining pushoffs had me feeling like a drowning man coming up for air, for life. I managed to have some legs left on the last 50 and was pleased with the 5:02.05 result. This was the only race I ended up winning outright and I thank Darian Townsend for not swimming it (he lapped me last year!).

    At this point, I could have gone home. I had raced enough, but I had also told a few guys who were in the 200 breast that I would 100 percent for sure be there for that, so I couldn't back out. I've only swum this event two other times in short course meters, having gone 2:44.62 back in 2012 and 2:43.35 in 2014. 2014 was the fall season when I was really working on my breaststroke and had been when I recorded my best 100 time. I really had no clue where I'd end up, but, much like on Saturday, I felt rejuvenated on this event. I swam very smooth through the 100 and then aimed to build the last 100. I was shocked to see a 2:43.70 on the scoreboard, damn near a best time!

    The final individual event of the day was the 100 free. I don't know why I was entered in a 1:05.05, as my best time 55.92 and I'd even gone a 1:00.29 at altitude a few years back. I tried to imagine what I was thinking and the only thing I came up with was that I had planned to do a 100 fly ... but I didn't really feel like doing a 100 fly, and I definitely didn't feel like doing a 100 free. As I stood behind the blocks, with one heat to go, I was still debating between doing a 100 fly or going a 50 free to a touch and then relaxing. I turned to Lindsey Urbatchka, who was in the heat after me, and asked her to pick one. She was absolutely marvelous and said something to the effect of, "Do neither. Do a 50 fly. It's my favorite event!" And so I did. I LOVED it. It was the perfect way to end the meet. I blasted a 2 breath 28.69, respectably close enough to my 27.62 best from 7 years ago.

    What an AWESOME WEEKEND. I cannot wait to race again.

    Updated November 21st, 2017 at 01:20 PM by pwb

    Tags: ron johnson
    Categories
    Masters Swim Meets / Events
  2. RonJohn - Australia bound?

    by , November 17th, 2014 at 02:26 PM (Of Swimming Bondage)
    I thought I was going to time my arrival at the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center yesterday in time to warmup and race my 400 breaststroke, but overestimated the impact that Ironman Arizona was going to have on traffic and parking. The result was that I actually got on deck with enough time to do a 300 warmup and jump on the blocks to swim my 50 fly, an event I had assumed I would miss.

    Three words for three swims on Sunday - smoked, stoked and coped.

    Smoked - 50 fly
    Once I got there and figured out I could swim this, I viewed it more as a sprint portion of my warmup for the 400 breast and had no expectations of result. I was in a fun heat with Paul Smith a couple of lands over, a smoking fast young woman to my left, a few other speedy guys in my age group to my left and in other lands. The race was a blur, but I was very happy to see 28.42 on the clock ... even if that did mean 5th place in the heat and behind the woman (who I watched rocket past me with her most excellent SDK off the turn wall). I went a 27.62 at this meet in 2010 and a 28.14 in 2012, so this was a Top 3 time for me.

    Stoked - 400 breast
    I think that, if I ever really want a shot at National records, I must emigrate to Australia and focus on the 400 distances of the strokes. Based upon my swim today, I'd have broken the current 45-49 National record they keep for this event (http://www.portal.aussi.org.au/recor...filter=*&js=on). My goal in this race was to get under 6:00 and I was really surprised to see 5:45.46 on the scoreboard when I finished it. I tried to focus throughout the race on long pushoffs (the only really strong part of my breaststroke) and a consistent stroke count (mostly 7s with a couple of 6s and then 8s in the last 100). Both the pullouts and my forearms started to burn near the end, but this was a very enjoyable race. It got me thinking that I need to do fun things like this in future meets. I think that next year I'll have to go for the 800 IM and 400 back Australian records, 10:53 and 5:05, respectively.

    Coped - 200 breast
    While I had a solid 2-2.25 hours of rest after the 400 and before my 200 breast, I was definitely not feeling the love of breaststroke after about the 75 mark of this race. The funny thing is that what has pained me and caused me to stop swimming this stroke in workouts has been my groin getting fatigued, but my legs held up perfectly. What was burning here were my forearms. Fortunately, as with the 100 SCM breast, I have only ever swum this once before at the 2012 version of this meet (after a 1500) where I went 2:44.62. When I limped into the finish and saw a 2:43.35, I could claim a solid best time ... even if I know that this is well slower than my 2:20 in SCY from Santa Clara this spring.

    Meet summary
    • All-in-all, this was a very fun meet for me.
    • My decision to focus on off events and to take it with a lackadaisical attitude was absolutely right.
    • I went ahead and entered three events on the Friday session of the SPMA / Long Beach meet - 200 IM, 100 free (though I entered a 100 breast time and would swim it as such) and 200 back. I am still not sure if I will get there and almost for sure won't swim all three events, but hopefully can swim a couple.
  3. RonJohn - Day 1/2 of 2

    by , November 15th, 2014 at 11:51 PM (Of Swimming Bondage)
    Life's pretty busy around the homefront these days with a number of projects my wife and I are working on. I opted to stay at home working on those a little longer and skip the first half of the session of Ron Johnson meet today as I only had the 50 breast in that section of events, but showed up in perfect time to get a 650 warmup in before my 100 breast. Unlike the cold and rain last year, today's weather was sunny, warm and beautiful. While I have pretty much been doing 90% of my fast swimming as breaststroke, I haven't been doing much fast swimming and didn't know what to expect. The one word summaries of my three events today are awesome, thankful and wasteful.

    Awesome - 100 breast
    I had only ever swum this SCM once before, at this meet in 2012 (http://forums.usms.org/entry.php?256...-Johnson-Day-1) where I had gone a 1:16.25 (but, after having already swum the 800 and the 50 back). While I went too deep on the start and could feel my lack of conditioning on the last 25, I was exceptionally pleased to see a 1:14.39 on the scoreboard. Not only is that a handy-dandy Masters' best, objectively, it's on par with the best 100 breasts I've ever swum as a Masters' swimming in any course.

    Thankful - 50 free
    I was in heat 16 and scheduled to swim right next to Terry Debiase. Around heat 11 or 12, Terry and I were chatting behind the blocks and I figured it would be a good time to tie up my suit (and old Finis Hydrospeed Velo that I got in 2012, I think). As I cinched the suit up, the string portion in my right hand completely snapped. I had no string left coming out of the right "hole" in the suit and no time to run back to the locker room to get on a different suit.

    While this suit, in its heyday, was pretty tight, it was already on its last legs coming into the meet. As I wanted to swim the 50, I figured the worst thing that could happen was I mooned the audience off the start (yes, I was in lane 1) and just aborted the swim after that. I hiked it up as high over my hips as it would go and swam the race.

    Thankfully, there was neither a moon shot on the start or the turn, but I definitely felt extreme "billowing" in the back of my suit on each. The race actually felt pretty good and I was happy to at least see I got under 27 with a 26.99! To put that into perspective, I was 26.51 a couple of years ago.

    After my heat, I did get a treat as I watched Cesar Cielo swim live for the first time and was in awe of his 21.3!

    Wasteful - 100 back
    I am very glad that I only waited around for 8 heats after my 50 to swim this. I switched into an endurance jammer and was quite looking forward to this race. However, I completely slipped on the start, basically flopped into the water and then lost all motivation to try to swim fast. I did work on something, though, by trying to kick as far as possible USDK off the last 3 walls. I think the time was 1:21

    On the upside, I didn't need to cool-down after that.

    I left the meet very much on an endorphin high and in love with racing. I am looking forward to my 400 - 200 breast double tomorrow.
  4. RJ Day 2 - weather better, swam SLOWER

    by , November 25th, 2013 at 01:31 AM (Of Swimming Bondage)
    Thanks for all the thoughts after Day 1 and my last post; I'll get back to those tomorrow, but just wanted to quickly summarize Day 2. Although we had a little bit of a rain shower during the 1500s, the day warmed up and actually got somewhat sunny (still in the 50's air temp) ... to the point where I actually needed to worry about sunblock. I'll have to say that the weather ended up being much better (still not good) than I expected the days leading up to the meet.

    100 IM

    • Jammers Best time: 1:03.07 (2005)
    • Tech suit best time: 1:01.30 (Colonies Zones, 2008)
    • Today: 1:02.97
    • Commentary:
      • I'll take a tenth if I can get it. This hurt big time. I think I used up the last zip that was in my step from Saturday trying to race the guy in lane 1 to the finish; glad to have him there as I really pushed hard on the freestyle to out-touch him (by hundredths, I think)



    400 free

    • Jammers Best time: 4:19.70 (2005)
    • Tech suit best time: 4:06.30 (Rowdy Gaines, 2009)
    • Today: 4:22.12
    • Commentary:
      • True to the rest of my events, my freestyle form just didn't show up for the race. I was racing right next to Kurt Dickson and had a fine time hanging with him for about 200, but just fell apart after that. This is not a horrible time for me in SCM; as long as I forget the 4;06, 4:10 and 4:11 I went in body suits, I've only been faster (without a techsuit) the one time, but it just didn't feel 'on'.
      • If I had to lay blame for the swim, I'd prioritize it as:
        • I think I need more aerobic base and more longer repeat distance pace work to swim a fast 400. For me, at least, the stroke switching of the 400 IM doesn't seem as taxing aerobically as straight freestyle swimming.
        • I think I need more aerobic base work to be able to race as much as I did this weekend. I had fallen asleep after the 100 IM even though I got a solid night of sleep last night and was pretty beat when I got on the blocks for this, despite having jumped in the warmup pool again to wake up for the race.
        • I need to make a determination as to how I'm going to swim my freestyle. I really think that I've made some core improvements in my stroke at slow speeds, but I haven't truly incorporated those changes into my race pace stroke. All the DPS work I've done in workouts kind of was thrown out the window on this one.

      • Kurt, by the way, had an awesome race, dropping a sweet 4:15.5, which very well likely might end up being the #1 swim in the country this year for our age group, and likely a tough swim to beat even by the younger age groups.



    200 IM

    • Jammers Best time: 2:16.10 (AZ States, 2011)
    • Tech suit best time: 2:11.97 (Rowdy Gaines, 2009)
    • Today: 2:18.31
    • Commentary:
      • I was actually pleased with this swim. If I was beat getting on the blocks for the 400, I was beaten to a pulp when I got up for this. Nothing felt great, but nothing felt horrible and I feel like I pushed this as hard as I could.
      • Interestingly, my 100 IM and 200 IM were practically the same swims I did back in 2005 (0.1 faster this year in the 100 and 0.01 faster this year in the 200), but my 400 IM this weekend was a full 3 seconds faster than I had gone back in 2005. So, while my endurance wasn't necessarily there for 8 races (I did a relay on Saturday, as well) over two days, my IM endurance is better.



    The path forward
    Originally, when I entered the Southern Pacific Champs for the Friday events, I had planned on doing the 1500 and then whatever else I felt like that day. Given where my freestyle is and the fact that I think I have a better 200 IM in me, assuming I get to the meet, I'll skip the 1500 and start that meet off with the 200 IM. Depending upon what time I have there, I'll then swim either the 100 free or the 200 back, but not both. I'm slightly better than 50% probability of getting to that meet for Friday, assuming there are enough 1500s so that the 200 IMs don't start until about 2pm!

    Updated January 3rd, 2014 at 02:00 PM by pwb

    Tags: ron johnson
    Categories
    Masters Swim Meets / Events
  5. RJ Day 1 - weather held up, swam FAST

    by , November 24th, 2013 at 01:46 AM (Of Swimming Bondage)
    Very quick update on a great day #1 at Ron Johnson Invitational. Most importantly, although it was cold, the rain and wind stopped for the afternoon of the meet and we even got a bit of sunshine during the 50 backs.

    50 Breast
    • Best time: 36.28 (Ron Johnson, 2012) - update: it looks like I have never swum this as a solo 50 SCM before, so this time was the first 50 of my 100 breast from 2012.
    • Today: 33.39
    • Commentary:
      • If I've ever nailed a start and a turn, it was in this race. Even my old coach, Laura, who was at the meet watching, said my start was awesome.
      • I really stunned myself with this one, but it was exactly how I wanted to start the meet.



    50 Back
    • Jammer Best time: 31.24 (Ron Johnson, 2012)
    • Body Suit Best: 30.08 (Rowdy Gaines, 2009)
    • Today: 30.01
    • Commentary:
      • If I was happy with my breaststroke, I was ecstatic with this as I knocked a tech suit best time off the books from one of the best meets of my Masters life and from a meet where I uniformly swam great backstroke.
      • The start on this one was not so **** hot as I went a little too deep, but I could feel the advantage of all the monofin SDKs off both the start and the turn.
      • Still, it would've been nice to be 0.02 faster.



    400 IM

    • Jammer Best time: 4:48.34 (AZ State Meet, 2011)
    • Body Suit Best: 4:39.78 (Colonies Zones, 2008)
    • Today: 4:46.48
    • Commentary:
      • To be honest, when I hit the wall and saw the time, I was disappointed. It felt great throughout and I really thought I had/have a low 4:40 race still in me.
      • I was probably a little too lackadaisical on the first 50 of the fly and had more than my fair share of slow turns, but all of the strokes felt strong.
      • I still need to get the official splits, but Paul said 1:04 (on target), 1:12 (on target), 1:23 (on target) and 1:07 (off target). When I swim a great IM, my free and fly splits are almost spot on.
      • Paul said what I'm missing most in this is someone to race and it was a great swim for what was, essentially, a time trial. I really need to try to get to the Southern Pacific meet next fall as there are usually some great 400 IMers who race there.
      • As I cooled down and reflected more on the race, my satisfaction grew. After going a 4:49.69 in 2005, I really struggled to approach that time (save the 2008 tech suit time) until I went the 4:48.34 in 2011. To drop almost two seconds is a big deal, especially considering where I was physically just 3 months ago at summer Nationals.



    50 free

    • Jammer Best time: 25.79 (Mission Viejo fall meet, 2008)
    • Body Suit Best: 25.00 (Rowdy Gaines, 2009)
    • Today: 25.97
    • Commentary:
      • I was cool with this swim. It felt good and I was really working on getting to the surface quickly, breathing not so much (1 down, 2 back) and really focused on lengthening my stroke out will keeping the stroke rate as high as possible. It felt a little faster, but, as the 4th race of the day, it's not surprising I didn't notch another best time.



    Overall, a most excellent day of racing and I'm looking forward to the 100 & 200 IMs and the 400 free tomorrow.

    Updated January 3rd, 2014 at 02:00 PM by pwb

    Tags: ron johnson
    Categories
    Masters Swim Meets / Events