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Chowmi's Blog

Michelle's blog on swimming and other fun stuff!

My USMS info:
My team: Dallas Aquatic Masters

My USA info:
My team: Dallas Mustangs

  1. Viking River Cruise & Swimming

    by , August 16th, 2015 at 02:58 PM (Chowmi's Blog)
    I had no where else to post this. shut me out for some reason, and tripadvisor was surprisingly not very good about a dedicated Viking thread. So i'll add some swimming stuff and post it all here:

    Viking Longships do NOT have pools! FYI there is a very close pool where you might be docked, Piscine Keller (google it for info. there is a good blurb that tells you exactly where to go and how to get from the front through the lockers to the pool). It is about 7 minute walk from the dock and open to the public, 3 Euros.

    Viking River Cruise, Paris to Paris & Normandy (P2PN) 07/19-07/26/2015

    My review is tailored for the Paris to Paris and Normandy (P2PN) on Viking, the same principles apply to any of the inclusive river cruises of this category (Viking, Uniworld, Tauck, AMA Waterways, Grand Circle, A-Rosa etc). I will stay away from boat specific comments, because the Viking Pride (along with Neptune, Spirit, and Legend) will be retired after this year. Welcome to the age of the Viking Longships (more on that later)!

    Do you whisper to friends, ďI hear itís all really old people. Like 70!Ē, and that is one of the only limiting factors (not price, or time)? The answer is, ďYes, pretty old!Ē But, you can still have a ton of fun!!!!

    Before the specific stuff and helpful hints, this entry will focus on general stuff you need to know about river cruising:

    River vs. Ocean cruising: Ocean cruises have 700-5,000 people on board. They are usually a destination in themselves, with multiple restaurants, activities, spa, pools, theatres, etc. A river cruise is essentially a floating hotel (150-200 on European rivers). Itís not intended to have a lot of entertainment on board, just to get you from one place to the next. Iím paraphrasing from other sites, but here are two examples: You go on an ocean cruise to drink yourself silly. You go on a river cruise to enrich your mind with the culture of the locale. You can workout on a cruise ship in the gym, pool, or deck space. On a river cruise, there are limited amenities on board, but all of Europe is your gym. Viking in particular has refrained from adding bikes, pool, gym, spas to their Longships. They do a have a walking track on the deck.

    If you read various reviews and the bad ones, you should realize that what they are complaining about are things (1) you would have known if you bothered to read any of these reviews; (2)not Vikings fault, and/or (3) haters gonna hate.

    What happens if your cruise is interrupted or cancelled??!!! Why does this happen??? River cruising IMO has very little margin for error. If the river levels are too low/too high, then you simply canít sail in certain areas. You must be bussed, housed in a hotel, or do the river cruise Chinese fire drill (switch ships!) The ship will either be lightened enough without passengers and baggage to sail and meet you, or you will literally switch ships on the other side of the bridge/lock/low water level. The Viking Longships are identical, so they will literally take one ship and swap with the other, you get your same room number, and everyone goes on their merry way! (ie, your boat canít fit under a bridge due to high water. the cruise going the opposite direction also has this problem. So you switch ships, since theirs is on the other side of the bridge in the direction you want to go, and vice versa!) You also get to meet an entirely new crew!!!

    River levels and conditions change on a dime, so that is why they donít cancel them with much notice. If the river conditions are not conducive to sailing, then yes, itís a real challenge to all 150 of you plus Uniworld, Tauck, and AMA Wís passengers a nice hotel room in a quaint little village, not to mention the complains about hotel quality.

    One of the benefits of river cruising is you literally dock by the small towns. All you do is step of the ship and you are there. In Andeley, it took about 50 steps from the ship to the center of town. But on the flip side, you will have other ships dock right alongside you and your window may be 6 inches from the other ship, or that quaint pub you saw from your window Ė yep, they are drinking and singing in your ears at nighttime. (And I heard other passengers complaining to Viking staff about this Ė but I think the passengers should have known this happens Ė and brought earplugs!)

    I would not get a verandah room on Viking Longships. I hear you get a bit more space inside with the french balconcy rooms. Always go for the bigger room at the cheaper price (ie, 2nd floor vs. 3rd floor, go with 2nd floor cheaper room). Itís a crap shoot whether youíll get a good view from your room or not. My girls almost never got a good view. They were docked along the pier or had another ship next to them the entire time. If you are traveling with others, get rooms on opposite sides so someone may have a view! The top deck is the very best place to watch, anyway!

    People complain a lot about other ships docking by yours and having to go either over the top deck or through your lobby to get to their ship (and vice versa). River cruising 101 Ė you should have known about this! I thought this was fun and part of the comraderie of river cruising! Waving like an idiot to other ships, especially another Viking ship, where they will toot their horns, wow, that was fun!!! Plus you get a sneak peak at other cruise line ship!

    Trip interruptions happen periodically, not rarely- this is why itís so important to read up on your exact itinerary before you go. I would go so far as to map out and identify hotels in the areas you would be going, and see if there are rail service or other means of transportation. This is the apocalypse scenario where you get to the cruise only to find out itís cancelled.

    Our room was 170 square feet, 2nd floor. On the Longships, the comparable priced room is 150 square feet. The room size met my expectations Ė we asked for 2 twin configuration. I still had just enough space to have my yoga mat fully placed, albeit at an angle towards the doorway. I was too shy to do yoga on the top deck. I was able to do yoga everyday if I wanted, but I did a routine about every other day. In the future, I would have no qualms about taking my mat and going to the top deck Ė I donít think it would fit in a 150 square foot room.

    I didnít see the lowest level rooms, but from what another passenger told me (and snarky reviews), those rooms are tight. But I donít have any sympathy for those that write bad comments Ė you were too cheap to upgrade, and werenít able to transition to a positive attitude of just enjoying the outside space. Next time, pony up for a better room size! Itís right there on the website for you to see the deck plan and room size! That all said, Iím actually interested in staying in one of the lowest class rooms to find out if the price differential is worth it. I think it would be fun! Iíd just be mentally calculating how many more souveniers I could buy with the room savings. Maybe that cockoo clock on the Rhine Getaway!

    There were ample free toiletries; shampoo, conditioner, lotion, soap, shower cap. You could steal a bunch and they'd just bring you another set. It got tedious after the first three days of stealing 2 sets a day, so I gave up after that. Plus it was getting too heavy for my luggage.

    Viking Air/Viking Transfers:
    If you buy air through Viking, the transfer is free. We booked independently, and bought the Viking transfer. The transfer was more expensive than other options, but totally worth it. They were very reliable, a price we pay a premium for in a foreign country. I may try booking with Viking air at some point, but will probably try to use miles and get biz class seats. That still costs plenty for a family of 4 in the required taxes, etc. I just priced DFW Ė AMS return on BSL Ė DFW (Rhine Getaway) for 4 and the taxes/fees are about $2,000 USD even with miles. The bad reviews using Viking are that they wonít tell you until very close to the flight what your exact flights are, and the connections are too tight. I worry about short connections so that is why I would chose to book air early and on my own for a family of 4. If I were a solo traveler or just with one other adult, and/or having a few days pre-cruse in the departure city, I may try booking through Viking air.

    We all know there isnít such thing as full price. Itís always Ĺ price of the brochure. The specials are when there is free air (or a surcharge based on departure city). However, the fine print also says you canít get frequent flyer miles. I suppose you can always ask, but who knows. For free airfare, it may be worth it, but also depends on what fees/taxes/charges you still have to pay, even with ďfree airfareĒ. Your transfers are free when you book with Viking air. We paid 120/PP

    Big Box, travel agent, or through Viking directly? In the future, I may try the big box or a travel agent. But for now, the trips and confidence in the booking is too important, so I would book directly through Viking. The finer point is that if you book anywhere else, you arenít really booking with Viking. You are paying someone who hopefully is going to turn around and buy it from Viking on your behalf. Your contract is with them, not with Viking. God forbid that person, business, or big box goes out of business. And it does happen. Iíd rather pass on the onboard credit and gift card extra to make sure my next several trips are booked directly with Viking and to have that peace of mind.

    If possible, I would book pre and post extensions, and on my own. We simply didnít have the time. But the P2PN trip was a good one for getting flights right when the cruise started, because you were in port the first night, and sailed at midday the next day, so worst case is you could probably still catch the boat in Paris before it started sailing. For any other cruise in the future, I would always book a pre-cruise extension. The ones through Viking are really expensive and so Iíd do that part on my own.

    I'll post more on the details of the excursion, probably something on food, and day-by-day commentary, particularly how to fit in exercise/swimming if possible.
  2. Rediscovering the Descend sets

    by , May 12th, 2015 at 11:24 AM (Chowmi's Blog)
    I am making a huge effort to establish in a new lane.

    I had another epiphany that I don't want to work hard most of the time, only huge effort some of the time. A very little amount of time. Like 10 minutes, cumulative.

    I'm really tired (literally and figuratively!) of going in the fast lane on a 1:30 base interval. It's just harder than I want to work. And there isn't a rule that says I have to swim a certain speed with certain people just because i'm "fast".

    I really like the 1:40 and 1:45 base (SCM). Instead of grinding my way through a set of 100's on 1:30 with 10 to 15 seconds rest in the funnel of faster up front people and fin wearing/pull bouy paddler people all around, it's so much nicer to go a more modest interval and descend down to great effort.

    This issue is on longer sets, you end up lapping the people at the back. I think i'll just have to play around with switching to stroke or doing a broken thing when that happens.
  3. Excellent drop your worst stroke set

    by , May 7th, 2015 at 06:07 PM (Chowmi's Blog)
    Today was fun!

    8 x 75's on 1:30
    drop your WORST stroke

    8 x 50's on 1:00
    Odds: free
    Evens: Worst stroke (breaststroke)

    I can't tell you how pleasant a 75 IM is when you drop your worst stroke. Had I been all gung ho, i'd have dropped the free even though we were allowed to drop our worst.

    I actually worked the 50's breaststrokes, going 47, 45, 43, and 42. My time is around 38 for SCM, so I think those are pretty good. I just don't know. But boy was it so nice to not do breast at the end of the IM. So much nicer when you're fresh and know you have an easy 50 behind it. That's why I started going faster each one.

    I tried starting P90X3 but only did 2 days. It is so hard to get motivated to do anything at home, especially during my free 30 day Netflix. I feel like I have to get as much TV time in as possible. So far, i've watched the world get destroyed by supervolcano, plague, zombies, mega tsunami and toggled back and forth with BBC and new House of Cards. When I need to relax from such intense shows, I go to Life (i'm on Mammals) or secretly watch cartoons.

    It's gotten to the point I pick a movie, start it, go to, read all about it, then fast forward to the good bits. Only 22 days left! To further maximiize the free trial, I got it for 4 devices so our entire family is watching Netflix, but none of us together. I think 3 of us were watching Babadook in staggered formation at one point. I let my free Acorn subscription expire because I literally went through all the content. I still had many more seasons of Midsommer Murders, but after about season 6, they all seem the same and I was falling asleep in each episode.
  4. Build a 200IM

    by , May 6th, 2015 at 10:29 AM (Chowmi's Blog)
    When I started masters circa 1993, we used to do 2 sets which had dropped off the rotation. But one made it's way back recently, albeit in easier form.

    The one I never liked very much:
    12 minute swim, how far can you go? Stop wherever you are when the coach calls time.

    The one I liked:
    Build a 200 IM by 25. 900 meters total. Someone double check that, because it's too much for me to count again.
    Yesterday it was given as build it backwards from the freestyle. :30 per 25. I did it the old way (the 1990's way!) and built it from the fly. It was much harder than I thought. There is no truth like the first ones up to the 125!

    25 fly
    50 fly
    50 fly, 25 back
    50 fly, 50 back
    50 fly, 50 back, 25 breast
    and so on up to 200 IM.

    It sounded great at first, plus I had a good lanemate who wore fins but didn't swim on my feet. I was dying by the 50 fly, 50 back. By the time of the 200 IM, I went 3:00 which is not very fast, but considering the agony of the set, that was pretty good vs. a fresh and strong 200 IM when I could go 2:50ish. My meet time in 2014 was a 2:38 so I think that's not too bad to be 20 seconds off.

    The 50 fly actually wasn't so bad, but wow was it awful to make that turn and onto my back. That's when you know you're not in that great shape after all! It actually got better after the 100 - because you were banking more time per 25 and there was more non-fly added to each sendoff.

    I'm not sure i'd ever try a build 400 IM! How much yardage would that be? I can't even count.

    It doesn't look like i'm going to swim USMS LCM at all. I'm going to Washington DC over our zone meet, then to France on a Viking River cruise right before nationals. I might have to do a USA meet just to swim a 50 free or such. I might enter the 100 fly/back but that's a huge committment to huff and puff all the way down and all the way back.
  5. Colonies zone meet report!

    by , April 13th, 2015 at 10:16 AM (Chowmi's Blog)
    Ok, here are my results!

    50 free (split request) 25.6
    50 breast 33.99
    50 fly 27.4

    100 IM 1:03.56
    50 back 29.6
    100 fly 1:03.2

    Best swim of the meet: 50 breast. It is the only swim I did faster than last year, and the .99 is always nice to get under the next second up.

    The second best swim was the 100 IM, which I went out in 28.8, so quite speedy but got the hammer on the freestyle, but still, a very solid time, especially for my age group.

    I didn't bother doing another 50 free. I got a split request because I didn't have a full 100 free in me. Plus I was kind of out of it, and needed the shock of a fast 50 free to get my head into the meet. After that, I didn't think I have a 24.99 in me at this point, and even going an inspired 25.01 didn't motivate me to get up off my squishy mat for the 50 free the second day.

    These should all make top ten, the only wait and see is the 50 breast - usually low 34 will make it in, but at nearly that, you never know, and there are quite a few bunched in the mid to high 33's.


    I was strangely unmotivated for this meet, other than to make top tens and it seemed to take the edge off of swimming really inspired. At my own zone meet, I am motiivated to swim against the zone records. Here, it was fun to race, but knowing if you aren't going to be #1, then #10 is just as good as #2. I think you can't be 100% all the time, and in this case I just wasn't truly, entirely engaged and swimming with a sense of purpose, other than getting through a respectable number of events. I was also not in the best of conditioning, so I limited myself to 3 events a day, and even then, I was running on fumes for the 100 fly. For as bad as it hurt, I thought I did a 1:01. But I was out in 29.2, which is shockingly slow, and if I am that slow going out, then there is no way I had anything left to go my usual 33, and it was a whopping 34 2nd 50, although I didn't really die, I just wasn't very fast!

    It was so great to see Fortress. She is so much fun to talk with and also to watch swim. I sat with Team Pittsburgh, YEAH! And I met Laurie Hug and Susan Williams. They are both so funny! Laurie is an inspiration - she swims so many events, coaches, puts the relays together, and has a great positive attitude. Susan was GREAT to swim next to on the 50 back (SW 28.1, me at 29.6). The biggest takeaway is the mental image of just how much faster she was on the underwaters. It is really a huge wake up call that she was so much faster and that it is possible, though very, very difficult to be that fast. It just takes a true commitment to doing these and going through Fort's workouts and seeing how she make huge stairstep improvements in the sprints by truly committing to underwater work.

    I'm going to goof off this week. Very busy at work the rest of April as it is reporting time for the end of my fiscal year, so I am glad to be done with racing and can just do maintainence stuff with no specific training for the next several weeks.


    The end
  6. Ready for Colonies Zone meet!

    by , April 8th, 2015 at 03:26 PM (Chowmi's Blog)
    Plane ticket - check!
    Rental car reservation - check!
    Hotel confirmed - check!

    Now, ready to pack and get to DC!

    I have been doing VERY LITTLE yardage. Since i've been so tired out, stressed out, and feel like I have never really recovered from being sick, i've decided that I am better off doing nothing than doing something and not having it make any difference, or even worsen my performance this weekend.

    Yesterday - 300 warm up
    4 x 50's pull easy
    4 x 50's kick easy
    4 x 50's drill/swim easy

    Today - not swimming.

    Tomorrow - who can say? i'll probably go to Baylor. Need to shower!

    Friday - nope. travel day = no swim.

    Saturday - WISH ME LUCK! I'm going to take my squishy mat and nap/doze in between events.

    When in doubt, i'd rather overtaper than overtrain!
  7. Calling oneself an "NCAA champion"

    by , March 25th, 2015 at 09:57 PM (Chowmi's Blog)
    I'd really like to know....

    Since we're all about watching NCAAs right now...

    If you swim on a college team but either don't make NCAAs or you don't score points at NCAAs, would you differentiate that when telling someone about your team? For example, would you say, "We won NCAAs" and let everyone assume you were a scoring member of the team, or would you say, "I swam with a bunch of guys who scored the points to win NCAAs", very humbly pointing out your lack of point contribution?

    I suppose I ask because there's guy who swam for a team that won NCAAs and he's always trying to lord it over us who didn't. But often he's the only one in our group who DIDN'T score any points at NCAA - individual or relay. Perhaps I should just ask him next time, how he rationalizes calling himself an NCAA champion when he's the only one in the lane who didn't score any points, and if that is awkward for him.
  8. Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

    by , March 24th, 2015 at 03:31 PM (Chowmi's Blog)
    WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! I'm back! Well, sort of. Actually just killing time hiding upstairs while the Bosch repairman fixes our refrigerator. His name's Victor. It seems it should be Bob. Bob from Bosch. But then again they also do Thermador so maybe should be Thadeus from Thermador or Gary from Gaggenau. tee hee!

    Let' see, since the last time I blogged, I did yet another 25.4 SCY free in a USA meet. Nothing special.

    Hmm.....well, I was all excited to swim a local meet, a big zone meet, and nationals, but I lost steam after getting super sick this past week, so i'm only going to do the Colonies Zone meet and then call it a season. The nice thing about having limited energy from being sick is that it makes the decisions easy. Skip the training, go with whatever you've already done. Now move directly to taper; short burst speed and simply continue resting. Now I am easing back into it, doing about 1200 this week.

    My plane ticket from DFW to IAD was $176 - I kid you not! Got MCE so paid another $40 ish. I am totally eating at Cheesecake Factory when I get there. I would go to Texas de Brazil. It's not the price, it's just a bit weird, even for me, to be eating by myself at a brazilian steakhouse.
  9. Results - USA-S Greater Southwest Invite

    by , January 20th, 2015 at 02:08 PM (Chowmi's Blog)
    Long time no blog! Well, i was getting bored with my own blogging, so I thought i'd just report back with some meet results.

    The meet was the Greater Southwest Invite, a USA swim meet that is a larger one in the DFW area. Teams from the region will travel. It's a prelim/final format. But it always falls the same weekend as the Austin Grand Prix, so it does siphon off some of the very most elite regional swimmers. All the more room for me.

    I only entered the last day and swam the 100 back and 50 free. I almost didn't show, but felt guilty since I did the same thing at the last big meet (for the same reason, actually).

    100 back:
    30.22 33.23 1:03.45

    50 free: (scratched finals)

    I was very happy with those times. The first event always sets the tone for me. No matter what the event, better to do it really aggressive and build confidence from there. So I decided to really crush the first 12 1/2 to the 50, then hang on for dear life. That was a really good strategy, with a respectable dying at the end. The hammer came down hard on the last 25, but not really until then. My 50 back last year was 29.5. If I had held back, i'd have been more like 31.5 and 34 and felt the same, so glad I just took it out.

    The 50 free was pretty good. I actually felt more connected and stronger than my usual swim, better control and power off the start and turn. It gives me great confidence that I am capable of going 24.+ again, it's just a matter of when I can get it all put together and getting under again.

    I got really freaked out the evening of the meet. Very randomly, as I was stabbing away at my peppered beef (or maybe it was the cream cheese stuffed mushroom cap) on skewer at Simply Fondue, my left shoulder started hurting. By the next day, it was at about 20% operation above my head. Doing a google search, I determined that I probably had burstis (sp) and not a rotator cuff injury. Not sure if that is even right. So I was really bummed out, since I have always prided myself on never doing anything hard to enough to get those kinds of injuries. But, I decided i'd make the most of it any swim anyway, with a new routine of mostly kicking. Limit to 1/2 hour so not to overdo the legs and back.

    The good news is that today my shoulders are sore, but about 90%, so I think I was just really sore. That said, i'm going to do no arm-swimming this week, just light stretching and enough to not get a frozen shoulder. From now on, i'm going to warm down (i didn't, just rushed for the lockers) and to do a light stretching round after meets. That probably was what did it.

    The shoulders feel pretty normal now, just a familiar post-meet-i-didn't-warm-down soreness. And that's saying alot, as I just got a root canal at 10:45 am CST!


    Next up: I entered another USA meet - an open format, no qualifying times. So it'll be a mixed bag of swimmers. Most notably, it will be a MOMMY AND ME swim meet! I entered the 50 free, swimming 13 & over, WITH MY 2 DAUGHTERS! What fun. Well, for me. Not so much for them.
  10. Results - Ron John Invite, PHX AZ

    by , November 18th, 2014 at 09:56 AM (Chowmi's Blog)
    Ok, here are my meet results:

    50 breast 38.4 (bummer)
    200 free 2:21.8 (31.8 36.6 37.4 35.9) pretty good!
    100 breast 1:23 (38.8 44.9) whew, this was good compared to the 50!

    100 IM 1:11.5 (32.3 39.2) solid but I thought i could go faster!
    200 IM 2:38.3 (33.0 41.7 48.8 34.7) better!

    chowsh says my breaststroke is Totally 80's. And that I needed to fast forward to 2014! Got some good tips from Jeff Commings who swam AWESOME at the meet! The hardest part will be to consistently practice and work on WORKING my breaststroke.

    1. Head can go underwater. My interpretation is that I should stop "saluting the captain" with the head above water that is so ingrained.
    2. Use my back muscles, not just pull with arms and legs. Engage and incorporate all the muscles and actively use them, like you do in butterfly.
    3. But remember to surge forward, not just up and down and shoulder shrug for shrugging's sake.

    The 200 free was a last minute addition. I was only going to swim it as a 50 split, but after the 50 breast, I was really worried about the 100 breast, so I thought i'd try to get a top ten time in the 200 free. It's my first in SCM and the first full 200 free as-a-200-free I have swum since 1995! I think I went to easy after the first 50 and then had a lot left in the tank for the final 10 meter surge. I will swim this again, it was sort of fun! Strategically, that was a good time. There are a few girls that go 2:14 or less, and a bunch that go around 2:24. So at 2:21 it hits the sweet spot of jumping ahead of the 2:24ers but not having to put the hours upon hours of training to go sub 2:15. I think i'd like to work down to 2:18 or 2:19. Sub 2:20 is a huge hurdle.

    The 100 IM was actually disappointing. First, because someone next to me low-balled their time worse than me and went 1:06 so that is depressing and no matter how fast you are going, there they go. Also, it was the bad luck of mistimed walls so came in 1/2 stroke on the fly and then my arms came apart on the UW backstroke, a real killer when you have absolutely no wiggle room in a 100 IM. My breast needs major work, so I think that is why the back 1/2 split is so bad! I'm going to have to spend many hours talking to the coach about how to go 1:08.99 vs. 1:11.5.

    I was very happy with the 200IM. Overall I dropped 4 seconds from the last meet, and it was mostly due to a very aggressive last 50 free and a bit better on the breast. Under 2:40 seems strong for my age group. I don't have a set goal; there are so many ways to improve. But against the age group, 2:40 already is a good hurdle. I think the next would be 2:35. That might be my goal. A huge chunk would be in the breast at 48.8! If I can get it to 45 and 1 more second somewhere, that puts me under 2:35!


    Next up: A USA meet the first week of December. Not sure if I will make both days, but I hope to swim 100 fly, 100 back, and 50 free. I'm curious where I will start the SCY season. I'm going to do my P90X3 again, so that will be Dec/Jan/Feb. A good 3 month window so it won't interfere with the height of the SCY season starting Feb/Mar/April.

    Updated November 18th, 2014 at 10:20 AM by chowmi

  11. Results - 2014 November Classic - Shenandoah, TX (Houston)

    by , November 10th, 2014 at 03:59 PM (Chowmi's Blog)
    Well here are the results:

    200 fly 2:46
    34.9 41.8 - 1:16
    44.35 45.28 - 1:29.6 (ouch!)

    200 back 2.:42
    37.78 41.17 1:18.9
    42.48 40.7 1:23.18

    200 IM 2:41
    50.01 OUCH!

    100 fly 1:09.6
    31.93 37.73

    100 back 1:10.8
    33.95 36.89

    Overall very pleased I got in 5 solid swims; all will make top ten and currently quite high places, but many more meets to come in SCM season. Best swim was probably the 100 back; overall a strong time and quality splits. 100 fly was strategically out fast and hang on; I knew I did not have much left in me after the 50 so went for it. Worst swim was probably the 200 fly - I succumbed too early to survival fly but probably should have tried to keep going fast for a bit longer. 1:16 vs. 1:29 is terrible. 1:29 is terrible all by itself. YIKES 50 breast split on the 200 IM was like standing still. If in replay, i'd probably be going forward! The good thing is if I can drop 2-5 seconds, that's huge for a 200 IM without any other improvements to the other 3 legs. But if I can go faster on the breast, I can probably get faster on the free as well, maybe 1-3 seconds drop there as well. First 200 IM in many years (not as a 50 fly split).
    Next weekend: off to the Ron Johnson in Phoenix, AZ!
  12. 200IMs

    by , October 7th, 2014 at 09:38 PM (Chowmi's Blog)
    Monday recap: I kicked it all!
    It was a build a bunch of stuff up to 4 x 200's, so I just kicked it as fast I could on the swim interval with Speedo optimus fins (medium length).

    The main set was
    8 x 25 kick/drill/swim/easy :30 fly and back sets; :35 for breast
    200IM 4:00

    repeat 3 times, all 8 x 25's of one stroke for each round; no free set.

    2:59 2:53 2:46

    I was pretty happy with this set. I had enough in the tank that the 2:46 wasn't too bad. It was hard, but I felt well in control. I was 1:20 at the 100 so that means I was 1:26 on the way back, and that seems a good split. I feel quite confident that I can be at the 2:40 barrier in a meet!

    Still can't decide what to swim at the Ron John. 100 fly and 100 IM for sure. They are the first events I would consider each day. The rest I may pick based on how well I can recover to max the events instead of which ones I am actually better at.
  13. SCM meet report!

    by , October 1st, 2014 at 03:17 PM (Chowmi's Blog)
    WOW! It's been a really, really long time since I blogged. Too busy on flyertalk and other interesting websites instead.

    This year the annual pool closure at Baylor was 3 weeks - yours truly decided to give up after about 10 days and just embrace bad eating habits, little exercise, hardly any pool time. I am truly at my max PSI pushing 150 lbs! It was funny being 5 lbs over, but that was 10 lbs ago and now it's not so funny anymore! I think my metabolic Dorian Gray has finally given up.

    Here's how I did at the meet. BTW, I wasn't swimming very fast going into in, but I didn't want to miss out on some real racing! In order of racing,
    50 breast 38.38
    50 back 33.02
    50 free 28.49
    50 fly 31.03
    400 IM 5:56.44

    Those should all be respectable SCM top tens. I really starting dying at the 50 fly, which was my 4th. I was really slowing down right after the turn. The 400 IM was pretty tough, because I was still winded from the 50 fly. That's no way to start a 400 IM! So I just backed way off, and then decided that no, I didn't feel like going any faster and just hoped it was fast enough to break 6:00.

    Next up: the Ron John, 11/15-16! I am going to work around these events to get as many top tens as possible. I need 5 more, assuming the 5 above make it, to get to 200 career top tens at the end of the SCM season, yeah! Quantity seems a good strategy now as I just can't get serious enough for long enough to go for any exceptional times.

    Question: What do you think is a reasonable 200 IM SCM time? I can go 1:16 strong 100IM in workout, 1:12 last year in racing, and 2:50-2:55 200 IM in practice, and you see my 400 IM time above. I am thinking 2:40 low if I am also swimming a full lineup of events. That seems a tough event - not open enough for me to pull my 400 IM stunts, but long enough I can't rely on my sprinterness like in a 100 IM.

    My thoughts on Phelps: What a knuckeheaded, knitwit, knumbskull knincompoop. 2nd DUI? Probably more like he got so lucky all those other times he didn't get caught a second time until now. Geez, how could you not know better?!!! Who's he partying with?What's it going to take? He probably still won't wake up until he kills someone. Darned either way as far as the Worlds team - if he's on, that's awkward. If he's off, how does that affect the team as well?
  14. South Central Zones - meet report

    by , July 22nd, 2014 at 08:49 AM (Chowmi's Blog)
    Super long time no blogging!

    Well, here is how I did at the SC zone meet this weekend:

    50 back 33.73 (new zone record)
    100 fly 1:11.11 (34.36/36.75) (new zone record)
    50 free 28.76 (missed the record 28.60)
    200 fly 2:59.7 (37.79/45.40 (1:23.19)/48.68/47.89 (missed the record 2:55.29)
    50 fly 30.96 (new zone record)

    Very happy with times and quality of the swims, particularly the 100 fly. That is a very small spread so I think I could take it out faster. I had a lot left in the tank coming home. I haven't been swimming LCM and I don't like LCM. So I think I can scratch training it off my list permanently.

    50 Back - I think it was a lifetime best.

    50 Fly - super awesome and great split. Even in SCY, my split 3-4 seconds slower.

    50 free - solid. I am not going to focus too much on this.

    200 fly - I don't think I swam it efficiently at all. I want to do it again. I'd like to go a 2:50ish next time, somewhere closer to 37, low 40, 45, 45. Probably just go out faster than that 1:23, like around 1:20 and come back in 1:30. I'll have years to improve from there. It seems mid 40's is a very respectable range for a 200 fly, so start with 2:50 barrier and then inch my way down to the 40's. Most amazingly, yours truly incorporated butterfrog for parts of the last 100. For LCM, I think this is a great strategy. I can rest the front of my body since there is no turn in sight for 45+ seconds! Over time, I can wean myself off of it, but for now, hey, it works for me!

    50 fly - I was on fumes by this time, but I was super happy with the swim. I've been working my fly kick and that really saved me on this swim. I used a 4 breathing pattern, which is very different that SCY at 1 down/1 back. But for some reason, I just need the air in LCM and this pattern works well.

    I'm really happy I swam this meet. I will likely get 5 top ten times, which will put me at 190 and so I will really try to find SCM meets to go and swim as many events as possible to get to 200 by the end of 2014. I've been trying really hard to stay in decent condition and very solid race shape through the summer, with the goal to be in prime shape going INTO the SCM and then SCY seasons. Almost every year, I am "starting over" in the fall and I think a big improvement (which could mean the ability to swim many more events at meets) will be to enter the season with strong racing form.
  15. 4 x fast 50's

    by , June 17th, 2014 at 07:29 PM (Chowmi's Blog)
    What a bummer! On our way from Dallas to Breckenridge, CO, our car was having trouble! We passed Amarillo and were just past 1/2 way when we had to stop in Dalhart, TX! We got to a GMC/Chevy dealer who hooked our Cadillac up to their computers but couldn't really find what exactly was wrong. We were worried about making it over the mountains, so we turned back. What a bummer!!!!!

    Well, we have decided to go again in about 2 weeks.

    In other news, today was an awesome workout -really just up my alley!
    The main set was essentially 4x 50's one each stroke from the blocks, with about 10 minutes worth of a set in between each!

    50 fly 31.8
    50 back 34.5
    50 breast 39.2
    50 free 29.1

    For some reason, we all went by ourselves or only with 1 other person. I went by myself and for some other random reason, was slightly ahead of everyone else. But maybe that was by design so the coach could time each person by themselves. Well, I was quite pleased with the times in a SCM workout. It also was good to see where I was bogging down or needed to focus attention.

    Fly - need a breathing pattern for SCM. I have it for SCY 1/1 or the 100 (every 2) but SCM is a bit more difficult to make it 1/1 so I am thinking 1/2 or 2/2

    Back - just need to do USRPT here! not used to really going bonkers in 50 back enough.

    Breast - quite solid! Just make sure to stay really entact from the turns and to be very aggressive.

    Free - very solid; need to work on turn and in/out of wall; don't breath on 2nd length too soon.

    Here's another pretty good set for building up to a 100 fly: I did a 50 easy every time you see 100 easy.

    100 easy 1:30
    25 fast :30
    100 easy
    50 fast 1:00
    100 easy
    75 fast 1:30
    100 easy
    100 fast 2:00

    Twice through.
    Fly: 16, 36, 55, 1:15
    Breast: 22,44, ?, 1:30
    I'd like to get this set to pushing 50 at the 75 and 1:10 at the 100
    breast - maybe get to 1:25
  16. Fast IM before Breckenridge CO

    by , June 9th, 2014 at 03:03 PM (Chowmi's Blog)
    Well, it's time for the first vacation of the summer. So.... I modified the last several workouts to do "Things I can't/won't do while on Vacation".

    Sunday, LCM converted in to SCM - YEAH!
    I went to workout mainly just to check the box of coached workout before going on vacation. To my delight they put a bulkhead in the LCM pool so scrambled for the deep end and recruited 2 friends to do our own workout in our own lane.
    The main set was
    4 x 100's on 3:00 ==>I did them free
    100 straight 1:13
    50/10/50 1:10
    50/10/25/5/25 1:07
    4 x 25 5 sec 1:04

    4 x dives + break outs
    1 at a time and giving feedback

    That was fun!

    I wasn't very fast on the 100's, but not so far off and not out of control either. I think it's a great place to be for now, and hopefully I can hold on until the fall and improve. I'd like to be 1:07 or :08 on the straight 100, and down to 1:00 or sub on the broken 4 x 25's.
    Today I basically did 3 x 100 fast IMs

    1:17, 1:16, 1:16

    Those were around a bunch of other 100's the lane was doing. Very solid, but i'd like to be even faster. My best ever was recent and a 1:14. That was a serious crankin' it day but we were all doing IMs so I had good racing.

    3 x strong 50's, about 1:30ish

    The fly was really promising at 33. I haven't been there in awhile and am getting back into it. I'd like to breakthrough later this year, finally getting past the 32/33 mark and going 31's from a push.

    I didn't have enough rest to have a snappy back/breast, so those were a bit slower.
    In Breckenridge, i'll just do garbage yardage but lots of kick. I think i'm around 23 miiles or so towards the 50 mile club. I can usually do 2 miles each workout, which they use 1800 as a mile.

    See you later!!!
  17. Hangin' with AZTIMM - on flyertalk!

    by , June 4th, 2014 at 03:51 PM (Chowmi's Blog)
    Super long time no post!

    I have been too busy lurking on to post here. Guess who found me there?!!! AZTIMM!!!! haha!

    I am on a mission to earn mega AA miles. I decimated my current balance due to our Hawaii trip. There was no way no how my husband was going to go economy or even MCE, so I used every squeezy drop of my miles to get us first class.

    Swimming wise, i've just been doing some USRPT, miscellaneous sprinting, lots of fly kick, and stroke work. With no meets to gear up for, i'm just trying to stay in overall conditioning, stroke, and sprint shape so I won't be starting all over again in the fall. We are going to Colorado this month, Pittsburgh next month, and then Hawaii for vacations, so I can't see any reason to get seriously into it for 3 weeks just to take a week off in between each.

    SCM, Baylor Fitness Center
    *Today I went a 28 high/29 super flat 50 free so I was happy with that.
    *My fly has been really coming along. Before zones this year (late March 2014), I could barely do a 37-38 but now I can do that quite comfortably, and push 35's respectably. In my best shape, I could do 32/33's strong 50's fly. I'd like to hold this conditioning and speed going into the fall.

    But the most pressing thought I have is this question:
    Would it be bad form if we traveled 2 in business class and 2 in Economy main cabin extra on our trip to Paris, France in July 2015? My girls wouldn't care about being separated from us, and really, it's not like they are going to get lost on an airplane. I may be short on the miles, and I don't want to wait until I get enough to book the last 2 tickets. I just won't have enough to book everyone business class.
  18. AZ State meet results

    by , April 7th, 2014 at 10:30 AM (Chowmi's Blog)
    I had a great time visiting chowsh!!

    It was so nice to visit my faaavorite (and only) sister, and have free food, lodging, and transportation! We had fun eating out and I started my own drawer at her house. I left my tall UGGs and a pair of wind-resistant sweat pants (I have another pair at home). I bought 2 pairs of flip flops and left 1 pair at her house. In the future, i'll probably leave underwear, sneakers, and assorted bottoms. I can always borrow tees and tops from chowsh!

    Well, here's how I did:

    50 free split (100 free) 25.19 good
    Better! Getting close to 24.99. Tall Paul said I caught a big wave from the incoming field and that I probably should do a split from a slower event and heat, which I agree. I thought it was just me and that I was plankton feeding off the breakout, but perhaps part of it was the big wave as well. I wasn't sure if I was going for a split or not, so I entered at the midway with a 1:00.00.

    100 breast 1:14.94 (34.98 39.96) ouch!
    I think I tried too hard and was turning over and slipping. I should have taken longer and stronger pull--kick and instead was spinning my wheels. Well, at least now I know! I think my 1:14.8 from last week will stand for top ten this year.

    50 fly 27.60 meh
    I was actually going to skip this but decided nearly at the last minute to get up and get another trial 50 fly under my belt. I was glad I did, because I totally did NOT breakout smooth on the dive or the turn - I did one of the too-deep-pop ups. It startled me, but I wasn't entirely surprised. As I have been getting my fly mojo back, i've also painfully noticed I need to start feeling to breakout better, and certainly this race showed I am not there yet.

    Skipped 50 breast.

    200 fly 2:25.06 (32.23 37.96 (1:10.19) 38.87 36.00 (1:14.87)) solid
    I was very happy with this time. I think it will stand for top ten this year, which is what I was going for. I haven't swum it SCY since 2007, so just like my 200 breast, I backed way off on the 2nd 50, probably too much, as I had a lot (relatively) left in the tank to make it look good on the last 50. I think a 5.5 second spread is too much, and that set up the 3rd 50 at a slower pace as well.

    Day 2
    100 IM 1:03.50 (29.31 34.19)
    I was really happy with this time. I think it's in line with my 100 back/100 fly, where historically I am just a bit slower than my 100 back and about a second slower than my 100 fly. My sister said that I went too deep on the backstroke but also did not go very fast or far on the underwater. But everything else was pretty good, and my breast was not so rushed and I didn't "spin and slip" like the 100 breast.

    Skip 50 free
    Skip 200 breast

    100 back 1:02.78 (30.43 32.35) very good
    I was super happy with the outdoor 100 back. Perhaps pwbrundage was right about the sun, I don't know, except that I really couldn't see anything and just didn't worry about going straight, but I suppose I did. I could see well enough for around when I was under the flags, but didn't even think about when exactly that was. I just turned on "about 2" strokes under the flags, whenever that was, and when my face was in the water, then i'd very quickly adjust my arm speed to how close/far I was from the wall and move in a continuous motion. I had too many other things to worry about, like when my butt was about to fall off from the pain and not sitting up. I think it was a quality split. I could really tell my lack of race-pace training. The last turn, I totally bagged the UW kicks and just kicked freestlye, or at least I was telling myself to, because I was pretty numb down there. And then said, crimey, i'm a lousy 1/2 way under the flags off this last turn.

    The end.

    Done with SCY! I think I will get 12 top ten times.i Major goal is to get to 200 as soon as possible. If these all make it, I will have about 12 to go.

    50/100 free 25.19 56.3
    50/100/200 back 29.5 1:02.7 2:19
    50/100/200 breast 34.5 1:14.8 2:44.2 ==>iffy. will have to wait and see.
    50/100/200 fly 27.4 1:02.1 2:25.0
    100 IM 1:03.5

    I don't want to train long course. It does not sound fun to swim outside in crowded lanes with people going less than 5 seconds apart. I might just stay out of the sun in the 25 SCM pool and do race pace stuff!
  19. South Central Zone meet results!

    by , March 31st, 2014 at 12:10 PM (Chowmi's Blog)
    Well, here is how I did!

    100 free 56.34 (26.36/29.98)
    Ok, this was so incredibly painful. I certainly don't train for a 100 and I have decided not to. I would rather suffer for 56 seconds once a year, rather than suffer daily training. That save me, like hundreds of hours! The cost/benefit continum is misaligned. At 55, 54, and even 53 or lower, there is no amount of 100 free training I am willing to do to improve. Unless there is some spillover effect from IM training!

    50 back 29.51
    Very solid, but I really thought I could go 28.99 or better. I'll continue to keep this on my main events! South Central Zone record.

    50 fly 27.40
    I was SUPER happy with this time!!! I really lost my fly ability after the gall bladder came out. I went a 28.3 last year and didn't even make top ten. I really only started to be able to swim 25's and 50's fly in practice around late Jan/Feb this year. I think i'm back! I am so looking forward to working down to a 26.99 or better! South Central zone record.

    Scatched 200 IM

    50 free split: 25.42
    This was actually very strong. The official was standing right in between my lane and the next, but I guess he was really bored or something and had to get closer to the action. He'd bend over slightly when we touched, and I swear, he was totally in my space when Janie was coming in. It freaked me out, 'cause it was like, hey official, you're in my personal space! So I waited wayyy to long, and Janie was totally touching the wall and I was still standing straight up until the official got out of my space!

    50 free: Scratch!
    I needed all the rest for the 100 fly!

    100 fly: 1:02.14 (28.84/33.30)
    I was super happy with this time! I knew i'd have to be really fresh and aggressive on the first 50. The thing is, no matter how bad I do on the 2nd 50, it's going to be in the 33 or 34 range. So I need to bank all my speed on the first 50 and then bring it home. I felt really good, but slowed down more than I thought I would on the 2nd 50. New zone record. I'd like to go 28.5 or better, and then bring it home 32 range. Then i'll be in shooting distance of the 1:00.00 mark!

    50 breast: 34.50
    Ouch! This was quite close to the 100 fly, and I simply had nothing left. I'd say this was actually a bad swim, because I went out in 34.7 in the 100 breast at a meet the month before.

    100 IM scratch
    Save my energy for the 200 breast. Took 2 hot showers and made a historical analysis of top ten 200 breasts in the meantime.

    200 breast: 2:44.25 (37.75/42.62 (1:20.37) 42.30/41.58 (1:23.88)
    I was super happy with this. It was my first 200 breast ever. I think I was a bit conservative, because it didn't hurt very much. Looking at my splits, I probably should not have backed off so much on the 2nd 50, which set up the range of speed for the 3rd and 4th 50's. Perhaps go closer to 40/41's next time! New zone record.

    50 free split: 25.35 relay
    Awesome! Well, not really. Viva la mid 25's!

    50 free split: 25.62 relay
    Yeah! Back to back relays and I could still do it for the team!

    So, some very solid and promising times. I feel I can improve in many events, variety of distances. 4 new zone records. I hope to get the 50/100 free, 100 IM, 200 fly, maybe 100 back,100 breast during my waning 40's. If I can get 8 total, that's quite respectable!

    Next up: Arizona state meet this weekend! I am going to focus on the 50 free, 50/100 breast, and 100 IM for sure. I should be able to get top ten times in those. I entered some other events but I don't want to spread myself too thin and just miss the 50/100 breast when I am right now on the bubble.
  20. Ready for Meet Season

    by , March 24th, 2014 at 09:47 PM (Chowmi's Blog)
    Not sure how fast i'll swim, but at least I feel pretty good and I finally can swim fly pretty well! It's not such a struggle and I am starting to feel my old self again; it will take more time than the next 2 weeks, but hopefully racing fly will give me another big boost and over the hump to better fly!

    Let's see....
    I went 13+ from a dive on 25's fly, so that was promising.
    I went a 38.2 to 38.5 on a 50 breast fast. That was also a good swim.
    I got my mojo going on some 25's back and went 16's. That's as fast as I ever have. Never hit 15's yet.
    Free is still a struggle. I'm still fighting myself but going 14-15's, so at least I can muscle and thrash my way to half decent times.

    I'd like to just see where my times are. Since I turned 45 this year, and since it's been 12 years (2002) since I started racing after having kids, maybe consider this a "reset" year, so all "best times"?
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