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swimsuit addict

  1. Day 1 in Iceland

    I'm in Iceland! I arrived yesterday morning on the overnight flight, went to the pool, cheered on teammates, warmed up in the outdoor pool and relaxed in the hot tubs before exploring a bit and having dinner. It was was all made very easy--my teammate Elizabeth kindly picked me up at the airport and delivered me to the apartment I'm sharing with Hannah and Amanda, both of whom have been here a few days already and could give me a brief orientation to the neighborhood.

    After a salmon-and-potatoes feast we made our way to the IGLA opening party at the Blue Lagoon. It was simply fabulous. The organizers had rented out the entire place, so 300+ swimmers, polo players, divers, and friends had the soothing warm milky-blue waters to ourselves. It was very friendly, and with so many New Yorkers here I kept on running into teammates I hadn't seen in a while. Very fun to get to catch up with them in such an amazing setting, plus a very mellow and relaxing way to meet those from other places. An in-water bar and deejays kept things festive.

    Enjoying the lagoon with teammates Danny and Hannah--photo from IGLA Championships 2012 fb page

    We stayed at the Blue Lagoon until late, watching the sun not set. (I think it dipped under the horizon for a few hours around midnight, but it really is light 24 hours a day here--I got home just before 1 last night and the street lamps were not on, or needed). On top of the ample sunlight hours, we've had brilliant weather here ever since I arrived--impossibly blue skies, temps in the high-50s or low-60s that don't cool off much at night, and not windy at all. I haven't needed most of the warm clothes I've packed.

    After the late night last night the 7am warmups came far too early this morning. It was the second night in a row I hadn't gotten much sleep (the first being on the plane Tuesday evening). And it wasn't just the late night--it's just difficult to sleep when it's so bright out. I thought a sleep mask would do the trick--I always travel with one and have had success using them in other situations--but here even with one I find myself awaking too early, even when when dead tired. I'm hoping that an earlier evening tonight will help me feel more rested.

    But even without much sleep this morning I was jazzed to be swimming at the wonderful Laugurdalur pool. It's a beautiful facility, and this morning the sunlight was streaming in the wall of windows and making the water super-sparkly.

    Warmups were relatively uncrowded--the 400 IM was the first event--and I felt good in the water as I went through my paces. The one thing I wanted to check out was the ceiling--several people had warned me yesterday that the ribs and beams in the soaring roof made it very challenging to swim straight down the lane. That was indeed the case!

    Imagine a big beach umbrella with striping that runs horizontal to the ribs.

    Now imagine swimming under a super-sized version of that, about a third of the way from the edge. That's what the roof looks like--big beams that run the width of the pool connect sections that are longer on one edge than the other, and large metal sheets with corrugations running fill the spaces between them. The orientation of these corrugations to the lane lines shifts as you pass under each beam in the ceiling. It's pretty disorienting. Apparently after they built this pool, they realized this might be a problem for backstrokers, so they painted a navy blue line on the ceiling over the eight middle lanes. (The meet was seeded in 10 lanes for most events, but just in 8 for BK and IM).

    Here the blue lines look straight and the ribbing looks curved, but somehow when you're underneath it seems the other way around. I think a video is necessary to truly capture the experience!

    These lines don't help as much as you might think--it felt like trying to work out an optical illusion. I eventually settled on just watching the lane line peripherally, as I would do if I was swimming outdoors. It was a good thing I had my own lane for the first bit of warmup this morning while I worked this out!

    After warmups I had some time to stretch and change suits, and then it was time for my first event--400 IM. I went 6:35.74, splitting 45/51/49/48/57/56/44/42. (Full results are here.) It was a fun race--I was swimming right beside Hannah, and we finished just .2 apart after seesawing the entire race and synchro swimming most of the second 50 of the backstroke.

    I warmed down 700m in the outdoor pool before heading back in for my second event of the day, 200 BK. On that I swam a 3:02.95 (43.3, 47.0, 46.8, 45.7). I only brushed the lane line three times, so I consider the swim a success. It was a little sobering sitting in the ready room and watching the fast heats of guys crash into lane lines right before we hopped in to swim. I think eyes closed might be the strategy for the 100 back tomorrow.

    After the backstroke I had a long warmdown in the outdoor pool and got to cheer on teammates for most of the rest of the session. Eventually my last event rolled around--100 BR on the women's 4 x 100 medley relay, with teammates Leila, Amanda, and Emma. After feeling like I swam my first two races today somewhat timidly, I resolved to be a bit more aggressive on this one, and managed a 1:38.06 (45.7, 52.3).

    After the relay I headed out to the waterslide! I'd been hearing reports all day on how awesome it was, and it turned out to be the most amazing waterslide I've ever been on, and easily the highlight of my meet so far. Lots of twisty turns, a couple of completely dark sections, and a light show before finally hitting the water at the bottom. It was a popular post-swim attraction. On the first run through I was a little slow, and my teammate Ryan managed to cleanly pass Hannah, who was behind me, before colliding with me right before we tumbled out of the tube. (I heard him coming, as he was screaming all the way down!) It was a blast--I don't think I've laughed so hard in a while as we all did when we reached the bottom, then stayed in the warm pool to watch our teammates' exits from the flume. Of course we all had to go again. I decided I have to refine my slide technique, as the boys seemed to be much faster. Hannah suggested we use bodyglide tomorrow. I think practice is essential.

    So--that's my first day and change in Iceland. Hoping to manage some sleep tonight, and looking for more of the same tomorrow!

    Updated June 3rd, 2012 at 08:57 PM by swimsuit addict

  2. Excited and nervous

    I had a fairly quiet swim at RB this morning. The water was a good temp, and we were only 2-3 to a lane. Here’s what I did:

    1000 lcm warmup (400s, 200k, 200p, 200 RIM d/s by 25s)

    3 x 100 FR/BK @ 2:00, desc. 1-3 (1:40 > 1:28]

    2 x 200 FR/BK, 1st easy, 2nd faster

    100 easy

    4 x 50 with fins, 1st easy, others 15m fast FR breakout then easy

    200 warmdown

    Stretching session on the outdoor playground

    I’ve been feeling quite edgy all week, and this morning was no exception. Silly little things have been exasperating me—today I was sore tempted to go wrest “my” kickboard from the thieving hands of the swimmer who had borrowed it from my lane and was kicking happily down the pool. (I settled for just glaring at her.) This badtemperedness is unusual for me,and disconcerting—I think it’s just nerves about the upcoming meet and trip. I’m not at all an experienced international traveler, and I’m a little worried about managing all the details once I’m there. I’m also nervous about how I’ll swim—I especially want to be able to turn in some strong efforts on relays. I keep reminding myself that whatever happens, I’ll be surrounded by warm and caring teammates who will help me out as needed and be supportive no matter what—and that’s a comforting thought and I need to just focus on that!

    Some Iceland details:

    Team New York is unabashedly out to win the IGLA swimming championship. I don’t know if we’ll be the largest swim team there, but with our biggest turnout for a meet ever(!) we might well be. Our women’s contingent is especially strong--women are always a small minority of swimmers at IGLA meets, and with 17 of us from New York it looks from the heat sheets like we will account for about 35-40 percent of the swimmers in the women’s events. Our guys will have more competition, but we have both some scary fast swimmers and a good mix of ages and should do well there too.

    Competition in diving, water polo, synchronized swimming, and Pink Flamingo will also be held over the same 4 days as the meet. Our diving team has really grown since it was started less two years ago, and I think all our divers will be crossing over to swim as well—a logistical challenge since those competitions are held in different pools. The water polo competition will be held in the afternoons at the same pool as the swim meet. I played for the TNYA water polo squad for a few years, and I hope to be able to stick around and cheer on my former teammates in of their matches.

    The synchronized swimming competition will be the first synchro event ever held in the country! To accommodate public curiousity about the sport, our Reykjavik hosts have added a synchro exhibition to the lineup. (It will also feature the diving winners plus selected “gutsy divers.”) They predict a packed house for the event. There’s also a couple of synchro workshops that are being held by the San Francisco Tsunami team—it might be fun to go to the one being held after the swim competition. (The one the day before the swimming starts would probably be a bad idea.) The Pink Flamingo competition/show concludes the festivities, and is a fabulous cabaret/synchro/dance/costumed aquatic spectacle. I have small part in our team’s entry, so will be able to watch it all from on deck!

    I’ll be staying in an apartment with Hannah and Amanda—they’ve already arrived and tell me that we are near the shore, with a water view! It looks like it will be walking distance to the beach where the open-water swim will be held—we might just have to check out that venue early.

    We’ve been warned that local customs dictate a very thorough nude shower before donning one’s suit and hopping in the pool. This document details the practice in an amusing Brit-meets-Scandinavian-sensibility sort of way. My teammates who swam in Copenhagen (IGLA 2009) are familiar with this practice—there was apparently a shower monitor there who would tell swimmers to try again if their first efforts were not thorough enough! My only concern is remembering to bring my competition suit out on deck with me—don’t want to have to reshower before trying to put on a tight semi-legged suit.

    And finally—Iceland is going to be cool! Looks like highs in the 50s, lows in the 40s. I think some of my teammates who are already over there—and whose reports are trickling back via fb and email—are a little shocked at the chilly temps. But that’s average te for Reykjavik this time of year. After the last few days of hot sticky NYC weather I’m looking forward to some cool days. But I’m definitely bringing my swim parka. Gotta stay warm between hot tubs!
  3. It's summer at the beach!

    I had a very nice swim at Brighton today—a 5k loop in beautiful bright sunshine and sparkly clear water. The sea was in a deep green mood, with some nice rolling waves in both directions that made it feel like the ocean was playing gently with us. I got in with Dave, Rondi, and John and headed out to the pier. The going seemed a little slow, but it was fun going so I didn’t care. We stopped and chatted a bit once we arrived near the pier, and watched the lifeguards in their matching orange trunks do their boot camp exercises on shore. It’s nice that the water has warmed up enough pause for a visit out in the waves. Beach synchro season is definitely approaching!

    The trip back was just as nice. This was the beach’s official opening weekend, and the lifeguards were out for the first time this season. It’s nice to be able to mark your progress from one bright orange lifeguard umbrella to the next. I kept on marveling at how pretty and deep green the water looked. It was very inviting, especially compared to the bright glare of the sun, and I dove down a few times just to feel surrounded by it.

    At some point my three companions stopped and waited up for me. John tried to scare me by swimming under me--didn't work!--then dove down to find a razor clam. Once we regrouped I got to synchro swam with Dave for a bit on the way to the white building. Once we got within 25 yards of it I stopped to talk to Rondi, and ended up floating the rest of the way—it didn’t take long, since the current that way was pretty strong! The ½ mile back to our starting point was into that current was slow going, but I didn’t care—it was one of those days where I didn’t much want to get out of the water anyway. I swam through some shallower water on the way in, over a meadow of swirly green seaweed. I watched the buildings go by as we neared our starting point at Grimaldo’s chair, and marveled at the number of other swimmers and beachgoers out this week. Summer really has arrived!

    It was tempting to swim more, but I’m being careful about not overtiring myself between now and the meet next week. Once back on shore, I visited quickly with the CIBBOWS folks and munched on some cookies before heading back to the city. This will probably be my last OW swimming before Iceland, and I was glad it was such a beauty of a day! Hurray for summer!
  4. Some IM prep work

    This morning I almost had to swim to the swimming pool—the air was that thick and muggy. Now it is full astorm out, with some scary thunder, so I guess I’m lucky I got my workout in before it hit. (Riverbank, where I swam, closes during lightning storms even though it’s an indoor pool.) The pool was calm this morning, with thick white mist ouside obscuring any view from the windows. I shared a friendly lane with Rondi, Andrew, and a fast guy in a Princeton cap. Here’s what I did:

    1100 lcm warmup
    200 relaxed fr
    200 st/fr by 50
    200 RIM kick
    200 pull with snokel
    100 pull bilat breathing [focused on hand entry width on FR pulls]
    200 RIM drill/swim by 25)

    9 x 100 @ 2:00, done as 3 x (100 FR, 50 ST + 50 FR, 100 ST), with FR = easy, ST = fast, goal is to make ST fast enough to descend the 100s [I managed this on the first 2, where I did backstroke (1:35s > 1:30s), but it was a taller order when I switched to breaststroke on the 3rd round (1:40 > 1:42)]

    100 easy

    3 x 100 IM pieces (FL/BK, BK/BR, BR/FR) @ 2:00, moderate pace, mentally rehearsing keys for IMs [these would be: establish rotation then pick up turnover on BK and FR; head position for BR and FL; quick hand recovery on BR; on all strokes accelerate into turns (anticipating FINA walls)]

    2 x (20-meter FR breakout + sprint with fins + 35 easy)

    200 warmdown

    That was it for today—I got out early! At the end of my workout I experimented with using a kickboard placed atop the gutter to simulate those flat FINA touchpads that extend above the water. Clever Rondicame up with a plausible way to jury-rig one, but it will require a bungee cord—I’ll try to remember to bring one tomorrow so we can try it out!

    After workout I stretched a bit on the playground, then made it back home before the storms came. I was happy with how the stroke work felt today—the middle two strokes of my IM are feeling good, and I’m confident I can make it through the fly.

    Heat sheets were posted for the meet yesterday, but I think there are some corrections still to be made—they got all my events right except the 400 IM, where they didn’t list any women. (I emailed about the 4IM--the relays are also very sketchy, but I am assuming the coaches will take care of that). The meet organizers have so far been very responsive (and in fact I just got an email back from them as I was typing this up). It looks like it will be a quick meet—the swimming is supposed to be over by 12:30 every day so that the polo tournament can be held in the afternoon, and from the looks of the heat sheet it might be sooner than that. Ten lanes make things go fast!

    My schedule for Iceland:

    Thursday May 31 (Day 2 of the meet)
    400 IM
    200 BK
    400 medley relay (100 BR)

    Friday June 1 (Day 3)
    100 BK
    400 free relay (100 FR, leadoff)
    OW swim (250 meters! 48-degree water!)

    Saturday June 2 (Day 4)
    400 FR
    200 IM
    200 medley relay (50 free)
  5. Getting ready!

    This morning I swam with TNYA at John Jay pool. For some reason—maybe the rainy dreary morning—practice was not quite as crowded as usual. I settled into the middle lane, where we had 5. Sean coached, and here’s what I did:

    900 scy warmup (300 swim, 300 kick, 300 pull, every 3rd length non-free)

    6 x 50 kick @ 1:05 [held 50s, various strokes]
    6 x 50 drill @ :55
    4 x 100 IM @ 1:50, rotate 25 fast through strokes
    300 pull with paddles

    20 x 50, done as 4 x (2 easy, 3 fast) @ 1:00 [I did these as 2 easy, 3 desc. to sprint, with sets 1 & 4 FR, set 2 BK, set 3 BR/FR]

    3 x start from block with breakout
    2 x relay start from block with breakout

    150 warmdown

    I was glad to get a bit of start work in—felt happy with my relay starts, and the regular ones were probably good enough for the mid-distance events I’m swimming. I’d like to practice a few backstroke starts, but this pool is pretty useless for those—the walls are too slippery, and I didn’t want to get my one towel soaked using it for traction. Sometimes I wish I had gecko feet.

    I also picked up my team shirt for the Iceland meet this morning—I think Todd’s design is quite fetching:

    Thanks to my teammate ETB for getting these made in women’s sizes!

    The big lettering says “Team New York Aquatics: Swimming Diving Water Polo” in Icelandic. The small lettering? Well, it reportedly reads “Say hello, buy me a drink or show me your volcano and let's see what happens...” The team memo assured us this would help encourage interaction with locals.

    I felt good in the water today—much more fluid than I have been. For the first time in a while I could feel my body getting excited about the prospect of doing some fast pool swimming. It’s a nice feeling!
  6. Weekend swims

    I’ve gotten a little behind on my blog—I’ve done some easy swimming the last 3 days. Friday I went to the Y to support a friend’s 3-hour pool swim. I took the easy way out, joining Hannah for the last half-hour only, and getting in a touch of warmup and sprint work before that. I know many marathon swimmers do loooooong pool training sessions—so far I’ve managed to avoid that, and 30 minutes of straight swimming was plenty. (Even then, I mixed in a bit of backstroke and speed work.) Kudos to Hannah for managing to swim for six times as long!

    Saturday and today I went out to the beach—it was such perfect weather here in the city, and the last weekend before the beach opens to the general public and starts getting crowded. CIBBOWS swimmers were out in full force both days—it was great to see so many friends in the water and on the sand. Yesterday was flat—I swam 2 x 1 mile, stopping for a snack in between. Today was a little bouncier, and I swam 2 miles to the pier and back. Highlight of the day: lying in the warm sand after the swim. No need for a parka when it’s this warm and sunny out!

    I’m getting excited about Iceland—we had a team social on Saturday afternoon, and it was fun being around people buzzing with excitement about the trip. I’m still a little more tired than I’d like to be, but things are slowly improving. Tomorrow is a day off plus a massage. Looking forward to that!
  7. Mellow morning swim

    I swam solo this morning at Riverbank—just did a short technique-focused workout. It was a slow day up there—just a couple of us in the VF lane. Here’s what I did:

    200 easy free
    200 (50 BK / 50 FR / 50 BK / 50 BR)
    200 RIM kick
    200 pull, bilat breathe
    200 RIM, drill/swim by 25

    4 x 150 (k/d/s), RIMO, with zura fins (fly kick on BR to work on timing), worked on head position on all 4 strokes, enjoyed the fin-assisted fly!

    4 x 50 FR, odds easy, evens fast turnover

    200 easy + scull + play

    That was it—afterwards I did a long stretch on the playground overlooking the river and the GWB. It was a beautiful morning and the short swim + long stretch combo seemed very luxurious.
  8. Workout with team

    Yesterday I had a nice calm swim at the Y. I went in the afternoon, and there were just a 3-4 others in the pool the whole time I was there, most doing very glacial-turnover backstroke or freestyle in the slower lanes. It was the quietest pool I had been in in a long time, and I found it very relaxing and restorative—just what I needed to remind myself and the water of what good friends we are. Here’s what I did:

    400 easy swim (200 fr, 200 st/fr by 25)
    200 kick rev IM order
    200 pull no buoy
    200 drill/swim by 25, rev IM order
    4 x 50 BR, odds kick/swim, evens drill/swim
    100 easy swim + scull

    I spent a lot of the above emulating my pool mates and gliding as much as possible, trying to sense the water around me and feeling hugged and supported by it.

    Then last night I went to ballet class—my first in a few weeks. I wanted to go last Thursday, but was still feeling too fatigued then—I figured if climbing a flight of stairs made me out of breath, then ballet class wasn’t the place for me! I wasn’t sure if going last night was a good idea, but it was—I felt lightheaded a few times, but energized after. Getting my good energy back!

    This morning I went to TNYA’s morning workout at John Jay. I was finally ready to start swimming with some intensity again—no biomechanical issues, better energy—but didn’t want to push things too much. I think I struck a good balance. Here’s what I did:

    700 scy warmup

    3 x 200 pull @ 3:20
    8 x 25 kick @ 40, odds build, evens fast
    6 x 100 @ 1:30, desc. 1-3, 4-6 [I did FR/BK halfsies]

    50 easy

    2x thru
    6 x 75, done as 2 x (e/e/f, e/f/f, f/f/f), @ 1:20 [I did these IM no free on the first round, easy FR between the flags with fast IM turns inside the flags on the 2nd round]
    100 easy
    4 x 50 @ 1:00, odds “alley-oops” (25 UW + 25 w/5-stroke breathing), evens sprint [I did the odds breaststroke pull-out + easy FR, evens sprint dolphin kick on back]
    100 easy
    8 x 25 @ :30, odds fast, evens ez [I did the fasts kick on the first round, got out at this point in the second round]

    100 easy swim + scull

    It was a fun but crowded workout—Sean was on deck, and everyone seemed in a joking mood this morning. I volunteered to move up a lane when we had too many in ours, but that worked out fine since we were doing faster shorter stuff on a longer rest. I called “permanent caboose” as soon as I got in my new lane, and then had the whole back of the lane to play around in as I wished.

    People are getting very excited about IGLA—we have 70-something going from our team, which including around 65 swimmers (there’s some overlap with the water polo and diving squads). Relay lists were sent out last night—we’re allowed to swim 3 relays each, and Christopher our relay guru managed to permutate all the age/gender/stroke/time/days of attendance combinations to come up with 45 relay entries. What a lot of work that must have been! Looks like I need to get ready to swim a fast 100 BR, 100 FR, and 50 FR in addition to my other events. I’m up for the challenge!
  9. In the Hudson's healing waters

    Today I had a really great swim in the Hudson near Poughkeepsie. It was a marked contrast the rest of my swimming this past week, and served as a welcome relief from some of the fears that have been gnawing at me. Ever since I returned from Arizona, I had been having a hard time feeling excited about swimming, and felt tired and unmotivated whenever I was at the pool. Yesterday I went to Brighton, and it was a gorgeous day, but I found myself not even wanting to get in. I told myself I would just swim a mile, but then ended up hesitating for ages in knee deep in the water, thinking “This is just too hard!” I finally forced myself in, but ended up swimming just half a mile—barely a dip.

    Since a lack of enthusiasm about swimming at the beach is very uncharacteristic for me, I began to worry that I might have gotten myself into an overtrained state, not just from the AZ lake swims but maybe even before them. Many of the symptoms were there—feeling slow and sluggish in the water, lack of motivation, general fatigue, disturbed sleep. Although all these could be easily attributed to simple fatigue from the last weekend’s efforts plus a bit of lingering jetlag, once I lit upon this overtraining hypothesis my anxiety started running away with me—I have a travel meet in less than three weeks, what if I don’t recover, will I ever feel like myself again?

    But that was yesterday. Today, with a good night’s sleep and a happy swim behind me things look totally different. I awoke this morning excited about the 2 Bridges test swim I was slated to be a part of. This swim is slated to take place in 3 weeks, and a few of us got together to swim the course ahead of time to test out the currents and river conditions. A pleasant ride upstate with my friend John got the morning off to a good start. We arrived to find Dave (with boat!), and soon were joined by the fellow test swimmers Willie, Hannah, Carolyn, Andrew, and Terry, Jonathan in his canoe, and Barbara, who stayed ashore and kept an eye on us and our stuff.

    The 2.5K swim course went south, wrapped around the easternmost stanchion of the Mid-Hudson Bridge, the headed back north, around the eastern stanchion of the pedestrian bridge, then back to the dock. The 5K course included two such loops. I wasn’t sure when I splashed which distance I would go. I started the swim tentatively, but as I went along I started to feel good, began swimming a little stronger, and decided I wanted to swim the whole distance. Since we were circling bridge stanchions, sighting was extremely easy. The water was quite flat, and even just from goggle-height above it you could see the opposite shore mirrored in its rippling surface. It was a glorious morning to be out on the water.

    We were soon done, and I stroked in the last length of the course with Hannah and Willie. It felt great to be back in the Hudson again. I feel lucky that I got to be in on the dress rehearsal for this new swim, and think that everyone who will not be in Iceland on June 2 should sign up for the main event. It’s gonna be great!

    And me? I think I'm going to be ok too. My goal between now and Iceland is to make sure I stay healthy, get enough rest, and do things at the pool and in the open water that leave me feeling excited and energetic.
  10. Next stop: Iceland!

    Yesterday I did an easy 3000 at Riverbank, and today I attended TNYA workout. Crowded conditions gave me an excuse to sneak over to the slow lane, which was unoccupied when I arrived despite 4-6 swimmers everywhere else. I was joined there by friends Janet and LisaLisa, and we did the following workout together, doing different things on the same intervals so that everyone got to do something challenging.

    My upper arms are still plenty sore from the AZ lakes adventure, so I did a lot of kicking,. I also used the soreness I felt when swimming freestyle to figure out how I could tweak my stroke to use those overworked deltoid muscles less. Rotate more? (yes). Make the recovery more about momentum, less about effort? (yes, and turning over at a higher clip helps me do that). Consider bending my elbows more? (only when combined with more rotation). Tighten my core to use my lats more? (double yep.) It was nice to have the space to experiment around a bit—I hope the soreness will be fleeting, so I need to make use of it while it lasts.

    Brad coached, my lanemates and I edited, and here’s what I ended up doing:

    500 scy warmup

    3 x 200 FR swim/kick halfsies @ 3:30
    2 x 100 FR/BK halfsies @ 1:40
    2 x 50 FR/BK halfsies @ :50
    100 easy

    2 x 200 kick @ 3:50
    2 x 125 alt. BR/kick by 25s @ 3:00
    2 x 75 BR/kick/BR @ 1:45
    100 easy
    [The 125s and 75s were supposed to be hard efforts, but I decided I’m not ready for that quite yet—apart from the soreness I’m still systematically fatigued.]

    1 x 200 IM kick
    4 x 125 IM with rolling extra 25 (alternated kicking and swimming by 25)

    300 FR alternating kicking and pulling with kickboard

    100 warmdown

    I felt tired throughout this workout until the last 20 minutes or so, when I started to loosen up and find some good energy. I had thought about getting out early, but was glad I stayed in—the whole effort was worth it for those last few minutes of feeling smooth and fluid in the water.

    As far as recovering from last weekend’s swims, I’m mostly just trying to get plenty of sleep, stretch a lot, and listen to my body when working out to avoid pushing it harder than it wants to go. Taking days completely off seems to leave me feeling tighter and sorer and more lethargic than ever, so I try to at least get to the pool and move around some. I’ve been craving protein ever since I got back, so I’ve been eating plenty of it. Sometimes it’s hard to know how much to push and how much to coddle your body when recovering from hard efforts, and I’m trying to find some balance between the two.

    And my next swimming adventure is quickly approaching: IGLA in Iceland! My last attempt at doing a big pool meet in the midst of open-water swims (LCM nats at Auburn last summer) was somewhat disastrous. I’m hoping this one will go better, but I’m mostly just looking forward to traveling to a cool place, supporting my teammates, and having fun with friends. I leave on the Tuesday after Memorial Day, and my first events are three weeks from today. I signed up for the 200/400 IM, 100/200 BK, and 400 FR. I decided not to do any sprints other than the 1BK because it was just too hard to fit in the necessary training/recovery for those and keep up the yardage I need for my OW events. I’ll probably also swim relays—I’ll just do my best with the sprinting there—plus there’s a 250m OW swim in the North Atlantic! Water temps in the high-40s are predicted. Should be a fun time!
  11. 3 days, 3 lakes, and more

    I’m back home today after my little Arizona adventure. I wrote briefly about my swims in Saguaro and Canyon Lakes on Friday and Saturday—they were both dam-to-dam swims, and turned out to be maybe 9 miles each. By late Saturday afternoon, after a wonderful lunch with Kent and the SCAR series gang, I was feeling pretty tired and arm-weary, and was beginning to doubt if I had another swim in me. But a brief nap followed by a delicious and engaging dinner with my wonderful hosts revived me. A trip to the local gourmet ice-cream parlor afterwards ensured that I was fully re-calorized for the next day’s adventures, and I fell asleep early with visions of a third lake swim the following day dancing in my head.

    Sunday was another early start—local swimmer Brad kindly picked us up for the 2-hour drive to Roosevelt Lake at 4:20 am. We learned a lot about the water system and local ecology as we drove out—this is definitely a fascinating area. I thought going into this that the three days of swimming might all blur together, but the three lakes we swam in were so different that that didn’t happen. Unlike the previous two lakes—Saguaro with its flowering desert vegetation on the rocky banks, Canyon with its sheer canyon walls on either side—Roosevelt was more open. The land around it was fairly flat, with some mountains and cliffs visible in the distance. Because it was so exposed to the sun, with many shallow areas (we swam over some swampy treelike vegetation that looked like it was periodically exposed when the lake level was lower), this was the warmest of the three lakes.

    This swim was part of a 6-lake series of 10-mile swims organized by Gia Kolack. We swam a ten-mile out-and-back course that took us by the dam that separates Roosevelt from Apache Lake. It was a lovely day, with a few clouds in the blue sky, and I felt very content as I swam along beside my ever-cheerful paddler, Andrew. There was minimal boat traffic, and I enjoyed just settling into a pace and listening to my armstrokes as I swam along. The other four swimmers quickly got ahead of me, and I just settled into my own rhythm and thought about how wonderful it was to be out doing what I love on such a pretty day.

    The only glitch with this day’s swim is that when giving feeding instructions to the kayaker I forgot to ask if he had a watch to time the planned 30-minute feeds. Turned out neither of us did, so instead of 30-minute feedings I just stopped whenever I felt hungry or thirsty. That worked pretty well—at one point I started cramping a little in my right forearm, but that went away after I stopped and drank some water, and otherwise I felt I had sufficient energy during the swim. But I will stick to the 30-minute schedule in the future (and make sure there’s some way timing them!), because I realized I’m reluctant to stop even when I start getting a little thirsty/hungry—I had to keep reminding myself it was important, and that I would probably regret it later if I didn’t take in fluids regularly. Also, I think the fewer decisions I have to make while I’m swimming, the better I like it.

    My blissy “I can’t imagine anything better that this!” mood lasted for about the first 8 miles—during the last two I started feeling some muscle fatigue and was eager to get to the finish. Still, there was never any point where I wasn’t enjoying the experience, and since it was the last day I was especially keen on savoring and taking in everything. Finally I did finish, and Andrew and I arrived back at the boat and climbed gratefully on board, where a bounty of baked goods and other treats awaited us.

    So ended the third and last day of lake swimming, but I wasn’t quite done with my Arizona aquatic adventure. On Monday morning Dave, Clare, and I drove over to Skyline for a Paul Smith workout! I finally got to meet Paul, who was friendly and gracious as could be. I also got to see aztimm—in fact, I swam in the lane next to him, and he schooled me on the small portion of the workout I even attempted. Here’s what I did:

    200 lcm warmup

    8 x 50 drill/swim @ :15 rest, various strokes and drills

    100 kick

    1 x 100 IM

    Then I moved over to the other side of the bulkhead and did about 150 yards of more sculling and stretching before rejoining the main group for the rest of workout.

    200 pull

    4 x 200 @ 3:15 [I made (barely) 1, 2, and 4, but flipped mid-pool on the third one to catch back up to Tim, and to demonstrate to him what proper cheating during a set looks like. ]

    400 IM

    100 warmdown

    I had thought that going to practice after all the weekend’s swimming—28 miles in 3 days, for goodness sake—was overkill, but it turned out to be a good idea. I felt much better afterwards, and the IM and sculling felt especially great. The only thing that didn’t feel good was freestyle—I felt as low in the water as I ever had, and could really feel the fatigue in my arms and lats.

    After workout I got to have breakfast with Kent, Tim, Dave, and Clare, then we chilled out a bit before heading back east that afternoon. What a great trip! Today I feel surprisingly good—I have some muscle soreness (deltoids, lats, triceps, forearms, quads), and the sinews in my wrists and elbows feel a little overstretched, as if I’d been carrying heavy luggage (maybe partly from carrying heavy luggage). But my shoulder joints and neck and back feel fine, and those are the body parts I was most concerned with.

    From a training point of view, these swims were very helpful, and gave me a sense of where I’m at now and what I need to work on. I wasn’t having my best swimming days ever—I think I got a little too fatigued the week before I headed out west, and by the time I realized my body needed more rest it was too little too late. In the end, it’s good to realize that I could manage these swims even when everything hadn’t gone perfectly in my preparations—I learned something about my capabilities and about how I need to manage my preparation for future long swims.

    And there were so many other highlights to the weekend: meeting Patrick and his wonderful family, seeing the desert for the first time, getting to be part of the whole bold adventure of testing these lake swims, spending some time with Clare and Dave and getting to know them better, finding out that I can run into a dead fish without dying from cooties (apparently I head-butted one on Friday’s swim, and didn’t even know about it until my kayaker told me over lunch!), enjoying Bella’s wonderful meals and Phoenix’s great restaurants (and ice cream parlors), and most of all being welcomed so graciously and completely by the Arizona masters swimming community. Swimmers really are some of the greatest people on the planet!
  12. Saguaro and Canyon Lakes

    This morning I did the second swim in the Arizona S.C.A.R OW swim series. Yesterday’s swim in Saguaro Lake was absolutely gorgeous--a meandering route dotted with sheer canyon rock faces and flowering desert flora. (Chaos covers it in more detail in his blog.) I didn’t think much could top that, but today's swim was maybr even more spectacular. Canyon Lake lived up to its name--the walls rose up dramatically on both sides of the lake all along the twisty route from dam to dam. We even saw a big-horn sheep along the way! It has been an amazing couple of days, and I think I’m in love now with the beautiful desert vegetation and stark landscapes. I'm so grateful I got the chance to come out here and participate in these swims, which were organized by local OW stud Kent Nicholas. I also loved getting to meet the local swimmers participating it in these lake swims, some of whom I knew or had heard of from blogs and forums--Patrick, Kurt, Gordon/Starbucks, Shauna, and Meg, plus all the great folks Kent found to kayak and crew for us. Judging by the people I've met in the last couple of days, Arizona just might be the friendliest place on earth!

    As for the swim itself, today was a tough day on the water! The start was a little colder than any of us were anticipating--the boat got a reading of 62 as we were jumping in.*That and the shaded canyon made for a chilly start. There was significant current against us at the beginning and end near the dams. But the swimming itself was simply glorious--I felt much better in the water today than yesterday and was able to find a good rhythm, and soon the intervals between feelings seemed to fly by. Towards the end of the race as we neared the marina there was a significant amount of boat traffic, and I was glad to have Dave and our great kayaker Jason nearby.*(We had been divided into pods for safety during the swim--we were the skyscraper pod.)

    All in all it was a a beautiful adventure on the water. (There are some pictures I’ll post when I get back to my real computer.) There seems to be a robust and growing OW community in Phoenix, and I hope that I'll be able to swim in these lakes again sometime--they are truly amazing!

    Updated May 8th, 2012 at 10:41 AM by swimsuit addict

  13. Flying

    I'm en route to Phoenix this morning to be part of some OW lake swims over the weekend. If all goes well I'll end up swimming over 27 miles over the span of 3 days. That's a lot of swimming! I'm feeling a little nervous and a lot excited about the whole adventure. I'll be getting to see a part of the country I've never been to before, and meeting a lot of local open-water swimmers. The lakes we'll be swimming in--Saguaro and Canyon on the first two days, then Roosevelt on the third--look truly stunning. The first swims starts early tomorrow morning. Can't wait!
  14. Chilly beach day

    I had a nice but chilly swim at Brighton Beach today. It has been a cold week here, and air temps were in the low 40s when I left home this morning. I always get a short preview of the water conditions when the subway train surfaces to pass over the bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn. This morning the harbor looked beautifully clear but slightly choppy.

    I met Gilles as I was exiting from the subway station, and as we arrived on the boardwalk we spotted about 8 swimmers already gathered on the beach. I was glad to see a few familiar faces I hadn’t seen for a while, including my kayaker Teddy from last summer’s 8 Bridges swim! It was a good turnout today—we had maybe 15 CIBBOWSers out for the sunny day, even with the cool air and water temps still in the low 50s. If spring turnout is any indication, I think come summer we’ll have real crowds of swimmers out every weekend!

    After greeting and chatting I stripped down to my suit and got ready to go. Gilles and I decided to swim towards the pier—I wanted to do either 2 miles or 5k today. The water was very clear, and we set out swimming side by side at a good clip. There was current against us on the way out—it seemed to take forever to get to the jetties—but once we got to aquarium our progress speeded up a bit. The sun was in and out, and I relished feeling it on my back when it decided to grace us with its warmth. The water was a deep green, transforming into a brilliant emerald whenever the sun shone through it.

    I watched as we passed the Cyclone and the other Coney Island rides. Visibility was really spectacular today, and for once my goggles were not a bit foggy, so everything seeming in super sharp focus—it was the beach in HD. Once we neared the pier the water warmed up a smidge and turned cloudy. I wasn’t happy with that and thought about turning back early, but Gilles just kept swimming, so I followed him. I finally turned around a little past the last jetty before the pier, and we headed back. The water also tasted and smelled a little funny around that section, but more in a chalky than an organic way. I would be a better OW swimmer if I could stop wondering about all the whys of things I encounter—why the water is cloudy, why birds are hovering above me (which thankfully today they were not)—but so far I haven’t seemed able to shake that habit.

    Swimming to the pier hadn’t been hard—there was no major chop, just some gentle undulations in the water—but once we turned back it became positively easy. And fun! Little surface waves carried us along, and the jetties just flew by. In front of the aquarium the water temp seemed to drop, and my feet and hands got chilled. I was enjoying the ride home, glad we were quickly approaching our gathering place, and my thermos of hot chocolate! Once we arrived back in front of our little beach encampment I decided I had had enough for the day, and waved to Gilles as he continued on towards the big jetty to the east.

    I got dressed and shivered a bit on the beach—it was tough warming up in chilly air, but hot drinks and warm clothes helped. I jogged on the beach a bit, then visited with other swimmers while waiting for the cold to go away. Later, as I took the subway home, I was glad I took the time to warm up on the beach before I headed back—the subway cars were pretty chilly. I have loved the cold water swimming this spring, but I’m ready for some warmer weather to come!

    I've been watching the results from nationals and am inspired by all the great results I've seen! Looks like there have been some great races and some amazing swims going on. Also, when Olympic Trials roll around, I think I'll be rooting for all those young elite swimmers who showed up at Masters nationals! I think that's pretty cool!
  15. Tired but in the pool!

    I had a nice workout this morning at Riverbank. The pool was full of people I like to swim with—OW swimmers John, Rondi, Hannah, Andrew, plus Josh, Jack, and Michael from TNYA. Some of us spread out into the two adjacent lanes, and with subgroups of 2-3 swimmers doing the more or less the same set it all worked out very nicely. Here’s what I ended up doing:

    900 lcm warmup (400s, 200k, 200p, 100d/s)

    800, every 4th length stroke IM order
    600, every 3rd length stroke IM order
    400 FR/IM by 50
    200 IM

    5 x 200 K > pull pacman

    200 warmdown plus play

    I was tired going into the workout—from the sprints yesterday morning, plus weights and rowing last night. After the first 200 of the workout my brain was trying to think up reasons I could get out early today. But my next adventure--in Arizona--involves swimming 7-10 miles in lakes on consecutive days, so I figured swimming tired would be good practice for that! As usual, after feeling lethargic in the warmup, I started finding my good energy once I started in on the main set, and ended up feeling more energized after the workout than I had going into it. Nothing I did today was too hard—instead of set intervals I went on “whenever-I-finish-chatting-with-whoever-is-at-the-wall” rest. It was nice having so many friends around!

    Good luck to everyone headed off to nationals! I’m rooting for lots of good swimming down in Greensboro, especially from my teammates and blogs/forum friends! Travel safe, have fun, be brave, and swim fast!
  16. Morning workout with team

    I had a good workout with TNYA at John Jay pool this morning. It was crowded—I swam in a lane of 6—but since the distances were not long and everyone was making the intervals it worked out ok. Sean coached and gave me some good feedback about kicking while sprinting (don’t drop the legs midway through!) Here’s what I did:

    6 x 100, odds FR, evens 50k/50drill
    400 pull, bilat breath

    6 x 100 kick @ 2:00 [surprised myself with a 1:35 on the 1st, and decided to keep them all under 1:40, which I did.]
    6 x 75 @ 1:30, odds FL/BK/BR, evens BK/BR/FR

    4x through
    6 x 50 FR @ :55, desc. 1-3 and 4-6 [42 > 32 on most, 31 was my fastest fast one]
    3 x 100 BK @ 1:50, hold steady pace [1:25s – 1:29s]
    [There was no rest between rounds, but after R2 an additional 50 easy @ 1:00 was added in at the end of each. My lane initially wanted to skip this, since the first of the 6 50s could be easy, but I said no way and over-ruled them (I was leading). Who passes up a 50 easy?!]

    100 warmdown

    That middle set was surprisingly tough—easy intervals, but 8 all-out 50s. It was good for me to get in more sprinting though!
  17. Just like ballet class!

    Sometimes in ballet class, usually in the midst of an excruciating barre exercise where we’ve already done some ungodly number of painful repetitions and it’s sinking in that there are still 16 measures of music to go, our teacher will look around and ask “You’re not feeling sorry for yourself are you?” Hint: the correct answer is NOT “Yes, very much so!” It’s not even actually a question, just a gentle reminder to concentrate on performing the task at hand rather than on how we might be feeling about doing it. And it generally works.

    I was having to ask my own self that question this morning. I had met Hannah at Riverbank for early morning lap swim. It was my sixth day in a row of swimming, I was feeling a little beat up from a tough swim at the beach yesterday, plus still tired from a late night before. After we finished warmup, I asked Hannah if she had any set in mind. She did indeed: 3 (slightly) broken 1000s. All free, I asked, hoping there would be some sort of catch that would make the set seem, well, less like broken 1000s. All free, she confirmed, beaming.

    I admit I was skeptical, but her enthusiasm was contagious, so I agreed, and ended up very glad I did. The 3000m seemed to fly by. I liked the way Hannah broke things up (she had riffed off the broken 500s we did on Friday, turning them into LC 1000s, adding one, and topsy-turvying the middle rep). And I added my own little touches to keep things interesting. Here’s how it worked out:

    1100 lcm warmup (400s, 200k, 200p, 300 d/s by 25)

    3 x broken1000:
    400 FR [pull with paddles]
    300 FR [I did 2 x 100fr/50bk]
    200 FR [pull with paddles]
    100 FR [50fr/50 bk]
    Masters minute
    100 FR
    200 FR
    300 FR
    400 FR
    [I swam these all FR, but negative split them dramatically (ie 5-8 seconds/100, ie I kind of dogged the first half and pushed the second half hard.)]
    Masters minute
    400 FR [pull with paddles]
    300 FR [2 x 100fr/50bk]
    200 FR [pull with paddles]
    100 FR [50fr/50 bk]
    [Here I somewhat combined the first and second rounds, but negative split these last four pieces more reasonably, with 2-4s difference between the 1st and 2nd halves.]

    100 easy

    IM set
    4 x 150 fr/st/fr sandwich, st = IM order
    200 IM strong

    500 warmdown + play

    It was one of those rewarding workouts where the more energy I gave the more I had, and the better I felt. It’s good to be reminded that can happen as OW season approaches!
  18. Did I mention I love the beach?

    I had a wonderful 5K swim at Brighton Beach today. The weather was beautifully sunny this morning, up until the last subway stop before the beach, when suddenly fog engulfed the train. It didn’t magically disappear between the subway stop and the strand—the beach was spooky with low-lying fog when I arrived. On the boardwalk I saw my friend Eileen, who was heading back to the parking lot after an early swim. She was glowing from her efforts, and reported that the tide seemed to be pulling towards shore. Note to self: heed Eileen’s reports going forward!

    When I got down to the sand several swimmers were already there, and more soon arrived. We snacked on gingerbread and chatted about how foggy, windy, and cold it was—didn’t the weather report predict sunny conditions for today? After about a half hour the fog showed no signs of lifting, so we all got ready to go in. Capri cautioned us to stay near shore—visibility wasn’t that great.

    I got in pretty quickly today—the water was 53, significantly warmer than last week. I headed towards the pier, joined by Dave and Gilles. The current seemed to be with us, and the wind definitely was. The jetties passed by quickly. At one point when I was swimming with Dave I looked up and we were well within the jetties, heading more towards shore than the pier. That’s when I remembered Eileen saying the current was pushing in—she was right! We corrected course and swim back outside of the jetties, but it felt like I had to keep correcting outward to clear the jetty line. When Capri had warned us to stay near shore, I don’t think she meant quite that near! I kept giggling about that as I swam along.

    After a while I settled into a steady rhythm and was really enjoying churning along through the water. We were stroking along at a good clip, and things on shore seemed to be going by quickly. Then as I neared the pier a flock of birds started circling overhead. I got a little nervous seeing all of them—they were flying fairly close, and I wondered what they were up to. It was reassuring to have other swimmers nearby—I didn’t feel as singled out by the birds, and none of them hovered right over me for extended periods of time.

    All three of us arrived at the pier at the same time. By now a lot of the fog had burned off—Dave pointed out that we could see the white building that marked the other end of the loop, 1.5 miles away. We turned around and headed back, and immediately were hit by some pretty rough chop. I knew we had been swimming with the wind—the water had been bouncy-fun on the way out. Now it was bouncy-hard, slapping against my hands and head as I headed back east. I felt my body being tossed around in the waves. It was actually pretty fun! I tried to time my arm strokes carefully, so that I was able to pull water on every stroke rather than flailing through the air.

    Around this time the sun began to poke out of the clouds and fog. It shone into the water and turned it a brilliant green. I did a few strokes of backstroke to feel the sun on my face. The circling birds had disappeared, and I was feeling happy and carefree as I stroked along.

    After a bit I looked forward to sight and saw a kite surfer ahead. I stopped swimming to get better bearings on how far away he was—still a ways off. I wanted to steer well clear of him—with the chop I wasn’t sure he would see swimmers, plus I’m never sure how much control those guys have over where they’re going. We all headed well out from shore to go around him. It seemed to take a long time to clear the kite, and in checking on him I ended up looked forward to sight more than I like to—my neck will probably be sore tomorrow.

    Soon we passed the kite surfer and neared our starting point. Gilles headed in, and Dave and I were joined briefly by Rondi before she swam on ahead. By this time we were very far out, well past the jetties, and were able to simply head towards the white building at the end of our route without worrying about clearing any obstacles. The chop had died down, and the water seemed to glow from the sunlight beaming down on us. I swam dreamily along. It seemed to take a long time to reach the big jetty, then the short jetty and the pilings that mark the way to the white building. But I was relishing the swim, and not worried about time passing—I was fully enjoying the water and content to stay in it as long as needed to finish out the loop.

    As we got closer to shore I swam through long green strands of seaweed. At first I was squeamish about it wrapping around my arms or neck, but I soon decided I liked it and even picked up some of the bigger pieces and held them up to view the sun through them. At this point another flock of birds circled close around us. I winced as they got close, but then laughed at my reaction.

    Finally we reached the white building (or rather the point in the water parallel to it). We exchanged a few words then headed back in. Now we were swimming in the shallows, and I could see the bottom as we swam along. I passed over crabs—one white crab waved both its pincers up at me as I swam over it, and I waved back. I stopped to dive down a couple of times to get a better view of the wildlife. One horseshow crab marched doubletime along the bottom. I was surprised at how quickly it moved.

    The trip back was with the current, and we were soon done. Today’s loop took 1h40m, slowed in part by the difficult current and our wide route past the kite surfer. Every day in the ocean seems different—last week the water was exceedingly gentle, and I felt all blissy and content. Today I got knocked around by the chop, and the experience was exhilarating and giddy-making. I never really settled into a steady state for long, but felt giggly and hyper-watchful by turns all during the swim--but once again sat beaming on shore when it was all over.

    Warming up was easy today—while there was some wind, the air temp was near 70, and the sun shone strong on us. Shivering was minimal. I had a good visit on the beach with CIBBOWS buddies afterwards, and a trip to the burger shop rounded out a very satisfying day.
  19. An almost-new pool!

    This morning I got to join my pool-tourist friend Hannah in another of her pool outings! I had a nice early swim at St. Francis College in Brooklyn with her and Mike. This was my first time swimming laps at this pool—I attended a polo scrimmage here about a decade ago, and hadn’t been back since. The pool was much as I remembered it, although a lot less wavy with the lane lines in. The coaches for the small masters program at St. Francis are the college’s women’s water polo coaches, Ben and Megan. Here’s what we did:

    550 scy warmup (200s, 200k, 150p)

    10 x 75 @ 1:10, choice [I did 9 x fr/st/fr sandwiches, strokes IM order no free, then the last one IM no free]

    2x through
    200 FR
    150 FR
    100 FR
    50 FR
    :10 rest between swims, 2-3 minutes chatting between rounds

    6 x 100, odds FR pull, evens IM [Hannah and I substituted a synchronized 100 BK for the last IM]

    100 warmdown

    That was it! A snack outside in the sunshine on the Borough Hall plaza completed the outing before I hopped on the subway back home.
  20. Working the IMs

    It was another crowded morning at Riverbank, and today my usual lane was full of yet a different set of crazy-fast swimmers. My usual RB buddies were all there, plus 4 more of my Iceland-bound TNYA teammates looking to get in some LCM training, as well as other assorted regulars and local swimmers I knew. It was chaotic but fun. Here’s what I did:

    900 lcm warmup

    300 FR pace
    100 IM fast
    100 easy

    300 FR pace
    200 IM fast
    100 easy

    300 FR pace
    300 IM fast
    100 easy

    300 FR pace
    400 IM fast
    100 easy

    5 x 200, odds FR w/ paddles, evens FR/BK by 50s, working on maintaining fast turnover on BK

    400 warmdown + play
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